When the crawl space gets damp, a lot of questions may pop up in your mind. Is this a normal thing? Will it harm the crawl space? How long has it been there? All these can throw you into a spin. For many homeowners, determining whether moisture is temporal or a perennial issue is the biggest challenge.
Here’s the thing. Homes across Indianapolis, IN, are not immune to the seasonal changes in weather. Winter gives way to wet spring, which in turn ushers in summer, a season in which the weather is hot and humid.
All may seem well until the first signs of moisture start manifesting. Your crawl space can turn putrid, mold may start forming, and wood may decay as well. Buy a hygrometer and keep checking the humidity levels especially during summer months.
What Causes Crawl Space Moisture?
Several things can instigate crawl space dampness. Leaky windows, clogged gutters, and groundwater all have the potential to dampen the crawl space. Burst pipes and leaky plumbing system are other vectors.
Heavy rainfall in spring and melting snow can cause soil saturation. Since the soil doesn’t have the capacity to absorb or hold any more water, this water has to find a place to go. Water can seep in through uncovered soil or porous walls and dampen the crawl space.
Open vents are another common vector. They can let in water and moist, warm air into your crawl space. When this air comes into contact with the cool surfaces, like crawl space walls or insulation, condensation occurs. Moisture can linger in the atmosphere for several weeks unnoticed.
Should I Worry about Moisture?
It’s normal for the crawl space to develop moisture, especially during summer months when the precipitation is usually high. Condensation will form on cool surfaces and materials like the insulation. If condensation occurs repeatedly, puddles may form on the floor.
What isn’t normal is when the moisture or humidity level exceeds the 60% mark and stays there for several days. This can set the stage for the things you’ve been trying to avoid all along — mold and decay. Do a quick inspection of the crawl space walls and items in there. If you notice anything abnormal, including musty smells, something could be wrong.
Take action if you notice any of the following:
- Pest and insect infestation
- Wall cracks and movement
- Wet insulation
- Spotting on walls
- Buckling/warping floors
- Wood deterioration in floor joists
- Higher energy bills
Don’t underestimate what humidity can do. Moisture can turn your once dry and healthy crawl space into a breeding ground for pests and mold. Be on high alert and swing into action the moment you spot moisture signs.
Dealing with crawl space moisture problems
When it comes to waterproofing your crawl space, you have several options. Let’s look at solutions that your local crawl space experts can install to help you curb moisture and create a dry space.
First off, if flooding threatens the crawl space, get a sump pump and install it at the lowest point. It will help remove any floodwater before it causes serious damage. Make sure your interior drainage system like CrawlDrain™ that collects seeping water and directs it to the sump pump is functional, or it might render your sump pump useless.
Next, encapsulate and condition the crawl space. Sealing the crawl space floor and walls with exterior vent covers and a 20-mil plastic vapor barrier like CrawlSeal™ effectively locks out outdoor air, the number one enemy, and the major cause of dampness. Encapsulation also prevents pests and crawling inspects from taking over the crawl space and damaging it. Rigid insulation panels also can be added to the walls before encapsulating to further prevent moisture issues.
Seasonal weather changes can cause a spike in humidity levels. You’re likely to experience this in hot and humid months. This is where a dehumidifier comes handy. Properly sized and installed, it will help you dry out the air in the crawl space. We strongly recommend you buy an energy-efficient model that can also drain itself.
Clogging can set the stage for moisture, so you want to make sure rainwater flows freely to the downspout, and from there, to the drain sewer or streets. To prevent crawl space moisture from building up during wet months, clean up your gutters.
Grading your yard helps stop backflows. Whenever it rains, water flows away from the perimeter of your home and not toward it.
Don’t forget to check and seal cracks. Even the thin ones, known as hairline cracks, have the potential to introduce water into the crawl space and cause problems.
Is crawl space moisture keeping you awake at night? Get in touch with the experts at Indiana Foundation
Service for a free crawl space inspection and quote. We’ll help you find out the root cause of the moisture and resolve it once and for all!