Your crawl space could be harming the rest of your house and impacting the welfare of your loved ones.
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If you don’t manage your crawl space humidity correctly, it could lead to wood rot, mold growth, and ruined crawl space insulation
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Dry rot (also known as brown rot) is one of the most damaging forces on household wood in the world.
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Damage from wood-destroying pests such as termites and carpenter ants is a slow process. If you can catch it before the problem becomes too severe, you can prevent the lion’s share of the damage before it occurs.
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When mold and rot are allowed to grow in crawl spaces, they lead to health and structural problems that will affect the entire home.
More than 50% of the air you breathe in your house comes from the crawl space. That means that whatever is in your crawl space also is in the rest of your home and affecting you and your family.
Air pressure also comes into play with air movement. Air flows from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure. When there is a greater difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures, the more significant this airflow becomes. (Source: Fine Homebuilding)
Even though you can’t actually see airflow, it might help to see this in action to get a better understanding of the stack effect. The Cold Climate Housing Research Center has several informational YouTube videos, including “Your Northern Home: Stack Effect” that illustrates the stack effect.
So, if there’s humid air or mold in your crawl space, it’s also in the air that is circulating throughout your home.
Any kind of water in your crawl space is a bad sign. It can enter through open vents, porous block walls, the ground, and plumbing leaks and lead to a variety of problems. Water in damp, dark areas like crawl spaces attracts bugs and pests. It also can saturate and weaken wooden structural supports, lead to corrosion and rust on metal supports, and result in mold growth.
Coupled with water intrusion and outside air being ventilated into the crawl space, humidity is a major crawl space culprit. High humidity – any level above 50% – contributes to mold growth, unpleasant odors, failing support systems and more.
It’s common for crawl spaces to have high relative humidity and moisture. These conditions promote mold growth, especially on organic materials like wood and insulation. Moisture in the crawl space also can enter other areas of the home through wall, ceiling and floor cracks, and contribute to mold growth there. (Source: EPA)
Now that you’ve read about the problems with most crawl spaces and their negative effects, don’t you think it’s time to fix them? There are so many reasons why addressing crawl space problems is beneficial.
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Adding a dehumidifier to your encapsulation is improved health and energy savings. A dehumidifier is a great solution to crawl space problems such as wet insulation of high indoor humidity.
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Crawl space encapsulation is the best moisture solution for your home’s crawl space
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By keeping your crawl space dry, you protect your structure and insulation from mold and rot.
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Termites, carpenter ants, wood-eating beetles, and crickets are especially attracted to moldy, rotting wood, and your vents serve as an open invitation for them.
What comes to mind when you hear the term “crawl space?” Are you picturing a small door leading to a closet that’s perfect for kids playing hide-and-go-seek? Or are you thinking about attic space?
What we’re referring to is the space underneath your house without full headroom, only enough space to crawl around – hence the name, crawl space. While not every single house has a crawl space, it is a common practice to build homes with this 1-3′ hollow area underneath the structure to elevate it off the ground. Dirt floors are the norm for crawl spaces, as it is cheaper than pouring concrete. Crawl spaces also house the “guts” of the home, as they are convenient places to have HVAC units, plumbing, duct work, and electrical wiring. (Source: Realtor.com)
That being said, your crawl space could be harming the rest of your house and impacting the welfare of your loved ones. Crawl spaces typically are grimy, dank, intimidating areas with monsters like bugs, rodents and mold. Most people never venture into their crawl spaces because who in the world would want to be around those nasty conditions? It’s out of sight, out of mind, right?
Having that outlook about your crawl space is what puts your health and your family’s health in danger. There could be more lurking under your home than you realize. That’s why it’s important to be aware of your crawl space conditions and to act soon if there is a problem.
It all has to do with the way your house was built. There could have been a problem from day one. It is a common building practice to construct homes with crawl space vents. Building code has called for crawl spaces to have open vents for air drying purposes, but this is an outdated practice that is harmful to the house and its occupants.
Some resources still encourage open crawl space vents, but the hard truth is that this is what causes a lot of problems under and throughout your home. Open vents are invitations that allow outside air, water and pests inside. Why would you want those things inside your house?
More than 50% of the air you breathe in your house comes from the crawl space. That means that whatever is in your crawl space also is in the rest of your home and affecting you and your family. This is because air is drawn up through the house in a chimney-like pattern from bottom to top. This also is what is known as the stack effect.
Now that you’ve read about the problems with most crawl spaces and their negative effects, don’t you think it’s time to fix them? There are so many reasons why addressing crawl space problems is beneficial, but here are a few major perks:
- Health – By properly waterproofing, sealing, and insulating your crawl space, you are taking a major step in improving the health of your home and family. If anyone in your house suffers from asthma or allergies, a cleaner crawl space can help prevent flare-ups and other sickness. If you choose solutions such as a dehumidifier, the air quality will be greatly improved throughout the entire home.
