06 Aug What Do You Know About Your Crawl Space?(Last Updated On: April 26, 2016)
Is your crawl space the creepy, dark and damp type full of spiders and all sorts of other insects, or possibly rodents?
Maybe your crawl space has a little more room and you store your personal belongings and yard tools in it; but do you ever go much farther than just the crawl space entry door?
Crawl Space History
Let’s start from the beginning. For decades home builders have been connecting your crawl space to the outside by installing foundation vents. This was done to evacuate the ground moisture produced by the exposed dirt floor of the crawl space. Unfortunately no one took into consideration the damp air from rainy days, humid summer air, or even the cold air that would enter into the space at different times of the year. Because of ‘Stack Effect” all of this air and the byproducts of the high moisture content flow upward into your home.
Causes of Crawl Space Moisture Buildup
When humidity levels are extremely high the warm wet air hits the cooler surfaces under your home and it condensates creating moisture as well as increasing the relative humidity within the space. These two processes combined with the natural production of water vapor from the exposed dirt under your home are what create the damp environment that harbors underneath the living space of your home. If you have drainage problems you may even be taking on more water from rain run-off which will exponentially increase the water vapor levels which ultimately destroys your home.
The moisture that collects underneath your home undermines the integrity of your foundation walls and wood framing members. When your floor joist and sub floor reach moisture levels of 16% or more wood rot concerns are elevated and 18% or higher can cause structural damage. Not only does the wood framing and plywood floors rot and create structural damage, it also inhibits mold growth. These mold spores can become airborne and enter your home through many different places especially a heating and air conditioning system. If the spores find damp areas in your home like a poorly ventilated bathroom, growth will occur in these areas as well.
This moisture combined with the darkness also creates a breeding ground for all types of insects which in return attract spiders, all of which find a way to enter your home through the tiny holes and crevasses underneath your feet. These areas attract rodents and other smaller critters which can bring on another whole host of problems.
Those same tiny holes and crevasses also allow the cold or warm air from your crawl space into your home. This breach of your home allows all types of airborne particles like mold spores, bacteria, VOCs, and allergens to mix with your conditioned air that circulates throughout your entire home. If you have HVAC ductwork, equipment or both, this contaminated air will find its way into your conditioned air system and network of ducts spreading all over the house. Studies have shown that anywhere from 1/3-1/2 of the air on your first floor derives from your crawl space. This can be especially harmful to babies, young kids, and the elderly.
Not only will this nasty contaminated air affect your health but it will also increase your power bills, because this air infiltration from the crawl space is the first process of “stack effect” that can increase the run times of your heating and air system by more than 30% and in some cases of leaky homes upwards of closer to 60% longer run times.
How you can tell if your crawl space may be an issue:
- Standing water in parts of your crawl space.
- Water stains on your foundation wall.
- Sagging or low hanging insulation from the floor joists (moisture collects on insulation weighing it down causing it to fall or sag).
- Mold growth on your wood structure or any items that are stored under the home.
- Mold in the living space of home.
- Buckling hardwood floors.
- Aggravated asthma and allergies.
These are just a few of the many symptoms of moisture problems caused by a dirt crawl space. If you have concerns you should give us a call for a free inspection to determine the condition of your home. We offer many different solutions for all budgets to remedy any issues you may have. A crawl space encapsulation provides many benefits for your home and family including:
- Cleaner safer air in your living space.
- Eliminating pest and rodent problems in your home.
- 15-20% reduction in your heating and cooling bills.
- Extending the life of your structure and appliances in the crawl space.
- Increased resale value.
- Cleaner more useable storage space.
- A piece of mind and different perspective of the space beneath your home.