What and where are Crawlspaces and Attics
So, all home owners out there with either a crawl space or an attic space, when was the last time you took the time to climb down or climb up into that space? There are sometimes clues to the health of your home hidden in either one of these spaces.
Your crawl space contains a most of the piping for your water system, your heating system and your plumbing system. Any one of these can cause health issues in the upper part of your home if they are not maintained correctly.
What to look for: Your plumbing system should be checked from where the water enters the crawl space to each of the water features (e.g., water heater, toilets, sinks, tub or showers and any other water feature in your home). Each of these needs to be checked for water leaks to ensure that first, you are not using more water then you need to, and second, that the leaks are not causing issues such as mold or bacteria growing in the crawl space.
The water heater should have a blow-off or safety valve that either discharges to the crawl space or to the outside of the home. If there is water coming from this pipe you need to have the water heater checked.
If there is moisture around or on the pipes that lead to any of the sinks, tubs or toilets, this could be costing you money in your water bill and be setting you up for a major mold problem in the future.
The outside hose bib is also an area that can cause large problems if not checked on a regular basis. These faucets are designed with a long valve assembly to keep them from freezing in the winter months. I have found that many leak at the joint under the home or in the wall and have caused extensive water and mold issues.
The crawl space should be checked yearly to ensure a healthy home. Whatever is in your crawl space that is growing will eventually be in the breathing space of your home.
Your attic space is the area of your home that is designed to remove humidity from the breathing area of your home. If the attic is not working correctly, you can end up with a major air quality problem.
Most attic spaces have soffit vents around the eaves of the home that allow the air to come into the attic and exit either through a ridge vent or gable vent. This air movement draws the air and moisture out of the home and out the gable or ridge vents of the home. Without this working correctly, moisture will stay in the home, which can cause air quality issues with the higher humidity in the breathing space. The higher humidity can then foster mold or virus growth in the breathable air.
The attic also house the exit ducts for the bathroom fans, the plumbing vents for the sewer system, and sometimes the return air ducting for your furnace system. All of these need to be checked yearly to ensure that they are working correctly. I have found many bathroom vents are not connected to the outside air in a way that moves this hot moist air out of the home. Many times these vents are put up next to a roof vent in a short cut method, by a contractor, to remove the moist air.
The roof vents are designed with a screen just inside the vent that will become plugged with lint that is blown out of the bathroom. When this vent is plugged the moist air then is pumped into the attic space causing mold and water issues in the home. All exhaust fans need to be run to exit the home to the outside air. This is an example of the bathroom vents run up to a roofing vent. This particular home had a bloom of mold on the ceiling of the home due to the moisture buildup in the attic.
See Any Issues?
If you have any of the issues I describe, it may be worth taking a closer look at whether there is any mold buildup or other air quality problems that have resulted. I am happy to visit your home and investigate whether problems in your crawl spaces and attics are having an impact on your indoor air quality. Please feel free to contact Common Sense Inspections if you would like to schedule a visit, or just have a question about these and other indoor air quality issues.