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Your site seems full of knowledgeable folk, so I thought I would ask those not invested in scaring me into spending lots of money.

So we're on contract for a house. Long story short we close in 3 days and I just realized the scope of the crawlspace problem. They claimed they "fixed" it. But all they did was have someone spray the blue spray around and be done with it.

My main question is simple. IS it fixable, without outrageous cost. This home took us months to find. We love it. But we don't want to buy something unfixable and in turn unsellable. I also don't want to run from it if a few hundred or even a few thousand is what would save me.

Problem:

I would say about 1000 sq ft of crawlspace, maybe more like 500 or 750, ISN'T clean and good, the rest is. Of the 1000/750/500, half looks like what I will attach in pictures, half seems okay. I pulled down a couple bits of insulation and most is fine, maybe here and there some crawling up. Only saw one instance on the subflooring, a couple specks, but I didn't pull much down.

It looks like common WDO, and white mold, and maybe a touch of black. The pictures make it look a little worse as its still wet from that blue junk they sprayed 1.5 weeks ago.

What I would do:

1. pull all the insulation out.

2. towel dry the large puddles and droplets of the blue stuff.

3. dehumidifier, get it dry down there

4. scrape out all the mold/fungus everywhere

5. treat/scrub/etc whatever is left, (with hepa vac nearby?)

5. roll up vapor barrier with the scraped out mold.

6. properly encapsulate crawl, sealing vents, VR on floor and up walls

7. permanent crawl dehumidifier

(I believe I know all sources of the moisture and can fix that)

Paying someone to do it vs doing myself as a project is up in the air. Cheaper to do myself, AND if I know how to do it and have done my research well, believe it or not I feel i'll probably be far more anal about how well it is done.

Do you have any thoughts? Appreciate any help! I have to decide pretty much NOW if I am going to walk out on final inspection, demand they 'fix it' which they'd of course skimp on again and we'd delay closing, or ask they pay me for what it will cost me to do..

I know you're not a mold folks and I won't hold ya to anything I'm just looking for any ..opinions. Is all mold fixable or is it worth running and screaming sometimes? I'm a pretty ambitious guy with tackling projects..

Oh and, why do some places recommend sending off a culture to identify? It all needs removing, no? Same removal methods?

Thanks ..any help appreciated!

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Type doesn't matter; it's mold.

Solving the water issue is the "hard" part, cleaning up the mold is relatively simple, unless you're inclined to believe all the stuff that's flogged in popular news media.

You can certainly encapsulate/seal/vapor retarder the crawlspace yourself; it's not hard.

I'd put "install closed cell foam around entire perimeter of crawlspace from the VR to the subfloor" at #8. Then, I'd say you've pretty much nailed it.

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First, thank you to whoever opened the forum for replies!

Second, thanks for the feedback kurt. I'm hoping to hear from others with the same tone. But if anyone feels otherwise, I want to hear that too!

We are inclined to buy but I will admit this IS scary. We have a 3 year old, and a 17 year old with eczema issues.

But I really do think the media has done what the media does, and america has done what america does - and fed on fear to baby the human race.

Anyway. For #8, I was thinking the VR would go on the floor then up the walls to the wood. Either way ok?

(Also, close off crawl vents)

It is a big job. But I'm okay with projects. So long as I believe it CAN be fixed. Without spending 20 grand. :\

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(Failed to add the two scariest pics so I edited those in)

" Keep the vapor barrier below the metal cap."

Metal cap?

Edit: Oh nevermind, gotcha. Thanks for the input! No idea about termite levels in this area, I've never seen one, but I've only owned one home, only been under 3 or 4.

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Sounds like you have a pretty good handle on the issue.

I would add though to NOT put foam on the perimeter wall if you are in a medium to high termite activity area. I suspect you are in a medium termite area going by your location but that is just a guess. It is great stuff but it creates termite hiding places. If you have the typical sheet metal termite/rodent shield then you could start above that with foam. Keep the vapor barrier below the metal cap.

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Don't test the mold. Whatever's growing there today might not be growing there tomorrow. If you have conditions that are allowing mold of any kind to grow, that's a problem. The primary problem is the conditions. The mold itself is secondary.

Remove and discard all of the insulation and the vapor barrier.

If there's bulk water entry, then you have to address that. Get a drainage system installed.

I wouldn't scrape down the mold. I'd hit it with an EPA registered fungicide.

Convert to a conditioned crawlspace following the guidelines here:

http://www.buildingscience.com/document ... -and-codes

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Don't test the mold. Whatever's growing there today might not be growing there tomorrow. If you have conditions that are allowing mold of any kind to grow, that's a problem. The primary problem is the conditions. The mold itself is secondary.

Remove and discard all of the insulation and the vapor barrier.

If there's bulk water entry, then you have to address that. Get a drainage system installed.

I wouldn't scrape down the mold. I'd hit it with an EPA registered fungicide.

Convert to a conditioned crawlspace following the guidelines here:

http://www.buildingscience.com/document ... -and-codes

Is the blue liquid that has been sprayed all up in there not EPA registered fungicide?

