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Why Should I Fix My Crawl Space?

Whatever is in your crawl space, like mold, moisture, and rotting wood, also affects the rest of your home. Learn why you need to fix your crawl space today.

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It’s common for homeowners to wonder why they even need to fix their crawl spaces. After all, if the crawl space isn’t a place they go into very often, what’s the problem? As a matter of fact, any time you have a crawl space problem, you need to fix that problem as soon as you can. 

It’s true that there are many homeowners who don’t seem to understand the importance of fixing crawl space problems. If you’re one of them, you may just have never learned about why it’s so important to fix these problems early on in the process. Here’s what you need to know about fixing your home’s crawl space concerns. 

Common Arguments Against Fixing the Crawl Space 

Whenever someone tells themselves they don’t need to fix the crawl space, they’ll typically use one of a few different arguments. These tend to be the most common arguments against fixing your crawl space for good. 

  • Out of Sight, Out of Mind 

Probably the most common justification homeowners use for not fixing their crawl space is the argument of “out of sight, out of mind.” Most homeowners don’t enter their crawl space very regularly. Therefore, the crawl space problems you’re experiencing probably don’t enter your mind very frequently, and that may convince you it’s actually not a problem. 

Of course, just because a crawl space concern doesn’t frequently enter your mind, that doesn’t make it any less of a problem. Think of your crawl space as basically a short basement. Even if you don’t go into the crawl space very frequently, it’s still impacting your home’s general health. You need to fix it whether or not you spend a lot of time thinking about it. 

  • There Can’t Be Much Wrong with It 

One problem many homeowners have with the concept of fixing their crawl space is that there can’t be a whole lot that could go wrong. When you’re thinking about the rest of your home, you may think about a variety of elements, including your plumbing, walls, lighting, appliances, and belongings. Because those aren’t present in the crawl space, you may assume it’s not as important. 

Of course, the truth is that the crawl space has a variety of things that can go wrong. Crawl spaces tend to be where most of your home’s plumbing runs, which means if you have any plumbing problems, they’ll show up there. Additionally, the crawl space includes your foundation and often your floor joists, both of which are integral to your home’s function. You can’t afford to ignore a crawl space problem. 

  • I Don’t Notice Any Problems 

Just because you don’t realize that something is a problem doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem. As a matter of fact, it’s common for problems in your crawl space not to manifest as easily identifiable problems until they’ve caused a significant amount of damage. Some of the things you see in your crawl space and pay no mind to may be serious concerns you should be thinking about. For example, have you noticed that your allergies or other respiratory issues get much worse when you’re in your home as opposed to staying somewhere else? Mold and mildew tend to exacerbate allergies and asthma. Have you felt like your home is incredibly humid recently? Humidity can rise up from the crawl space and wreak havoc around the rest of your home. It’s important to fix these problems, even if you don’t think you notice them.

damp wood in crawl space

Biggest Reasons to Fix Your Crawl Space 

What can actually happen down in your crawl space when you’re not making sure it’s healthy? These are some of the problems you may not have considered when thinking about the reasons you haven’t yet fixed your crawl space. 

  • Mold and Mildew 

Mold and mildew only need about 70% relative humidity to grow and thrive. This isn’t enough humidity to cause condensation, which means you may not even notice the humidity until mold and mildew are already growing in your crawl space. Although it might not be dangerous on its own, it can cause allergies, asthma, and other respiratory problems that can cause a lot of damage, especially to anyone who sleeps on lower levels of the house. 

  • Swollen Doors and Windows 

If there’s too much humidity in your home, that humidity may infest your home’s door and window frames. Those frames can then swell up from the additional humidity, causing doors and windows that stick or can’t open and close. Controlling humidity in your home starts with controlling humidity in your crawl space, which can help with these doors and windows. 

  • Wet Insulation 

If the crawl space ends up becoming humid enough for condensation to form, that condensation may form on your crawl space insulation. Insulation can be a crucial part of managing your home’s health, including crawl space insulation. Wet insulation just doesn’t insulate as well as dry insulation, meaning your home’s energy costs may shoot up and you might feel much less comfortable inside. 

