Check Your Crawl Space for Mold and Leaks

Time: 2 hours

That not-really-a-basement spot under your home that serves as a foundation? That’s your crawl space, not some forbidden zone lurking under the floorboards. It’s a part of your home, and you have to defend it. Take your crawl space from sketchy to solid by checking it for mold and leaks.

What's in it for you?

  • Eliminate odors
  • Protect your floor joists and foundation
  • Stop future mold growth

(Show me how)

Check Your Crawl Space for Mold and Leaks

  1. Find your crawl space. Crawl spaces are full of all sorts of wires, plumbing, and ducts that need fixing and checking (kind of like a basement). But unlike a basement, you can’t just waltz down the stairs to your crawl space. Look for an access door outside your home at ground level. If it’s not there, you’ll find it inside a closet or pantry.

  2. Check for moisture. Grab a flashlight and head into your crawl space. Check thoroughly for moisture. If you find any excessively wet areas, you might have a leaky pipe (in which case you probably want to call a plumber) or your gutters might need some love. While you’re at it, check your downspouts to make sure they’re diverting rainwater away from your foundation.

  3. Use lime to eliminate moisture on the floor. Lime can be toxic so put on long sleeves, gloves, a dust mask, and goggles before you start. Safety first, people. Spread a layer of hydrated lime on a damp floor (enough to soak up the water) and let it dry. Bonus: You’ll snuff out odors in your crawl space. Done, but don’t take your safety gear off quite yet.

  4. Maul that mold. See any fuzzy grey or green spots paired with a musty smell? You’ve got mold — left unchecked, it can cause structural damage as well as poor air quality in your home. Not good. Head over to your local hardware store and pick up some liquid mold remover. Spray the mold according to the directions on the bottle and scrape away any that’s left.

  5. Ventilate. You dealt with the moisture and mold, but if you want to keep your crawl space in tip-top shape, you’ll need to ventilate. A good rule of thumb is to have one square foot of ventilation for every 150 square feet of crawl space. That’s just the right amount to keep moisture at bay without losing too much heat in the winter. Bonus: Check for holes and cracks in the walls and ceiling — you don’t want rodents coming into your crawl space or worse, mold and water traveling between it and your living space.

Pro Tip: If you find any mold that covers more than 30 square feet or is black, call a professional. That stuff is toxic.

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