While the crawl space plays a very important role in any Denver, CO, home, it’s one of those places you’re likely to neglect. You may only be roused to action once it starts accumulating debris, moisture, rodents, insects, fungi, and dust. Since air moves upwards, having contaminated crawl space air affects the quality of air in your bedroom and living space.
In this post, we’ll show you what cleaning involves and highlight some of the cleaning activities that take place as well as give you a breakdown of the cost of crawl space repairs and cleaning. Note that the costs listed here are general estimates, and can be lower or higher depending on the size of your crawl space, the amount of damage, and other factors. It’s always best to check with professional contractors who specialize in each area of cleanup and repair.
What is involved in crawl space cleaning?
You’re probably wondering what crawl space cleaning entails. After all, it’s an area below the home that sees little traffic because it’s usually low-lying, hidden, and unmonitored. Years of neglect can cause a lot of dirt or debris to accumulate quickly and without your knowledge. We advise you to inspect it at least once a year to see if there’s any dirt or damage that needs your attention so you can continue enjoying clean air.
A typical cleaning exercise involves the following things:
Removal of debris
Debris in the crawl space may hinder accessibility and any scheduled cleaning or repair work. So it is always a good idea to first remove all debris and junk before you carry out a crawl space inspection. Debris includes construction waste, rusted nails, hanging asbestos insulation, damaged vapor barriers and wood, old cardboard, and broken pipes. All these need to go.
Removal of mold and pests
A crawl space encourages moisture buildup and at the same time attracts pests, rodents, and termites. After removing the junk, it is good to take time to remove any fungi and mildew that could be growing in the crawl space. These include mushrooms and the normal white mold as well as the toxic black mold that can be hard to see with your naked eyes. Professional mold removal can range from $1,000 to $3,000 or more.
If you have ever used pesticides in this space, there could be traces of these chemicals that need to be removed. And then there are the dead insects and rodents, which took the bait. These might be the primary sources of the awful odor in your home.
So you have to remove any pest nests, droppings and urine that’s accumulated in your crawl space. Rodent urine mixes with soil to form unnoticeable stains that then mix with dust. Exposure to rodent droppings and urine can cause deadly Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS). Don’t attempt to clean up this space if you don’t have protective gear. Let professional cleaners take care of any cleaning exercise down there. Pest control costs can start at $500 on the low end, and range upwards to $4,000 or more.
Inspection of crawl space for leaks
Dirt and moisture go hand in hand. Moisture attracts mold into the crawl space, and so the next step toward a clean crawl space is sealing off all air, water and sewage leaks. Air and water get into the crawl space through the ground, walls, open vents, and leaking pipes. It could be a small drop, yet the damage could cost you an entire house. Fix any leaks and seal up the vents and cracks on the crawl space to prevent outside air, water, and pests from accessing this space.
Wood rot and rust on metal doors can affect the integrity of your home. Moisture and mold can interfere with the support beams, as well as electrical components beneath the house. Look for signs of damage on the foundation, settling floors, damaged insulation, and cracks on the wall. If you had to remove contaminated soil, you may need to bring in new soil to level the ground up.
To remove any dirt that is remaining, you need to vacuum clean this space. Don’t use water as it makes the moisture problem worse. Professional crawl space cleaners use special vacuum cleaners that trap all dust particles and avoid stirring up dust to prevent cross-contamination. Because they can do a precise job, cleaners will ensure your family doesn’t get exposed to pathogens.
Vapor barrier installation
Once the place is clean and repairs taken care of, you need to ensure that the area below is separated from the living space. This process involves sealing off the walls and floor with a 20-mm plastic barrier and taping it down with a sealing tape. Crawl space encapsulation could cost you from $5,000 to $15,000 or more, depending on the area and extent of repair, as well as additional projects like waterproofing and dehumidification.
As well as sealing the crawl space, you will also have to channel water away from your foundation and walls. Install gutters and downspouts. If you already have them, ensure they are draining water away from the foundation and that they are clean. Also, consider installing an interior perimeter drainage system and sump pump system in the crawl space before a vapor barrier encapsulation.
Disinfecting the crawl space
A clean crawl space should not produce bad odors nor harbor deadly mold spores or contaminated dust particles. While these are hard to spot, it is important to sanitize the air to make it safe. Almost half of the air you breathe inside your house comes from the crawl space. If more than 30 square feet of the crawl space has mold, you need a professional to help with the sanitization process.
Moreover, sewage leaks that have dried up can be very deadly. Dry sewage is a source of hazardous bacteria and pathogens. The area that is contaminated with sewage spills needs to be cleaned and then sanitized.
Deodorizing the crawl space
A bad odor in the house can be very sickening. You can use DIY methods to get rid of odors. Baking soda solution, vinegar, and charcoal briquettes are known to alleviate odors at home.
Replacing damaged insulation
When pests invade the crawl space, they’re likely to turn the insulation material into their nest. After all, it’s a warm comfy space that’s also hidden. Your contractor will remove and replace the damaged or torn material before the seal up the crawl space. The whole exercise may take a couple of hours and could cost you anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000, depending on the material they use.
Why hire a professional to clean the crawl space
While it is tempting to clean the crawl space yourself, the risk and pain of DIY solutions is not worth it. Cleaning a crawl space is not cheap, and you may need to save some costs by helping with some tasks. If you do, it is advisable to wear a respirator mask, gloves and crawl space suit to protect yourself.
Engaging the services of a professional is not cheap, but you have up to 20 years to budget for it. The costs and time taken to complete this project depend on the accessibility of the crawl space, size, items that need to be removed, and the amount of damage that needs to be repaired.
A clean crawl space not only keeps your family safe and healthy but also increases the value of your home and helps reduce energy bills. If you need help inspecting your crawl space or repairing it, we can give you a free estimate so you can plan the next move.