Waterproofing Your Crawl Space - Encapsulation vs Insulation
Waterproofing Your Crawl Space - Encapsulation vs Insulation

VIEW OUR BLOG

Indianapolis, IN, springs are something to behold. The flowers start to bloom again, the roads clear up – and it rains four days out of seven. As a result, your older home may see more than its fair share of flooding.

The good news is that there are several ways you can limit that flooding. It’s important to have a reliable waterproofing system - perimeter drainage and a sump pump - if you notice your crawl space consistently takes on a lot of water. In addition, both the insulation and encapsulation processes also can help you protect any belongings you’ve stored in a crawl space from an excess of precipitation.

What do these processes look like, and is one better than the other?

The Insulating Process

Have you noticed your heating bill rising as the winter months set in – that is, more so than usual? Is your crawl space especially chilly? Are you seeing signs of minor water damage?

Should any of these symptoms arise in your home, you may want to consider replacing your crawl space insulation. Whether you do so on your own or with the help of a contractor, the process typically involves the following steps:

  1. Find where your crawl space is leaking – You’re not going to be able to successfully waterproof your crawl space unless you find where water is getting into your home. When you’re insulating your crawl space, take a look around to see where water most frequently congregates. If you can’t readily find a spot, reach out to a contractor. It’s possible that floodwaters may be entering your home through your foundation – a situation that will require a more extensive waterproofing process than the insulating process can provide.
  2. Rip out old insulation – Once you’ve found and patched any visible leaks, you’ll need to rip out any old insulation that you have in your walls. This older insulation may have been damaged by previous flood waters, or it may simply be old. Either way, you’re going to want to replace it with a type of insulation that better suits your needs.
  3. Replace the old insulation – With the old insulation out of the way, you can start replacing it. Talk with your contractor to determine which type of insulation will best suit your home and help you protect your crawl space.
  4. Plan ahead for pipes and other barriers – Note that you’re going to need to insulate any visible pipes, once you get started with the process. Likewise, you’ll need to strategically avoid putting flammable insulation near electrical outlets or circuitry.
  5. Further waterproof your crawl space – If you’re interested in other waterproofing solutions, now is the time to implement them. Talk to your contractor about the temporary sealants, drainage mats and other waterproofing solutions like perimeter drainage and sump pumps you can implement.
  6. Clean – Finally, with your old insulation replaced and your crawl space appropriately waterproofed, replace your belongings where you want them.

As mentioned, insulation will protect you from leaks in your walls and crawl space ceiling. However, insulation will not help you prevent flooding that originates in your foundation. Again, if you can’t find where a leak is coming from, speak to a contractor. They’ll be able to determine whether the insulation process will help you, or if you’ll need more extensive waterproofing solutions.

The Encapsulation Process

If you frequently have to clean up several flooding or leaks in your crawl space, you’re going to want to do more to waterproof your home than replace the insulation. The encapsulation process allows you to better protect your crawl space.

Any contractor you employ to encapsulate your crawl space will typically do so by taking the following steps:

  1. Find where your crawl space is leaking – Again, you’re going to need to determine how water is making its way into your crawl space before you get started with this process. If you can’t find a crack or upset joint, ask a contractor to inspect your foundation.
  2. Rip out old insulation – As with the previous process, you’ll need to remove any insulation that’s been damaged by long-term exposure to water. This insulation may be releasing allergens into your home that are compromising your family’s health.
  3. Replace the old insulation with a vapor barrier – Once the old insulation has been removed, it’s time to install a vapor barrier. These barriers, made out of white plastic or similar materials, will stand between your walls and your home. Coupled with perimeter drainage and sump pump systems, the barriers help with redirecting water.
  4. Install a dehumidifier – Optionally, you can choose to have your contractor install a dehumidifier. A dehumidifier will pull excess water vapor from the air into a collecting tin, which you’ll be able to empty at your leisure. Your contractor also may have a self-draining unit that can be installed.
  5. Further waterproof your crawl space – If you frequently experience several leaks, this may be the time to further waterproof your home. While sealants and drainage mats are temporary solutions to long-term leaks, they’ll serve you well for a year or two. Perimeter drainage inside the crawl space and a sump pump system are the most reliable options.
  6. Clean – Finally, replace all of your belongings, confident that your vapor barrier will keep them safe.

Insulation Versus Encapsulation

As you might have guessed, the insulation process and the encapsulation process have a number of similarities. If this is the case, is one of them really better than the other?

That depends entirely on your home’s needs. If you frequently have to deal with flooding or leaks, your home will benefit from encapsulation. Comparatively, if you only experience leaks once or twice a year, you may be able to get by with an insulation replacement.

When in doubt, reach out to a local Indianapolis, IN, contractor for a free inspection and estimate. They’ll be able to let you know what solution will make your home life simpler.