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Why is My Crawl Space Height Important?

damaged crawl space that is too small

Crawl spaces are often damp, dirty, poorly lit and uninviting. Most homeowners never set foot in their crawl space, and I completely understand why.  But if you need someone to make repairs or improvements under your home, you should know a few things about your crawl space.

A family-owned and operated company, Acculevel has been repairing foundations and waterproofing crawl spaces since 1996.  Our project managers routinely inspect crawl spaces for signs of moisture or foundation damage, and our crews have repaired over 30,000 homes in our service area.  But there are restrictions on what can be done in a crawl space, and most of these are determined by factors you can’t control.  

In this article, we’re going to explain what you should know about your crawl space, how to gain this information, and changes you may need to make for future ease of use.

 

Where is the Entrance to Your Crawl Space? 

Do you know where the access point for your crawl space is?  If not, you may have to do some creative searching for it.  I’d recommend starting outside the house, checking window wells if there’s no door visible in the foundation.   

crawl space entry with steel doorThis photo was taken by an Acculevel team member, after installing a new crawl space door & window well. 

If your external search turns up empty, it’s time to go inside and start looking in closets and utility rooms.  Hopefully, if your closets are carpeted, the builder has cut out the door’s shape in the carpet to allow for easy opening. 

I want to emphasize that this is not something to be embarrassed about; many homeowners don’t think to ask the builder or previous owner about access locations.  Our Sales Director provides some additional guidance for you:

 

Your Crawl Space Access Can Be Moved and Improved

Once you’ve found the access to your crawl space, if you are not happy with it, there are options available. 

If the external door is none existent or made of wood, a new steel door or Turtl would be a great investment. Both of these crawl space covers are insulated.  When they are properly fitted, they can help prevent insects and animals from getting under your home. 

Perhaps you have an interior access point and it’s inconveniently placed.  Or the current exterior entrance is next to a water spigot, leading to water intrusion.  Like many other quality foundation contractors, Acculevel can create a new entrance from the outside of your home directly into the crawl space.  Once that is done, the interior access can be covered up and ignored; an old exterior entrance can be blocked up, and the earth next to it graded for better drainage. 

 

How Large is Your Crawl Space?

This is the more inconvenient part, but it’s of critical importance.  You will need to measure the height of the crawl space.  You should be able to do this from the entrance, so it’s not terrible. But it may be uncomfortable, depending on the angle of the access opening and how claustrophobic you may be.  

How Do You Measure a Crawl Space?

When you make this measurement, please keep in mind that ductwork and pipes can restrict movement inside.  You’ll need to measure from the ground up, with a stopping point at any obstruction.  This will give you a practical, realistic gauge of how much room there is for a person to navigate.

If the crawl space is at least 18” high, you shouldn’t have any major problems.  This is usually the bare minimum a contractor needs to enter the crawl space, evaluate it, and give you an estimate of any needed repairs.  In most cases, this is also enough room for the installation team to get the appropriate equipment and materials inside.

damaged crawl space that is too smallThis photo was taken by an Acculevel project manager.  

The above photo was taken at a potential customer’s house; their reason for requesting an estimate was sagging floors.  Unfortunately, their crawl space is only 15 inches high, which prevented our project manager from properly evaluating the entire area.  He was able to take this picture from inside the crawl space entrance, however.  You can see the pink fiberglass insulation is falling down, the vapor barrier is damaged, and the closest beam is visibly splintering.   

 

What if Your Crawl Space is Too Low? 

If your crawl space is less than 18 inches high, you will need to pull up your floors.  If you don’t want to do this for an evaluation, you can sometimes find a general contractor who uses a remote camera that they can send into the crawl space.  But this only postpones the inevitable; you will still have to pull up the floor before repairs can be made.  There’s just no way to shrink people or equipment. 

It is possible, albeit expensive, to expand your crawl space.  Making a crawl space taller requires lifting your home off of its foundation and adding blocks to the existing foundation.  This will definitely require an experienced general contractor and possibly a construction company as well.  Unfortunately, this is not a service Acculevel provides.  

 

Do You Have More Questions about Your Crawl Space?

Please check out our Crawl Space Repair Guide for homeowners.  Our goal with this guide is to address all of our customers’ frequently asked questions, explore what causes the most typical problems, and review the solutions to those problems.  We also provide pricing for these repairs, explain how the repairs are made, and how you can prevent issues in the future.

Crawl Space Guide link

 

Ready for a Contractor to Evaluate Your Home’s Crawl Space? 

We recommend that you research any contractor you may potentially do business with; verify that they are reputable, insured, and accredited by the Better Business Bureau.  If you aren’t sure how to find a qualified contractor, or you need to work with a general contractor, we have an article with advice on how to find one, here

Not sure what questions to ask, or how to determine if a contractor is a good fit for you?  We have a free and detailed list of questions to ask a contractor.  

If you live in Indiana or in the surrounding area, contact Acculevel.  Our friendly office staff will help find answers to your questions and make an appointment with one of our local project managers.  He or she will evaluate your concerns and recommend the best course of action for you, to keep your home strong and healthy for years to come.

Click here for a free estimate

 

 

Kelly Kater

Over her twenty year career, Kelly has worked in a wide variety of fields: secondary education, nursing, biology, elder care, the postal service, multicultural development, and academia. She has developed a skill for translating industry-specific jargon into everyday language. Her goal is to share the knowledge and experience of the Acculevel team with homeowners, in a way that is both engaging and informative.

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