Though you frequently walk over the top of your crawl space, it’s likely not something you think about. Its main purpose is to hold your home off the ground while allowing easy access to electrical wiring, insulation, plumbing, and ductwork.
There are, however, drawbacks to crawl spaces, including that they can be havens for critters, from insects and spiders to mice and snakes. They can also harbor something more sinister: moisture.
A moist crawl space can mean problems for the air quality and structural integrity of your house. It allows potentially harmful mold spores to grow, which affects the air you breathe.
“Research has shown that whenever it’s warmer inside your house than outside, the buoyancy of the rising warm air in the house sucks air into your home from the crawl space,” Home Energy Magazine says. “In heating-dominated climates, 40% or more of the air you breathe in your home originated in your crawl space.”
Additionally, the structure of your house can be affected, as moisture and flooding can rot construction materials, and moist or sandy soil is prone to shifting and settling — which means your crawl space settles unevenly. Since your home needs a solid foundation, anything that causes structural problems in the crawl space is a serious concern for the whole house.
So, how do you know if your crawl space has a problem? Common symptoms include the following, according to Arizona Foundation Solutions:
· Drywall cracks in the interior
· Uneven floors
· Foul odors in the house
· Heightened allergies or asthma symptoms
The key to preventing moisture-related problems is ventilation. A common method is using passive air vents that allow air exchange between your crawl space and outside. Building codes specify how many vents per square foot are required but, even then, vents are often not enough to prevent crawl space problems.
Arizona Foundation Solutions suggests taking these three steps to prevent the most common problems you may face with your crawl space:
Install proper insulation
Moisture-resistant insulation prevents lingering dampness in your crawl space. It helps maintain a consistent temperature, improves your home’s energy efficiency, and helps prevent mold issues.
Address structural issues
If the ground has settled or your crawl space’s support system is rotting from water damage, foundation experts can install support jacks to buoy up sagging beams. This will stop drywall from cracking and bolster floor support to keep you on even ground.
Install a vapor barrier
Crawl spaces are not known for their cleanliness. They’re often home to rodents, debris from home construction, and the detritus of past flooding. Crawl space encapsulation turns this environment into one of the cleanest, driest, most energy-efficient places in the house.
It starts with installers sealing off the crawl space to prevent additional moisture from entering through vents and removing any standing water with a crawl space drain and sump pump system. They remove debris and make structural repairs, then install a durable vapor barrier to give easy access to contractors, cut down on dirt in the air, and even allow you to use the space for storage. Finally, they set up a dehumidifier, which will keep your space dry and remove air particulates as small as two microns.
Arizona Foundation Solutions specializes in dealing with crawl space problems, offering a full array of structural, soil, and moisture solutions. Visit FoundationRepairsAZ.com for more information and to schedule a free crawl space repair inspection.