A House Inspection Revealed Standing Water in the Crawl Space. Is this a Deal Breaker?

Standing water in the crawl space of any home can lead to mold and mildew growth - which, in addition to being a potential health hazard, can become the cause of rot and structural damage. If you're considering buying a home with standing water in the crawl space, then you should also be on the lookout for mold.

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First of all, what is a crawl space?

Crawl spaces, common in the South while relatively uncommon elsewhere, is similar to a basement but is vented to outside air. Some crawl spaces can be full-height like a basement, where others can be two feet tall or shorter, so that you have to crawl around on your belly.

The two primary reasons builders use crawl spaces are cost and accessibility - as they work by allowing outside air to circulate beneath the house. By building the floor of a home off the ground (as opposed to on a concrete slab-on-grade), there are several benefits, including:

  • Cost effectiveness. Moving dirt to level a sloping lot for a concrete pad can get expensive; a crawl space negates that need.
  • Convenience. You get a handy place to install the HVAC unit and piping, as well as water and sewer distribution throughout the house. This also makes future repairs and replacements easier.

What are signs of water in the crawl space?

Common signs of issues related to water in the crawl space include wood rot, termite damage to subfloor materials, hardwood flooring "cupping," and visible mold growth on the wood surfaces underneath your home. Many crawl spaces have exposed earthen floors, which can allow ground moisture to seep out from underneath your home and increase the humidity levels - especially the crawl space isn't equipped with a dehumidifier.

How does standing water in the crawl space affect the value of a home?

Standing water in the crawl space in and of itself does not necessarily affect the value of a home. What affects the value of a home in relation to standing water in the crawl space is the potential for mold.

Mold can greatly affect the appraisal value of a home. FHA appraisers, for example, are required not only to note if mold is growing in a home, but also the type of mold and its location. If you find that the mold growing in the home is black mold, there are a few things you should know: toxic black mold can cause permanent damage to your health and in extreme cases has even lead to death.

Large overgrowths of mold and mold in unusual locations are especially likely to lower a home's value. If the FHA appraiser finds that the mold overgrowth is dangerous, you might be required to remove the mold before you can get an FHA loan.

If there is mold, how much does it cost to remove it?

The level of infestation directly affects the mold removal cost. The mold removal cost of a crawl space can really vary. It could be as little as $500 or as high as $4,000 depending on the scope and size. If the attic and ducts are involved, the cost for those generally ranges from $2,000 to $6,000.

Even though you have an idea of how much mold removal costs, be sure to shop around. The first company you find might not be the best one for your needs. Pricing can vary between companies, but you also have to pay attention to the experience levels and what kind of guarantee they have if the mold comes back.

How can water in the crawl space be fixed?

Improper grading and lack of rain gutters contributes to crawl space moisture control issues by allowing unwanted rain or ground water to enter the crawlspace.

Poor crawl space ventilation compounds the problem by creating a mix of warm and cool air causing surface condensation, further increasing the amount of crawl space moisture under the home. This repeated wetting of building materials day after day provides the perfect environment for mold growth, termites and structural damage under your home.

Standard solutions when dealing with water in the crawl space include:

  • Proper grading around the home directing moisture away from the structure.
  • Installing, repairing or cleaning gutters and downspouts.
  • Adding downspout extensions and exit lines to move water further from the home.
  • Interior or exterior waterproofing.
  • Installing vapor barriers or encapsulation systems to isolate the crawl space from the earth.
  • Installing crawl space ventilation- crawl space dehumidifiers and/or crawl space ventilation fans.

How much does it cost to fix water in the crawl space?

Once again, it depends. Clogged or misdirected gutters and downspouts is the most common reason for crawl space moisture problems. Replacing and redirecting a gutter can cost up to $300. Foundation cracks are one of the most costly problems to fix. This type of repair requires a professional, and can range anywhere from $500-$15,000.

What's the bottom line?

Finding water in the crawl space is fairly common. While it will cost money to fix the issue, it doesn't have to be a deal breaker.

More info? For more information about common places for moisture in your home, check out our related post: Crawlspace Moisture Problems.

Call 877-800-2382 to schedule a mold inspection, estimate, or remediation with AdvantaClean today!

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