The Ultimate Crawl Space Moisture Control Guide
When you think about crawl space, the first thing that comes to mind is a dark, isolated space, which often accumulates water. The primary objective of this space is to raise the home foundation significantly above a certain level to protect the floor and the house during floods.
Crawl spaces are usually relatively ignored, but there are a few things you must keep in mind to maintain the area properly. There are many times when you may notice water being accumulated in your crawl space. But why does that happen? And is it okay if you keep it like that? What might happen if you let water get collected in the crawl space?
This article will answer all these questions and more on crawl space moisture control. But just a hint, you might not be aware of how dangerous it can be for you and your family’s health if you leave the issue unattended. Curious? Keep on reading till the end!
What is the ideal humidity level in crawl spaces?
Maintaining an ideal humidity level in contained spaces is essential for crawl space moisture control as it can otherwise degrade the air quality significantly and lead to the growth of mold and mildew.
Reasons why your crawlspace feels damp and humid.
There are several reasons why water may accumulate in your house’s crawl space. Sometimes even if you do not see standing water, the entire area may feel damp when the weather outside is humid as well. But before looking for the best solution to fix this issue, it is essential to find the root cause behind it.
Here are a few potential reasons you see the water getting collected in your crawl space.
Plumbing leak and issues.
Whenever you notice any water getting into your crawlspace, checking for plumbing issues and leaks is the first step to try out. Your crawl space is the pathway for many supplies and drain pipes; the tubes may leak occasionally. However, the leak might stay unattended for an extended period. You will never know how long the issue has been there.
But what are the other reasons why the pipe leaks? It may be because, with time, your house may put stress on the pipes, leading to cracks and leaks. Moreover, the leaks do not even need to be prominent. Water can collect immediately, even if there is a small one.
Water from the soil.
If the ground beneath the crawl space is thoroughly damp, the humidity can also evaporate into the crawl space. When you look at the soil, it may seem right to you. But actually, the moisture is evaporating slowly into the area.
It is a scenario where a thermo-hygrometer plays a significant role in letting you monitor the humidity level around you.
Due to damp outdoor air.
You must know that it is not only the environment inside the crawl space that affects the humidity level in the air. If the weather is hot and humid, the damp air will soon take over inside the crawl space. It can then lead to moisture problems.
And this high humidity level can lead to condensation on the surface of the crawl space. And it can again give an environment for mold and bacteria to grow again.
Moisture from foundation walls.
It is not always necessary for the ground inside the crawl space to be damp and contribute to water accumulation. The ground outside the house can do this job as well. When you use crawl space vents, typically, neither damp proofing is done nor there is a drainage system on the outside. So what happens due to this?
The damp soil present outside can just get inside quickly. Roofs not containing gutters are another factor that contributes to damp foundation walls. However, you can solve this problem if you take the necessary actions at the right time.
Clogged up drains.
Let us not just forget the classic water clogging problem caused by blocked drains. This problem can increase way more during heavy rains, due to which the water tends to flow back into the opposite direction towards your home. And if you leave it unattended without taking any measures, this water finds vents and cracks to seep into the crawl space.
Want to avoid this issue? Ensure that the drains are not clogged up by dried leaves and debris so that the situation does not get too intense during heavy rains.
Due to inadequate grading, the water can sometimes penetrate the crawl space during heavy rains. It can happen when the soil around your foundation wall is not appropriately graded. The vents can also act as the doorway for the water to access the crawl space once it seeps around the foundation.
However, it is impossible to be sure if improper grading is the culprit unless you keep an eye on the grading around the foundation during heavy monsoons.
Adverse effects of excess moisture in crawl space.
Since the crawl space is not an actual part of the house and is only beneath the foundation, many people think it is normal for these areas to get damp and flooding. However, that is not the case, and it is crucial to address an unhealthy crawl space as soon as possible.
So how can a wet crawl space affect you and your house?
It promotes the growth of dust mites and pests.
Dust mites and pests thrive in damp environments, and having water accumulated in your crawl space is like creating a favorable environment for them. Dust mites and other organisms also reside in the furniture inside your home, along with bedding and carpets.
These airborne contaminants can trigger allergies and asthma. It’s not just dust mites; pests like termites, mice, rats, etc., are also attracted to damp spaces.
