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Crawl Space Cure-All


Jim Morrison
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Originally posted by hausdok

Hi Jim,

It's smoke and mirrors. If crawlspaces with dirt floors were health hazards that caused mold growth half the country would be in the hospital.

Yes, a concrete floor in a crawlspace will make it less hospitable to rodents.

Yes, a concrete floor in a crawlspace will help to reduce humidity in the home above.

Yes, a concrete floor in a crawlspace will give you more storage space (If it's high enough).

Yes, a concrete floor in a crawlspace will help to eliminate a musty odor.

No, a concrete floor can't eliminate mold spore.

No, a concrete floor won't necessarily be "dry", eliminate all excess humidity or prevent water infiltration.

The use of Melinda Ballard's name and all of the other mold hype to sell an otherwise simple process that is nice to have but not absolutely necessary ranks right up there with the "mold is gold" inspectors.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Sorry you have obviously had a bad experience with mold identification or mitigation Mike but a vapor barrier on the bottom of a crawl space significantly reduces moisture which by simple deductive reasoning will significantly reduce mold growth. Plain and simple. I enter crawl spaces of both types about 8 times per week and have been doing so for the last 7 years and I know this to be fact. I have no idea if this material preforms as well as a lean concrete slab but the concrete reduces moisture significantly.

Given the leaky condition of heat ducts in crawl spaces and especially ones that inspectors have jarred loose or broken by crawling under, over or around, the excessive mold growth noted in some extremely damp crawl spaces can have significant effects on those with a sensitivity to mold spores.

No it's not a cure all but can be a step in the right direction.

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It's a decent fix for the nightmare crawlspace(s); the advertising is just trying to capitalize on all the usual sensational hysteria related to mold.

Crusty, read the latest mold study; it's in last weeks Chicago Tribune. Upshot; none of the crap we've been reading the last couple years is borne out by scientific study. None of it. "Toxic" mold is only toxic to those who have genetic predispositions to be allergic to the stuff, usually only those w/ pre-existing respiratory health issues (asthma leading the way). These same folks have problems w/ pollens, atmospheric pollutants of all stripes, & just about anything that isn't pure air. Mold is just another item in the list. Conclusion: mold is not good, but it isn't necessarily "bad". It does provide great fodder for those inclined to sensationalism in reporting.

Concrete will keep rodents out of the crawlspace (sometimes); in Chicago, concrete provides a wonderful roof for the rat warren though. When we've busted out slabs in crawlspaces to dig out bsmts'., we find amazing tunnel complexes where (apparently) thousands of rats have lived. The concrete is, in one way, protective; we can't put poison under the concrete, & it provides the rats a nice barrier from our eradication efforts.

Mikes comments were (as usual) pretty much spot on. He wasn't saying any of the stuff that you seem to have drawn from his statements.

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Exactly what is the difference supposed to be between normal concrete and this stuff? I can't find where they tell you that.

For my money, mold is much bigger as a business than as a problem. And as far as I know concrete is not a vapor barrier, it's permeable. Vapor retarder, at best.

Brian G.

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I agree with both of you. You’re preaching to the choir. I practice Christian Science so that pretty much says it all about what I believe about toxic effects of anything. In my area the poly barriers I see are usually sloppy, disturbed or damaged and seem very ineffective when compared to the homes that I do with rat slabs and a drainage outlet.

I too feel that the guys who use scare tactics built around mold, or any other issue for that matter, are off the wall, but I wouldn't discredit the effectiveness of the product because of it. It may still be a good thing, frankly I have no familiarity with it. I’d love to hear from someone who knows the product.

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Originally posted by Brian G.

Exactly what is the difference supposed to be between normal concrete and this stuff? I can't find where they tell you that.

For my money, mold is much bigger as a business than as a problem. And as far as I know concrete is not a vapor barrier, it's permeable. Vapor retarder, at best.

Brian G.