- Structural Stability – Wet, damp crawl spaces with water and high humidity can have rotting and weakening support systems, which then leads to sagging and uneven floors. When you choose sturdy solutions to shore up the floors and floor joists, your home will be better supported and structurally sound.
- Energy Efficiency – A crawl space that is sealed from outside elements and properly insulated does not require as much energy usage. Unvented crawl spaces are estimated to use 15 to 18% less energy for heating and cooling while reducing humidity by over 20% when compared to vented crawl space homes. (Source: Hunker – Code Requirements for Crawl Spaces)
- Functional Space – When proper waterproofing and encapsulation measures are in place, your crawl space will be transformed into a more useable area! You will be able to store various belongings in the crawl space without worrying about any damage.
- Real Estate Value – There are different factors that affect your home’s appraisal value, but structural integrity, water issues, and other problems such as with crawl spaces are important areas you need to be aware of. When selling your house, it is important to disclose any known past or current damage. This sets clear expectations regarding the quality and condition of the home. Indiana homeowners selling their house must fill out the Seller’s Residential Real Estate Sales Disclosure form to the best of their ability. Some areas of the form include noting any foundation problems; water or moisture problems in the basement or crawl space; and damage due to flood, termites, or rodents.
After learning more about crawl spaces and how downright gross they can be, aren’t you motivated to take charge and transform this area of your home? You might be itching to head over to your local hardware or home improvement store to pick up repair supplies. But resist that urge.
Crawl space repair is not a project you can just tackle on a weekend and be done with it, especially if your crawl space is in serious disrepair. Even if you are a handy jack of all trades, it’s best to leave these kinds of repairs to experienced professionals. Plus, when it comes to real estate transactions, things like quick fixes could raise red flags and you’d have to spend more time and money to fix them.
Below are some highlights from a blog post from our friends and neighbors at Ohio Basement Authority in Columbus, OH. It further illustrates how crawl space repair is not a do-it-yourself undertaking.
Worst advice we’ve heard about crawl spaces:
- “What you don’t see can’t hurt you!”
People typically have no clue that a crawl space can be wet, moldy, have wood rot, insects and rodents are living there, and that this air is being breathed in their home.
- “Just put in some vents!”
If it is raining or humid outside, all that moisture will get into the crawl space instead of going out. Vents also give insects and rodents great entry points into your home.
- “Use pink insulation on the walls to prevent heat loss.”
If any moisture gets into the crawl space, which it most likely will, it will ruin this insulation.
- “Just use a car jack!”
Sometimes homeowners will use car jacks to “repair” the sagging floor above their crawl space. When it sinks again, they just jack it back up. This is NOT a good idea.
- “Use painter’s plastic to encapsulate.”
As the name implies, painter’s plastic is for painters. It isn’t meant to keep mold and moisture out.
To give you an idea, Home Advisor states the average cost of crawl space repair is $6,000, with a wide range depending on the exact problem, size, accessibility and what’s being removed.
That being said, if you call in to ask or search our site for the answer, odds are you aren’t going to get a clear picture right away. Rightly so, cost is one of the most common questions we get regarding repairs. And we understand how frustrating it can be to not get a straight answer right away.
But there is a lot to consider when talking about repair work.
Firstly, it’s not fair to you to give a rough estimate or ballpark figure when we have no idea what we’re dealing with. That’s why it’s important to have an inspector out to look at exactly what is going on with the crawl space.
Other things like the extent of damage, square footage, and how much material needs to be used also factor into the cost.
And crawl space repair isn’t a “one size fits all,” situation. What worked for a friend or neighbor down the street might not be exactly what your home needs. Every home and every crawl space is different and requires its own unique set of repair solutions.
The best thing you can do is educate yourself about your crawl space and research repair contractors who will be able to find the best solution to your repair needs.
Your home is your safe haven, so it can be scary to invite unknown people into your house for inspections and repairs. Especially in this day and age, how do you know who you can trust?
Here are 10 helpful tips for selecting a reputable contractor, courtesy of Popular Mechanics. We at Indiana Foundation Service are proud to meet and exceed expectations on these tips:
- Go with Your Gut. Trust your instincts about the contractor’s character.
- Make Sure the Contractor is Licensed to Work in Your Area, Bonded, and Insured. Carrying the proper licensing and insurance indicates credibility, knowledge, and trustworthiness.
- Pick a Contractor Who Specializes in Your Project Type. It’s important for the contractor to have experience through research, training, and hands-on work in the field.
- Have a Detailed Contract in Place Before Any Work Begins. Having detailed plans and everything in writing clearly spells out expectations.
- Find Out Who Will Be Performing the Work. Knowing exactly who will be coming to your home will give you peace of mind.
- Give the Contractor Guidelines for Working In/Around Your Home. Let the company know about your preferences such as arrival times and any off-limit areas of your property.
- Know What Your Responsibilities Are. If you need to move anything out of the way or plan for pet accommodations, it’s best to get that out of the way before the project starts.
