Foundation Stabilization and Repair/Sweating Foundation
I'm buying a 1 year old home in Arkansas soon. It is built with a crawl space approx 30" high which consists of a poured concrete foundation approx 10" high with 2 rows of cinder blocks on that and then the wood framing for the house. My Inspector today reported there was "a lot of sweating on the wood touching the cinder blocks". There is also a small amount of white mold on some of the wood. The mortar for the blocks showed some leeching. He suggested just putting a layer of plastic on the dirt between the foundation and securing it would cure the problem.
I have 3 questions: First: How serious is this problem? Second: What can be done about stopping further damage? Third: What needs to be done to the foundation now?
Happy New Year!
Now as for the white mold,fungus or whatever name we use to answer your first question, it can have long term, costly effects. Judging by the pictures submitted it does not look all that bad at present however efforts should be made to mitigate in the near future. Over time it will begin to contribute to rotting of the floor joist and beams. It is also a potential health problem especially if any of you are prone to allergies or have any respiratory concerns. This is a very common problem and often goes undetected. Most owners do not enter the crawl space on a frequent basis and who can blame them, it can get pretty nasty.
There are different levels of approach to address the problems. They can range from minor drainage improvements around the perimeter of the structure to crawl space encapsulation systems and the addition of environmental control equipment within the crawl space. For the immediate you can take efforts to assure that water does not pond next to the foundation and a positive slope exists away from the foundation to prevent ponding. This is very basic and is usually recommended to minimize effects to the foundation integrity as well.
Vapor barriers may help depending on the severity but may not completely address the problem. There are a number of products on the market if you are a DIY type of guy.
You may also want to seek out opinions from area specialty contractors who deal with waterproofing and obtain a quote or two for methods and costs. Depending on the approach some of these methods can get costly but may prevent even more costly problems in the future.
Dealing with crawl space environments has become somewhat of a science in recent years and often take a different approach to the age old crawl space cross venting methods. You should be able to find reputable area contractors that can provide their methods and costs to address the problems of moisture in the crawl space. At least this way you have a broad level of information and options from which to make a decision that makes sense to you.
Good luck with your efforts.