Ignoring Your Crawl Space Will Cost You
When was the last time you poked your head into your crawl space? Like many homeowners, you know your dirt crawl space is nasty. It's not a pretty sight. That's why you never go down there unless you absolutely have to.
Out of sight, out of mind—right?
Your home operates as a system. When one part fails, it affects the rest of the machine. In this case, a dirt crawl space affects how much you pay for heating and cooling. It affects the comfort of your home, cold floors, drafts, and how your home smells. Mold affects your health. Wood rot affects the structural integrity and longevity of your home. A musty, dirt crawl space affects your resale value. You can ignore your crawl space, but it'll cost you.
The dirt crawl space problem is one problem that pays great dividends when fixed, but it can destroy your investment if left untreated. Repairing your crawl space doesn't necessitate a terribly expensive and disruptive home improvement project. There are four steps to totally eliminating a dirt crawl space's negative effects on the rest of your house.
1. Fix the water leakage.
Dirt crawl spaces are notorious for standing water and pervasive mold. To solve the problem of mold and moisture, you must first eliminate groundwater leakage. A high-quality sump pump system is essential and must include a perforated sump liner, reliable pump, alarm system, pump stand, check valve, and an air-tight lid with a floor drain. An alarm will alert you in the event of pump failure or plumbing leaks, and an air-tight sump lid with a drain allows water to drain without allowing water vapor to escape into the crawl space.
2. Isolate your house from the earth.
A strong and durable vapor barrier is essential to stopping water vapor from permeating up from the dirt floor and allowing drainage to the sump. By installing a vapor barrier over the floor and up the walls of the crawl space, groundwater can effectively flow underneath the liner to the sump while the barrier locks out water vapor.
3. Seal the vents and other air leaks.
A crawl space suffering high humidity is begging to be wrought with mold and wood rot. Outside air brings with it humidity that could effectively rot your home from the inside out. But vents aren't the only way outside air can get into your crawl space. Spaces under the sill plate and openings around pipes and wires to the outside, poorly-fitting or rotted access doors, and air leaks in the rim joist are all paths that need to be sealed with caulk and spray foam to get the best results.
4. "Condition" or dehumidify your crawl space air.
Your crawl space doesn't have to be wet for mold to grow and your HVAC system to run non-stop, just humid. Damp indoor air costs more money to cool (resulting in higher utility bills), and condensation can form on cold water pipes and ductwork. In order to eliminate condensation (and reduce the heating and cooling workload of your HVAC system), you need to wring moisture out of the air. Not just any dehumidifier will do; you'll need a high-capacity and high-efficiency dehumidification and air filtration system to wring your air dry and keep your building materials and contents dry (which also makes the musty smell go away).
Don't let a damp, moldy crawl space get the best of you. Fix the water leakage, seal your crawl space, and keep it dry all the time. Our basement and foundation specialists are available to conduct free inspections and provide you with a free estimate on a proven solution to the crawl space dilemma. Call or email us today to schedule a free inspection and estimate on crawl space encapsulation and dehumidification.