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Mold on cinderblock in crawlspace.

Crawl Space Health: Wood Rot vs. Mold

It's not advisable to spend much time in a crawl space if you're not an expert. However, there are indirect signs of wood rot and mold that can help you understand what's going on in your crawl space.

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As a homeowner in Appomattox, VA, you understand the importance of a healthy crawl space. However, spending too much time—or any, for that matter—down there checking for wood rot or mold can be very uncomfortable and dangerous.

Crawl spaces are notoriously claustrophobia-inducing areas, but you can still make sure your crawl space is healthy without subjecting yourself to anxiety. One of the best ways to do this is to have professionals encapsulate your crawl space. Annual crawl space assessments are great, as well. However, there are a few ways to keep an eye on your crawl space from your living area. However, before we get into all of that, let’s check out wood rot and mold more closely. 

moldy corner

Wood Rot vs. Mold 

Changes to humidity levels in your crawl space or the way it smells may have you wondering if you are dealing with a mold or wood rot infestation. Although both are caused by fungal species, they are very different, and one can be detrimental to the health of a crawl space and home. We’re talking, of course, about wood rot. 

Wood rot loves damp and humid spaces. Naturally, crawl spaces, particularly those that lack encapsulation or have dirt floors, are a favorite breeding ground for it. 

The main difference between wood rot and mold is that the former digests the wood it infects. It spreads very quickly and can wreak havoc on a space. If left to its own devices, wood rot can completely annihilate wooden joists. Don’t let this happen to your home. The last thing you want is to have to replace your joists. As you might assume, doing so can be incredibly expensive. 

Mold, on the other hand, is much less harmful to the structural integrity of your home. However, it can be toxic to individuals living inside the home. Like wood rot, mold is a range of fungal species. It loves damp and moist spaces and humidity is its best friend. 

It’s easy to tell the difference between mold and wood rot. Mold presents as a slimy discoloration on wood. It comes in numerous colors, from black and orange, to purple. Contrastingly, wood rot does not present as a discoloration but rather looks like decay. 

The good news is that both wood rot and mold can be dealt with. More importantly, it can be prevented with the help of a crawl space repair expert. 

Common Signs of Wood Rot and Mold 

As we’ve mentioned, wood rot and mold are very different, and they have completely different impacts on your crawl space. One is more dangerous than the other, but both have a range of symptoms that go beyond the visual. In other words, you can feel the effects of wood rot and mold in your crawl space in your above-ground living areas as well. 

One thing that’s important to note at this point is that what follows is a series of dangerous symptoms of wood rot and/or mold. If you notice any, it’s time to call in an Appomattox, VA, crawl space repair expert. 

Bouncy Floors 

Wood rot causes a phenomenon known as bouncy floors. These  floors sag under any amount of weight.  But then, almost paradoxically so, it bounces back up to its original position when the weight has been lifted off it. 

If you notice that your floor is giving way as we described, it’s because it’s infested with wood rot. Floor joists infected with wood rot do not snap under the weight of objects until the infestation has advanced to the final stages because of the particular way that wood rot impacts the structural integrity of the wood. It permeates a large area at once, damaging it slowly. This is why the wood becomes elastic. 

Musty Crawl Space 

Many homeowners in Appomattox, VA, believe that it is normal for crawl spaces to smell bad. However, an earthy, musty smell is actually a sign of either mold or wood rot. 

Both wood rot and mold are completely natural developments in the wild. It is how wood in forests around the world has always decayed. And it happens when there is plenty of dampness and humidity. 

A properly encapsulated, healthy crawl space should not smell musty. It should smell like any other area of your home that hasn’t been aired out in a while. However, that’s a far cry from musty. 

If you’re noticing a musty smell coming from your crawl space, you need to contact  an expert. 

High Humidity Levels 

As we mentioned above, mold and wood rot come about as a result of natural processes that happen as a result of high levels of humidity. While we do want wood decaying in forests, we want to prevent it from happening in crawl spaces and the best way to do that is to lower humidity levels with crawl space encapsulation and dehumidifiers. 

Wood rot and mold thrive in humid conditions and can be detrimental to the health of your loved ones and the structural integrity of your home. Before things get out of hand, contact the expert team at JES Foundation Repair to schedule a free crawl space inspection and repair quote.

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