Water in your crawl space may not seem remarkable or overly worrisome, but we assure you that you should be concerned about it. Pooling water in your crawl space will almost always be the result of damage to your property’s structure or internal plumbing systems.
This can cause a huge problem for your property, and even your health. Your crawl space is a confined space (they are usually three to five feet in height) that is rarely considered, but it actually acts as a hub for your home’s most important systems. Your plumbing, electrical wiring, HVAC system, and a huge proportion of your property’s insulation are located in the crawl space. Dampness and water can cause huge damage to these delicate systems and seriously impact your house.
How Water Gets into a Crawl Space
Crawl space water can begin to gather for a number of reasons, not all of which are the result of damage to your home. Knowing the most likely causes will help you to spot damage and issues before they have a chance to run rampant in your home.
Exposed crawl space vents or access doors are one of the most common causes of crawl space water and dampness. This is partly because of the way in which storms and heavy rainfall can allow water to enter the space directly, but mostly to do with the impacts of the stack effect. The stack effect is a process that requires ventilation points at both the top and bottom of a property. This increases airflow, destabilizing the interior climate of a home and bringing in airborne allergens.
More worryingly, however, the stack effect is notorious for causing condensation. Condensation forms as a result of the clash of cold and warm air in your crawl space and can cause an increase in humidity. Over time this will lead to a generally damp environment and even lead to pooling water in your crawl space. This is unlikely to cause flooding alone, but it can cause the kind of damage that might lead to flooding (namely through pipe corrosion and rusting).
Seepage is a generally benign process that occurs because of the porous nature of concrete as a building material, but it can cause a lot of damage if left unchecked and will cause water to pool in your crawl space over time. Properties that have consistently wet soil or a flooded perimeter are most likely to experience severe flooding because of the excessive hydrostatic pressure at work.
This can look a lot like condensation but will generally produce more water. While damage is not needed to cause seepage, it will result in many moisture-related issues like mold, mildew, and wood rot. Waterproofing is the only real solution for this issue.
The issue most likely to cause serious dampness or large amounts of water in your crawl space is damage to your plumbing system or attached appliances. Interior leaks can be quite small or incredibly intense, but either way, they are very likely to cause water to pool in your crawl space. In fact, small, persistent leaks are more likely to cause widespread damage than larger ones (excepting plumbing floods) because they tend to be ongoing for longer.
Leaks can be caused by a number of things from deterioration in the joints between pipes to corrosion as a result of high humidity or even damage as a result of excessively high water pressure. Whatever the cause, however, you will notice that it affects your faucets and shower as well as your appliances, making medium to large leaks easy to spot.
Foundation damage is one of the most worrying causes of crawl space water because while the moisture is the most visible result of this, the underlying damage is by far the most serious issue. Most foundation leaks and damage are caused by problem soil around the property. Expansive soils in particular are very unstable and damaging to a property.
The kind of damage most likely to cause serious dampness in your foundation is settlement. Settlement is a process by which chunks of a foundation crack and break away from the main property, sinking into voids left behind by shrinking or loose soil. These cracks and gaps allow water to enter a property with relative ease.
Exposed Dirt Flooring
If your crawl space has an exposed dirt floor rather than an insulated and covered base, dampness is far more likely. After all, a dirt floor poses no obstacle to groundwater. When this combines with damage or internal sources of moisture, a crawl space can become flooded very quickly.
An exposed dirt floor also makes your crawl space more attractive and accessible to certain kinds of pests. Whether there is water in your crawl space or not, a dirt floor is not the most ideal thing to have.
These are just some of the potential causes of crawl space water, but they are the most common by far. Making yourself familiar with the warning signs associated with these issues, and the dampness that they can cause is incredibly important.
Problem Signs You Should Be Aware Of
Each of these problem signs can be attached to a number of common crawl space issues, so, it is important that you do not take them at face value. Instead, seek a professional opinion and assessment of the situation so that you can get a good idea of what is happening in your home. The problem signs to watch for are:
Low or Fluctuating Water Pressure
The pressure of the water in your property’s pipes is incredibly important to the health of your appliances and your comfort. If the water pressure is too high (more than 60 PSI on average) it can damage your pipes and appliances. However, if your water pressure is too low, they may not function properly.