You are right. Concrete is horrible at barring water penetration. This is why on new construction their is a vapor barrier sheeting placed around the foundation where soil will be in contact with the foundation walls. Some also use a spray vapor barrier in addition to the sheeting.

Lots and lots of basement cracks are from water soaking into the concrete and then freezing in the cold months before it has a chance to dry out, rather than from the foundation settling or moving as people suspect. That is just what I have found anyway.

Dan

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Oh...and on the topic of mold...I was the one a couple months back who asked on TIJ about doing mold inspections. I got the advice that mold inspections were worthless to the home buyer. I did my own research just to support this advice and I found that the advice was right on the money.

Just as Kurt said, "Toxic Mold" is an urban legend. Only those susceptible to an allergic reaction to mold, etc. are at risk. There is probably more risk of harm from eating cheese than from mold spores found in a home with moisture problems and mold.

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Originally posted by Brian G.

Exactly what is the difference supposed to be between normal concrete and this stuff? I can't find where they tell you that.

For my money, mold is much bigger as a business than as a problem. And as far as I know concrete is not a vapor barrier, it's permeable. Vapor retarder, at best.

Brian G.

They replace some of the aggregate in the concrete with vermiculite -that's the main difference. Anyway, this outfit did a presentation at our local chapter and I've been all over their web site and I just wanted to know if anyone ever saw it in person.

The reason I ask is because you just have to be suspicious of a product that megahypes up a pseudo-problem just before advertising itself as the cure.

This stuff is essentially a spray-in crawl space floor. They are currently capitalizing on it's mold-reducing powers, but also promote it as a radon barrier, moisture barrier, rat and bug barrier, and rubble-wall-stabilizer. It's kind of a Gromicko-esque marketing foray, but that's why I don't pay attention to the marketing department, I want to hear from folks who have crawled over it.

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Originally posted by Jim Morrison

They are currently capitalizing on it's mold-reducing powers, but also promote it as a radon barrier, moisture barrier, rat and bug barrier, and rubble-wall-stabilizer.

I would expect it's capabilities as a radon barrier to be very comparable to it's vapor barrier prowess...limited, at best. Does it cure baldness and erectile disfunction too? [:-dev3]

Brian G.

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There is the thought that one is installing an ACM (vermiculite contains some asbestos fiber) in the crawlspace, albeit within a matrix of concrete.

In some ways, it isn't a bad way to deal w/ the nasty crawlspace problem. Did they mention what happens when it is applied over a vapor retarder/barrier? As w/ most concrete products, I imagine it would mess it up without very careful application, i.e., concrete installed over vapor barriers doesn't set up properly unless there is minimal water in the mix.

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Our crawl spaces in Central Texas predate the 1950s, have exposed dirt, low clearances (2 feet is wonderful), are frequently wet or damp and almost none of the old leaky frame houses above them have a mold problem. Hell, I hardly ever find mold in these wet crawl spaces.

I'm sure our climate has a lot to do with it, but it was in this climate that Linda Ballard got famous.

I have to agree with everything Mike, Kurt and the EPA said. Mold has gotten totally out-of-hand.

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  • 2 months later...
Originally posted by hausdok

Hi Jim,

It's smoke and mirrors. If crawlspaces with dirt floors were health hazards that caused mold growth half the country would be in the hospital.

Yes, a concrete floor in a crawlspace will make it less hospitable to rodents.

Yes, a concrete floor in a crawlspace will help to reduce humidity in the home above.

Yes, a concrete floor in a crawlspace will give you more storage space (If it's high enough).

Yes, a concrete floor in a crawlspace will help to eliminate a musty odor.

No, a concrete floor can't eliminate mold spore.

No, a concrete floor won't necessarily be "dry", eliminate all excess humidity or prevent water infiltration.

