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  1. #1
    scott hodges's Avatar
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    Default Can anyone identify this yellow stuff on my joists?

    Just built a new home and I am a worry wart about everything..I noticed I have this yellow stuff on a few of my joists in my cawlspace. Got a local pest control guy to look at it and he said it was nothing to worry about...yellow powdery stuff that smears when you rub it. With it being newly built there are obviously no signs of rotting going on and we did have a very more than normal humid summer especially here in North Alabama. Does anyone recognize this and what should I do? Sorry... tried and tried to upload image but always said it failed. This stuff looks like little yellow dots broken out all over some of my joists.

    Thanks

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Can anyone identify this yellow stuff on my joists?

    It's going to be tough for anyone to even guess at what you have without any pictures.

    Randy Gordon, construction
    Michigan Building Inspector/Plan Reviewer

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Can anyone identify this yellow stuff on my joists?

    As Scott stated a picture will help.

    In poor ventlelate roof sytems here we will see yellow sap and/ or a greeninish power which is a mold, as you stated crawl space, you may have poor ventilation which is causing the problem.

    Could be sap from the DF Douglas fir of SPF Spruce Pine Fir by the dots you identify, but the powder we need a photo.

    You have to under stand, its a new home built with lumber grown and harvested in 20 to 30 years. In addition fresh cut wood stacked on top of each other does not dry the same as when sticks are spaced in between, so the drying methods, how its stored and stacked on top of each other, how much moisture the lumber took until the roof was on and building dried out, all contribute to natural fungi's that can harvest in a natural cellular structure as wood.Now take a poor vented roof or crawlspace and you have a ideal situation for this natrual occurance to settle in because of sluggish air.

    Where was this observed, on the north side of the crawl space? how close were the foundation vents? maybe you need to add more vents or they didnt install them. Buildings will tell you whats wrong with them if you look close enough.

    Joseph Ehrhardt
    Building Forensic Specialist LLC

  4. #4
    scott hodges's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can anyone identify this yellow stuff on my joists?

    It keeps saying upload file failed! you guys have a email I could send pictures to?


  5. #5
    Debra Monte's Avatar
    Debra Monte Guest

    Default Re: Can anyone identify this yellow stuff on my joists?

    Without viewing a photo it is difficult to determine the specific problem. However, there are some molds that are yellow and/or whitish yellow that look powdery. This occurs when moisture may have evaporated and it appears powdery.

    There is also another substance that this could be, which is not mold, it's sap crystals that have been extruded from the wood due to high attic temperatures. We see more of this sap staining when the wood used for framing was not kiln dried before construction. I will try to post a photo of this for your review. I hope this helps. The only other thing it may be is a powdery substance that someone used, some type of sulfur or something for some reason other than construction. You should have a professional take a sample and send it to a lab. A sample should be taken with as a tape sample of swab. The lab can identify the substance and tell if it poses any danger or safety hazard, particularly if it is a type of mold.


  6. #6
    David Valley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can anyone identify this yellow stuff on my joists?

    Quote Originally Posted by scott hodges View Post
    It keeps saying upload file failed! you guys have a email I could send pictures to?
    Scott,

    We need images....

    Is the image in JPG format?

    What size is it?

    Email it to me if you'd like...davevalley@comcast.net


  7. #7
    Mark Howe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can anyone identify this yellow stuff on my joists?

    Quote Originally Posted by Debra Monte View Post
    Without viewing a photo it is difficult to determine the specific problem. However, there are some molds that are yellow and/or whitish yellow that look powdery. This occurs when moisture may have evaporated and it appears powdery.