Many things can impact water pressure, but if your water pressure suddenly drops it is most likely that the cause is a leak in your system. If the drop is severe and prolonged it could be a large leak.
If the water stops coming through certain faucets altogether, the issue is either an air bubble or the complete breakage of the pipe connected to the faucet. If you have a plumbing flood, you are likely to notice it quickly.
Unstable Interior Temperatures
If your internal climate is unstable and the temperatures fluctuate frequently, there is either an issue with your HVAC system or the stack effect is increasing airflow in and around your home. If this is the case, you are likely to notice a draft in certain rooms and you will find that your HVAC system is less effective.
This will also impact your energy efficiency levels. You will find that your energy consumption, and your bills, will rise quite considerably if this is at work within your home.
Mold, mildew, and the bad smells that they can cause are sure signs of dampness and humidity in your property. If you cannot find an obvious cause of moisture in your home, it is very likely that the source lies in your crawl space. Crawl space water and humidity impact your property as a whole, over time.
Mold is generally benign, but it can cause unpleasant side effects, especially when you have underlying health conditions. Some forms are toxic, however, like black mold that can cause headaches, dizziness, and painful rashes.
Sagging flooring above your crawl space is a serious warning sign of structural instability in your home. This can occur either because foundation damage is causing the property to shift and move in a way that has disconnected the flooring from its support joists, or because water and humidity have caused joists to rot.
Crawl space water can be the root cause of this. If your joists have succumbed to wet rot of any kind they will lose their ability to support the flooring that relies on them. This will lead to the floor becoming bouncy and sagging. Over time, it may even lead to the collapse of the floor in question, so it is best to act quickly and call a professional as soon as you notice a problem.
If you see any of these problem signs alongside crawl space water it is time to contact a professional to get your home assessed and brought back to full health. You will first need to drain your crawl space of the water that it has collected.
How To Drain Your Crawl Space
Unfortunately, draining water out of your crawl space once it has flooded is not as easy as just removing it with buckets. The space in the average crawl space is simply too tight for that kind of maneuvering. After all, the average crawl space is one to three feet tall. This means you run the risk of accidentally spilling that water over yourself and important equipment that should remain dry. Worse still, you could bump into or damage important pipes, inlets, or vents while you are in there. This could cause a real problem and, if you damage a pipe, even more flooding.
This is why you should leave water drainage and damage assessment to professionals. They will be able to easily identify the underlying causes of damage, and can also implement a safe and efficient repair solution that will work well with waterproofing within your crawl space. Generally, a quality crawl space sump pump system and a good dehumidifier will be a part of the solution as this is a combination that works very well. With these devices working in tandem, you will not have to worry about crawl space water or humidity.
Crawl Space Water
A sump pump is one of the best solutions to crawl space water that you can have installed in your home. In case you weren’t already aware, this waterproofing measure actively removes water from the space to ensure its health and safety. This makes it a key element of home protection when it comes to flooding and dampness.
Gathers and Redirects Moisture
A sump pump’s primary task is to gather and redirect any moisture that seeps into your crawl space, no matter where it comes from. It does so using a network of subterranean foundation drains that are connected to the sump pit. Once the water has been gathered, it takes it out to a better external site via the discharge line. This could be your yard or the street’s drainage system depending on where your discharge line terminates.
Redirecting moisture is useful because it prevents water from pooling and stagnating in your property. The presence of a healthy sump pump in your home can make the difference between serious damage and a dry, safe, and healthy crawl space that has a positive impact on the climate of your property as a whole.
Protects Your Home During Rainfall
Sump pumps are most useful during the wettest seasons of the year because storms and periods of heavy rainfall are the most likely to cause flooding and crawl space water. However, they are also useful in spring when they drain newly melted snow coming in from your yard. The spring thaw is one of the most dangerous periods for homeowners in Indianapolis, Indiana, because the sheer volume of water is so large.
