Why Owners Should Pay Attention to a Home Crawl Space

Why Owners Should Pay Attention to a Home Crawl Space

When a builder constructs a home without a slab or basement, they typically add a crawl space. A crawl space is a hollow area under a home. It is usually between one to three feet deep and gets its name from the fact that this area is so small the only way to enter and move around in it is to crawl. Builders often use the space as an inconspicuous place to install things that would typically be in a basement, such as air conditioning components, ductwork, and plumbing. Ideally, a home crawl space is clean and easily accessible, but it can develop problems that require repairs.

Crawl Spaces Often Develop Problems

Moisture is the culprit behind most crawl space issues, and it is most common in the Southeastern U.S. states. When spaces are unvented and unsealed, humidity and excess moisture build up. It can lead to wood rot, mold growth, and pest infestations. Moisture from crawl spaces can migrate upward and contribute to musty odors, structural damage, and increased energy usage.

Signs of problems inside a crawl space include:

  • Moisture or mold damage
  • “Sweating” on equipment or ductwork
  • Hanging or soggy insulation
  • Rotted wood framing
  • Water in dirt or on a concrete floor
  • Pest infestations

Signs that crawl space issues have moved upstairs include:

  • Buckling hardwood floors
  • Cold floors
  • Rot and condensation near floor registers
  • High humidity and musty odors

Dirty Crawl Spaces Are Unhealthy

It might not seem as if space under a home could affect indoor air quality in the rooms above, but it can. Accumulations of moisture under a home support the growth of mites, bacteria, and mold, some of the most serious contaminants identified in indoor air quality checks. Air can also contain mite droppings and mold spores that contribute to several breathing problems, including allergies and asthma.

Almost 40% of the air on a home’s first floor originates in the basement or crawl space. Warm air in a home’s upper levels is constantly being expelled, which leaves a vacuum that is filled by air sucked up from areas under flooring. This is known as the “stack effect,” and it works on the same principle as a chimney.

Specialists Can Repair Crawl Spaces

Fortunately, a bad crawl space is fixable. Professionals who waterproof basements and repair foundations can also evaluate and correct crawl space issues. They often solve the problem with a vapor barrier.

A vapor barrier helps prevent ground moisture from evaporating into the crawl space. Professionals generally install an additional waterproofing system to ensure water and moisture are expelled from the space. The barrier stops air movement from the ground, creating an environment that is almost the same temperature as the spaces above. That results in a warmer floor and lower energy bills. A vapor barrier also blocks harmful ground gases like radon.

Crawl spaces under homes often contain essential systems like A/C or plumbing. Although they start clean and dry, many crawl spaces develop moisture buildup, leading to pest infestations, mold problems, and structural damage. Waterproofing experts can install vapor barriers that solve the problems and improve the quality of home air.