Crawl spaces are great for storage, but because humans don’t frequent this area of the house, certain issues can fester. Conducting a DIY inspection of your crawl space is a good way to keep tabs on the area. Bringing in a pro will give you the full picture.
Because lists are always helpful, here’s a general list of what to focus on while performing an inspection of your crawl space (in no particular order):
A lack of airflow is a problem for several reasons. Mold and other types of moisture damage can become much worse and spread faster without ventilation.
Cracks in the foundation can be bad news (specifically horizontal cracks), or not a big deal at all (vertical cracks). Horizontal cracks usually mean ground forces are causing the foundation to bow - not good. Vertical cracks are common and not a cause for concern. Vertical cracks are usually caused by precipitation putting pressure on the foundation but stability remains.
We recommend having an electrician come in to evaluate the situation. You want to be wary of any electrical wiring or equipment near moisture build-up. Knob and tube wiring is common in older homes and should be replaced or at least inspected regularly.
Per the Environmental Protection Agency, every type of mold can cause some health effects. Three types of mold typically occur in crawl spaces: black, white, and yellow. Mold can cause allergic reactions and should be dealt with as quickly as possible. Black mold (sometimes looking grey or greenish) is the most dangerous. White mold is still hazardous (often looking fuzzy) but not as bad as the black variety. Yellow mold occurs on organic material (wood) and can cause decay and destruction of the material it inhabits. Vapor barriers can be installed on your crawl space floor and up the walls to prevent mold.
Insects and little critters love these areas in a house. Termite damage is easy to spot - mice/rats/squirrels leave their droppings everywhere. It’s best to get ahead of these issues by calling in a pest company or your RentalRiff property specialist. It simply requires some diligence and the occasional inspection.
Another really bad one along with the black mold. With many houses across the country being built before 1980 (when asbestos was used frequently) this is a point of concern for homeowners. Asbestos can be in the walls, ceilings, floors - virtually anywhere in a crawl space. When this material is destroyed, toxic fibers go airborne and contaminate the air, possibly making a home unlivable. If you haven’t had a professional out to your house to check on this, please do!
In conclusion, crawl spaces can be a source of headaches for a landlord. It’s best to have a look in this area at least a couple of times a year - here at RentalRiff, we can definitely help.