Even if the area that you live in does not have lots of rainfall on a regular basis, installing a sump pump is still a very good idea. This is why it is very common for homes in and around Indianapolis to have a sump pump and even a backup sump pump that is battery-powered. The cost of maintaining these appliances is far less than the cost of repairs following a storm.
One way of protecting your crawl space is through crawl space waterproofing and encapsulation. When you choose encapsulation, you will keep the door into the crawl space and openings for inspection, making it easier to access. However, your crawl space vents will be closed off to ensure an airtight seal and the dirt floor will be covered.
The Process of Waterproofing
Assuming your home does not already have waterproofing measures in place, we recommend that you invest in some. Even if you have some, you should make sure that they are in good health and that they are not too old to be effective, and replace or upgrade them if there is an issue. The process of waterproofing a crawl space remains the same, either way, except for the potential need to remove existing products before putting the new ones in.
The first part of the process is to drain any water in the space and repair any damage that has been caused. Once this is done and the crawl space is a blank, but healthy and dry, canvas, the first task is to install or upgrade drainage systems. Once this has been done insulation can be laid and a vapor barrier can be installed. The dehumidifier is often the last thing to be installed into a newly waterproofed space and will keep it safe and dry.
The Benefits of Waterproofing
There are many benefits to waterproofing your property’s crawl space, some of which are more obvious than others. The first, and most obvious, benefit is that waterproofing will remove humidity and dampness from your crawl space. This minimizes the chances of mold formation and pest infestation, thereby making your crawl space a clean and dry environment. Secondly, the new environment that waterproofing creates makes your crawl space suitable for use as a seasonal storage space.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, waterproofing your crawl space will improve the climate in your home as a whole. By lowering the relative humidity, waterproofing will also stabilize your interior temperatures, increase heat and cold retention, and allow your HVAC system to provide the same result with less effort. This increases energy efficiency and lowers your energy bills.
We do not recommend that you try to waterproof your property’s crawl space alone.
Damage and Drama
DIY repairs can seem attractive, but there are a number of things that can lead to this process being far more costly (in both time and cash) than a professional service would have been. However, before the process of waterproofing can even begin, you must consider the state of your home. The source of crawl space water must be determined and repaired before waterproofing or the consequences could be truly dire.
If you are not capable and confident in your ability to diagnose and deal with the structural issues that may be causing the flooding as well as all potential co-occurring issues, it is best to leave waterproofing to the professionals. You may find that foundation settlement and spreading cracks are the source of the moisture, in which case serious structural repairs will be needed.
Professionals Do It Better
There is a real risk of causing more damage or even causing injury to yourself for anyone helping you when it comes to dealing with crawl space water effectively and definitively. Whether this happens during structural repairs or the waterproofing process itself is irrelevant—one wrong move can cost you a lot. As such, it is really best to let the professionals handle any waterproofing process.
After all, they have access to all the best tools and products, some of which you may not be able to get ahold of in a regular hardware store. Working with sub-par products will pretty much ensure a lower standard of result, but that doesn’t even begin to account for the cost of hiring specialist tools if you need to undertake foundation repairs. Professional services offer a better result, often at a similar or lower price, than DIY work.
Professional Crawl Space Repair in Indiana
Have you found water in your crawl space? Do you deal with crawl space flooding on a regular basis? If so, Indiana Foundation Service is here to help. Our team has been waterproofing, repairing, and encapsulating crawl spaces since 1993, so you probably won’t be surprised to hear that we have seen and heard it all. No matter what is going on with your home, your repair process should start with a call to our team.
Alternatively, you can book a free inspection appointment online. These appointments come with no obligation to book repairs with us, but our team will provide you with a written estimate for the costs associated with our repair solutions. We provide this so that you can feel confident in making an educated decision about what is best for your home. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us; we are here to help.
View more Crawl Space Problem Signs