    There is also another substance that this could be, which is not mold, it's sap crystals that have been extruded from the wood due to high attic temperatures. We see more of this sap staining when the wood used for framing was not kiln dried before construction. I will try to post a photo of this for your review. I hope this helps. The only other thing it may be is a powdery substance that someone used, some type of sulfur or something for some reason other than construction. You should have a professional take a sample and send it to a lab. A sample should be taken with as a tape sample of swab. The lab can identify the substance and tell if it poses any danger or safety hazard, particularly if it is a type of mold.
    I strongly disagree with sending a sample to a lab at this time. I see the 'yellow dots' in a bunch of attics and crawls around here. It is usually (almost always) sap, and it is much more common in newer homes. Getting involved in the 'mold sampling' scam will only lead to the (surprise) discovery that mold is indeed present and you will be informed that you are now in need of remediation (surprise again). They WILL find mold on your sample, because with our heat and humidity, there is ALWAYS mold on the tape. Finding spores on a tape sample is meaningless to you and your concern, however. You want to know what is going on, not comfirm that there are mold spores in your crawl.

    Is the substance only on the joists, or does it appear on the subfloor and beams that are attached or near the affected joists as well? Are you talking about pressure treated rim or band joists, or just SYP floor joists (we dont build with DF or SPF much around here, we are in the middle of Southern Yellow Pine country).

    Debra, the issue is in his crawl, not attic.

    Joe gave you some solid info, but, be careful when addressing new home crawl ventilation in our climate. More is DEFINITELY not alway better. In fact, with newer homes, less is more (you dont want hot humid air from the outside condensing on the cooler framing members of the crawl). Bulding science that works in NY or NJ, doesn't necessarily work in our climate.

    Scott, send me the photos at tim@rqahomeinspections.com and I will take a look at them.

    Tim


  8. #8
    Debra Monte's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can anyone identify this yellow stuff on my joists?

    My suggestion about sending a tape sample to the lab would only be as a last resort. Yes there is mold everywhere, but the type, location and amount can be important as well. Finding the cause of the mold if the mold is growing as a result of moisture in the area is a priority. Some mold is present on wood when it is shipped for building. As I was the one who mentioned the possibility of sap, I believe that may be what he has, but we do need a photo.

    Scott, A photo can be attached if you go to the bottom of the page and attach. I will try to post a photo so that you can compare, which in this case was sap. Perhaps you have to reduce the size of the photo before you upload it.

    My email is Inspectormonte@gmail.com

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  9. #9
    Mark Howe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can anyone identify this yellow stuff on my joists?

    Quote Originally Posted by Debra Monte View Post
    My suggestion about sending a tape sample to the lab would only be as a last resort. Yes there is mold everywhere, but the type, location and amount can be important as well. Finding the cause of the mold if the mold is growing as a result of moisture in the area is a priority. Some mold is present on wood when it is shipped for building. As I was the one who mentioned the possibility of sap, I believe that may be what he has, but we do need a photo.

    Scott, A photo can be attached if you go to the bottom of the page and attach. I will try to post a photo so that you can compare, which in this case was sap. Perhaps you have to reduce the size of the photo before you upload it.

    My email is Inspectormonte@gmail.com
    Debra,
    Not trying to be contentious, but you never mentioned taking a sample as a last resort. You said:

    "You should have a professional take a sample and send it to a lab. A sample should be taken with as a tape sample of swab. The lab can identify the substance and tell if it poses any danger or safety hazard, particularly if it is a type of mold".

    The chances of this being a safety hazzard are somewhere between slim and none. And slim just left the building. Framing this situation in terms like mold; sampling; danger; safety; just seems premature to me (and honestly, kind of like the standard mold sampler sales pitch). The EPA has spoken on this subject. If a homeowner has a question about, or suspects a mold issue, it is my belief that the most prudent thing for a HI to do is to point the homeowner to the EPA website. Scott doesn't need mold sampling, but he might take your advice and throw away hundreds of dollars anyway, because he perceives you to be an 'expert'.

    Scott framed his question intelligently enough to lead me to believe that he would have mentioned any unusual moisture issues/concerns.

    Tim


  10. #10
    scott hodges's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can anyone identify this yellow stuff on my joists?

    I have emailed Tim the pictures. Yes Debra..that may be the case about downsizing the photo. To be honest I dont send alot of picture and never had to downsize one...How would you do that? All I know is that I try and upload and it says failed. I never have standing water in my crawlspace but this past summer which is the only summer I have lived in this house was one of the worst in history in terms of elevated humidity and dewpoints. So my ducts sweated alot this summer. I have 17 foundation vents for about 2500 sq. ft. of crawlspace. 6 of those vents are located right below the porches which have a block wall in between the front of the porch and the crawlspace. and then once you get in the crawlspace there is an opening to get under the porches. I have a vapor barrier down...not sure of the quality. My hvac put it down for me as a complimentary thing so not sure if it is 6 mil or not. the picture you posted looks comparable to mine but yours looks like it is in the attic and mine is in the crawl, possible they could still be the same thing?


