What’s In Your Crawlspace?
Tips from a Crawlspace Industry Expert
I love that Capital One credit card commercial, don’t you? The one that asks you, “What’s in your wallet?” However, the question I have for you is, what’s in your crawlspace? It is very similar in meaning, because if you don’t know what’s in your crawlspace, it might just cost you what’s in your wallet!
Let me give you a little more information, and hopefully you will catch what I’m pitching. It is very possible that as you are reading this blog, there are living organisms thriving in the space between your home’s floor and the ground (i.e. your crawlspace). That’s right! Just beneath your feet. These living organisms may have moved in a long time ago and now they have invaded and occupied one of, or possibly the largest, investment you will make in your lifetime.
Common Crawlspace Culprits
These organisms could be so small they might go undetected for years until their colonies just cannot be ignored any longer. Some of these living, thriving, breathing, and eating organisms you may have heard about: termites, powder post beetles, old house borers, and one you may not have thought about, wood decay fungus.
And here is something else to think about—some of those living organisms may not be so small, like mice, rats, and other larger animals. Maybe even a couple of those slithering creatures that make everyone cringe when you see or even think you may have seen them: snakes.
But the culprit I want to focus on in this blog is fungi. Specifically, wood decay fungi. I have over 32 years of experience dealing with this particular organism, and I have seen some homes literally crumbling from the damage this organism causes if it is not stopped and controlled. Wood decay fungus is a slow fire, and if it is not extinguished, it can destroy your home.
Fighting Crawlspace Fungi
If detected early, I and other experts in the pest control industry have been able to help homeowners take action and protect their homes against this (almost) invisible enemy that causes billions (with a B) of damage to homes annually.
Crawlspace construction has been a method of building for a very long time. Today, new homes are being built with crawlspaces, and homes will continue to be built with crawlspaces for years to come, so we all better get used to it!
What makes crawlspaces so attractive for wood decay fungi to live and grow? The most important ingredient is moisture. It doesn’t matter how old or how new your crawlspace is, you are going to have moisture intrusion to some extent every day. Control the moisture in your crawlspace and you control the wood decay fungi.
Homeowners and some contractors believe if there are more than enough foundation vents and a moisture barrier, that will keep the crawlspace dried out. Yet when I inspect a crawlspace, taking moisture readings with a moisture meter, and I get 18% moisture reading or higher, I know the system for controlling moisture is not working. Insulation falling down is another concern, because it has become too heavy with water vapor and can impact the home’s energy efficiency and increase the monthly bills.
It is this high moisture content in the wood that makes the wood inviting to fungal growth. It is a fertile nurturing environment for these micro-organisms to take root. They feed on the nutrients in the cells of the wood. Once those nutrients are gone, the cell shrinks and eventually starts to crumble, and the structure begins to lose its strength.
How to Take Back Your Home
Pretty grim story, right? Well it doesn’t have to be. The good news is you can take some small steps today to identify what’s in your crawlspace. Knowledge is power! You are probably wondering how you can dry out your crawlspace. Once you know what is living in your crawlspace, you can develop a strategy to stop moisture with an effective moisture barrier system, and protect your crawlspace from these excessive moisture issues that support wood decay fungi.
Fortunately, there are numerous resources available to homeowners today that were not there 15 years ago. Companies like Your Crawlspace that develop and distribute products to moisture industry specialists now exist, and they are key in educating homeowners and contractors on the proper method for crawlspace encapsulation. They also train specialists and homeowners to identify and remediate moisture in crawlspaces. They have how-to videos, guides, and blogs like this one to help you make an informed decision on what options are best for your situation.
Crawlspace encapsulation is now one of the most recognized methods of moisture remediation. Your Crawlspace is an industry leader, innovator and subject matter professional. Their website is very user-friendly and if you have a question, they are quick to respond, listen, and offer advice to homeowners and professionals alike. Please feel free to contact me with questions and comments regarding this blog at www.drsllcpd.com. I would love to hear from you.
Don Richards, ACE, CPI
Don Richards Services, LLC