Snow and rain in Denver, CO, beautiful sights to behold. Unfortunately, they can also cause significant damage to the unprotected crawl space. When, though, do you need to invest in a vapor barrier to keep your crawl space safe?
If you’re exploring different crawl space waterproofing solutions, look no further. This guide will help you determine whether or not a vapor barrier is the answer to your crawl space leaks.
All About Vapor Barriers
Let’s start with the basics. What is a vapor barrier?
Vapor barriers are large plastic-like sheets that are woven tightly together. Made out of synthetic materials, a vapor barrier keeps most gases from getting inside your crawl space. That tight weave guarantees leak prevention. Any intruding water will be redirected by the vapor barrier when coupled with drainage and sump pump solutions. By investing in additional waterproofing solutions at the same time you install a vapor barrier, you’ll enhance the barrier’s lifetime. Encapsulating your crawl space with a vapor barrier is a permanent solution that will properly seal the area from the earth.
Do You Need a Vapor Barrier?
Not every crawl space needs a vapor barrier straight from the get-go. You’ll need to monitor your space and keep an eye out for a particular breed of symptoms. Sometimes you’ll be able to get rid of simpler symptoms with a temporary sealant, and other times you may need to invest in more significant, or stacked waterproofing solutions.
For vapor barriers, though, keep an eye out for the following:
- Decreases in temperature. As water vapor gathers in the air, the temperature drops. That’s why precipitation and cooler weather tends to go hand in hand. That’s also why increasingly cool temperatures in your crawl space may be a symptom of a leak. Keep a thermometer in your crawl space and watch it carefully to see if the temperature drops. When paired with some of the other symptoms on this list, that drop may indicate the need for a vapor barrier.
- Water damage. Any belongings you’ve tucked away in your crawl space will almost immediately reveal whether or not your space is leaking. Water damage, when water has made its way into your space, is almost unavoidable without waterproofing measures. So if your paper belongings are curling at the edges or your door is sticking, you’ll want to start investigating for a leak.
- Pests. If water can make its way into your crawl space, so can pests. Keep a close eye out for insects and smaller critters, especially as the weather starts to turn. Not only can these critters damage your belongings, but they’ll make it easier for water to get into your home.
- Wet walls or puddles. Naturally, standing water and damp walls both indicate that water can readily make its way into your crawl space. Puddles indicate a far more significant leak, but they’ll also lead you back to the source fairly quickly. Comparatively, damp walls indicate a less significant leak, but their source may be more difficult to trace.
- Mold clusters. Mold loves nothing more than a dark and damp space. It’s this environment that allows mold to grow. If you head down to your crawl space and notice mold clusters thriving, then you’ve definitely got a leak on your hands. Be sure to treat the mold clusters ASAP to prevent any pathogens from getting into your home.
- Bad smells. When water makes its way into your home, you’re going to be able to smell it. Not only will your crawl space smell wet when it leaks, but the damage it causes will start to smell, too. If you can’t drive uncomfortable smells out of your home no matter what you do, check your crawl space. You may be able to stave off a leak before it gets worse.
Installing a Vapor Barrier
When it comes to vapor barrier installations, your contractor will typically take the following steps:
- Clear the water out of your crawl space.
- Find the source of the leak.
- Plug the leak.
- Remove damaged insulation or your previous vapor barrier.
- Install your new vapor barrier.
After the installation process is complete, you may want to consider investing in additional waterproofing solutions. As mentioned, the inclusion of a French drain or dehumidifier will help your crawl space vapor barrier last a little longer than it would otherwise.
Don’t let the Denver, CO, precipitation ruin your crawl space. If you suspect your crawl space is leaking, get in touch with a local contractor and see if you can encapsulate it ASAP.