There is nothing like an ice-cold glass of water or sweet tea on a hot day. When your glass “sweats” it is one example of condensation. While that condensation on the outside of the glass signals a nice cold refreshing beverage for us, condensation in your crawlspace could mean problems above!
What causes condensation in the crawlspace?
Condensation happens when either the air is cooled to its dew point causing water to settle on surfaces (think of your windshield early in the morning) or when the air becomes so saturated with water vapor that it cannot hold anymore (like when you take a long hot shower and the mirror is fogged up.) Both are natural processes but when they happen in your crawlspace, degradation can occur over time.
One reason condensation can occur in your crawlspace is due to leaking pipes. One of the advantages of a crawlspace is that your plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems can be routed there rather than inside a set foundation. They are easily accessible for repairs or renovations. This also means that they are open and subjected to the air in your crawlspace. A leaking pipe can bring excess moisture into the air causing condensation.
In many crawlspaces you will find uncovered soil. This is one entrance for moisture. The dirt may not feel damp due to the fact that the moisture has evaporated into the air of your crawlspace.
Inadequate drainage around your home can allow moisture to leak in through the walls around your crawlspace also. Since many crawlspaces do not have any kind of damp-proofing or correct drainage, the water can seep right in.
Even the venting that you thought was keeping the moisture out of your crawlspace can be a cause of it. Here is the Southeast especially, moisture in the air can flow right in through these vents and settle in your crawlspace.
How will condensation in the crawlspace affect me?
While mild condensation may not pose an immediate threat, things can escalate quickly. The combination of moisture, darkness, and permeable materials (such as wooden joists or exposed soil) creates the perfect environment for mold to grow. Once it begins growing it can multiply quickly. Your crawlspace air does flow up into your home and you can be breathing in the mold spores without even realizing. Fungus can also thrive in this same environment. Both fungus and mold can have a devastating effect on our health.
This study performed by Duke University on crawlspaces in the Southeast showed a higher level of allergen and asthma triggers in homes with crawlspaces. The study states “we found that crawlspaces can have a strong, often negative, influence on indoor air quality. This occurs because the temperature and humidity levels in crawlspaces generally provide an excellent environment for fungal growth.” The air from the crawlspaces enters through cracks, vents and ductwork. Homes that were older and near forested areas had higher spore counts. Leaks of air from the crawlspace were found in approximately 2/3rds of the homes investigated.
Condensation can, over time, cause wood to break down and rot. This could be the walls around your home (increasing the entrance for more moisture) or even the beams that are holding up your home!
Signs of Condensation in My Crawlspace
- Sweating Ductwork, walls, or pipes
- Visible mold and/or fungus growth
- A musty smell
- High humidity especially on the level above your crawlspace
- Insect infestations
- Rotting wood
- Buckled hardwood flooring
How to stop condensation in your crawlspace
We are here to help! First you will want to address what is causing the excess moisture in your crawlspace. Aqua-Guard has been waterproofing crawlspaces and basements for a long time and we can pinpoint the areas that need to be addressed to keep your home dry. We also offer free estimates!
Once you have addressed how the water is entering your crawlspace, you should consider crawlspace encapsulation. Our closed crawlspace system uses a high-strength floor and wall line called “Flex Seal” that will completely ensure that the outside air cannot come in. This seals off your crawlspace from all outside elements and keeps the relative humidity down. Most importantly, this creates an environment where mold, mildew, and fungi cannot grow. Air Quality is improved, your foundation is protected and everyone can breathe a little easier.
Don’t let condensation down in your crawlspace cause problems above! As your waterproofing experts, the team at Aqua-Guard specializes in dry. Contact us today for a free estimate so we can get your crawlspace on its way to being safe and dry!