  • Rotting Wood Inside Your Home 

Wood can easily become rotten when you expose it to water, even a relatively small amount. If you end up with plenty of condensation in the crawl space, you may end up with rotting wood all along the underside of the home. That typically includes elements like floor joists and structural supports, which can obviously negatively impact your home. Catching this wood rot early is key to treating it properly. 

What Problems Could You Need to Fix? 

The potential problems in your crawl space are incredibly varied and only a crawl space expert could really tell you what you’re dealing with. However, these are some of the more common issues homeowners need to fix. 

  • Open Crawl Space Vents 

One big problem you may have is open crawl space vents. Vented crawl spaces were the primary method of building crawl spaces for a long time, but in more recent years, they’ve become less common. When building designers started using them, they believed the vents would air out the crawl space, making them less prone to the condensation they regularly have problems with. 

The problem is that the opposite typically happens. When you have a vented crawl space, the vents allow air of a different temperature in from the outside. Because warm air can carry more moisture than cool air, when the different air temperatures meet, the relative humidity skyrockets above 100%. That will cause condensation to form in your crawl space, causing all sorts of problems like the ones above. Your best bet is to conceal these vents with airtight vent covers

  • Dirt Crawl Space 

Do you have a dirt floor on your crawl space? If so, you’re going to have moisture problems no matter what. Even if you try to dry out the top layer of your crawl space, there will always be moisture in your soil somewhere. That deep moisture will travel upward into your crawl space, which means you’re never going to be able to remove moisture from the crawl space entirely. 

The only way to fix a dirt crawl space is with thorough crawl space encapsulation. You can’t just put down a thin barrier and hope the water vapor doesn’t get through. A thick 20-mil vapor barrier is definitely your best option when it comes to ensuring that a dirt crawl space doesn’t cause crawl space water vapor problems. 

  • Crawl Space Waterproofing 

Lastly, it’s important to invest in crawl space waterproofing. If you have a crawl space, you need to make sure water doesn’t come through the walls or the floor of the space. Although a water vapor barrier is an important element of crawl space waterproofing, it’s not the only thing you can do. You can also create a variety of ways to catch and remove water from your crawl space and ensure it doesn’t come inside in the first place. You could have waterproofing problems already, especially if the hydrostatic pressure on your crawl space walls is pretty significant. Alternatively, you may just want to protect yourself from having problems in the future. Regardless of the driving force for this choice, it’s important to invest in crawl space waterproofing that includes an interior drainage system and a sump pump as early as you can.

Fixing Your Crawl Space

FAQ's

If you’re having allergies that get worse when you go inside, there’s a significant chance that it could be because of your crawl space. If this is the case, good news: You might be able to reduce those allergic reactions if you’re willing to manage your crawl space problems. 

  • Encapsulation 

Crawl space encapsulation is possibly the best way to manage a crawl space that’s having overarching problems. If you’re thinking about crawl space encapsulation, know that you need to make sure you do it right the first time. That means having the right vapor barrier, staying up to code, and ensuring your crawl space health in other ways as well. 

  • Cleaning 

Cleaning out your crawl space will make it that much more beautiful and useful. You can’t really use a crawl space that’s not clean, which is why it’s so important to think about your crawl space’s cleanliness. Talk to a crawl space repair expert about how you can clean out your crawl space and make sure you’re getting the most out of your crawl space as a whole. 

  • Other Elements of Home Repair 

In general, home repair is an important thing to keep up to date. It’s even more important when it comes to your crawl space because it’s common for many elements of your home to be in the crawl space, including pipes and support structures. Make sure you’re staying up to date with home repair to maximize your crawl space usage.

It’s unfortunate, but homeowners tend to ignore a lot of the warning signs of crawl space problems. You may have heard that some crawl space warning signs, including a musty smell, are just “normal.” Why do homeowners brush aside crawl space problems as being a “normal part” of having a crawl space? 

