When a crawl space is neglected or poorly sealed, it’s going to deteriorate and cause problems. Excess moisture, pests, and mold can all assault this area and leave it in bad shape. You have to keep an eye out on the conditions down there and do everything possible to protect it from the elements. After all, this is an area that impacts the comfort and atmosphere in your Denver, CO, home.
Winter Damage Signs
If you suspect that something is brewing in the crawl space but aren’t sure it’s broken down, look out for one or more of these signs not only in your crawl space but throughout the rest of your home:
Moisture and condensation: When moisture starts building up in the crawl space, it’s going to condense on the walls and pipes or ducts. The water could be from outside air, leaking or burst pipes, or underground water that seeps through the floor.
Flooding: A lot of homeowners are unaware that the pool of water in their crawl space is an indication of a bigger issue. Pooling happens in the lowest part of the crawl space.
Foundation cracks: Crawl space dirt floors can easily get permeated by moisture. With time, the water will exert pressure on the existing cracks and widen them, letting in more water.
Corrosion or rust: Utility components like valves, fittings, and metal objects in the damp crawl space may also rust due to exposure to water and air.
Moldy smells: If you notice awful smells, chances are mold is growing in the crawl space. Check the subfloor or joists around the crawl space and have them remediated as soon as possible to avert a serious infestation.
Warped or cupped floors: Wood floors are hygroscopic, meaning they seek out and retain moisture. In the presence of water, their cellulose absorbs water and expands. Most of the water originates from the subfloor and rises to a point where the floor absorbs it straight out of the air.
Failing support beams: When the structural support like wooden beams come into contact with water, they can rot and lose their strength.
Insulation damage: Cellulose and fiberglass insulation tend to absorb moisture a lot, and when they do so, they sag and fall off. When these materials get wet, they also can become a haven for pests as well as mold growth.
Settling foundation: Frost heave due to freezing and thawing causes vertical ground shifts that may result in settlement. The degree of soil shift depends on soil type and water conditions.
Stains: This is a no-brainer. Dirty underground water will soil or stain any materials stored in the crawl space.
Higher utility costs: Your exposed crawl space can run up your heating costs by 30% in cold weather.
Pest activity: Your crawl space is an excellent hideout and nesting area for pests escaping the cold winter outside. Scratch marks, pest droppings, and scratching sounds are all indications that pests are active in the crawl space.
Dry rot or termite damage: Another potential sign of crawl space damage is rotten wood. Termite and fungi are to blame.
Beating the Winter Cold
The secret to creating a warm, dry crawl space is isolating it from the cold weather outside. Not only does this lock out moisture, but it also makes this area less hospitable for pests. Specifically, you need to implement these solutions and measures.
Waterproof your crawl space. Having proper waterproofing solutions like interior drainage, a sump pump, and a dehumidifier in your crawl space will help keep leaking water out of the area and control the moisture and humidity.
Seal up the crawl space. Crawl space encapsulation entails covering the walls and floor with a thick 20-mil plastic vapor barrier. A vapor barrier this thick stops outside air from infiltrating the crawl space, and it helps reduce pests’ interest in the space.
Insulate the crawl space. Insulation traps heat in winter so the crawl space stays warm. Instead of soft insulation that easily fails, opt for rigid panels on the walls. Also, don’t forget to cover the ducts, water supply pipes, and doors with insulating material.
Install vent covers. Use exterior vent covers to stop cold outside air from getting into the crawl space. This way, you’ll stop moisture buildup and prevent condensation.
Seal wall cracks. Cracks in the foundation walls let in moisture and cold air, which have a damaging effect on the crawl space. While even small cracks can be sealed with epoxy injection so water won’t infiltrate the crawl space, it’s best to have a crawl space and foundation repair expert take a look to determine the cause and potential repair solutions.
Re-grade your yard. Your drainage issues point back to the poorly graded yard. Re-grade it so melting snow can flow out into the exterior drains instead of the crawl space.
It’s easy to ignore the crawl space since it’s not inside the home. Like any other part of the house, it needs routine checks and maintenance. Complete Basement Systems can help you resolve a myriad of issues affecting the crawl space ranging from excess moisture to water pooling. Schedule a free crawl space inspection and repair quote and get solid answers plus lasting fixes for a warm, dry crawl space.