toxic mold? under the house in the crawlspace, maybe.

elphaba_gwSeptember 29, 2012

This week, a contractor discovered a galvanized pipe for the shower in our master bathroom leaking water - dripping not gushing . Our 75 year old home has a pier and beam foundation. It was like a lake underneath the house and I'm thinking that leak has been there probably for a rather long time - the contractor thought years.

The leak is fixed now but I was wondering about toxic mold. Are workers' health in danger when they go under our house? The crawl space is somewhat tight but seems like little skinny guys are still able to get under there and do work if it is needed. We will be upgrading the galavanized plumbing in phases as we proceed with our remodeling plan in phases. Hopefully by the end of next year, we will be finished with any need for contractors to work underneath the house, at least for a while anyway.

We also were going to have a pest control company do some kind of preventative treatment for termites so they will need to get under the house, now that I think of it.

Any comments on this situation (besides advising us to sell ASAP)?

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I'm a fellow homeowner and not a tradesman, so I have no special knowledge to offer. Did the leak dampen anything inside the wall, or just underneath in the crawlspace?

It may be the only way to have piece of mind would be to have an expert inspect it. Keep in mind it may not just be a crawl space problem. Without meaning to alarm you, most houses (especially old ones) have air infiltration from the crawl space into the interior. The good news is that unless the mold presence is massive, it isn't a danger to most people.

It's not like having loose asbestos particles flying around your house. If needed, it's best to clean it up but unless you have the kind of medical issues susceptible to mold (asthma, other allergic, immune or respiratory issues) you can go about it calmly. It's not an emergency.

Good luck

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 12:42PM
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Thanks - I will definitely be investigating options but a little less worried and no longer thinking best option is for us to sell.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 10:51PM
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I am a retired plumber & HVAC tech and I can assure you that I have probably crawled in more crawspaces in a week than you have looked at in your lifetime and in my humble opinion you are allowing unwarranted fears to overwhelm you.

First off, just the mere presence of water does not in and of itself indicate the presence of mold, and once the source of the water is resolved the whole area will quickly dry up. Taking this to the next level, even if mold is present, not all mold is harmful, in fact, some mold is beneficial, such as dirt mold, from which the medical industry produces erethromyacin, or bread mold where they get penicillan, and even some of our food stuffs intentionally have mold in them, by example, those little blue green flecks in your blue cheese is a mold that imparts the flavor into the cheese.

Are there hazards to tradesmen working under your house? You bet there are, but I can assure you, the mere presence of mold is one of the last hazards he/she is concerned about, in fact, mold is probably at the bottom of the list of hazards one has to be aware of.

From my personal experience, while working in Texas I repeatedly found myself head to head with a rattlesnake, and I could not begin to count how many times we found nests of scorpions. In Ohio we occassionally ran into copperheads, which are a really nasty poisonous snake because, unlike rattlesnakes, they are territorial and will stand their ground and strike without any warning.

We commonly found old knob & tube wiring where the old cloth insulation on the wire was dried out and crumbly and many times I found romax cables where the insulation had been chewed off by rats, mice or rabbits, leaving the bare conductors exposed.

Now while on the subject of rats & mice, not only are the critters themselves potentially dangerous in close proximity, their droppings also contain pathogens that are harmful to humans, but at least rats and mice tend to be manshy and try to run away;

On the other hand, occassionally you run into an opossum, racoon or ferral cats, all three of which can be extremely aggressive when cornered, not to mention that it is estimated that over 60 of adult raccoons carry rabies.

But the one common hazard that I hated the worst was people. I could not begin to count how many times I received rather serious cuts from broken glass where some resident of the past sat on the porch drinking liquor and tossing their empty bottles under the house, and it seemed like they were making a special effort to hit one of the piers and break the bottle, leaving shards of glass everywhere.

The bottom line,,,Is it dangerous to work in a crawlspace? Absolutely YES so then that begs the question, should you, the homeowner be worried about it? NO! Experienced tradesmen/women are aware of the risks and they take all reasonable precautions to protect themselves so on an everyday average the risk is no greater than you worrying about a fall while using a step stool to reach something from a higher shelf in your kitchen.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 8:50AM
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@lazypup - thanks for all the great info coming from someone who is experienced in this field.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 6:36PM
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What, no black widows?

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 3:51PM
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