  11. #11
    Mark Howe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can anyone identify this yellow stuff on my joists?

    Quote Originally Posted by scott hodges View Post
    I have emailed Tim the pictures. Yes Debra..that may be the case about downsizing the photo. To be honest I dont send alot of picture and never had to downsize one...How would you do that? All I know is that I try and upload and it says failed. I never have standing water in my crawlspace but this past summer which is the only summer I have lived in this house was one of the worst in history in terms of elevated humidity and dewpoints. So my ducts sweated alot this summer. I have 17 foundation vents for about 2500 sq. ft. of crawlspace. 6 of those vents are located right below the porches which have a block wall in between the front of the porch and the crawlspace. and then once you get in the crawlspace there is an opening to get under the porches. I have a vapor barrier down...not sure of the quality. My hvac put it down for me as a complimentary thing so not sure if it is 6 mil or not. the picture you posted looks comparable to mine but yours looks like it is in the attic and mine is in the crawl, possible they could still be the same thing?

    Got the pics, Scott,

    Hmmm, I am interested in what the others think, but that doesnt look crystaline enough to be consistent with the extruded sap that I have seen. It looks like fungal growth to me. Additionally, the subfloor looks like it has been wet (like you mentioned). If it is indeed fungal growth, wipe it off-clean it up, and work on reducing the humidity/moisture in your crawl. No need to test it IMO. If it is fungal, remove it (and spray it with something like Boracare if you are really concerned). This (possible) growth is consistent with growth that I see that is caused by condensation on framing members.

    As for the vapor barrier; A proper vapor barrier consists of black, 6-mil polyethylene sheeting and must be applied from wall to wall of the foundation. It should cap the footer and lay tightly against the sidewalls, overlapping at least a foot at all adjoining sheets and be tightly sealed around the base of support piers. Ideally, the barrier is secured to the foundation walls with pressure-treated battens or adhered with expanding polyurethane foam and overlaps at adjoining sheets are sealed with waterproof tape. Additionally, the barrier should be applied with some slack, so it can float free without separating and still inhibit evaporation, if minor flooding occurs.

    As for the vents, if it were my home, I'd close them this spring and monitor the moisture/condensation in the crawl over the first couple months of summer. If you see reduced humidity, you are on the right track. If not, you can always open them back up.

    There is enough good stuff on Dr. Joe's site concerning building science in the sunny south to keep you busy for a while. Joe's Top Ten :: Joseph Lstiburek

    If you feel you need professional help, I do travel to North AL, and there is a superb HI in Huntsville named Bill Loden, and another in the the Tuscaloosa area named Phillip R Smith. I highly recommend both.

    Tim

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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Can anyone identify this yellow stuff on my joists?

    Scott

    How is the ventilation in your crawlspace? If it is some type of mold it needs a humid environment in order to grow. Check how many foundation vents you have. Also how wet is the soil in the crawlspace and is there a vapor barrier (plastic) covering the ground?

    Randy Mayo, P.E.
    Residential Engineering & Inspection Services
    http://www.rlmengineers.com

  13. #13
    Mark Howe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can anyone identify this yellow stuff on my joists?

    Quote Originally Posted by Randy Mayo View Post
    Scott

    How is the ventilation in your crawlspace? If it is some type of mold it needs a humid environment in order to grow. Check how many foundation vents you have. Also how wet is the soil in the crawlspace and is there a vapor barrier (plastic) covering the ground?
    In our climate (mine and the homeowners), the more vents that are open in the summer, the more moisture you have in your crawl-it's science. The knee jerk/folklore reaction is to add more vents, but the science does not support this. This really isn't news. Or shouldn't be to Hi's. And while you are reading the thread, you may want to click on the link to Dr. Joe's site. It will (or should) open your eyes.