The use of Melinda Ballard's name and all of the other mold hype to sell an otherwise simple process that is nice to have but not absolutely necessary ranks right up there with the "mold is gold" inspectors.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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[i would like to address some of the issues brought up here. First and foremost, Neutocrete has been in business for 17 years - not a couple of years. Neutocrete is also different than regular concrete. Once Neutocrete is cured, it is water resistant. In other words the Neutocrete becomes your vapor barrior. Regular concrete still allows moisture to whick up through it and therefore does not control the mositure.

To control mold you need to control two things - the food source for the mold, and the moisture. Mold needs both to bloom. Mold spores are everywhere and you can not, without great difficulty control the mold. You can control the environment in which that mold exists. By controlling the mositure you are in essence controlling the mold.

The crawlspace is just one of the major places in a home where you need to control the moisture. If there is a leaky roof, fixing one without the toher being repair is fruitless. Both need to be attended to. Controlling the mositure in the crawlspace does sometimes help the mositure levels in the attic. Moisture coming from the crawlspace makes its way through the house condensing in the attic cuasing a multitude of problems. I hope I've clear up a few mis-conceptions about Neutocrete. JTP

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  • 2 years later...
  • 5 months later...

Looking for the crawlspace cure-all! Radon is present and we have lowered it with air-to-air exchanger. We have 1200sq ft of dirt crawlspace separated by blockwalls to have several different room areas. Have looked into pool wrap encapsilation and neurocrete. Help! We have lowered our radon from 13 to 7.0 in basement and 5.5/6/3 in the bedrooms above the crawlspace. Any solutions? It is currently below zero so we cannot keep the windows open in the winter!

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There's nothing anyone here can do for you, as we are not contractors and are home inspectors.

However, it sounds to me like your solution is obvious; you need to cover that soil in the crawlspace with a sealed barrier and you also need a radon mitigation system beneath that barrier, so contact some radon mitigation professionals in your area to discuss your options and obtain bids.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Spent the last year testing radon, received two quotes to remediate the radon! First quote stated that due to the size of the crawlspace approx. 1200 sq ft ((2ft average ht) several rooms due to previous owner add-ons)) we would need to draintile the whole area and might need 1 - 2 systems ($6000+). Another business stated that a radon system or two was not cost effective and recommended sealing the sump pump and adding a air system to vent air into and out of the basement. After and air system was installed the radon went down by half. It was then recommended to seal the crawlspace. We have two options...Crawl space encapsulation, neurocrete, or concrete crawlspace sealing? Who has any experience with any of these products? Moisture has not been an issue...we have a couple cracks in the outside concrete block...only issue...mice...we have cats! We are close to the water so it is damp frequently.

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  • 4 weeks later...
Originally posted by Carla

Spent the last year testing radon, received two quotes to remediate the radon! First quote stated that due to the size of the crawlspace approx. 1200 sq ft ((2ft average ht) several rooms due to previous owner add-ons)) we would need to draintile the whole area and might need 1 - 2 systems ($6000+). Another business stated that a radon system or two was not cost effective and recommended sealing the sump pump and adding a air system to vent air into and out of the basement. After and air system was installed the radon went down by half. It was then recommended to seal the crawlspace. We have two options...Crawl space encapsulation, neurocrete, or concrete crawlspace sealing? Who has any experience with any of these products? Moisture has not been an issue...we have a couple cracks in the outside concrete block...only issue...mice...we have cats! We are close to the water so it is damp frequently.

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Originally posted by Jim Morrison

Quote:Originally posted by Brian G.

Exactly what is the difference supposed to be between normal concrete and this stuff? I can't find where they tell you that.

For my money, mold is much bigger as a business than as a problem. And as far as I know concrete is not a vapor barrier, it's permeable. Vapor retarder, at best.

Brian G.

They replace some of the aggregate in the concrete with vermiculite -that's the main difference. Anyway, this outfit did a presentation at our local chapter and I've been all over their web site and I just wanted to know if anyone ever saw it in person.

