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Mold Removal – Soda Blasting

There are several ways to address mold in a crawl space. We feel mold removal is necessary in a crawl space and the best way to remove mold is soda blasting. Soda blasting mold is the most effective and safe way to physically remove mold from the subfloor and floor joists of a crawl space.

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Why Invest in Mold Removal?

The keyword is removal. Why should you invest in crawl space mold removal and not just spray it with a disinfectant? Imagine you had a roof leak and the water left a stain on your ceiling. You were able to repair the roof quickly so no mold grew on the ceiling.

Mold Testing

You even paid a mold inspector and confirmed there was no mold with a mold test. The mold inspector performed a surface mold sample and sent it to a lab for analysis. Lab result...no mold. You keep telling yourself you will paint the stain.

Your Home is For Sale

Three years later and you have your home for sale. You are so used to the stain on your ceiling by now that it never occurs to you to address it before putting your home on the market. Big mistake!

Kids Have Asthma

A family enters your home during a showing and they love the house. Momma rolls up to the master bedroom where the ceiling stain is and she starts asking questions. She read an article about mold on the internet. You assure her that you had it tested and there is no mold, only a stain. She's feeling uncomfortable because her children have asthma and she doesn't want to risk purchasing a home with mold.

Visible Dead Mold Can Be a Problem

So why is the crawl space mold any different. Crawl space companies will tell you to spray the mold on the joists and leave the insulation in place. There is no need to remove the mold they say. When a home inspector enters a crawl space and sees mold, alive or dead, it is a red flag. Do all that you can to remove the mold and prevent it from returning.

Mold Health Hazards

Health concerns related to the growth of mold in the home have been featured heavily in the news. Common problems like itchy eyes, coughing and sneezing are linked to mold exposure. More serious allergic reactions like asthma attacks, and even the possibility of permanent lung damage can also occur. According to WebMD the body can resist allergen exposure but the more you ingest the tougher it can be on your immune system. Even dead mold should be properly cleaned when found in your crawl space or other areas of the home.

Black Mold Mycotoxins

All that is needed for mold to grow is moisture, oxygen, a food source, and a surface to grow on.  Mold spores are commonly found naturally in the air. If spores land on a wet or damp spot indoors and begin growing, they can lead to problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, molds produce allergens, irritants and, in some cases, potentially toxic substances called mycotoxins.

Mold Exposure

Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Allergic responses include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash (dermatitis). Allergic reactions to mold are common. They can be immediate or delayed. Molds can also trigger asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold. In addition, mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat and lungs of both mold-allergic and nonallergic people.

Mold Assessment in Our Environment

As more is understood about the health issues related to mold growth in interior environments, new methods for mold assessment and remediation are being put into practice. Mold assessment is used in occupational health and is the process of identifying the location and extent of the mold hazard in a structure.

Removal or Mold Remediation

Mold remediation is the process of cleanup and/or removal of mold from an indoor environment. Remediation or mold mitigation is usually conducted by a company with experience in construction, demolition, cleaning and airborne-particle containment-control. The use of special equipment like HEPA air scrubbers to protect workers and building occupants is also needed. Exposure from secondary contamination or irritating dust and organic debris can be minimized with proper containment and protocols. A new method that is gaining traction in this area of mold remediation is abrasive soda blasting.

Soda Blasting Mold in a Crawl Space

Here is a picture of mold removal in a home that had severe mold damage on the joists. In fact, we had to install seven pillars and repair fifteen floor joists that were damaged beyond repair. The image at the top right of the page is from the same crawl space before we soda blasted. If we had tried to perform mold removal by hand scrubbing or wiping down the moldy floor joists the result would not have been the same.

Picture of mold removal in crawl space

What is Sodium Bicarbonate

Soda blasting uses sodium bicarbonate, which is safe around food, and applies it to wood surfaces of the crawl space at a high rate of speed. The soda is abrasive and therefore removes the mold from the wood surface. Soda blasting is extremely effective at removing mold but it is not the only step that should be taken. Controlling moisture and humidity with a dehumidifier still remains high on the list. There is a lot of misinformation out there so I recommend you take a look at The 5 Don'ts of Crawl Space Repair if you are considering any work in your crawl space.

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Do you need help with mold removal, crawl space encapsulation, crawl space insulation, vapor barrier, waterproofing, foundation repair, basement waterproofing, or controlling humidity in your crawl space?

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About Michael Church

Michael Church has been involved with indoor air quality since 2005 and feels the unhealthy crawl space is one of the major problems causing poor indoor air quality.

27 Comments

  1. Mike Gassmann on August 9, 2020 at 8:32 am

    Do you know any companies that can be trusted on the south side of Atlanta.?

    • Michael Church on August 14, 2020 at 11:35 am

      We are running appointments in South Atlanta, please fill out our form and we can get you in touch with a local Ninja to assist you. https://crawlspaceninja.com/free-assessment/ Thank you.

    • John on September 1, 2022 at 2:22 pm

      So if a vapor barrier is laid…where does that water that is no longer allowed to rise and vent go? Is it possible that eliminating the vapor in the crawl space become a water problem somewhere else? Consider an old house that was built with older industry standard where vents were used and no vapor barrier. Wondering if that change would cause different problems?

  2. Edward Pledge on August 20, 2020 at 9:31 pm

    Hey Michael. I need help with mold in my crawl space. It is really affecting the air quality in my home. I live in West Tennessee. Any suggestions? Thanks!

