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  1. #1
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    Default smells funny; looks funny...crawlspace question

    I was just inside this crawlspace and found this white residue like "stuff" all over the entire crawl. Obviously no vapor barrier, but question one: every time I moved over the "stuff" it smelled moldy at best. Question two: what can be done about removal / treatment? ...and do this before vapor barrier is laid down? Any thoughts and or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks~

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: smells funny; looks funny...crawlspace question

    Looks like someone used Lime to try and absorb the water. Guess it's not working. Here the way that would be handled would be first address any site drainage issues then install plastic and seal it completely.

    Nevada IOS#1730
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: smells funny; looks funny...crawlspace question

    Is there sufficient air exchange in that area?

    Steven Turetsky, UID #16000002314
    homeinspectionsnewyork.com
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: smells funny; looks funny...crawlspace question

    Duct tape is not a proper plumbing repair.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: smells funny; looks funny...crawlspace question

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    Duct tape is not a proper plumbing repair.

    I don't think that is a repair.
    Looks like insulation on pipes.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: smells funny; looks funny...crawlspace question

    It does not look like lime to me.
    It looks organic.
    I do not see any ventilation.
    First thing is to control moisture.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: smells funny; looks funny...crawlspace question

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    Duct tape is not a proper plumbing repair.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    I don't think that is a repair.
    Looks like insulation on pipes.
    Rick,

    I agree, it looks like the tape is just taping the insulation joints.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: smells funny; looks funny...crawlspace question

    Sean, As the years go (fly) by I get more and more leery of crawl spaces. There can be some really bad stuff in them and some exposures can have detrimental affects on you. Personally, I will no longer go into environments like that. That white substance, whatever it is, shouldn't be there if things were ok. I'd be referring it out to a certified indoor environmentalist. About three years ago an ASHI member was in a particular crawl space - a year later he was dead and it was attributed to something he breathed in from that crawl.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  9. #9
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    Default Re: smells funny; looks funny...crawlspace question

    Eric, the dust from deer mouse poop can carry the Hanta virus, which, if it gets in your lungs, certainly can kill you.

    I see lime in that crawlspace. It may have been spread under there to stop a rodent odor, or to soak up moisture or to deter insects, who know? Lime alone is not a problem, so , IF that is it, they could simply spread a 6 mil poly vapor barrier out over it.

    Of course the drainage around the house needs to be checked as well, and the crawlspace needs ventilation with rodent-proof screens installed.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: smells funny; looks funny...crawlspace question

    could be anything. It could be calcium carbonate (that's organic btw - carbon), it could be diatomaceous earth (also quite likely candidate, as DIY/HO is from washington state), it could be pesticide, it could be anything.

    Bottom line, we see uninsulated ceiling cavity above, we see no moisture barrier, we see apparent whiteish "dusted" earthen floor with dark staining directly under ABS plastic Drainage/Waste plumbing, we see duct tape on ABS DWV, and we see fiberglass batts piled & laying upon earthen floor and up against poured crawl foundation wall, in (was it?) Spokane Washington. And the OP says it "smells funny".

    The first time poster, new member OP hasn't returned since his original post, and this is likely a DIY/HB's/HOs topic.

    The crawl space needs attention - likely so does the DWV.

    The entirety "stinks" of a DIY/Home Owner/Home Buyer topic post, and likely should be moved there.

    No need to go on with this.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: smells funny; looks funny...crawlspace question

    I did say organic, but I should have said fungus, mold, biological substance.
    I don't mean to contradict anyone but, I do not think it is lime, calcium carbonate, diatomaceous earth, or boric acid.

    If it were lime (or similar) it would have been spread by hand or machine.
    I would expect to see it on top of the cable, batts of insulation and the other objects. But it is under those objects, not on top of them.
    If it was spread before those objects were in place then I expect to see foot prints and other evidence of someone that put the objects over the substance. Since there are no foot prints and the substance is under the objects I can only conclude that it was not put there by someone.
    If it was not put there by someone how did it get there?
    It grew there, in place.
    Therefore, from observation I believe the substance to be a growing organism, i.e. mold.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: smells funny; looks funny...crawlspace question

    The pics are blurry, but I see white on the cables, and some specks on the discarded ABS pipes. There is no food for mold on PVC or ABS.
    The space is too low for footprints, and people have avoided crawling there.

    PS, HG, why should we be concerned who is asking questions and why? HI's are learning from these discussions.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
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  13. #13
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    Default Re: smells funny; looks funny...crawlspace question

    To all who have contributed, thank-you for the time and information. The replies are great! Yep, first post for me but I am a genuine inspector I assure you Ya, the crawl had foundation vents on all sides and two cracks in the entire poured concrete foundation. Circa 1977. Grading was good on the exterior and gutters had extensions on them at all but one corner. I was just trying to see if anyone recognized this condition, and knew what to do~ Thanks... Sean


  14. #14
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    Default Re: smells funny; looks funny...crawlspace question

    There is debate as to what the substance is, however what to do about it is going to be pretty much the same.
    Find and eliminate the source of moisture.
    Remove the substance, by whatever means is appropriate. HEPA vac, or shovel and bucket (if appropriate).
    Put down moisture barrier.
    Verify that there is sufficient ventilation.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: smells funny; looks funny...crawlspace question

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    There is no food for mold on PVC or ABS.
    Slight disagreement with you on that one John. While it's true that molds don't feed on plastic they do tend to be attracted to any dirt / debris on the surface.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  16. #16
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    Default Re: smells funny; looks funny...crawlspace question

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    PS, HG, why should we be concerned who is asking questions and why? HI's are learning from these discussions.
    John,

    Because watson thinks he is 'Da Boss' and that no one should answer any question other than watson, and that once watson has answered a question, watson thinks that there should not be any further discussion on any issues directly or indirectly related to the question. Heaven forbid that someone learn something by followup discussion in which watson was not a participant in. (John, the is not for you, it is for watson.)