  14. #14
    scott hodges's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can anyone identify this yellow stuff on my joists?

    Sorry if If mislead you but no...the subfloor is not nor ever has been wet. It is just a few joists that has this on it.


  15. #15
    Mark Howe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can anyone identify this yellow stuff on my joists?

    Quote Originally Posted by scott hodges View Post
    Sorry if If mislead you but no...the subfloor is not nor ever has been wet. It is just a few joists that has this on it.
    I think I am the one who misstated. It doesnt look like it has been wet as in soaked or subjected to a leak. It just looks like a subfloor in a heavily condensing environment. More 'moist' than 'wet'. That being said, the photo wasnt clear enough for me to be sure that I was seeing some discoloration on the subfloor. Could just be the light.

    This is interesting to me (since it is my neck of the woods), and I would appreciate it if you could take the time to post or e-mail on your follow up/conclusions/remedies. To be honest, most homeowners would have no idea what is going on under their house, especially a new house.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Can anyone identify this yellow stuff on my joists?

    Did you see this thread/discussion topic? (clickable link): http://www.inspectionnews.net/home_i...ff-joists.html


  17. #17
    scott hodges's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can anyone identify this yellow stuff on my joists?

    yes mark..the flash on my camera wasnt working so the light in the photo was my flashlight so there ws poor lighting. Yes h.g., saw the other thread and it didnt help me one bit...it was a few people going back and forth about is it mold or beetles or lumber treatment. I thought someone would for sure know what it is instead of just guessing. I did hand it off to my termite guy and he wants to perform open heart surgery for a paper cut! People have had cawlspaces for many years and have done nothing and theirs may be musty smelling but nothing drastic...I build a brand new home in 2010 and during one of the worst summers on record I have a few yellow spots and my termite guy wants me to spend between $4000-$6000 to seal it up and get a dehumidifier! Guess I dont have to worry about that... I dont have the money to even come close that!!!


  18. #18
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can anyone identify this yellow stuff on my joists?

    Powdery yellow stuff. Not sure if I would be rubbing it with my hand.

    You do know where they use to get the powdery yellow pigment for yellow paint, right?

    It does look like a mold. Some sort of fungal growth but as far as being harmful to you I seriously doubt it unless you are one of those that stop breathing every spring and fall and then I doubt it because I doubt that much if any would be coming up into the home.

    As fa as adding ventilation if you have none or little it is a wise idea. Whether in your area they think so or not. Stagnant damp air is worse than a humid air drawing across the wood. If you don't have a sealed crawl, and you don't, you need proper ventilation.

    You already have a somewhat damp situation in the crawl.You have to be able to draw out the excess instead of it rising and just sinking into the wood.

    Go into the crawl with a moisture meter and stick the probes in the area where the yellow growth is and then in several places around the crawl and see what you come out with.

    I always suggest a crawl space fan that will draw air thru when the humidity reaches a certain level. It will shut off when it drops below that level (and always does) leaving your crawl with less humidity than it has before it came on.

    Those will be amazed that it does turn off and on that thing crawl ventilation is not necessary in there area. If it was not necessary then the crawl fan would run all the time because they think they are drawing in more humid air than what is there already


  19. #19
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    Post Re: Can anyone identify this yellow stuff on my joists?

    Scott, you can install a vapor barrier yourself for a fraction of the cost. Then ventilate the crawl space. In your area, proper natural ventilation should be adequate. If you run your HVAC system frequently year-round, you could consider positive ventilation of the crawl. There are a lot of venting options for crawl spaces. The Internet is a great source of information on the products available. This would all cost a lot less than the bid you have from your pest treatment contractor.

    Crawl Space Ventilation Fans / Accessories - iaqsource.com

    Volko draft inducers... foundation crawl space ventilation... powered crawlspace fan...draft and ventilation solutions.

    Good luck with that issue.


    Randall Aldering GHI BAOM MSM
    Housesmithe Inspection
    www.housesmithe.com

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Can anyone identify this yellow stuff on my joists?