    • Michael Church on August 26, 2020 at 10:59 am

      I am so sorry but I don’t know anyone I would recommend beyond Nashville, TN at this point.

  3. Suzanne on September 26, 2020 at 12:27 pm

    Hello, thank you for all of the helpful information!
    Do you know of a company that services the Wilmington, NC area that you would highly recommend?

    • Michael Church on September 26, 2020 at 2:53 pm

      We actually have a franchise starting in Wilmington, NC first quarter of 2021. Not sure you can hold off that long but thank you for reaching out.

  4. Tom Barnett on September 27, 2020 at 11:10 am

    Mike – I’ve got mold in my crawl space and all the local companies bidding for the job are first using a HEPA vacuum to remove the visible mold, and are then treating it with a sodium percarbonate or h2o2 solution. What are your thoughts about soda blasting vs. vacuum?

    • Michael Church on September 29, 2020 at 3:39 pm

      Soda blasting mold is way better at stripping off molds while HEPA is good at removing surface molds that are dry. For example HEPA is used in a lot of applications but if wood is wet it is limited in what it can remove because we have seen it smear the mold. Also the surface area can prevent the nozzle of the vacuum from reaching all areas where there are nails or joints or voids. Soda blasting tends to do better at reaching those hard to get to areas. HEPA is great on drywall for example but in a tight rim joist, may not be able to reach. Hope that helps, FYI video of your question coming soon.

  5. Marci Twist on April 14, 2021 at 9:34 pm

    Does soda blasting work on AA sub floor that is musty but you can’t actually see any black mold?

  6. CB on May 15, 2021 at 10:52 pm

    Hi Michael,
    Do you know of any companies that service northern New York State – near Burlington VT?

  7. mike on December 4, 2021 at 11:44 am

    Hey Michael,

    Do you have to clean up after soda blasting? I would think the soda would be everywhere after the cleaning is done.

    We don’t plan on encapsulating after the cleaning. Just laying a vapor barrier back.

    • Michael Church on December 14, 2021 at 3:09 pm

      We blow off flat surfaces like ducts and allow the soda to rest directly on dirt. Hope that helps.

  8. Jess on February 17, 2022 at 9:26 pm

    Hey!For someone with mold illness (different than mold allergies!), would soda blasting be acceptable even if no visible mold on wood. Our ERMI came back very high and we think the mold is all invisible to naked eye but still there. Our hygienist also did tape lifts and they were elevated too.

    • Michael Church on February 18, 2022 at 12:27 pm

      Hi Jess, the ERMI tests are super sensitive and can pickup dead and live molds. That being said a clearance test after remediation is easy to fail if all mold spores are not removed. Soda blasting is an abrasive way to remove mold spores from surfaces regardless of their visibility. I feel confident it could address your mold issues but I would discuss with the ERMI inspector and your mold remediation company and make sure they coordinate to determine a proper clearance testing protocols and what is expected to pass. I hope that helps.

  9. Jane on September 23, 2022 at 7:50 pm

    Do you service Spartanburg, SC?

  10. Ted Mortarotti on January 2, 2023 at 9:29 am

    We had a sprinkler line break and flood about1/5th of our crawl space. We had several companies come out and look at the crawl space for possible mold.. The best of the group said after his inspection that there wasn’t any mold. Since that time I have run 2 fans and dried out any moisture. No more water under the house but there is still a “sour” smell inside the house that I cannot get rid of. Any thoughts? We live in Southern California.

    • Michael Church on January 2, 2023 at 9:47 am

      Hi Ted, I had to diagnose a sour smell many years ago in a “dry” crawl space. It was from a toilet leak that was so slow there was no evidence of water. The subfloor insulation was trapping the water and it ran for several feet in multiple directions and grew nasty mold. I only found it because I pulled down the subfloor insulation near the smell. If you don’t see visible signs of moisture or mold in the area, try using a moisture meter to test subfloor just to be sure. Hope that helps. Here is a link to the meter we use: https://diy.crawlspaceninja.com/pinless-moisture-meter/

  11. Stephen Andrews on January 12, 2023 at 3:28 pm

    Do you know anyone in Austin tx that offers soda blasting?

  12. Dom Cally on April 14, 2023 at 3:47 am

    So the soda blasting will take care of surface and under the surface mold in the wood itself because it’s abrasive ? then just blow off any left particles on floor joist and it’s fine to sit in the dirt ? I have mold growth ton the dirt currently to just spray it with something I’m assuming . Thanks man , new construction and due to no budget I’m tackling this myself .

    • Michael Church on April 19, 2023 at 5:15 pm

      They soda is abrasive and also has a high ph level which kills mold and it is okay to allow it to sit directly on the dirt. It also offers a deodorizing property. Please, let us know how your project goes.

  13. Amy on October 22, 2023 at 10:20 pm

    We have mold on subfloor & joist under house. We have installed dehumidifier & moisture barrier. Can we still do soda blasting? I don’t want it to mess up our vapor barrier. Thanks

    • Michael Church on October 23, 2023 at 11:09 am

      Soda is abrasive and can damage vapor barrier and get under seam tape to minimize its adhesive ability. You use about 50lbs of soda for every 200 to 300 square feet so that can be a lot of buildup that needs to be cleaned. Many contractors will not soda blast without factoring replacing the vapor barrier. Hope that helps.

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