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papakevin 11-28-2011 09:02 PM

Help! What is this growing in my crawl space?
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I'm having a oh ($%&!) crap moment here and looking for help ASAP.

After stablizing the living room and starting to install a new vapor barrier, I took a break and have not been at my flip home in a couple weeks. It's been raining non-stop in the area lately, and fearing that the crawl space may be taking on water, I went to check it out. I found that it does has some water in it, plus something nasty black looking stuff growing down there (see photos). Is this stuff black mold? Another type of mold? Something else? I don't know where it came from, but it wasn't there two weeks ago.

What can I do to stop this immediately? I was planning on installing a sump pump to get the water out, but apparently I was too late. Thinking I could just pour some liquid bleach in the crawl space to stop what's going on now, but not sure that's the right thing to do. Also have heard a Borax solution can stop growth, but again not sure.

One thing I am sure of is I need some help quick!

nealtw 11-29-2011 12:56 AM

What ever it is, the first step is to get the water out and dry it out.

joecaption 11-29-2011 06:52 AM

Let me make a few guesses and assumptions and you correct me if I'm wrong.
The grade under the house is lower then the grade outside.
Are there any working unplugged up gutters with lines leading far away from the house.
The area around the foundation outside does not slope away from the foundation, it's level instead.
There is no french drain.
There's mulch or flower beds right up againt the foundation.
The key to dealing with this once and for all is to prevent the water from getting in the first place.
There should never be standing water under a house, and it should fail any home inspection if you were to try and sell it.
Yes you can treat the mold or fungus all you want but it's going to just come back unless you address the real problums causing it. All that water under there is going to cause fungus to grow on the floor joist which will eat the cellulose holding the wood fibers together, the insulation will get soaked and start to fall down, the insulation hangers will rust out, any electrical juntion boxes will get corroded wire connection.

bookerc 11-29-2011 09:18 AM

Are you sure it is not some chemical reaction? Does not look like any living thing to me. But, I am judging from the photos.

papakevin 11-29-2011 12:09 PM

Joe, you are correct. The crawl space is below ground level and I've been fighting the water issue for a while. I will be trying a french drain this weekend, but there's a concrete patio feeding water into the side of the house I need to address. I did extend the down spouts and even dug in some pipes to drain away the water, but will check to make sure nothing is clogged up.

Bookerc, I hope you are right. With the water coming up in the crawl space, it could have been living, then covered with water. Previously, I a hired handyman to do some work and he spread a bunch of lime down in the crawl space, claiming it would kill any mold, but don't know if that's true or not. Hopefully the black stuff is a result of the lime, but not counting on it.

joecaption 11-29-2011 04:50 PM

Lime will do nothing.
Boric acid (boron) will.
The grade under the house needs to be raised. If not then you will have nothing but a pond under that house. The only way to do it is to order a tandom load of driveway fill and haul it under the house.
I use three people, One outside loading and two under the house.
We use 2, steel mason pans and drill holes on both ends, put a 1/2 rope long enough to reach the full length of the house, one on each end. One is to pull it in the other is to trail behind and pull it back out. Not a fun job and I pay my guys $5.00 more an hour to do it.
A small house like that could be done in about 1-1/2 days.
We have done this under mobil homes and houses up to 100' X 75'.

papakevin 11-30-2011 09:14 PM

Is there a difference between borax and boron? Guessing yes since they have different names, but can borax be used in place of boron to kill mold? I can find borax locally at Walmart under the name 20 Mule Team (or something like that). Have not found a source for boron as of yet. Thanks.

joecaption 12-01-2011 06:13 AM

It can be ordered on line and It's also marketed as a product called Roach Away. It's sold in Wal-Mart, Lowes and Home Depot in the area where pesticides are sold.
Boron is an amazing thing and is used to kill insects safely, a fireproofing agent, treating rotted wood.
Just mix it with really hot water and mix it in a pump sprayer to apply it.
If you ever see a real exterminators truck most will have two tanks, the smaller one is for spraying some form of a boron productin soloution with water to treat fungus under homes, the other big tank is for treating termites with a differant chemical in it. In his tool box will be Boron in a "Puffer" you just push the handle in and out and Boron is puffed out to treat anything from roachs, millipieds, centipieds, silverfish, boring bees, powder post bettles ect.
Even a lot of your ant killers like Tero have Boron in them.

papakevin 12-02-2011 05:42 PM

Cool, thanks. Any idea what the mix ratio should be for spraying? I plan on covering the entire area - floor joists, walls, floor - to help kill and prevent future (mold?) growth.

CrawlSpaceMoisture 12-03-2011 08:41 AM

A sump pump will get the water out... AFTER the water soaks through the entire crawlspace to get to it! Once you've taken care of the exterior obvious issues, you'll probably need a 'french' drain on the inside to a sump pump.
the stuff - have no clue
no mold-cleaning chemical will stop a fungi from coming back unless the causes (moisture) are dealt with. never use bleach on a wood product, btw - can help it come back with a vengence!

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