Encapsulating the Crawlspace, When Mold Takes Over.

A homeowner’s worst expense is the one that you can’t even see and isn’t likely to improve home value. That’s where we found ourselves last year. Our first year in our home was a drought year. We had some rain, but by mid august the leaves on the trees were fried and falling off we were so hot and dry. That was the year we did the most work in the crawlspace with running new pex water lines, removing the old copper and fixing some wiring issues from removing walls. There didn’t appear to be any issues in the crawlspace that year. Then came a year of rain. We noticed the water lines sweating bad, the house smelled musty, the AC rotted out the wood frame from sweating so badly and it constantly blew air in that smelled like musty old socks. Then we saw the mold starting.

We had a couple companies come out and give us quotes to fix it. Then came the scary news. The mold could be killed and soda blasted off. Not cheap, but it would go away… for now… The problem was that the floor joists were 58% saturated with moisture from the damp environment. Even though there was plastic on the ground and air vents, we had standing water from all the sweating and humidity. To fix that and make sure our house didn’t rot away, it needed sealed up and insulated with a permanent dehumidifier. $$$.

Because I know it will be asked… yes, we had a home inspection. Mold was found and treated per our purchase agreement. What the inspector did not check was moisture in the wood. The crawlspace company told us that this was not a “new” problem for this home. We were lucky the house wasn’t that old and they were apparently killing off the mold regularly. The previous owners just didn’t address why the mold was growing in the first place. As someone who’s taken a home inspection course, I can tell you that they’ll miss something, despite best efforts. We had a great guy and he was very thorough… but he missed this issue.

We have a large crawlspace, as in, you can stand up in most of it, and slightly crouch in the other half. No crawling needed. Makes it easy to work in, and expensive to encapsulate due to extra materials. In the end it cost us $13,000. 😩 It was a long process. First they removed all of the old plastic and insulation and put the dehumidifier in to start drying it out. Then they made sure all the holes for the wiring and plumbing in the wood were sealed. Next they came in hazmat suits and soda blasted the mold. And finally, they lined the walls with foam board and plastic. The floor got a sheet of thick black plastic with felt on it and a clean white layer of plastic on top.

A work In progress…

Was it worth it? Well, it was necessary to not have mold and rotting wood… You read a lot that it will help electric bills and such. I don’t know on that honestly. But we have a two story house and live in the south. What I can say is that the house no longer smells musty, the AC no longer blows in dirty sock air, nor does it sweat. The dehumidifier does its job and keeps it nice and dry. I don’t know that it will add any value to the price of our home. It seems like it should… however, most home buyers are looking at how pretty a house is, not the boring encapsulated crawlspace. It does show that we cared though, and the home is maintained. Maybe that will count for something. Time will tell. We did notice that our sinus issues have all but disappeared. Getting the mold out was well worth it.

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