Many homeowners in the Midwest have crawl spaces instead of full basements. Like basements, crawl spaces can accumulate moisture over time and are susceptible to most of the same problems basements experience when they get too wet. A wet crawl space not only results in structural issues, but it also is a breeding ground for mold.
What Is a Crawl Space?
A crawl space can be so shallow that it really does require one to crawl in order to get into it, or it can be deep enough for one to just hunch over to enter. Many crawl spaces have vents to assist with moisture control but this usually is present in older crawl spaces. Today, specialists agree that vents aren’t effective at maintaining a dry crawl space. In fact, vents allow animals and insects entry to the home. A crawl space does have walls, but they are much shorter than basement walls. A crawl space does not provide significant additional room in which to store things. However, a crawl space allows the homeowner or repair specialist access to heating/cooling and plumbing pipes. If you had a slab foundation, you would be forced to dig underground to access these items. Additionally, a crawl space usually has room for a dehumidifier.
What Does Moisture Do?
Moisture in a crawl space — whether from air humidity or water in the soil — inevitably leads to foundation issues and future crawl space repair. As water saturates the soil, the soil expands, pushing against the crawl space’s concrete. This can lead to cracks and crumbling, bowed walls, and a shifting foundation, all of which let in more moisture. In addition to structural damage, moisture often breeds mold. There are numerous mold species, and the one in your crawl space is not safe to be around. Mold can exacerbate lung problems such as asthma, allergies, and emphysema. Sensitive skin also might experience flare-ups and irritation. Those with compromised or weaker immune systems, such as children, the elderly, and those who are ill, also are at risk. To keep moisture at bay, you should have your crawl space cleared and encapsulated.
What Is Encapsulation?
By definition, “encapsulation” means to enclose something — which is exactly what you want to be done to your crawl space. Enclosing the space keeps out moisture and critters. After the area has been prepped, crawl space encapsulation begins with vapor barrier installation. Made of polyurethane, specialists will place this barrier over everything including the ceiling, walls, and floor. Any place the material meets and where it touches pipes or any other fixture is sealed with a special tape. This prevents moisture from seeping through any gaps.
What Should Be Done Before Encapsulation?
Prep work involves tossing anything that might have been stashed there, such as paint cans or garbage. Remove all fiberglass insulation; this is poor insulation to use, and a specialist will set you up with the proper insulation for a crawl space. Seal all cracks. Even if the inside of the space is encapsulated, water coming through the concrete from the outside will widen the cracks and create future structural damage. Get an estimate for any work that should be done. If there is any mold present, hire a certified mold remediator to clear out the area. While it’s not a good idea to do any repairs yourself, trying to handle mold as a DIY project is the worst thing you can do. For your health and the health of those in your home, leave mold removal to the pros.
Crawl Space Encapsulation With Acculevel
For those Midwest homeowners with crawl spaces, Acculevel is in the area and ready to assist with any repairs, mold remediation and prevention, and encapsulation. Our expert staff will provide a free in-home estimate, including what repairs might be needed prior to encapsulation. We want to make sure that once our work is done, we don’t have to come back. We’ll help you figure out what you need to do to guarantee a waterproof crawl space. To schedule an appointment, call us at (866) 669-3349 or email us at [email protected].