When it comes to inspections more can usually be told about a home, it’s condition and health by thoroughly inspection the crawl space than any other specific area of the home. This area not only is very revealing, things going on in the crawl space can affect the homes structure, it’s mechanical systems, insulation and the health of the environment inside the home as a large amount of this air moves from here into the home.
In this video Simon Shaw takes along for a full crawl space inspection as we hunt for clues that tell us more about what’s going on with this home. As he goes through the inspection you will notice that the tone and condition of the crawl changes. A thorough inspection is of great value here.
Clue #1 – Sump Pump located at the entrance of the crawl space. A sump pump is a tank designed to catch water, in this case by gravity flow along the ground, and then has a pump in the tank to lift and pump the water to another location. In the crawl this would be to the exterior. This clue tells us a few things. First, that there has been moisture in the crawl area, and also that measures of some kind have been taken to deal with said moisture. Is the unit installed properly? Can it be tested for function? What are the conditions like around the unit? These are all questions you would want to ask. Simon also tells us this clue lets him know to be alert to other moisture related problems in this crawl space.
Clue #2 – Examining the walls for termites. It is important during the inspection to not only examine the face of the walls for termite tubes but also to conduct a thorough check of the wood floor system that rests on top of the foundation wall as well. Termites can find their way into cracks in the block and travel up inside the block and out the top and eat into the floor system. Checking the wood for damage involves probing and sounding the wood. Simon tells us that even wood that appears to be intact on the surface can be damaged and a thorough check is needed to be sure the floor joists, girder and band are intact.
Clue #3 – Efflorescence on the foundation walls. As our inspector moves further into the crawl space a white “cotton like” growth is noted on the walls. This is efflorescence, or salt deposits on the face of the block wall. This occurs when moisture passes from one side of the block to the other and then dries on the surface. When the moisture dries, it leaves behind salt deposits picked up in the block as it passes through. This is a clear indication of a history of cyclical moisture. Meaning it has been wet, and dry and then wet again. The more significant the buildup, the more it has occurred. Over time this process deteriorates the block itself. For an inspector this is a clear indicator of a moisture issue. Simon also notices that the environment is getting damper, and shows us that the soil too, is wet in this area.
Clue #4 – Additional Signs of moisture. Further into the crawl space additional signs of moisture are noted. First, rusting is noted on the HVAC duct work. This usually only occurs in high humidity conditions. Also, fungal growth is noted on the floor joists themselves. We learn another key point too. Mold, a type of fungal growth that is of concern to many, can only be truly determined by a lab test. PestX, would handle this concern by taking a sample that would be turned into a lab and pithing 72 hours or less a confirmation could be made as to whether this is mold. Should you be concerned about mold in the crawl space? 50% of the air in the crawl space makes it into the home, so in this case yes, the health of what is going on in the crawl is a real concern to the environment inside the living area of the home as well.
Clue #5 – Mud stains on the plastic vapor barrier. The only way mud can get on top of the vapor barrier is when standing water has carried that mud onto the plastic and then dried leaving the mud behind. This is evidence of a history of standing water. Further on in the inspection some standing water was also noted. All of these signs in this crawl space point to the fact that moisture has been an ongoing issue, measures have been taken to deal with it, but not all of the issues are fully remediated. It would now be up to the client to determine if they would like additional steps taken to address what ongoing moisture is going on in this crawl space.
PestX is a 30+ year pest control company located in the Triad area of North Carolina. They serve the greater triad area and provide an array of inspection, and pest control solutions. In addition, they specialist in crawl space encapsulation. This would be one possible solution to the moisture problems in any crawl space. To learn more about PestX please click the link below directing you to the Closing Guys Expert page for an in-depth video about their business.