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Crawlspace and "organic growth"


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Hey everybody, I wanted to post some pictures of my home and get some advice on my situation.

Just bought a home, and the inspector found "organic growth" on the joists (didn't want to call it mold). Had a mold company come out and confirm there was light mold on some of the joists toward the back of the home due to a sloped backyard and gutter draining into the house.

The sellers agreed to pay for the mold company to spray moldicide (mold company said they did not recommend remediation because it was such a light mold). However, the guy from the mold company is trying to convince me to spend an extra 1k to remove the insulation.

I guess my question is really about what the best option is:

1. Have the guy come out and only spray the exposed wood

2. Have him rip out the insulation, spend the extra 1k, and spray it all down

3. Leave the insulation in, get some Boracare, and spray it down myself

Also added pictures of the foundation wall which shows some water, and of the area where the inspector assumes the water is getting in. Along with the above options, we are definitely going to be doing landscaping to help move water away from the foundation. I know this is a biggie to keep it from coming back.

Pics are attached. Thanks all!

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Is your crawlspace well-ventilated? Or does it received conditioned air from the HVAC system?

Marc

Hi Marc,

There is ductwork down there, but no intentional air-conditioning. There are crawlspace vents around the foundation, and the previous owners had them shut.

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Heck,

I wish crawlspaces looked like that around here.

For millennia people cleaned up mold when they found it and we still managed to populate the planet. Now we're paying folks to do it for thousands of dollars?

Why don't you just have them kick some cash back to you at closing to deal with the mold issue and then go and buy some BoraCare and a pump sprayer, go under there and one-by-one pull down those batts, spray the entire joist bay and joists and put the batts back up one bay at a time. Heck, in a nice crawlspace like that it probably won't take more than a few hours to do the whole thing.

The fungi will most probably just be on that part of the joists that's below the insulation. If you want to clean it up, get a whitewall brush, mix up a bucket of water with some spic-n-span with a little bleach and scrub that stuff off, let everything dry and then come back in a few days with some BoraCare and saturate the crap out of it.

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Heck,

I wish crawlspaces looked like that around here.

For millennia people cleaned up mold when they found it and we still managed to populate the planet. Now we're paying folks to do it for thousands of dollars?

Why don't you just have them kick some cash back to you at closing to deal with the mold issue and then go and buy some BoraCare and a pump sprayer, go under there and one-by-one pull down those batts, spray the entire joist bay and joists and put the batts back up one bay at a time. Heck, in a nice crawlspace like that it probably won't take more than a few hours to do the whole thing.

The fungi will most probably just be on that part of the joists that's below the insulation. If you want to clean it up, get a whitewall brush, mix up a bucket of water with some spic-n-span with a little bleach and scrub that stuff off, let everything dry and then come back in a few days with some BoraCare and saturate the crap out of it.

So I take that as the crawlspace looks OK? I was considering doing just what you said, minus the insulation but if that is going to be best id take the time to take it down and put it back up.

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Get the moisture problem fixed.

You don't have a "mold" problem, you have a moisture problem. Dry it out and the mold dies and it is in the crawl space where it won't bother the occupants.

If you just have to do something to feel better about it, spray some mold killer product on it but that crawl looks exceptionally clean from here.

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If you have a problem at all, it's the high humidity in the crawl. The sheeting that lies on the earth isn't sealed at the seams so enough moisture is able to slip past the open seams and gaps to cause that little mold growth, if that's what it is.

What others have said: dry it out first, then provide ample ventilation to keep the moisture down. Sealing the plastic at the seams and at all piers and foundation walls will help a lot.

Some folks with single story homes completely seal up the crawlspace instead, remove the floor joist insulation, then use the entire crawl as an HVAC air return route. Under this scenario, the crawl becomes part of the conditioned spaces of the house.

The best solution depends on your climate, particulars about the house, and your budget. If you like your home inspector, give him a call, show him this thread, and ask him to advise you.

Marc

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I agree 100% that the excess moisture is the issue and that if it's eliminated the mold will die. He said that his crawlspace vents had been sealed up for years. That explains it - he's living over a petri dish.

The issue though is this whole "Toxic" whack a mole mania out there where numbnuts inspectors keep pushing the idea to people that there is actually such a thing as "Toxic Mold" and everybody is walking on eggshells around that crap.

He can buy the home, live there twenty years and if it's been nuked with BoraCare and he keeps the crawl clean and ventilated properly none of that crap will spread. However, when he goes to sell, if some whack-a-mold nutjob of a poorly informed inspector waddles out of the crawl and declares the place is infested with "toxic mold" or "organic growth" there's a chance he could lose the deal. Better to clean it all up, nuke it now to turn that area into Chernobyl for Fungi and keep it clean and dry and go on with his life as planned.

OT - OF!!!

M.

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So this is the house you are buying, correct? It is not your home and the current owner is the one that will be having the work done, correct?

If all that is right, I would have them correct the water drainage problem. Have a swell built to direct the water away from the home, might consider an underground drainage system with a catch basin and French Drain combo and put an extension on the rain gutter downspout to move the water away from the foundation. Then have them spray the crawl with BoraCare and enjoy life. I would also have the insulation removed, in Mid TN we really do not need to insulate our subfloors. I have seen insulation on subfloors causing more problems than it solves.

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So this is the house you are buying, correct? It is not your home and the current owner is the one that will be having the work done, correct?

If all that is right, I would have them correct the water drainage problem. Have a swell built to direct the water away from the home, might consider an underground drainage system with a catch basin and French Drain combo and put an extension on the rain gutter downspout to move the water away from the foundation. Then have them spray the crawl with BoraCare and enjoy life. I would also have the insulation removed, in Mid TN we really do not need to insulate our subfloors. I have seen insulation on subfloors causing more problems than it solves.