- Ask About a Mechanic’s Lien. Check on the contractor’s legal status before signing anything.
- Look at Work Samples. This allows you to see the quality of the work, and you might get some ideas for your own project.
- Think Locally. Support companies that have been in business in the community for a long time.
As you’re researching repair contractors, we encourage you to consider working with our company! In helping you ensure the health and safety of your home and your family, we want to give you an outstanding experience like one you’ve never had with any contractor.
Check out our reviews to learn about what our customers have to say about their experiences with us! Our About Us page also has information about who we are as a company and what you can expect when working with us.
Once you contact us for a free inspection and estimate, our customer care team will schedule an appointment for you with one of our certified field inspectors.
During this consultation, the inspector will:
- Do a thorough assessment of your home’s interior and exterior. This includes going into the crawl space, as well as looking for sources of water like cracks or plumbing sources.
- Discuss your goals with a repair project.
- Customize solutions uniquely designed to meet your repair needs.
- Provide you with a proposal of recommended solutions before leaving your house.
- Discuss payment and financing options.
The next step, should you choose to move forward with repair work with us, is scheduling your project with one of our highly trained installation crews. Our crews will treat your home as their own, with the utmost care and concern. They will use top-notch solutions for your repairs, and their work is not complete until you are 100% satisfied with the job. If something crops up after installation, we won’t leave you hanging. We will return to fix any issues, and we offer various service and maintenance opportunities to protect our work and your home.
Along with writing a review about your experience with us, it would mean the world to us if you would refer us to your friends and family!
We are committed to helping you protect your most valuable asset – your home. That is why we only use the very best products that are tested and proven to keep your crawl space dry, safe and healthy. The solutions we use are manufactured right here in the United States, and they carry longtime warranties. All these solutions also are designed to work together to give you the most bang for your buck and prevent any further problems.
Here are the different ways we address crawl space problems, as well as the solutions we use and how they work:
- Address Leaking Water – If you have a crawl space that leaks or floods, we need to attack the water at the source. Water often enters crawl spaces through vents, porous block walls, and the ground. Our CrawlDrain™ drainage system is installed in the floor throughout the crawl space perimeter to catch seeping water.
This water is then directed to drain into a sump pump system that will pump the water out of the crawl space and away from the home. Any of our SafeDri™ systems can be installed, but the SafeDri™ Pro Crawl Space Sump Pump is designed specifically with crawl spaces in mind. A FreezeGuard™ also can be attached to the exterior sump pump discharge line to prevent flooding if the line freezes or becomes blocked.
- Seal the Crawl Space from Outside Elements – Your first line of defense in protecting your crawl space is to seal it from outside air, water and pests. Placing vent covers over any crawl space will prevent intrusion from unwanted crawl space nuisances. Our reliable crawl space doors and access wells also can be installed to replace older systems.
If you have a dirt crawl space floor, it’s important to isolate the rest of the home environment from the earth. The CrawlSeal™ moisture and vapor barrier does just that. This thick and durable liner, which is similar to swimming pool liner, completely seals the crawl space. It is a true 20-mil liner rated above 25-mil strength at the seams, and it has been treated to resist mold and water. CrawlSeal™ is puncture-resistant and tough enough to crawl on because it is over three times the thickness of builder’s grade liner.
Additionaly, drainage matting can be placed on the crawl space floor before encapsulating to further enhance the strength of CrawlSeal™, as well as help direct water to the perimeter CrawlDrain™ system.
- Properly Insulate the Crawl Space – Instead of fluffy insulation that can easily fail and harbor mold and pests, we use rigid insulation panels in crawl spaces. These panels placed on crawl space walls will better insulate the crawl space and will not droop or develop mold like fiberglass insulation. The panels are moisture resistant, and an integrated termiticide is added to deter termites below grade. CrawlSeal™ also helps insulate the crawl space, and spray foam can be added to rim joists to seal gaps around the perimeter of your foundation. These insulation methods help prevent wood rot and enable termite treatments.
- Condition the Air – Our powerful, yet energy-efficient dehumidifiers will clean and filter the air, control moisture and humidity, and reduce odors and the potential for mold growth. They also are self-draining, which means you don’t have to worry about emptying any reservoirs or buckets like with typical dehumidifiers. They can drain into the perimeter drainage system or sump pump, or a condensate pump can be installed.
- Reinforce Support Systems – Wooden, metal, and even concrete support systems are susceptible to failure. To combat sagging floors, our IntelliJacks™ perfectly fit the bill. These supports may look like typical jack posts, but they are far superior. They are made of galvanized steel, making them more reliable supports that can stabilize and lift sagging floors and floor joists back to level. Each support jack has an allowable load capacity of more than 24,000 pounds.
If you have any questions along the way, aren’t sure of where to start, or just want some advice, don’t hesitate to give us a call! We are committed to helping you create a safe and healthy home!