  • Not Thinking About It 

Possibly the most common reason for people to avoid fixing crawl space problems is simple: they’re just not thinking about it. In many instances, people just aren’t paying enough attention to realize that they’re having crawl space problems. It’s one of the reasons that you really need to know about crawl space problems so you can fix them as soon as possible. 

  •  Feeling as Though There’s Nothing Seriously Wrong 

There are some homeowners who might think that there can’t be anything seriously wrong with the crawl space if those problems aren’t actively projecting themselves into the rest of the home. Even if you’re not noticing anything in your day-to-day life, you could have pretty significant problems in your crawl space. You have to actively seek out information about those problems. 

  • Assuming It Doesn’t Matter 

One of the most frustrating reasons for homeowners not to notice crawl space problems is just assuming it doesn’t matter. Any crawl space problem is cause for concern, regardless of what the problem is or why it’s causing issues for the home. Talk to a crawl space repair expert about any problems you’re noticing, even ones that seem small.

Fixing crawl space problems on your own definitely isn’t a good option. DIYing a fix can be a great option for a number of concerns around your home, but your crawl space can benefit the most from an expert’s help. 

  • The Downfall of DIY 

Although DIY can be extremely beneficial in a variety of situations, it’s not ideal in all situations. The main downfall of DIY is the same reason it’s so great in many situations: you’re the one who’s doing it. That means you don’t have the specialized information that a crawl space repair expert will. If you don’t need expertise, DIY is a great option, but crawl space problems absolutely need expertise. 

  • An Expert’s Opinion 

One of the best things you can do for your crawl space problems is to talk to an expert and get their opinion on what you need to do next. Even if you’re not sure whether or not you have crawl space problems, there’s nothing wrong with requesting an inspection. You’ll at least be able to learn whether you do or don’t have those concerns.

One of the most important things you need to be able to do is understand whether you have a crawl space problem from the beginning. That way, you can avoid potential problems in the future. Keep an eye out for these warning signs of crawl space issues. 

  • High Humidity 

Especially if you have crawl space problems like a dirt crawl space or issues with overarching encapsulation, it’s common to end up with high humidity concerns. High humidity can lead to an uncomfortable living space, problems with mold growth, and much more, which is why it’s so important to handle it early on. 

  • Structural Problems 

Whether you have standing water in your crawl space, condensation on the floor joists, or generalized structural issues from high levels of humidity, structural problems are common when you have crawl space concerns you’re not addressing. These can quickly build, making them all-important when you’re thinking about whether you should tackle your crawl space concerns. 

  • Mold and Mildew 

The high levels of humidity are especially great for mold and mildew growth, as well as other fungal growths that you might experience in your home. That includes growths like wood rot, which is something that strikes fear into the hearts of many. Mold and mildew can be difficult to tackle completely, so make sure you do it early with your home. 

  • Allergies 

When you have mold and mildew in your crawl space, you’re probably going to have allergies. These allergies can be even worse when you have a dirt crawl space because the dirt can exacerbate your allergies even further. If you’ve noticed that your family’s allergies tend to get worse when you go inside, you might have crawl space problems.

installing crawl space insulation

An Expert from Complete Basement Systems Can Effectively Fix Your Crawl Space 

Fixing your crawl space isn’t something you should do yourself. If you do have a problem and you try to fix it on your own, you could even end up making the problem worse. It’s important to fix the problem the right way the first time rather than trying to save money with a DIY fix that will only add more concerns to your existing ones. 

Instead, opt for assistance from an expert from Complete Basement Systems. An expert can do a thorough review during a free inspection, help you understand more about your problems, and suggest some fixes that will benefit your crawl space. That’s the best way to know what’s going to make it easier to manage your crawl space’s health in the long term.

Repair and Protect Your Crawl Space with Expert Help

Feeling concerned about your crawl space? Contact Complete Basement Systems today to set up an appointment for us to come out and provide a thorough inspection.