Correct - we are in the process of buying. The sellers will give us about $1000 in lieu of repairing it themselves, based off a quote from a mold contractor to spray. This is enough to cover the mold guy spraying, but he would like another $1000 to remove the insulation. Just trying to figure out if it's worth going through all of that (and if it is necessary), or better to just use the $1000 to fix the drainage issue with a landscaper and to buy a gallon of BoraCare and call it a day.

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Boracare will not be the end of your problems if the humidity in the crawl is not addressed.

And there's a chance the humidity in the crawl will not be brought within limits by simply addressing the water entry issue. Adequate ventilation will likely need to be restored.

Get your home inspector back on the job.

Marc

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Boracare will not be the end of your problems if the humidity in the crawl is not addressed.

And there's a chance the humidity in the crawl will not be brought within limits by simply addressing the water entry issue. Adequate ventilation will likely need to be restored.

Get your home inspector back on the job.

Marc

Good point.. What else would I be able to ask him to do?

As for the ventilation, should I keep the crawlspace vents open year round then?

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Boracare will not be the end of your problems if the humidity in the crawl is not addressed.

And there's a chance the humidity in the crawl will not be brought within limits by simply addressing the water entry issue. Adequate ventilation will likely need to be restored.

Get your home inspector back on the job.

Marc

Good point.. What else would I be able to ask him to do?

As for the ventilation, should I keep the crawlspace vents open year round then?

What area are you located?

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Middle o' Tennessee, Scott. And he plays a '62 Telecaster.

That crawlspace is not too bad. You are fixing it to make it better. I would pull some insulation out and see if it is even damp before paying this guy to replace it.

Deal with the gutter and the grading and keep ventilating the crawlspace for now.

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I agree with all above, except the boracare. I am not keen on using chemicals for pest control unless necessary. Personally I would use Concrobium. We have 6-7yrs of experience with it and no complaints.

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Hi Les,

According to a wood rot specialist I know, BoraCare is nothing but borate and glycerin. It's no more toxic to a human than table salt. The glycerin allegedly helps the borate diffuse into the wood up to 1-1/2 inches deep so that if you hit both sides of a nominal two-by it should reach the center and eliminate hard-to-get critters like anobiidae and lictids. Once treated, the wood is basically Chernobyl for fungi and insects.

Hardest part about using it is keeping it in suspension in the water. It likes to settle out into a hard-to-stir muck on the bottom of the container.

Has anyone looked into dry ice blasting? That stuff is kewl! The beads literally explode when they hit a surface and turn to carbon dioxide vapor. Definitely needs to be used in a well-ventilated area or you end up with no air around you, but it really does a nice job of cleaning.

Know how when you try and clean up an old car using solvents and brushes and end up leaving surface film and scratches? Do it with dry ice blasting and there is no filmy residue left on the surface, paint isn't destroyed and you don't end up with scratches. Use it for restoring the interior of a 55 year old car that's been sitting in a shed for 30 years and the interior comes out looking like an ultra clean survivor. Amazing technology.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Hi All,

Well, after nearly fifteen years of not checking them out, I decided to re-visit the BoraCare site and found some stuff there that will be useful to the OP.

Number 1 - Apparently the makers of BoraCare had so much success with BoraCare that they decided to come up with an additional products designed specifically to work in concert with BoraCare and they provide a 25 year warranty on homes pre-treated with these products.

MoldClean - Removes stains and prepares the wood for BoraCare and MoldCare

BoraCare - Treats wood to prevent insect infestations

MoldCare - Used with BoraCare to ensure no surface mold develops on the wood.

Bac-A-Zap - Eliminates musty odors and odors from rodent urine

NiBan - Used before putting down a barrier, apply NiBan for long-term protection against ants, cockroaches, crickets, silverfish, slugs and snails.

Humidifiers to keep the place dry

BoraFoam - Termite-resistant foam board insulation applied to the block walls to prevent condensation.

Looks like these guys have really done their homework. They are located in Tennessee, by the way.

They have a nice little booklet that the OP might find interesting that shows how to go about sealing and treating that crawlspace to keep it dry and free of fungi and musty odors.

Click Here !!!

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Boracare will not be the end of your problems if the humidity in the crawl is not addressed.

And there's a chance the humidity in the crawl will not be brought within limits by simply addressing the water entry issue. Adequate ventilation will likely need to be restored.

Get your home inspector back on the job.

Marc

Good point.. What else would I be able to ask him to do?

As for the ventilation, should I keep the crawlspace vents open year round then?

Does not look like a serious problem. I cast a vote for you to spray it yourself. The mold guy may be padding the ticket for some extra work not really needed.

If the vents were closed they need to be opened.

You might want to consider :

http://www.gaf.com/Roofing/Residential/ ... tion_Vents

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Grading and drainage improvements should always be first priority, but sometimes the necessary improvements are not practical.

In humid climates ventilating crawl spaces can be a bad idea. Do some research regarding sealed crawl spaces. Ventilation often does not solve moisture issues.

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Grading and drainage improvements should always be first priority, but sometimes the necessary improvements are not practical.

In humid climates ventilating crawl spaces can be a bad idea. Do some research regarding sealed crawl spaces. Ventilation often does not solve moisture issues.

Thanks all so much for the help and thoughts. I've decided to first and foremost fix the grading and gutter issue as soon as I move in. Then, I'll probably end up spraying Boracare just for my wife's peace of mind, and checking on it every few months. For real though, you all really eased my mind, so thank you. I was on the verge of buying into the hype.

Also should note, I called my inspector, and he agreed he would follow this plan if it were his own place.

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