Your crawlspace may be the last thing on your mind when it comes to keeping an eye out for issues with your home, but it shouldn’t be! A wet crawlspace left untreated comes with a slew of consequences that could seriously impact your house and even your health. Let’s take a closer look at what makes crawlspaces so damp and dirty in the first place, what can happen when your crawlspace is overloaded with moisture, and what you can do to address the problem.
Causes of Moisture in Crawlspaces
There are a number of common factors that can cause your home’s crawlspace to become damp and stay that way until the underlying problem is assessed and treated.
Improper Drainage and Grading. If rainwater isn’t being diverted away from your home in the right way via gutters and grading, there’s a good chance that water is seeping into your crawlspace and collecting there every time it rains. Since most crawlspaces are dark and damp to begin with, the collected rainwater doesn’t have a chance to evaporate and it continues to accumulate.
Plumbing Leaks. Leaky pipes are often the cause of excess moisture in a crawlspace. Even if it’s a tiny leak, water can still accumulate over time and contribute to a consistently damp environment under your home.
Uncovered Soil. If the soil in your crawlspace is left uncovered and exposed, the moisture from the soil tends to leech out to the surface and permeate the surrounding air. This is especially true if you live in a location that gets a lot of rain since that rainwater soaks into the soil and sticks around for a while.
Improper Venting. Allowing constant airflow throughout your home’s crawlspace might seem like a good way to keep it ventilated and moisture-free, but that’s usually not the case. When cold and hot air enters your crawlspace and mix, it often creates lingering humidity and moisture.
Effects of Moisture in Crawlspaces
Now that we’ve covered the external factors that can cause moisture in your crawlspace, we need to discuss what that moisture can result in.
Structural Damage. As moisture and condensation collect in your crawlspace, there’s an increased chance for parts of your home’s structure to warp, degrade, or rot away completely. The moisture could leach into your floors, your walls, and even the beams that support your home. It could also permeate and destroy sections of insulation.
Indoor Odor. Did you know that as much as one-third of the air that circulates in your home can come from the crawlspace beneath it via cracks, vents, and ductwork? Stinky odors that stem from your crawlspace will inevitably permeate the interior of your house. These odors are often caused by or exacerbated by stagnant water.
Pests. Mice, snakes, insects, and other creatures tend to seek out warm, dark environments where they feel safe and secluded. That means a damp and dirty crawlspace is an ideal place for them to call home. If your crawlspace is collecting moisture, you’ll likely end up dealing with unwanted guests under and around your home at some point.
Mold and Fungus. Like we said before, a portion of the air you’re breathing while in your home is coming from your crawlspace. The damp and dark conditions found in most crawlspaces create the perfect environment for mold, mildew, and fungus to grow and thrive. Therefore, you could be breathing in harmful air within your home on a daily basis that could trigger asthma or other serious health issues. Mold and fungus in your crawlspace could also contribute to foul odors in your home.
Solutions for Moisture in Crawlspaces
If you’ve discovered moisture in your home’s crawlspace and identified the source, there are a few things you can do to treat the problem. You may still need to have a separate plan for addressing the compounding issues the moisture causes, but you can at least take care of the root of those issues.
Upgrade Drainage and Grading. It’s extremely important that you make sure your downspouts and gutters are free of debris and pointing away from your home. Directing the water away from your crawlspace will cut down on the chances of water pooling under your home when it rains. If the ground around your home is sloped toward the crawlspace, you’ll need to make plans to re-grade it or have a professional do so.
Fix Plumbing Leaks. If a leaky pipe is the culprit causing moisture in your crawlspace, call a plumber right away. As previously mentioned, even the smallest leaks can contribute to an accumulation of water under your home.
Install a Sump Pump. If you want to get ahead of major leaks or heavy rains that could flood your crawlspace, installing a sump pump is wise. Sump pumps sit at the lowest part of your crawlspace and usually direct water away from your house to a storm drain or a dry well. This will not solve the humidity problems that come along with a perpetually damp crawlspace, though.
Purchase a Dehumidifier. A crawlspace dehumidifier will help maintain an appropriate humidity level in your crawlspace that won’t lead to excess moisture. This is a good option for anyone who needs to dry out their crawlspace within a certain timeframe, but it’s not always the best long-term solution.
Encapsulate the Crawlspace. If you want to solve your damp and dirty crawlspace problems once and for all, total encapsulation is the way to go. Crawlspace encapsulation essentially seals off the crawlspace, which means water never has a chance to accumulate under your home, and the conditions that nurture a humid crawlspace environment cease to exist.
Here at Aqua-Guard Waterproofing, our advanced crawlspace encapsulation process involves using a high-strength liner called “Flex Seal” that’s non-permeable, nylon-reinforced, and anti-microbial. We also use foam board and spray foam to seal off any areas where air or moisture could potentially enter the crawlspace. Finally, we ensure the air in your home’s crawlspace can maintain a humidity level that won’t allow for moisture buildup.
Ready to have your crawlspace encapsulated? It’s well worth the integrity of your home’s structure and your peace of mind! Contact us today to get started with a free estimate.
P.S. Don’t forget that we offer a “Life of the Structure Warranty” that transfers from owner to owner!