    I have seen that before on joist in crawlspaces. If it was my home and the crawlspace was dry, I would not worry about it. You could spend thousands of dollars getting rid of it and it would most likely be back in a couple of years.

    It is some type of mould/fungus.

    If you have a real concern about this, a good inspector in North Alabama is Bill Loden out of Madison, AL.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  21. #21
    Debra Monte's Avatar
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    Talking Re: Can anyone identify this yellow stuff on my joists?

    Once again, I believe it is a type of fungi-yellow mold, since it is more powdery looking than sappy looking.

    Because you live in a very warm and moist climate, perhaps you should close up some of the vents after cleaning in there and seeing if it makes a difference. I was not suggesting you spend a ridiculous amount of money on mold testing, it doesn't cost that much. No one can make you spend thousands of dollars on mold remediation. This is your private home and you can clean it yourself. Go to the EPA page at EPA.gov, to obtain information on how to clean mold, so I won't get specific here.

    Aside from ensuring that the vapor barrier is properly installed also, you can use a product called DampRid that you can purchase in Home Improvement Centers or Hardware Stores. You just place some in some bowls or buckets and put in the area and it absorbs the moisture, which when fully turns to liquid, you dump down the toilet. (it's not harmful). You may want to think about spray foam for your rim/band joists.

    As far as reducing the size of the photos to make it easier and quicker to email, you can go download Irfanview for free. Go to Irfanview.com and download. You can get info on how to use it at the website.

    Good luck.


  22. #22
    scott hodges's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can anyone identify this yellow stuff on my joists?

    Actually here where I live they do not recommend at all insulating your floors with anything anymore. They use to but now are saying if you have a moisture problem the insulation could lock in the moisture and further damage your floors. In the summer time the humidity levels are so elevated here if you used that damp rid stuff you would have to buy cases of it and would have to dump out the water contioniously. My problem is in my crawlspace and I dont want to have to keep going under there to dump anything... I want to do like most people and never go under there! We are approaching the year 2011 and crawlspaces have been around for years...I can't believe people who are so called experts have just now started figuring out that sealing the crawl is the best thing to do. Some tell me it is overkill and that if you seal the crawl you still have to get a dehumidifer...wow! theres even more money. Alabama state code says vent the crawl...install a vapor barrier with 80% coverage...not 100%. I dont know what to do or who to believe!


  23. #23
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    Default Re: Can anyone identify this yellow stuff on my joists?

    Quote Originally Posted by scott hodges View Post
    Actually here where I live they do not recommend at all insulating your floors with anything anymore. They use to but now are saying if you have a moisture problem the insulation could lock in the moisture and further damage your floors. In the summer time the humidity levels are so elevated here if you used that damp rid stuff you would have to buy cases of it and would have to dump out the water contioniously. My problem is in my crawlspace and I dont want to have to keep going under there to dump anything... I want to do like most people and never go under there! We are approaching the year 2011 and crawlspaces have been around for years...I can't believe people who are so called experts have just now started figuring out that sealing the crawl is the best thing to do. Some tell me it is overkill and that if you seal the crawl you still have to get a dehumidifer...wow! theres even more money. Alabama state code says vent the crawl...install a vapor barrier with 80% coverage...not 100%. I dont know what to do or who to believe!
    Yep, insulation in Southern crawls can cause more problems than it solves. No all areas can have a sealed crawl, it all depends on the soil conditions. I have seen many problems with sealed crawls simply from the aspect that the builder really did not understand the concept or how to do it. About the only successfull sealed crawls I have seen are the ones that have a positive air flow/pressure being introduced into them.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  24. #24
    David Nelson's Avatar
    David Nelson Guest

    Default Re: Can anyone identify this yellow stuff on my joists?

    Scott, I have installed plenty of sealed crawlspaces. One thing that my company started doing is offering an "economy" package. We seal the vents and any other openings in the foundation wall, put down moisture vapor barrier(enough to get about 99% coverage), stake it down, tape the seams, and either install a dehumidifier or a supply air inducer. I have installed quite a few this way, and although it does not regulate the relative humidity as much as an actual sealed crawlspace, it gets the job done. Also a nice way to save a few thousand dollars.


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