Standing Water is Conductive to Mold and RotDecember 6, 2017 / byPuget Sound Life / Categories : Puget Sound General
As a home inspector in the beautiful Pacific Northwest (sometimes we call it the Pacific Northwet), I see my share of standing water in crawl spaces and, less frequently, in basements. I have found, over the years, that the quantity of water that is actually in the crawl space can be deceiving and way more than is initially expected.
Once, I was in a crawl space with two different large "puddles" of ground water. One was at one end of the crawl space and the other was at the other end. At the first location, the area was about 15 'x 15' and the water was an average of 3 "deep. ) is about 56 cubic feet of water or 420 gallons. In the other wet area, the dimensions were 10 'x 10' and it was 2 "deep. That converts to 16 cubic feet of water or 123 gallons. Add those two wet spots together and you find out that there are 543 gallons of water in that crawl space. That is a number we can all refer to, just think of buying that much gasoline or 543 gallons of milk.
Standing water, of this magnitude, is conducive to decay of the structural wood and, of course, as it evaporates up it will get in the underfloor insulation. This much water below the home is a prime contributor to not only rot or deceay but also, that M word again – mold. Mold is excluded from inspection on home inspection contracts, as it can be hard to identify what is mold and what is not mold. To prevent fungal problems, in the Pacific Northwest, experts suggest that relative humidity be kept between 30% and 50%, with little alarm up to 60%. When there is standing water in the crawl space, to the degree described above, my experience is that the relative humidity readings are higher, often 70% or more. When I take a relative humidity reading, and it is very high for no obvious reason, I expect a wet crawl space and I am seldom wrong on that. When significant standing water in a crawl space can not be corrected by simple means, such as controlling gutters and downspouts, then a drain professional needs to be called in who can take charge of the situation.
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