I looked at your link. I will have to look at it again but it seemed at first glance a bit more than I'm sure I can handle alone. Unless closing off all my crawlspace vents but one or two then putting continuous fans in those and letting it pull air from the house is the short and sweet from one of those diagrams. That I could handle.

I do think the dehumidifier is something I'd be hard pressed at this point to be talked out of.

I do know the water problems I believe and can address those. One is a water barrel in crawl attached to spring water out on the edge of the property. You can use city or spring water plumbing in the whole house. Cool concept but it is sweating profusely, as is all lines coming and going from it (spring water is coooold), and it is leaking.

There is a chance there is some run off from the hill by the house going into the vents which a french drain will solve, but I think that was solved prior, hence the giant ditch along side the house.

I believe they had big water issues with the hill, put in the big ditch but never fixed the mold, and also around that time introduced the crazy sweaty water barrel and one crawlspace vent fan. But frankly I'm not convinced that the fan's not pulling 90 degree air from the outside only adding to the problem.

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. . . Is the blue liquid that has been sprayed all up in there not EPA registered fungicide?

I doubt it. It looks like the stuff that they put in Porta Johns. There are many products out there that will kill the mold and not leave a stupid looking blue stain all over everything.

I looked at your link. I will have to look at it again but it seemed at first glance a bit more than I'm sure I can handle alone. Unless closing off all my crawlspace vents but one or two then putting continuous fans in those and letting it pull air from the house is the short and sweet from one of those diagrams. That I could handle.

Read the entire thing to understand what you're actually up against. From what you've written, you don't understand yet. Your problem is outdoor air. You need to stop bringing outdoor air into the crawlspace. The crawlspace needs to brought into the conditioned envelope. Read the article and understand.

I do think the dehumidifier is something I'd be hard pressed at this point to be talked out of.

If the crawlspace is sealed and conditioned, then there will be no meaningful source of humidity down there and you won't need a dehumidifier. If you leave some vents open, then you'll get lots of humidity from the outdoor air. Putting a dehumidifier down there will be a loosing battle. You'll never dehumidify *all of the air* that keeps coming in there.

I do know the water problems I believe and can address those. One is a water barrel in crawl attached to spring water out on the edge of the property. You can use city or spring water plumbing in the whole house. Cool concept but it is sweating profusely, as is all lines coming and going from it (spring water is coooold), and it is leaking.

If there are plumbing leaks, then of course you have to fix them. If pipes are sweating, then that has nothing to do with the plumbing system and everything to do with high humidity in the crawlspace. In your climate a ventilated crawlspace is a stupid crawlspace. Ventilating it to the outdoors only brings in more warm moist air.

There is a chance there is some run off from the hill by the house going into the vents which a french drain will solve, but I think that was solved prior, hence the giant ditch along side the house.

No offense, but that paragraph illustrates your ignorance about drainage issues. If liquid water is getting into the crawlspace, a shallow French drain will do nothing to solve it. The drain needs to be placed at or below the level of the footing. That means a deep curtain drain. Stop thinking about water as if it only runs on the surface. It mostly runs underground. When it ends up in a crawlspace, it got there because is rose up from below, not trickled down from above. You've got to intercept it from below.

I believe they had big water issues with the hill, put in the big ditch but never fixed the mold, and also around that time introduced the crazy sweaty water barrel and one crawlspace vent fan. But frankly I'm not convinced that the fan's not pulling 90 degree air from the outside only adding to the problem.

Of course it is. You need to keep the outdoor air out, not bring it in. A vented crawlspace in your climate is just dumb.

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Thanks for the reply. I agree which is why in my original post I stated the plan was to completely encapsulate (20 mm vb?) ground and up walls, and block off all the vents.

Dehumidifier for good measure. But I'm more than happy to not pay for that if I don't need to.

I will say the parts of dirt I see are bone dry... where the current vb is failing to cover..

As for the french drain, I meant just for the hill outside the house (if it were still an issue) and I say that because there is evidence there was water coming in through the vents on that side of the house. It's a good hill. I think he noticed it and put in the long four foot wide ditch by the house with the wall along it, and lowered the ground level. i went in huge downpours to monitor and nothing was coming near them now. But, see attached.

Hard to tell with the ditch pics sorry, but that is what I think started all this off to begin with then it was never really dried out, so.. here we are.

No offense taken I will be the first to tell you I'm in a learning process here. I appreciate your help.

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It looks like a bad case of dry rot, AKA incipient rot.

I would not spend a single penny or hour of effort on this house until the extent of the damage to structural members is accurately determined. That's done by probing with a screwdriver. In severe cases, the screwdriver goes right through the joist with little resistance.

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Your best investment at this time is the best home inspector you can find. Onsite!

Marc

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I'm taking tons of pictures, I'm taking my DSLR. Because I don't know if someones takes the pile of crap and throws it into a fan, if I'll be allowed back in again. So I'm taking tons. We will stab every affected 2x4/subfloor.

