Crawl Space Renovation
Damp crawl spaces and basements have an environment all their own and the single leading cause of many problems
A dirt floor crawl has two main problems which both contribute directly to the degradation of the structure, an Unhealthy living space and a source of energy loss.
First is the humidity from the ground, our earth contains moisture about 50% relative humidity and it evaporates into the air, you see the dew in your yard in the morning
The other source of moisture was supposed to be the cure for the first, that is the instalation of crawl space vents whose purpose was to let moisture out.
Crawl Space Mold
Mold spores, the seeds of mold, are in the air everywhere. All they need to grow is organic material such as wood, the right temperature range, and moisture. Of these, the only one that can be controlled is moisture.
Dirt, and even concrete, crawl spaces have the high humidity levels necessary for mold growth. Humidity levels from 50% to 90% are easily found in crawl spaces -- even relatively dry crawlspaces that have never flooded.
Mold can grow on dirt, insulation, framing and even under your carpet on the first floor. Mold destroys organic materials as it feeds on them. Mold reproduces by producing millions of floating airborne spores, which some people are very sensitive to. Spores can be dormant for many years, waiting for the right conditions to grow. Some molds produce mycotoxins, such as the black mold Stachybotrys. Many articles can be found on the effects of mold, and toxic mold.
Mold in houses is not a good thing. It can lead to asthma. Houses with mold are damp
and have dust mites and other things in them that can cause illness, especially in children
A damp environment is very unhealthy and destructive
Mold thrives and reproduces by producing airborne spores by the millions, and some molds are toxic
Insects and critters of all kinds love damp environments and wet materials
Rot and decay occur in damp environments causing structural damage
Ants & termites are attracted to the chemicals produced in wet wood
Ant larvea require a moist enviroment,and termites eat wet wood
Mold spores, odors, humidity and critters create a very unhealthy environment for people
Many people are allergic to these things, and experience a host of symptoms and don't realize that their dirt crawl space is affecting their health.
Allergens in the Home
Mold spores will certainly irritate someone with allergies. The number one allergen however, is the fecal matter of dust mites. Dust mites don't drink water, but absorb it out of the air through their skin. In order to live, dust mites need relative humidity over 50%. Reducing the relative humidity below 50% will cause dust mites to die off
The natural airflow in a house is from bottom to top. This sucks the moist air and everything in it up into the living areas of the home. A dirt crawl space does not have to be wet or flooded to be extremely unhealthy.
There is another industry that has vented dirt crawl spaces to thank for its existence -- structural repairs to replace floor joists, girders, and sill plates -- basically the entire floor framing system under your house. These repairs aren't cheap. In fact, they can be very expensive. You can imagine a carpenter figuring out how he's going to crawl under your home and get new 16 foot long 2" x 10"s in place, with all the duct work, wiring, plumbing, and bridging (cross bracing) that are attached to the old rotted joists, all while operating on his back in a low crawl space. It's not easy on him, and it's not going to be easy on your bank account.