Subfloor is usually plywood or engineered wood, which in itself is not the strongest material. But when layered with floor joists and the concrete pad underneath, this builds an incredibly strong base for your home’s finished floors.
If you have vinyl flooring, you may also have an underlayment layer on top of the subfloor.
In some cases, like in basements, concrete alone may be the subflooring.
Mold in the subflooring can be dangerous because it weakens your floors and creates opportunities for holes to form. Mold only grows on organic materials like wood, glue, insulation, wax and all-natural paint varieties. But it can survive on concrete and other non-organic materials as long as moisture and food are present. If you believe there is mold on your subfloor, you will want to call Pure Air Solutions right away for an on-site evaluation to determine if our dry fog mold remediation is necessary.
Identifying Signs of Mold in Your Subfloor
Before we dive into the signs and symptoms of mold in the subfloor, let’s look at the reasons it can develop in the first place.
Mold in the subflooring is usually the result of leaks. Bathroom fixtures are common reasons for subfloor moisture and subsequent mold.
This problem is more common in vinyl, ceramic tile and laminate floors than it is with carpet because moisture and mold in carpet are usually noticeable very early.
Homes are always at risk of mold growth because most of us keep our homes at stabilized temperatures that we are comfortable in. Unfortunately, mold loves these cozy temperatures, too.
Signs of Mold in Subflooring
Positively identifying mold in subflooring isn’t an easy task. You can’t visually inspect it, so you have to rely on other signs. There are really only two:
- Mold odor – One of the first and best ways to identify a mold problem is the smell. Mold odors are described as musty or earthy, and it’s typically pretty strong. If you don’t see mold in any of the obvious places, it could be hiding somewhere that is impossible to visually inspect, such as subflooring.
- Physical symptoms of people in your home – People with mold allergies can experience symptoms such as coughing and sneezing, eye irritations, and breathing issues. If you or a family member experiences these symptoms and there is no other explanation, have your home tested for mold.
Not only can mold cause allergic reactions, but it can actually make people and pets very sick. Mold toxicity can lead to asthma attacks, unexplained skin irritations, and neurological symptoms like memory loss and insomnia.
Unfortunately, the only way to detect subfloor mold is to look for it, which may mean pulling up the finished floor. You can roll back carpet and padding if necessary, but other types of flooring will need to be cut to reveal what is underneath.
If you go this far, make sure to examine each layer, including the subfloor and any additional underlayment or concrete, to thoroughly check for mold.
You may be lucky enough – a relative term, for sure – to see discoloration or warping in your vinyl flooring which would definitely indicate a mold issue underneath. While mold won’t grow on the vinyl itself, it can feed on the paper backing that most vinyl flooring has.
If you do see these things, at least you wouldn’t be pulling up the floor for no reason.
One final way to check for subfloor mold is to look at it from underneath, either in the basement or the crawlspace. This method is hit or miss, though, because even if mold is present, it could be limited to the top side of the subflooring only.
Preventing Subfloor Mold
As you can imagine, mold in your subfloor is a pain in the neck. You have to remove the finished floor and often the subfloor to get rid of the mold, so it’s preferable to avoid this situation altogether if possible.
There are a couple of easy ways to prevent mold in your subflooring:
- Prevent leaks – You can’t always predict when a leak will strike, but you can certainly be proactive about a pesky drip or a running toilet. A quick fix of minor issues like these can prevent moisture from getting in the subflooring and causing major damage and mold.
- Thoroughly dry subflooring – Plywood can get wet during delivery or while waiting to be installed, and concrete has water in it, which must be dried out (a process that can take up to days!). Before moving on to the next step, whether it’s another layer of subfloor or the actual finished floor, make sure the subfloor layer is dry to avoid mold growth right from the start.
How to Remove Mold from the Subfloor
Due to the complexity of mold removal from subfloor materials, it is recommended that you hire a professional mold remediation company in Central Kentucky to handle the job.
There are several steps to this process, all of which are potentially dangerous and require a great deal of knowledge and skill:
- Testing – First, you need to be sure that mold is present. Pure Air Solutions will be able to test your home for unusually high mold levels.
- Floor removal – If subfloor mold is suspected, we will know the best way to access the subfloor to visually confirm this suspicion without causing too much disruption. That way, if the mold happens to be somewhere else, the removed flooring can be reinstalled easily.
- Mold removal – It is possible that an entire section of subfloor has to be removed. This may also include the finished floor if the mold has made its way to that as well. Removing mold-infested building materials has the potential to spread mold spores unless this process is done very carefully and with the right equipment. The good news is we offer demo-free mold remediation. If we feel this service will have success with the mold in your subfloor, no demo might be necessary.
Unless you are a professional mold service, removing mold from the subfloor is not a job you want to take on by yourself!