That picture looks like they are in worse shape, subflooring is black, this is mostly.. spotty, so hopefully we're in the clear. But I didn't even think about probing the wood and am forever grateful I saw your note before going under with him.

Thank ya.

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I will say the parts of dirt I see are bone dry... where the current vb is failing to cover..

Of course, it's dry. All of the moisture from the soil has evaporated into the crawlspace air. If you cover it with a vapor barrier then come back to look at it the next day, you'll see that it's damp. That's because the vapor barrier is preventing that water from evaporating.

As for the french drain, I meant just for the hill outside the house (if it were still an issue) and I say that because there is evidence there was water coming in through the vents on that side of the house. It's a good hill. I think he noticed it and put in the long four foot wide ditch by the house with the wall along it, and lowered the ground level. i went in huge downpours to monitor and nothing was coming near them now. But, see attached.

When water comes in through a crawlspace vent, that's a grading issue, which seems to have been fixed.

Hard to tell with the ditch pics sorry, but that is what I think started all this off to begin with then it was never really dried out, so.. here we are.

Think about the water in three dimensions. When it rains very hard, some water might flow on the surface of the ground. But most of the time the rain soaks into the ground, moving downward until it reaches an impermeable (or less permeable) layer of soil. At that point the water either spreads outward if it's a level layer of soil or it flows downhill if it's a sloped layer of soil.

In the case of this house, it looks like someone altered the grade to prevent surface water from flowing right up to the house, but the path of underground water has probably not been altered. To do that, you'd need to dig a deep drain - to a depth of the house footings. Little French drains that are only a foot or so deep won't help.

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Isn't that what encapsulation is to meant to do though? Block the moisture from that?

Encapsulation blocks vapor.

If you've got bulk water entry - liquid water - then you need to address that separately. You don't want your new vapor barrier to be floating on water.

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I read the link, whole thing. I'm sold. I have these guys coming out tomorrow to discuss conditioned crawlspaces:

http://www.crawlspacedoctor.com/index.p ... crawlspace

I'll get quote. See what sellers say, go from there.

They did say they don't do mold though. They fix the moisture problem and the mold won't thrive grow or live, but that it would need to stay or be removed by me or someone else, personal preference.

What a mess.

Do you know the added cost to your utilities bill you might see conditioning it? I read in the link you gave that conditioned is more energy efficient than passive venting so, maybe it evens out or works out better.

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Conditioning it will cost little or nothing.

Installing it won't be cheap. My guess is in the $12k-$15k range.

I've had clients do it themselves for a few hundred dollars plus $2k worth of sweat and frustration. Still a good deal if you have the temperament for it.

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Short version:

The water barrel is coming out tomorrow it will take them most the day, it would be too awkward to show up with the encapsulation fella.

So I got him on the phone gave him sq ft, height, approximate other stuff and asked what sorta range would I be looking at. He said it sounded like a 5 to 7k job, as long as encapsulation and conditioning is all that is needed. He said other drainage systems etc would of course cost me.

Which to me means 7 to 10.

I will still get him to come out and evaluate with me in the future but I may not elect to hire someone to do it, if it is determinded the encaps/condition would be sufficient.

I'm fairly convinced I could do it myself with the help of Google.

Going under in a couple hours to stab with a screwdriver. Will keep ya updated.

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Definitely within the range of any DIY'er inspired enough to do it; necessary skill set is very basic.

Retail, it always ends up about the 12k -15k range Katen said. DIY, it's always about 2k.

But, if you've never done sandhog work in a crawlspace, or slithered around in most people's worst nightmare conditions, it will test your resolve. Be ready.

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Just spent over 2 hours with the mold guy in the crawlspace and I feel WAY better. First thing I learned was that flash photograph in a crawl with shadows and on wet/sprayed stuff comes out much worse in pictures. I almost felt foolish looking in person after having got hyped up with pictures.

Second I was assured it is WDO fungus not a mold and that its all dead from his spray. he wiped some off, was fine.

Everything survived the screwdriver test.

We're going to clean off all the dead stuff, get it dry down there, replace the vapor barrier, install a dehumidifier in dead center. Oh and remove all the insulation. The walls already have some sort of insulation, looks like foam, all the way around the whole place. They are just holding moisture.

Might it be the best approach? Well I think we can all agree that's not really agreeable, but he made me feel comfortable with his experience and knowledge while we were down there and I believe him when he said that's what he'd do if it were his.

Oh, and we think we found the problem. The homeowner was telling the Realtor about stuff he'd done and was talkin about the crawl since it was the topic of the day, talking about how much he's spent down there already, and was telling her about the new insulation around all the ductwork, which started after they found a big hold in duct spewing AC into the crawl. I think right around the area the trouble was.

As for the spring water barrel, no where near it is any sign of moisture or mold but the condensation on the pipes going into it, which we insulated.

Bottom line, it's clearly fixable, not nearly as big a scope as i thought, the wood tested good, and I'm comfortable with our approach and comfortable with going a step further if it doesn't work.

So I'm very happy right now. Thanks all for your insight!

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