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The Correct Way to Deal with Water Accumulating In the Crawl Space Under Your House

Thursday, August 29th, 2019

Water in the crawl space. Just thinking about it is something you’d probably prefer to avoid, if possible. However, that creepy, claustrophobic zone underneath your house may in fact conceal water accumulation from a variety of sources. Ignoring water in the crawl space won’t make it go away. Moreover, the consequences of hidden water down there can mean costly damage and even show up in a home dweller’s health issues.  

A properly maintained crawl space should ideally remain dry and dusty in normal conditions. When water intrusion is recurrent, however, the negative consequences associated with ongoing wetness in the crawl space include:

  • Rotting wood structural components such as floor joists and plywood subflooring.
  • Toxic mold growth contaminating living spaces above.
  • Elevated indoor humidity as water vapor migrates upwards into the house.
  • Disintegrating insulation and deteriorated electrical wiring.
  • Water intrusion into HVAC ductwork routed through the space.  
  • A friendly habitat for rats, snakes, insects and other vermin attracted to moisture.

Where’s The Water Coming From And How Do I Stop It?

Here’s how water in the crawl space can originate from interior or exterior sources and what’s required to resolve the issue: 

  • Leaking water supply lines. Leaks, dripping or seepage from plumbing pipes can gradually turn a crawl space into a swamp. An inspection by a qualified plumber is usually necessary to pinpoint and repair leakage.
  • Ground water rising. Whether continuously or seasonally, rising groundwater may affect the crawl space. Installation of a vapor barrier over the dirt floor can keep dampness in chronically moist soil from affecting the house. However, to effectively control actual water accumulation, the installation of a sump pump is usually required.
  • Improper landscape grading. Landscaping around the house perimeter should be graded to divert water away from the crawl space and out into the yard during rain.  
  • Clogged gutters. Water overflowing from blocked gutters may penetrate the crawl space below during heavy rain. Inspect gutters regularly for blockages. Also ensure that gutter downspouts extend far enough to discharge water at least three from the house to keep it out of the crawl space.

How to Detect and Remove Mold in a Crawl Space

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

mold in crawl spaceWhen mold remediation professionals search for the origin of contamination inside a house, the crawl space is usually a prime suspect. Cool temperatures, moisture, absence of ultraviolet sunlight and ample food sources like cellulose in exposed wooden structure make that cramped space beneath your floor a perfect breeding ground.

Microscopic airborne spores released by active mold growth may continuously infiltrate living spaces above through tiny cracks and gaps. When inhaled, toxic spores may cause allergic reactions and other chronic physical symptoms.

Is The Crawl Space Contaminated?

Thriving mold growth in the crawl space is often unnoticed by residents. Even when it’s suspected, the signs may be ambiguous:

  • A chronic musty odor emanating from below. It’s hard to miss, but it may be dismissed as simply common mildew or moisture-related issues.
  • Splotchy growth visible on wooden surfaces in the crawl space such as trusses and subflooring. The growth may be fuzzy or flat. Coloration is typically white or black, but may vary into greenish or purplish hues, too.

Because not everything that looks like mold is mold and not all mold types produce mycotoxins that trigger reactions in humans, inspection, air sampling and testing by a qualified mold remediation specialist is critical to confirm presence of mold and determine the type of growth.

How Is Mold Eliminated?

Successful mold remediation incorporates a two-fold approach:

  • All active mold growth must be located and physically removed. Then, contaminated surfaces are sterilized with EPA-approved disinfectants specially formulated for the type of mold. Where growing mold has penetrated the surface of wooden building materials, those components may need to be replaced.
  • To prevent recurrence, conditions that promote mold growth in the crawl space must be addressed. Moisture sources such as water intrusion during rain and plumbing leaks should be eliminated. The dirt floor may require a plastic vapor barrier to keep out rising soil moisture. In dry climates, addition of vents to increase crawl space cross-ventilation may discourage mold. Conversely, in humid climates, sealing the crawl space entirely and making it a conditioned zone of the house may be preferable.

Sewage Or Mold Found in Your Crawl Space?

Thursday, November 8th, 2018

October was a busy month for Rytech Indianapolis! Lots of Hoosiers dealing with surprise sewage and mold issues in their crawl space. Most of us don’t spend much time there, so issues often go undetected until a home inspection is required.

This area of the home is usually “unconditioned space”. (Because the climate isn’t controlled by the HVAC system.) Water or sewage leaks raise the humidly, and create the perfect environment for mold.  (We suggest you get a home inspection report before purchasing a new property. Even if your insurance company doesn’t require one.)

If the crawl space is properly ventilated, most moisture is naturally resolved. So no problems arise. If sewage leaks from a broken pipe, or water seeps through the foundation walls, even the well-ventilated crawl space will need to be properly treated to prevent mold damage.

These photos are from two of our recent job sites. The problem was discovered by a home inspector. This is common, because it can take some time for these issues to cause symptoms in the main area of the home.

Indianapolis, IN. 46227 – 10/15/2018: Sewage leak from broken pipe in crawl space

Rytech Indianapolis – sewage leak in crawl space

Rytech Indianapolis – sewage leak in crawl space

Rytech Indianapolis – damaged vapor barrier in crawl space

Rytech Indianapolis – damaged vapor barrier in crawl space

Carmel IN. 46032 – 10/17/2018: Crawl space mold damage from water seepage

mold damage and water intrusion

Rytech Indianapolis – signs of water intrusion on crawl space block wall

Rytech Indianapolis – mold growth on floor joist from raised humidity

Have you discovered mold or sewage in your crawl space? Call us at (317) 203-9044 to schedule an assessment appointment. We will honestly advise you on the best way to restore your property.

