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Wood Rot vs. Mold: Is There a Difference?

nasty crawl space

Of the many problems that can plague your crawl space, wood rot and mold are two of the most confusing and deadly. Both can form in similar ways and negatively impact your home, but they also are very different.

If you’ve noticed some changes in your home, like musty smells or sagging floors, you may be wondering if you have a mold or wood rot infestation on your hands.

This article explores wood rot vs mold, their causes and symptoms, how they could potentially impact your crawl space, and how local professionals can help you create a healthy home.

Comparing & Contrasting Wood Rot and Mold

What’s interesting about wood rot and mold is that they are both caused by fungi. Unfortunately, although they are caused by fungal species, one is far more destructive than the other. 

mold on crawl space joists

All About Crawl Space Mold

Mold is an umbrella term used to describe a very wide range of fungal species. They are all very different, and unfortunately, some are toxic to humans, which is why all mold-related repair work is best left to the professionals. 

The way mold can appear in your crawl space is varied as well. It is almost always slimy and can be a wide range of colors, including black, white, orange, green, or purple. Mold flourishes in damp, humid environments and reproduces by sending spores through the air. 

wood rot in crawl space

All About Crawl Space Wood Rot

Like mold, wood rot thrives in damp and humid environments. However, unlike mold, wood rot digests the wood it has infected. It spreads at remarkable speeds and can cause a need for major replacements in homes. The good news is that it is possible to deal with wood rot and even prevent it by taking care of your crawl space. 

What’s The Difference?

So, how can you know whether your home has been infested with mold or wood rot? Wood rot looks like decay, whereas mold on wood usually looks like discoloration. 

While mold is by no means good, it is better than wood rot for homes. However, as both wood rot and mold form in damp and humid environments, the presence of mold can signal that wood rot is soon to follow. If you’re worried you have mold in your crawl space, you should contact a crawl space repair specialist as soon as possible. 

Wood Rot and Mold Symptoms 

You may be one of the many homeowners confused about what to look for when it comes to the health of your crawl space, particularly in terms of wood rot or mold. While mold and wood rot are very different things, they do cause a wide range of very similar symptoms.

We don’t recommend going into your crawl space to look for the most obvious signs of these issues. Instead, we will cover some of the indirect symptoms of wood rot and mold to help you figure out what to do next. 

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s time to call in a crawl space expert like Indiana Foundation Service. 

Bouncy Floors 

If you have bouncy floors, it is likely that you have wood rot instead of mold. 

“Bouncy floor” is a term used to describe floors that move or give away when you walk across them. This usually happens when the floor has been infected with wood rot. Instead of breaking under your weight, the floor bounces back once you move away from the affected area. 

Wood rot has a particular way of attacking wood. It permeates the wood in such a way that it affects its structural integrity. If not dealt with, affected joists will eventually be completely consumed by wood rot and give way. 

Musty Crawl Space Smells

A stale, earthy smell emanating from your crawl space can be a sign of either mold or wood rot. 

Many homeowners think that below-grade areas, like crawl spaces, are just supposed to smell musty. But that’s not the case. If you notice unpleasant smells coming from below your living space, it’s best to contact a repair professional as soon as possible. The sooner you act, the easier it will be to deal with any potential problems. 

High Humidity Levels 

High levels of crawl space humidity cause a wide range of problems. These problems can not only be detrimental to the health of your below-grade spaces but can also impact the lives of those living inside your home. 

Humidity can cause high levels of condensation and, therefore, moisture. One thing to keep in mind is that wood rot and mold require high levels of humidity to develop and spread. That is why you should waterproof and encapsulate your crawl space as a precaution. 

How to Address Wood Rot and Mold

Mold is a beast of its own, and it is best removed by a mold remediation professional.

However, following a free inspection from an Indiana Foundation Service expert, you’ll receive a no-obligation estimate detailing moisture management solutions. Installed together, they offer complete crawl space protection and create healthier conditions that discourage mold and wood rot.

Some of the crawl space encapsulation solutions we may recommend include:

  • Crawl space drains
  • Sump pumps
  • Vapor barriers
  • Insulation panels
  • Dehumidifiers
encapsulated crawl space

Tackle Crawl Space Problems the Right Way Today!

Your crawl space can be a dangerous area, especially if wood rot and mold are present. Don’t risk your health or your family’s safety. Trust the local crawl space repair experts at Indiana Foundation Service for a thorough evaluation and customized repair solutions.

You deserve a safe and healthy home, and we can help you create a better living environment. Contact us today to schedule a free inspection and repair quote

Holly Richards-Purpura

Holly Richards-Purpura

Content Writer

Holly is a Content Writer for Groundworks who has written and edited web content for the foundation services industry for almost 10 years. With a background in journalism, her passion for the written word runs deep. Holly lives in Columbus, OH, with her husband. Along with educating homeowners, she also has a big heart for the Big Apple.

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