Friday, December 30th, 2016 by Max Schosid
Okay, I’ll admit it: the term “fix my crawl space” is incredibly vague. However, because a crawl space can have a variety of problems, there are a variety of different solution to these problems. As in, there isn’t one fix-all solution to crawl space issues.
When we talk about fixing crawl spaces, we are talking about three major categories of repair: encapsulation, insulation, and waterproofing.
To solve many of the potential problems with crawl spaces mentioned in Part Three, homeowners could have their crawl spaces encapsulated. Crawl space encapsulation is the process of isolating the home from the exposed dirt common in crawl spaces. This is most often accomplished with some sort of vapor barrier laid out on top of the dirt, in order to prevent water vapor, radon gas, vermin, insects, and other undesirables from coming up into the crawl space (and then into your home).
It’s important to remember that not all vapor barriers are created equal. The conventional thickness of crawl space vapor barriers is between 6 and 12 mm. Unfortunately, vapor barriers this thin can tear, especially if your crawl space is a place you tend to crawl around in. We recommend a 20mm liner, because liners this thick are puncture resistant. We would also recommend a liner that has anti-microbial properties to it, to prevent the growth of mold, fungi, and other harmful bacteria.
It’s also important to remember that not all crawl space liners are installed equally, either. In order for a vapor barrier to be up to code in Colorado, it must be sealed to the foundation wall. As in, you can’t just lay a liner on top of the dirt, and call it good. Remember, any exposed dirt in a crawl space defeats the purpose of encapsulating the space in the first place!
You’re probably familiar with insulation: that cotton-candy-looking stuff that’s all over your attic (and maybe in parts of your crawl space as well). But, is your crawl space properly insulated?
In short, insulation is installing products designed to reduce the transfer of heat between areas of significantly different temperatures. When it’s cold outside, you probably want your home to be
significantly warmer than the outside air. Likewise, when it is warm outside, you probably want to prevent your home from getting too warm.
Heat always transfers from warmer air to cooler air, so, in concept, insulation is designed to slow this transfer between the air inside your home and outside. One spot that is very commonly overlooked when insulating a home is the rim joist - that space of wood between your foundation wall, and your main floor. Think about it. If you haven’t insulated your rim joists, all that is separating your crawl space from the outside world is approximately four inches of wood.
When it comes to insulating the crawl space, we specifically recommend insulating your foundation walls and rim joists. However, we would also recommend some form of insulation on your crawl space floor as well. Quite a lot of heat is lost from the air in your crawl space into the dirt.
With proper insulation in place, you can almost guarantee your energy bill will go down. Insulation makes a home quite a bit more efficient to heat and cool, and to maintain a desirable temperature. Properly insulate your home: the environment and your wallet will thank you.
Perhaps the most common problem a crawl space will face, as outlined in Part One, is water intrusion. What steps can you take to waterproof your crawl space, leading to a clean and dry space?
First of all, we recommend our antimicrobial vapor barrier to prevent water from intruding into the crawl space from the dirt. This also prevents water vapor from coming into the crawl space from the dirt (hence the name: vapor barrier). When waterproofing a crawl space, a vapor barrier is crucial.
So, what if water gets on top of the vapor barrier? It does happen, especially if you have a leaky pipe or crawl space vents that haven’t been sealed. To mitigate water already in the crawl space, you need a sump system. We recommend one with a backup battery, in case of power failure; something that can happen during periods of torrential downpour. That way, your crawl space is protected, regardless of your home’s power situation.
While the vapor barrier will help, we also recommend a dehumidifier to remove any latent water vapor from the crawl space. A dehumidifier will absolutely help reduce the relative humidity in the crawl space, removing the possibility of mold growth. Remember: a dry crawl space is a happy crawl space.
Feeling concerned about your crawl space? Give Rod Martin’s Complete Basement Systems a call today to set up an appointment for us to come out and provide a thorough inspection.