And once they start entering your crawl space, there is no doubt they will begin to infiltrate your home too.
It promotes mold growth.
Mold is highly attracted to moisture. Even the slightest quantity of accumulation can promote mold spores and mildew growth. Moreover, mold consumes decaying, organic stuff like cardboard, wood, and paper, and even things like dead insects.
Unfortunately, all of these are typically found in crawl spaces. And once they get hold of this area, they will slowly move upstairs to take over the entire house while degrading the air quality inside the house simultaneously.
There can be an increase in energy bills.
Wondering how energy costs are related to a crawl space? It is because you need more energy to heat or cool the air when it is humid. And when high power is consumed, it leads to an increase in energy bills.
Damage to the structure.
Structural damage is undoubtedly a critical factor to consider in this scenario. If the frame of a house is made of wood or timber, the water accumulated can create a damp crawl space, and it will eventually start rotting. This can lead to Irreversible structural damage, a problem costly to fix.
Ways to eliminate humidity in crawl spaces.
Here are a few solutions for crawl space moisture control.
Use a crawl space dehumidifier.
A dehumidifier is a worthy investment if you want to maintain ideal moisture levels inside the house. Setting up a dehumidifier in the crawl space will ensure proper air circulation and dry the crawl space. One of our writers reviewed the Best Dehumidifier for Crawl Space You Should Buy. Make sure you check them out before buying one for yourself.
Use of crawl space vapor barrier.
If you are wondering what vapor barriers are, they resemble a thick plastic sheet you use to protect the crawl space floor. This crawl space moisture control solution is beneficial if your crawl space has a dirt floor.
It helps to keep the crawl space moisture free but has to be installed properly to work. It is best to take the help of professionals to do this step. Many services offer free inspection before offering a suitable solution.
Try insulating the crawl space.
When you combine insulation with a vapor barrier, it can further help in reducing too much humidity. Insulation comes in the form of polystyrene foam panels and is pretty reliable.
You do not have to face any issues with mold or pests when it gets wet, and it behaves like a seal to prevent moisture and mold spores. But it is essential to keep an eye on the insulation so that you can immediately fix it if it’s torn or damaged.
Crawl space encapsulation can genuinely help.
Encapsulation is basically using a vapor barrier to protect the foundation wall so that the moisture from the ground is unable to enter the crawl space. A dehumidifier is also used to help further in crawl space moisture control and avoid condensation formation due to water vapor.
Use a sump pump.
If you feel all other methods are failing, installing a sump pump can do the trick. This device is installed in a basin in the crawl space. Any water entering there is directed directly to the sump basin.
And the pump sends out the water to a location significantly far away. What’s even special about sump pumps is that they do not turn on unless the water inside the basin is at a particular level.
Ventilate the area.
Ventilation is a simple crawl space moisture control solution that can help healthy air circulation inside any space. Any excess moisture gets evaporated, but you need sufficient venting for this.
It is a costly crawl space moisture control solution but the most effective one. A waterproof barrier will ensure the water cannot get inside, irrespective of how hard it is raining. If you choose this solution, you’ll have to go over both the interior and exterior of the foundation for the best results.
You now know why water can get collected in crawl spaces. And this guide has also covered several tips for crawl space moisture control. While you can implement most steps yourself, you can always recharge to professionals for better results.
Ensure you do not allow water to accumulate in the crawl space, leading to significant problems.
Is it normal to have water in the crawl space after raining?
Yes, it is common for the crawl space to accumulate water after heavy rains, but it can lead to severe damage if you keep it pooled for more than a day. It can attract pests and cause structural damage to the entire house.
What is the average cost for encapsulating a crawlspace?
The cost of encapsulating an entire scroll space can range from $1500 and can go up to $5,000 or even more. It depends on various factors, like choosing a simple plastic barrier or a complete system with a dehumidifier and sump pump for crawl space moisture control.
Can I get rid of the water in the crawl space by myself?
You can definitely deal with moderate flooding by yourself, but if you want to install a dehumidifier, sump pump, etc., you will need a licensed electrician’s help. When the issue is severe, it is best to leave it in the hands of professionals for better service.