5 min read
Crawl spaces in residential properties are often neglected because they don’t offer much use for homeowners other than providing a space where electrical wiring, plumbing, and HVAC equipment can be safely routed across the length of a house. However, crawl spaces serve a more important purpose: to protect homes built in humid locations or wet ground.
Builders create crawl spaces when the environment is too damp to support a basement. Crawl spaces are only about three feet high, but raising a house by this much off the ground keeps moisture away, preventing it from penetrating the structure and entering the main living space.
Crawl spaces need proper maintenance. Otherwise, moisture can build up and cause several crawl space problems, primarily mold and household pests. Both can harm your family’s health, damage your crawl space and its load-bearing components, and weaken the structure of your home. Additionally, moisture in the area with your home’s electrical wirings is a fire and safety risk. It is, therefore, crucial to know how to maintain a crawl space and protect it from water damage.
Here are five steps you can take to avoid crawl space problems:
1. Install a Vapor Barrier: Modern construction adds vapor barriers in crawl spaces to protect your entire house from water damage. This is called crawl space encapsulation. This solution uses vapor barriers – large, heavy-duty plastic sheets that cover every inch of exposed dirt. The sheets also go up the walls and supporting pillars of the crawl space.
You can DIY the installation of vapor barriers. However, you must have the proper tools and materials to seal off every gap or edge between sheets. The vapor barrier must be completely seamless to effectively block water from the ground and keep it from entering the crawl space.
2.Seal All Crawl Space Access Points: Crawl spaces have windows or hatch doors for easy access. Like your house’s main doors and windows, these are vulnerable parts of your home envelope that you must seal completely. Use weatherstripping and sealants to cover all possible entry points for drafts and moisture.
Old crawl space designs include vents that you can open or close seasonally. However, natural ventilation can increase moisture in your crawl space over time, giving rodents and insects more ways to enter your house. Besides, if you installed a vapor barrier, natural ventilation will no longer be necessary.
3.Inspect Your Crawl Space Regularly: One of the most essential steps on how to maintain a crawl space at home is to conduct regular inspections. Look for signs of water damage, like wet spots, condensation on metal surfaces, and discoloration and warping that could only be due to water. If you do find them, your next step should be locating the problem’s source or cause. Is there a tear in the vapor barrier? Is the heat from the HVAC system causing moisture to form on the nearby surfaces? Find a solution to these problems, and you’ll avoid the necessity of extensive crawl space restoration.
4.Insulate Pipes and Ducts: Temperature changes are inevitable as the seasons pass. The residual heat from your appliances and HVAC equipment can also cause humidity, which increases the water vapor inside your crawl space. Insulating the heating and cooling ducts running across your crawl space is one way to prevent this.
Insulation blocks hot air from touching the cool surface of your AC ducts, for example, preventing condensation from forming on the surface. It also helps with the reverse, keeping the small space from getting too humid by blocking radiant heat from heat-generating pipes.
Regularly Inspect and Maintain Your Downspouts and Gutters: The chances of water entering your crawl space increase when your gutters are ineffective and the downspouts aren’t directing rainwater to the drains. Your yard can turn into a muddy swamp if the runoffs aren’t draining away from your house. Although it’s also important to ensure your yard’s drainage plan works, ensuring your gutter system is in excellent condition will be more cost-effective. Clean your gutters, remove blockages, replace damaged parts, make sure the fasteners are holding tight, and check if the angle of the downspout sends water cleanly into a nearby drainage system.
Fix Crawl Space Problems with Professional Crawl Space Restoration
If water damage still occurs despite your best efforts to learn how to maintain a crawl space and follow the best practices, there are professionals you can turn to for help.
Restoration 1 of South Brooklyn is a trusted property restoration company that offers crawl space encapsulation and other relevant services like inspection, maintenance, and water damage repair. Our seasoned builders and construction professionals know all crawl space problems, discover their causes, and fix issues from the root. Moreover, our team is exceptional at crawl space restoration and will ensure your house bears no sign of water or mold damage.
Contact Restoration 1 of South Brooklyn for more details about our services. You can also call if you have an urgent problem you’d rather entrust to a professional.