The crawl space is one of the places in homes that people don’t give much thought to until something goes wrong and they have to. Have you started to notice an odor that wasn’t there before, a floor that is beginning to sag, or mold creeping up into your house?
Have you found out that the value of your home has decreased, when you are trying to sell it, because of untold structural damage that started in your crawl space? Are you finding yourself wondering, “what’s going on?” These questions could be coming into your mind because, you guessed it, your crawl space was a place in your home that you hadn’t thought about much.
A crawl space doesn’t have to be a potential problem. It also has the potential to be so much more than the dirt under your house. There are ways that it can be made to stay safe and dry, not playing a part to mold growth or rotting wood. It can also become a whole new area that you can utilize for storage space as well as increase the value of your home.
A fantastic article regarding how to finish your crawl space or basement for maximum value can be found here.
What is a crawl space and what is its purpose? A crawl space is something like a basement, an area under your house, that isn’t tall enough for anyone to do more than crawl under it. The standard floor of a crawl space is bare dirt. Homes that don’t have basements or not built on slabs of cement usually have crawl spaces.
The original purpose of a crawl space was to increase the circulation of air through the home. They have also been a way of quickly accessing electrical areas as well as plumbing that runs under the house, increasing the ease of needed maintenance and repair work. Crawl spaces are of high use for this as they offer a quick and more comfortable way to access pipes in structures where they would be more difficult to reach and maintain.
Due to the size and nature of a crawl space, it is not able to be used as an additional living space, but it can function as a storage space for infrequently used belongings. But a crawl space should not be used in this manner in its original state. Unless you live in a dry climate with little to no rain or snow, moisture is going to be an issue when it comes to storing your items under a crawl space. Not only would the humidity damage your belongings, but moisture in a crawl space can become a breeding ground for mold, mildew.
To make a crawl space a useful part of the home, you need to look at it as any other part of the house that you would use for the safety and security of your family and belongings.
Vented crawl spaces have the propensity to promote moisture, mold and mildew problems, which can, when the air is pulled into the home, cause problems with allergies and possibly respiratory diseases. Insulating a crawl space with loose fiberglass, instead of rigid foam boards which is often seen, carries the same issues as fiberglass batting can soak up the excess moisture. This extra moisture can cause the wood that the insulation is packed into to begin to rot and increase the risk of structural damage.
The best way to finish a crawl space is in a way in which the moisture can be controlled, doesn’t support the growth of mold or mildew, and can adequately protect your belongings when stored.
Correctly finished crawl spaces are best protected with a plastic vapor barrier. This is often referred to as crawl space encapsulation. This type of finishing will take care of quite a few problems in one step. By decreasing the moisture and humidity in your crawl space, the mold and mildew will cease to be an issue.
Insects that use the mold and mildew spores as food will stop being an issue, which means that the vermin the eat the insects won’t be an issue either. If you look at a bigger picture, by finishing your crawl space with a vapor barrier, you have also decreased the risk of these same things becoming a problem inside of your home as well as reducing the risk of rotting wood and structural damage. Setting up this type of barrier also reduces the likelihood that your crawl space will become a home for animals, while giving you an effective storage area.
There are further benefits of creating a new, dry crawl space versus the dirt-floored, unfinished one you have now.
Rain gutters were made to remove water away from your house and foundation, but if your crawl space is wet, what good are the gutters? Encapsulating your crawl space with a vapor barrier will keep the area under your house dry and decrease your risk of costly structural problems to your home in the future.
Termites are highly attracted to wet wood. Termites promote a more significant problem with structural damage to your home by causing more damage to the already damaged timber. A polyethylene barrier is one of the best ways to decrease your chances of wet, rotting wood and the termites that follow.
By encapsulating your crawl space, you can expect a big difference in your cooling bills. You can even go further and have your newly encapsulated crawl space insulated and air-conditioned. By removing the potential for hot moist air under your home, your cooling system has less humid air to work with. This will increase the efficiency in which your HVAC works and will show you an even more significant savings on your cooling bill.
Though most are content with a vented crawl space as a solution to moisture removal, it does not take care of the potential issues of mold, mildew, insects, vermin and increased cooling bills. It also doesn’t give you a space that you can use for storage with the security that your belongings are safe and won’t be damaged, not decrease your worry of structural damage to your home. In many parts of the country, including Wisconsin and Minnesota, vented crawl spaces are not permitted by local and state building codes.
You have already made a significant investment in your home. Why risk the loss of that investment when you don’t have to? A phone call is all it takes. Call us for a free estimate and let us show you how to protect your home and make your investment even more worthwhile.
For more information about your basement repair needs, visit our Basement Repair Blog.