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  17. #17
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    Default Re: smells funny; looks funny...crawlspace question

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post

    the discarded ABS pipes.
    .
    Not that it matters ( except maybe for H.G. )
    *the material on the ground appears to be

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  18. #18
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    Default Re: smells funny; looks funny...crawlspace question

    Thanks, for the feedback, Sean. This could go on for days. Could you crop a pic and post a closeup?
    Rick and Eric, good point, mold does grow on dust or dirt. I still don't think it is a blanket of mold, but it could be. That is, I could be mistaken, having never crawled under a house in Spokane.
    JP, yes, I was asking a question for which I knew the answer.

    Right, Billy, good eye.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  19. #19
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    Default Re: smells funny; looks funny...crawlspace question

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post

    Right, Billy, good eye.
    .
    Well thank you John ( as I see a need to go on with this )

    The shown space would appear to be a Sealed Crawl, however the OP stated otherwise.
    As he was there ( meaning We were not ) then ventilation is present as well as grading.

    May I inquire as to Why you have not crawled under a house in Spokane?

    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: smells funny; looks funny...crawlspace question

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Stephens View Post
    .
    May I inquire as to Why you have not crawled under a house in Spokane?
    Same excuse you use. No one's ever offered me enough money.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  21. #21
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    Default Re: smells funny; looks funny...crawlspace question

    Frankly,

    It "looks" like "chalk".

    it also "looks" like dust from cut up and busted up previously installed or stored gyp board ('drywall").

    it also "looks" like (a lot) of bird poop.

    It also "looks" like post-perked residue from pouring off stepped cook-ops.

    It also "looks" like the collections you see near "ol' faithful".

    It mostly looks eerily too similar in appearance to certain crawlspace in a uincorporated area near Chicago, where a sometimes contractor, sometimes clown, "tinkered" all too often.

    It "looks" like "it" could be just about anything.

    Would be interesting what the status of electrical - to the crawl space (yep thinking grow lights, fans, etc. as the insulation situation is curious).

    Who knows? Where are the occupants? What do they know, and are willing to say? What's the history? What's been disclosed? What's with the grid pattern on the ground - reinforcement grid to be tied? electrified animal deterant? communications cables? Why are they on the ground? (see insert pic below). What's up with the piles of batt insulation on the ground off to the right? Obviously there's some history of de-construction and/or unfinished projects in this crawlspace.


    The descriptions offer little in the way of information. It could be anything. Photos don't offer much, and there are those who debate what appears obvious to others (such as "the stuff" on the pipes on the ground, see insert pic below).

    Generally, when a HI crosses "the line" and gets into designing corrections - its trouble lurking.

    'No good deed goes unpunished' indefinately... by your indemity or the receipent(s) individually and/or collectively.

    If the crawl space "stinks" it stinks, of what is unclear. If you don't know, you don't know. It could be anything. If vacant and no history, A Licensed environmental health practitioner or certified hygenist assessment and sampling for testing might be in order.



    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 10-07-2012 at 11:03 PM.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: smells funny; looks funny...crawlspace question

    It "looks" like "chalk".

    it also "looks" like dust from cut up and busted up previously installed or stored gyp board ('drywall").

    it also "looks" like (a lot) of bird poop.

    It also "looks" like post-perked residue from pouring off stepped cook-ops.

    It also "looks" like the collections you see near "ol' faithful".

    Sean; Regardless of what it is---Please always use a mask. I am constantly inspecting dryer vents in attics and crawls. I ALWAYS use a mask. Mine is an Automotive Paint Mask by 3M. About 30 dollars at Lowes or Home Depot. Filters are particle and vapor and changed every 100 hours of usage or until the filter indicator turns completly black, then it is time to change filters. Save the lungs Brother!!!! Here is a picture




    [/quote]


  23. #23
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    Default Re: smells funny; looks funny...crawlspace question

    What does it taste like?


  24. #24
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    Default Re: smells funny; looks funny...crawlspace question

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Thornburg View Post
    What does it taste like?

    Now that was damn funny!! Credit to you my friend!


  25. #25
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    Default Re: smells funny; looks funny...crawlspace question

    Tastes like chicken..........

    Efflorescence from water floating soil minerals and salts to the surface is my "guess". I have seen that before, but judging from a photo is tough. Clues that I might be right about the nature of the material are:
    Is it crusty (whether damp or dry)?
    Is it three dimensional or more than just a flat coating on the ground?
    Does it have a soap scum look to it?

    If the answer is yes to all of those questions, then I may be right, but whether I am right or not, call for further evaluation by a moisture and crawlspace environment control contractor. This crawlspace looks like it needs the services of one of those guys.


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