Hidden underneath your house is a crawl space, which is far more important than you might think. A crawl space is a narrow space between the ground and the first floor of your home where you can only crawl but not stand. The crawl space plays an important role in maintaining the indoor environment of your home and protecting it from internal damage. You might overlook the crawl space of your home, but a lack of attention to this place can result in structural damage to your home. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore signs and causes of crawl space problems, common crawl space repair solutions, and the benefits of repairing your crawl space.
Signs Indicating Need for Crawl Space Repair
Your home is like a complex ecosystem, and the neglected crawl space significantly controls the welfare of this ecosystem. You might be wondering how to identify that your crawl space is having some serious problems and needs repair. Here are some evident signs and symptoms indicating that it is high time to get your crawl space repaired.
- Higher humidity levels are determined by damp insulation or condensation on pipes.
- Stinking smells.
- Appearance of discolored patches on surfaces.
- Dampened air.
- Mold, mildew, and pest growth.
- Stagnant water resulting from poor drainage or pipe leakage.
- Floors that become uneven, sagged, or sloped.
- High electricity bills despite low consumption because of the humid environment.
- Allergy-like symptoms.
- Appearance of condensation on walls and HVAC equipment.
- Hanging or falling insulation.
- Cracks in walls.
Causes of Crawl Space Problems
You are more likely to face crawl space-related issues if you don’t know how to maintain, avoid, or deal with such problems. Before identifying the ways to resolve crawl space problems, you should understand the causes leading to these problems. Some common causes of crawl space issues include:
- Groundwater accumulates in your crawl space.
- Inadequate insulation lowers the energy efficiency.
- Inadequate ventilation leads to high humidity levels.
- Structural damage, such as sagging floors.
Common Crawl Space Repair Methods
Severe issues in your crawl space cause structural damage to your home and, in the worst-case scenario, can make it unsafe to live in. But don’t worry! The underlying methods can help you repair your crawl space.
1. Crawl Space Waterproofing
Humidity is the root cause of almost all crawl space-related problems. Crawl space waterproofing is the ultimate solution to this problem. Underlying steps are employed when waterproofing a crawl space:
- Remove debris from the crawl space.
- Dig a channel along its four sides.
- Install a geo-channel track that collects the water and drains it into a pit.
- The sump pump in the pit expels the water via a drainage pipe outside the crawl space.
- Replace the vapor barrier or encapsulate your crawl space.
Benefit: Waterproofing reduces the amount of vapors that enter your crawl space, consequently reducing the vapors that enter your living space.
2. Crawl Space Encapsulation
The encapsulation process involves lining the floor, vents, insulated walls, and dehumidifiers of your crawl space with a heavy-duty polyethylene barrier. Allow skilled professionals to visit your crawl space who encapsulate your crawl space using the underlying procedure:
- Determine the best type of encapsulation according to your needs.
- Remove the old insulation and fix your crawl space issues.
- Add a layer of spray-on insulation for sealing gaps, vents, and holes in pipes or air ducts.
- Apply the heavy-duty vapor barrier and seal it using fasteners and sealing tape.
- Add a dehumidifier to keep humidity levels below 50%.
Benefit: Encapsulating the open vents in the crawl space helps overcome the moisture problem and prevents pests from entering your home.
3. Crawl Space Dehumidification
Your crawl space can become damp due to higher humidity levels. To overcome this problem, we have to dehumidify the crawl space using the following steps:
- Allow the water to escape the crawl space using downpipes.
- Place a plastic sheet over the crawl space’s ground to impede moisture evaporation.
- Seal all vents or cracks in your crawl space.
- Install a crawl space dryer to keep the moisture level low.
- Installation of dehumidifiers within the crawl space also assists in resolving the issue.
Benefit: Crawl space dehumidification keeps the humidity level so low that it is unfavorable for pest infestation or mold and mildew growth.
4. Vapor Barrier Installation
A vapor barrier is a plastic sheet that is laid on the ground to trap water vapors from entering your crawl space. A vapor barrier can be installed by following some simple steps:
- Remove water vapors or any debris from the crawl space.
- Measure the dimensions keeping in view all the obstacles like pipes or vents.
- Cut the vapor barrier according to your crawl space size and leave some extra inches on the sides for full coverage.
- Use sealing tape, adhesive, or staple gun to secure the sheet.
- Properly seal the edges or penetrations to increase the effectiveness of your vapor barrier.
- Carefully inspect for any unsecured section.
- Keep checking the signs of moisture in your home for the next few weeks.
Benefit: A vapor barrier offers numerous benefits, like protecting your flooring from groundwater, reducing the growth of pests, molds, and mildew, keeping your crawl space cleaner, increasing your home’s energy efficiency by giving extra insulation, and protecting structural wood from damage.
5. Crawl Space Insulation
Crawl space insulation plays an important role in maintaining energy efficiency and prevents external air from getting in. However, before learning how to install your crawl space, you must know how to identify that your crawl space is the reason for unwanted outside air entering your home.
How to Know Your Crawl Space Needs To Be Insulated?
The three best ways to tell whether your Crawl Space needs to be insulated or not include the following:
- The EyeBall test: Take your flashlight and give your crawl space a thorough look. If you see anything hanging or deteriorating insulation, you need to take immediate action to replace it. Beware of spider webs, and keep a broom with yourself to sweep them.
- Floor Inspection: Inspect your floor. If your flooring is warping, creaking, or feels extra cold, it might be an indication of damaged insulation. As the wood contracts or expands with temperature changes, and squeaks as a result.
- Seeking Professional Help: Call a team of professionals to thoroughly inspect your crawl space and look for any fallen or deteriorated insulations.
How to Insulate Your Crawl Space?
Once you’re done with diagnosing the damage, you can take the necessary steps for the insulation of your crawl space.
- Choosing an appropriate insulation material. Some common insulation materials include fiberglass, cellulose, rigid foam board, and closed cell-spray foam insulation.
- Remove the old insulation and dry out the whole space.
- Seal all the air and water leaks using a sealant spray.
- Install a crawl space vapor barrier.
- Finally, install the new insulation.
Benefits: Insulating a crawl space offers manifold advantages, such as reducing electricity bills, protecting from moisture damage, better air quality in your home, and protection from molds and mildew.
The crawl space beneath your home often remains neglected, but any damage to it can be harmful to the structural integrity of your home. Signs and symptoms of crawl space problems include higher humidity levels, musty smells, high electricity bills, etc. We can use different methods like crawl space insulation, vapor barrier installation, encapsulation, dehumidification, and waterproofing. Crawl space repair protects your home from moisture, mildew, pests, and structural damage. So, invest in your crawl space repair today!