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Frozen Pipes - How to Insulate Crawl Spaces to Avoid Pipes Freezing

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019


One of the major concerns homeowners have during winter is frozen pipes. When winter sets in Denver, CO, it not only causes temperatures to plummet, but it also threatens to freeze water pipes, especially if the crawl space isn’t insulated. The outcome is water leaks and water damage, which can dampen your festive mood. Because crawl spaces are partially exposed to the outside environment, even brief spells of cold air can freeze the water in the pipes running through this area.

avoid frozen pipes in your crawl spaces

If you live above a crawl space that isn't sealed or properly insulated, your pipes could freeze during winter. Stopping frozen pipes by insulating this space should be your #1 priority. Let’s look at what this entails and how to do it.

Crawl Space Insulation

When it comes to protecting your pipes from freezing, the first line of defense is insulating the entire crawl space and installing a vapor barrier. Covering the crawl space locks out cold air that might try to get inside your home. This helps you create a steady temperature that's closer to the one inside your home. As a result, pipes are less likely to freeze and moisture won’t build up as much in your crawl space when temperatures rise and fall.

Here’s how to do it properly.

  1. Clean the crawl space. Remove old, stained and damaged insulation as well as debris, pest droppings and rocks then disinfect the place.
  2. Inspect the wooden beams and joists to ensure none is in bad shape or mold-ridden. If they’re damaged by termites, you will have to replace them.
  3. Insulate the walls and floor of the crawl space using 2.5" rigid foam for maximum climate control. There are also many insulation products that can keep outdoor air out so your crawl space stays warm during winter and cool during summer.
  4. Seal the cavity between floor joists and walls to ensure your floor remains warm and comfortable. Your local contractor may use foam insulation. We don’t recommend fiberglass batt for this purpose as they tend to absorb moisture and attract mold.
  5. Block all entry points and air vents between the crawl space and conditioned space using low expansion foam.
  6. Next, install a 20-mil vapor barrier right on top of the crawl space floor and fasten it with tape. This will create a barrier that stops moisture from building up from the ground and causing flooding, mold growth, wood rot, and musty odors.
  7. Seal all subfloor openings to keep pesky rodents away and to prevent air loss.
  8. Insulate your ductwork and plumbing using heating tape to prevent heat loss and freezing.

If external flooding is a problem, you will have to install a crawl space drainage system before encapsulating or insulating. It’s also advisable that you install a crawl space sump pump to channel water away from this space and run a dehumidifier.
Not sure which type of insulation suits your Denver, CO, area crawl space? Schedule a free crawl space inspection with your local basement contractor today.

Which Insulation Materials Do I Use?

When it comes to insulating your crawl space, your basement contractor will likely use these three mold-resistant and waterproof solutions:

  • Spray foam insulation: It has a fast-expanding and pest-resistant chemical compound that seals the area with cracks at the same time it waterproofs it. Spray foam is commonly applied to areas such as rim joists and attics, including new walls. Though effective, it’s slightly expensive compared to other solutions.
  • Rigid foam insulation: This type of thermal insulation consists of solid boards with a radiant barrier on one side. It’s suitable for sealing crawl space walls and basement walls. Since it’s durable, it’s a fantastic choice for unfinished spaces. They’re mostly made from polystyrene.
  • Cellulose Insulation: Cell spray foam is an eco-friendly, long-lasting and fire-resistant material. It’s suitable for filling wall cavities and enclosed spaces around the home.

The cost of insulating your crawl space in Denver, CO, will vary depending on its size and condition during renovation. Talk to your local contractor to find out which material suits your home.

Want to keep your water pipes safe, your home warmer and energy bills lower during winter? Schedule a free crawl space inspection with your local basement contractor.