If your home has a crawl space instead of a basement, you may not think that water can become an issue. However, just like a basement, the crawl space provides foundational support for your home, and water can cause serious structural damage. Look for the following signs that you have water leaking into your home's crawl space.
Rust on Steel Supporting Structures
One of the first signs of water leakage you may notice as soon as you inspect your crawl space is the presence of rust on any of the steel supporting structures. These pieces of steel hold the floor joists and support beams of your home's lower-level floor together.
When rust starts eating through the steel, it weakens the structural integrity of your home's foundation. If any of these pieces break, you may start seeing sagging floors or notice weak spots where the floor depresses when stepped on.
Because your crawl space is a dark, enclosed area, the lack of light combined with the moisture of water leakage will lead to some degree of mold. If you have screens installed in the openings of the crawl space to allow air to flow through, there may not be as much mold growth. However, if you have water leaking into the space, the risk of heavy growth is increased.
When searching for mold, use a flashlight, and shine the light around the perimeter of the crawl space, as well as around any supporting beams. If you see areas that appear dark green to black in color, these discolorations are most likely mold growth.
Mold growth under your house can cause a couple of problems. First, the spores can make their way up through the floorboards, where they can affect you and your family's health. This is especially true if anyone in your home suffers from a mold allergy. If mold is present, they may start seeing an increase in the severity and frequency of their symptoms.
Second, the wood on which the mold is growing remains wet. Not only is any moisture under the mold unable to dry completely, but the secretions from the mold itself will keep the wood wet. This constant wetness can eventually rot the wood and weaken the structure. It can also leave the wood open to unwelcome pests, such as termites.
With the combination of constant moisture and mold, wood affected by these conditions becomes very attractive to termites. While termites will chew through hardwood for food and shelter, they tend to prefer wood that is already decomposing, which makes it easier for them to digest.
Also, if you have mold growing on top of the wet wood structures in your crawl space, the growth makes the wood even more desirable to the termites. The secretions given off by the mold gives the wood a sweeter taste that termites love to feast upon.
When termites start invading the wooden structures of your home, they can cause devastating damage to your crawl space. And, there is always a chance that they will travel up through the floorboards and invade your home.
If you see tiny holes in the support beams and mud holes leading from the ground to these holes, you probably already have termites. Even if you do not have termites, it's best to have the space waterproofed and cleaned before termites have a chance to discover the space.
If you find any of the above signs in your crawl space, you most likely have water leaking in somewhere. Contact a crawl space waterproofing service to have them inspect the structure and discuss with you options for sealing up the space to avoid further problems.
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