Clean Space

The main issue in crawl spaces is that the quality of the air under the house affects the quality of the air in your living space.  Since vapor barriers are not secured against the foundations of most homes, the raunchy odors of decaying, moldy materials outgas in a manner that affects indoor air quality.

Five years ago, all these ideas were basically new to me. . . so in case they are unfamiliar to you, let me say a few words.

Before living in the Pacific Northwest, I lived in Santa Fé for 21 years.  My last two homes were both environmentally conscious, almost environmental masterpieces for their vintage, but what passed for "conscious" at the end of the 20th century will probably seem retarded by the standards that are emerging now.

In most of the world, there is an indigenous architecture and building style that is both unique as well as suitable to climate and life styles.  In the NW, I have failed to discover anything that remotely passes for intelligent adaptation to the realities of endless rain and darkness.

This is a shot of the crawl space after the removal of debris, raking, and grading of the ground.


Here we see a partially completed CleanSpace installation. The process will result in a completely sealed crawl space.  Details follow.

The idea of the CleanSpace system is to enclose the crawl space (or basement) in such a manner as to prevent moisture from the ground as well as air from entering.  All the vents are sealed.  The extremely durable laminated material is treated with a fungicide and is therefore mold resistant.  The blue side goes down, leaving the white side exposed.  The material not only covers the ground completely, but it goes up the foundation walls.  It is affixed with glue and grommets in such a manner as to prevent moisture (and gases) from under the enclosure from leaking into the air space.  It also eliminates decaying organic material from becoming part of the ecology of the building or home.  Therefore, even if some roots are still in the soil under the property, the decomposition of this material does not pose a risk to indoor air quality.

The question is how important is this?  I think I can say a few words on the subject.  It's November now.  It's dark and rainy and quite cold.  The house has been almost as bad as right after the flood.  My nostrils were burning with the odor of mold gas.  Monday afternoon, the bulk of the obnoxious materials were removed, along with the vapor barrier.  Ironically, the air in the house was actually a little better Monday night than it had been in the previous weeks, this despite the removal of the visqueen.  Tuesday morning, the remaining moldy materials were removed, adding two more bags to the three from Monday.  The air improved a lot.  Then, the entire space was raked and graded, stirring up "anything" -- and this is regarded as a hazardous undertaking by mold remediation specialists because there is a risk of disseminating spores any time a colony is disturbed.

Therefore, the entire space was immediately sprayed with a fungicide.  I want to observe its efficacy before disclosing what we used.  Suffice it to say that we used something very intense but natural.  This had an odor of its own, enough to mask everything else, but the odor dissipated quickly in the crawl space.  It went into the house and garage.  This was fascinating to me because the garage has no windows or vents so the only air moving into the garage must be from the air intake upstairs in the house (where the fungicide was only faintly detectable) or from duct work in the crawl space.  Because of lack of ventilation, the odor in the garage is dissipating very slowly.

I expected an "ordeal" because of the combination of a "disturbance" and fungicide.  The workers began laying out the CleanSpace material Tuesday afternoon.   As they were leaving yesterday, I put an ozone machine in the crawl space to attack whatever the fungicide may have missed.  This odor came into the house ever so slightly.  It was practically undetectable in the crawl space.  Last night, I slept well for only the second time since moving into the house!  


Pictures of the CleanSpace Installation


Ingrid Naiman
16 November 2005


Sacred Medicine Sanctuary


Notice:  The material on this site is based on the personal experiences and research of Ingrid Naiman, the site owner.  While every effort has been made to present accurate information, neither the site owner or web service provider claim the material will prevent or cure any medical condition, and no responsibility for the application of the information on this site is assumed by the any of the parties providing the content on this site.  None of the statements made on the site are intended to replace the services of health care or mold professionals.

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