Protecting your home & family from moisture & mold
By Kevin Johnson
Homeowners typically do not give their crawl spaces much consideration unless they are selling their home and an inspection indicates a problem or they notice a major issue, such as wooden floors beginning to buckle. What homeowners should know is that your crawl space greatly affects what happens in the rest of your house. Crawl Space Pro addresses all your crawl space needs, from installing dehumidifiers to encapsulating crawl spaces.
The Problem with Moisture
A common problem many homes experience is moisture due to condensation. This moisture leads to mold growth under houses, which typically leads to mold spores being introduced to the home through ventilation systems, doors, and windows. Unaddressed moisture can also cause floor joists inside the house to rot out, leaving a home structurally unsafe.
We live in a hot, humid environment. Many homeowners keep their air conditioning unit on for extended periods of time and when the warm, moist air meets the cool ductwork in the crawl space, the moisture from the air condenses into droplets. That does not mean that you should not use your AC; it means that you should be aware that using your AC causes condensation, which can create problems if not attended to.
How can you tell if your home’s crawl space needs attention? Peek into the crawl space and notice if there is any insulation falling; this is a common indicator of a humidity problem. Visible mold is another indicator.
If you suspect a problem, call Crawl Space Pro. Our technicians will inspect your home both inside and out for potential problems. We look for possible drainage issues such as gutters, property slop, downspouts, or standing water. We take moisture readings in the floor joists from inside the crawl space. Fallen insulation, discoloration of floor joists, wood rot, water droplets on ductwork, and water pooling on the vapor barrier could indicate a problem. Photos of the damaged and trouble areas are used to help homeowners decide on the best solutions for their home. Most corrective measures can be complete in one to three days.
Correcting the Problem
Most moisture problems can be corrected by encapsulating the crawl space, installing a dehumidifier, sump-pump, or a combination of those measures.
Encapsulating consists of wrapping all foundation walls, piers and floor with a vapor barrier up to 3 inches below the sill plate, which is where the house rests on the foundation. Sealing all vents and installing a dehumidifier. This process protects your home from structural damage and your family from health issues caused by mold. 50% of the air you breath in your home comes from your crawl space.
Dehumidifiers are installed to control the humidity in the crawl space. Before the invention of AC, ventilation was enough to keep the moisture in a crawl space under control. Now that we rely so heavily on air conditioning to keep our homes cool, encapsulations or closed crawl spaces are important to prevent humidity related moisture problems. Additionally, creating a closed crawl space through encapsulation results in a 15-18% energy savings. Once the moisture issues are under control, you can keep your house as cool as you like it without causing structural damage or health risk to your family.
Sump pumps can be installed to mitigate groundwater and rainwater problems, which can also be a source of moisture in your crawl space. Sump pumps help to remove standing water already in your crawl space, as well as any future issues with water entering the space.
An unsecured crawl space can allow animals—pets, strays and other wildlife— to find their way under your house. Homeowners sometimes need help retrieving or removing animals from their crawl spaces; technicians have even rescued entire litters of puppies from under houses. It is not uncommon to find dead animals in the crawl spaces of homes. Remember that your air system draws from under your home, so smells can be transferred inside, too. Sealing the crawl space can prevent these things from happening.
It is important to go around your house to make sure your crawl vents and door are secure. Regularly check for standing water and do not ignore strange smells coming through your air vents. Do you know what is in your crawl space? If you suspect a problem or want a professional opinion, give Crawl Space Pro a call at 252-320-8875 for a free moisture reading and crawl space inspection.