The reason I ask is because you just have to be suspicious of a product that megahypes up a pseudo-problem just before advertising itself as the cure.

This stuff is essentially a spray-in crawl space floor. They are currently capitalizing on it's mold-reducing powers, but also promote it as a radon barrier, moisture barrier, rat and bug barrier, and rubble-wall-stabilizer. It's kind of a Gromicko-esque marketing foray, but that's why I don't pay attention to the marketing department, I want to hear from folks who have crawled over it.

I have crawled on it and I had to add a paragraph in my report about how I could not be held responsible for damage to it while in the crawl space. It serves a limited purpose - it makes the crawl look great. When you crawl on it you crack it most of the time, it shrinks some of the time, it causes the soil to dry out and shrink, which causes collapse. It does not keep out a water problem, but hides it until the water overtakes the "crete". I am less impressed with this than I am with the Plastic barrier type crawl space seals.

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Originally posted by John Ghent

I have crawled on it and I had to add a paragraph in my report about how I could not be held responsible for damage to it while in the crawl space.

When you crawl on it you crack it most of the time.......

It cracks just from a single person crawling on it?! Jeez, that's flimsy stuff for something supposedly similar to concrete. Did you get an idea of how thick it was John?

Brian G.

Neutocrete or Neutocrap? [?]

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Originally posted by Brian G

Originally posted by John Ghent

I have crawled on it and I had to add a paragraph in my report about how I could not be held responsible for damage to it while in the crawl space.

When you crawl on it you crack it most of the time.......

It cracks just from a single person crawling on it?! Jeez, that's flimsy stuff for something supposedly similar to concrete. Did you get an idea of how thick it was John?

Brian G.

Neutocrete or Neutocrap? [?]

It is as thick as the amount the guy sprays on. Variable but usually 3" to 5" in the applications I saw. Looks great though.

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  • 1 year later...

Carla,

Radon is a gas that is coming up through the ground.

To remove the gas effectively, you must catch the gas with some type of barrier. A double layer of 6 of 10 mil poly the is sealed at the seams and sealed al the foundation walls. The sheet are install 90 across from each other. In many cases small gravel is placed on the sheeting to hold it in place. A radon mitigation pump (fan) is then selaed to the poly cover such that it can pull gas from under the poly sheeting.

In order to pull a slight vacuum under the sheeting, a 4" pvc pipe is rum along the ground and under the sheeting. The pipe has 3/4" holes drilled at random points throughout the pipe and is attached to the Radon Pump.

Spent the last year testing radon, received two quotes to remediate the radon! First quote stated that due to the size of the crawlspace approx. 1200 sq ft ((2ft average ht) several rooms due to previous owner add-ons)) we would need to draintile the whole area and might need 1 - 2 systems ($6000+). Another business stated that a radon system or two was not cost effective and recommended sealing the sump pump and adding a air system to vent air into and out of the basement. After and air system was installed the radon went down by half. It was then recommended to seal the crawlspace. We have two options...Crawl space encapsulation, neurocrete, or concrete crawlspace sealing? Who has any experience with any of these products? Moisture has not been an issue...we have a couple cracks in the outside concrete block...only issue...mice...we have cats! We are close to the water so it is damp frequently.

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  • 2 months later...
  • 2 years later...

I have had neutocrete in my crawl space for 7 years. It is light but there are no cracks. I am down there a lot. My crawl space was a nightmare. All mud, raining constantly and full of debris from every repair for the last 50 years. I am right by the water so the mud was really soft. You could have used photos as the backdrop for a horror movie. Neutocrete came in and pulled everything out (some places had only 1 foot of height). They cleaned everything. They ran a dehumidifier for a week. Then they applied the neutocrete. They also treated all of the joists. I don't have objective data on the humidity control or radon remediation but it has held up 100% and the house does seem dryer. I still need to do work on the foundation wall to waterproof it.

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