1. What to do if I have a water occurrence?
  2. How do I know if I have mold?
  3. Should I have my home inspected?
  4. What is involved in a mold inspection?
  5. What if I see mold?
  6. What if I can’t find the cause of excessive moisture?
  7. How do I treat the mold?
  8. What does mold need to grow?
  9. Does mold spread?
  10. What does a certified mold inspector do?
  11. What kinds of mold tests are available?
  12. What is a Crawl Space Encapsulation?
  13. Does Crawl Space air affect the air I breathe inside my home?
  14. What makes up a proper crawl space solution?

What to do if I have a water occurrence?

Stop the leak – whether it is a plumbing leak or a water intrusion from the outside, the first course of action is to cut off the water source. In the case of a flood, after making sure that people and pets are safe, cut off the electricity in the affected area. Once the water source is resolved, you are racing against the clock to dry out the area. Mold will usually begin to infect the area after 48 – 72 hours.

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How do I know I have mold?

Mold can be found in several places in the home environment. It appears most often in moist or wet areas. A musty odor may also be present. Mold begins to grow indoors when mold spores land on surfaces that are wet or damp. Mold will not grow without water or moisture. Therefore, it is important to dry out wet or moist areas within 24 to 48 hours to prevent mold growth.

Some examples of places where mold can be found inside the home include:

  • Basements, kitchens (bottom of fridge), around bathroom vanities, washer/dryer area
  • The underside of carpets and pads
  • Surface of walls behind furniture (where condensation forms)
  • Ceilings and the top side of ceiling tiles
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Should I have my home inspected?

Due to the growing concerns of mold in the home and the affects on health, Mold Inspections are becoming a common practice. You should not buy a home or live in a home with mold. A mold inspection is your first line of defense!

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What is involved in a mold inspection?

A general mold inspection begins with a visual inspection of a home to determine if you have mold or the potential for mold growth in the future. Mold inspections can include the following:

  • Evaluate existing mold in the home
  • Investigate environmental conditions causing mold to grow
  • Identify moisture intrusion for mold
  • Identify problem areas of possible mold intrusion/contamination
  • Provide digital photos of problem areas
  • Provide report to include the following: areas inspected, findings, lab results if applicable, potential and problem areas, assessment of
  • xisting mold, recommendations for remediation and preventative maintenance.
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What if I see mold?

Mold is merely a symptom of a problem. The real problem is excessive moisture.

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What if I can’t find the cause of excessive moisture?

Ensign uses special instruments such as moisture meters and thermal imaging cameras to locate causes of excess moisture.

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How do I treat the mold?

Some minor conditions may be treated without calling a professional. But in most cases professionals should be called. Proper containment is required. The professional should be trained, certified, and insured to handle contaminated materials as well as properly contain the contaminated area to prevent mold from spreading.

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What does mold need to grow?

Mold requires moisture or water and a substrate or surface to grow on. High humidity, typically more than 65%, may also provide an ample source of moisture for mold growth. Substrates such as wood, wallboard, ceiling tiles, carpet, wallpaper, paneling and leather items are favorite breeding grounds. Basically any cellulose or porous material will do.

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Does mold spread?

Surface molds spread by eating everything they come in contact with. When surface molds are disturbed, they produce mold spores which become airborne. Airborne mold spores are similar to seeds – they reproduce more spores. Another requirement for mold to grow is moisture, although some mold species can obtain that moisture from moist air when the relative humidity is above 65%.

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What does a certified mold inspector do?

Mold and moisture investigations are performed by Ensign’s certified mold inspectors. A thorough investigation performed by a qualified professional will:

  • identify the source(s) of excessive moisture
  • determine the extent of the contamination
  • write the proper remediation scope of work
  • make recommendations to prevent the return of mold growth
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What kinds of mold tests are available?

Testing for mold is not always recommended as part of the initial investigation, but often times it can be helpful in determining the level of contamination, finding hidden mold growth, and in establishing clearance verification. Air samples, lift tape samples, and swab samples are common types of mold tests. Be sure to ask your certified mold inspector whether testing is recommended in your circumstance.

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What is a crawl space encapsulation?

Most building science experts agree, building a vented crawl space in an area with a humid climate is a bad idea. You may have water intrusion into your crawl space. But even if you don’t, at approximately 65%RH (relative humidity), there is enough moisture in the air for mold to grow on building materials. This condition exists virtually year round in the Southeast.

A better alternative is to treat crawlspaces like “mini basements.” They should be sealed, or “encapsulated,” and semi-conditioned. Only then can you manage the moisture and prevent mold and other contaminants from infesting the space beneath your home.

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Does crawl space air affect the air I breathe inside my home?

Up to 50% of the air you breathe comes from your crawlspace. These contaminants enter your home due to what is known as the “stack effect” (the natural rise of air due to pressure and temperature differentials in your home) and due to a leaky HVAC system and duct work often located in the crawl space.

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What makes up a proper crawl space solution?

It is not enough to just dry out the space. Mold doesn’t go away on its own. You must first remediate (remove) the mold, then encapsulate and control the moisture to prevent further contamination.


  • Mold remediation – the mold does not go away on its own; it must be physically removed the right way
  • Cleanse all building materials with fungicide/disinfectant to remove mold and mildew
  • Treat all framing materials with anti-microbial (mold inhibitor) to help prevent future contamination
  • Cleanse/sanitize HVAC system and ductwork


  • Apply reinforced ground cover (vapor barrier) and seal to foundation walls and all support piers
  • Insulate foundation walls and band joist (allowing for a termite viewing strip, per code requirement)
  • Install insulated vent covers
  • Seal sill plate and the band with expanding foam
  • Install dehumidifier to maintain conditions below 55%RH

Comprehensive Approach

A crawl space encapsulation has tremendous benefits, but it MUST be done the right way. The initial investigation by Ensign’s building analysts (Certified by the Building Performance Institute) will also help to identify possible gas leaks and combustion safety problems of the gas appliances in your crawl space, as well as proper mitigation of active water intrusion and even radon gas. If these related issues are neglected, crawl space encapsulation may lead to other serious problems. Make sure your crawl space is encapsulated by a building science company that is capable of designing the right comprehensive solution for you.

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