Considering purchasing a property? Read this article for tips on how to spot water damage when buying a home.

Rytech Blog – How to Spot Signs of Water Damage When Buying a Home

How To Detect Basement And Crawl Space Water Damage Before It’s Too Late!

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

basement water damage
Basement and crawl space water damage can continue unnoticed for some time. In many homes, these areas are infrequently visited and even less frequently carefully inspected. However, because household water supply lines as well as drain pipes are often routed through that part of the structure, basement and crawl space water damage is an all too common event.

Even minor seepage from water supply lines is important to know about and correct. No amount of leakage from these pipes is acceptable because it’s often an early warning of internal corrosion that may cause a major pipe rupture at any time, releasing hundreds of gallons of water per hour. However, you don’t need a catastrophic event to experience problems: even small drips can create an environment that supports growth of toxic mold. When this occurs in a remote part of the house like a basement or crawl space, mold contamination may be extensive.

To avoid basement and crawl space water damage, here are some steps you can take:

  • Visually inspect the area a few times per year. Look for any signs of leakage from plumbing pipes. If you notice any suspicious areas, contact a professional plumbing service for repair ASAP.
  • Utilize your sense of smell, too. A persistent pungent musty odor in a basement or crawl space often means mold growth. Mold is usually the result of undetected water leakage or other moisture infiltrating the zone.
  • In the basement, also look for ground water seepage through walls or floor. Sealing cracks and gaps in walls can help reduce ground water intrusion. If seepage up through the floor is noted, consider having a sump pump installed in the basement floor to reduce hydrostatic pressure and automatically remove water from the basement.
  • Water leak detectors strategically placed near water supply lines in the crawl space or basement can alert you with a loud alarm if a major pipe rupture occurs. These devices are battery-powered or plug into an AC outlet.


How To Deal With A Flooded Crawl Space

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

flooded homeBecause they don’t call it a “crawl space” for nothing, venturing into the claustrophobic confines of a dark, flooded crawl space probably isn’t a appealing DIY project for most homeowners. Definite hazards exist in the saturated conditions such as unsafe wet electrical wiring, residual pesticides dissolved in water, vermin infestation, rodent droppings, etc. Getting water out and damage repaired properly usually requires the skills and specialized equipment of a professional water damage recovery expert.

A flooded crawl space could result from inundation due to outdoor flooding during heavy rain, or from a ruptured indoor water supply line that is typically routed through the space. Professional water damage remediation for a flooded crawl space will include the following:

  • Get the water out. Because a crawl space may be below grade, standing water is common following flooding. This will require specialized pumps to remove water promptly. Typically, floodwater inside a crawl space contains floating and submerged debris that will have to be removed to facilitate proper pumping. A dirt-floor crawl space will be very muddy, which also presents issues that hamper water removal.
  • Dry the environment. After standing water and water-sodden debris has been removed, steps must be taken to dry residual moisture from wooden structural components including the sub-floor overhead, as well as dry out the muddy floor beneath. Ventilation fans must be utilized to flush the space with fresh air and specialized dehumidifiers may also be put to use to continuously reduce high water vapor.
  • Sanitize suspect areas. Where mold already exists inside a crawl space, contact with floodwaters usually accelerates contamination rapidly. If an inspection by a specialist reveals active mold in the crawl space, professional mold remediation techniques will be required to remove the mold and treat affected surfaces to prevent spread.
  • Prevent recurrence. If flooding originated outdoors, steps should be taken to seal openings into the crawl space from repeated water inundation. Grading the landscape around the perimeter to drain water away from the house may also be recommended.

For experienced professional service to deal with a flooded crawl space, contact the water damage experts at Rytech, Inc.

Is it Normal for a Flooded Crawl Space After it Rains?

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

A flooded crawl space after heavy rain may be all too common in many homes, but it is not “normal.” Theoretically, the crawl space under your house is designed to stay dry in all weather. When it doesn’t, water damage ensues. Wood rot deteriorates structural components, toxic mold growth gains a foothold and infects the entire house and insects and vermin thrive in the wet, dark environment. You can’t do anything about episodes of prolonged or heavy rain that typically precede a flooded crawl space. What you can do is take a number of steps to keep water out and keep the crawl space dry, the way it was designed to be.

  • flooded crawl spaceDivert water away from the foundation. Rainwater pooling around the foundation seeps into the crawl space through cracks and other openings. The landscape around the perimeter of the house should be graded so water naturally flows away instead of forming puddles that soak into the soil.
  • Keep rain gutters clear and unobstructed to prevent cascading overflow that also permeates soil around the foundation. Make sure gutter downspouts are long enough to discharge water sufficiently far from the perimeter of the house and prevent pooling.
  • Consider a foundation drain system. Embedded in a narrow, gravel-filled trench around the perimeter of the foundation, a perforated pipe catches water as it seeps into the soil and conveys it away from the house, out into the yard or all the way to the street.
  • Install a crawl space sump pump. Heavy rains also cause ground water to rise up into the crawl space instead of leaking in. Installed in a basin embedded in the ground inside the space, a sump pump activates automatically as ground water enters the basin. The pump conveys water through a discharge line that usually terminates out in the backyard. Because severe weather that floods a crawl space may also cause power outages, it’s a good idea to install a sump pump with battery backup feature.

Ask the water damage experts at Rytech, Inc. about professional techniques to deal with the aftermath of a flooded crawl space.