Crawl Space Problem Signs
If you are noticing these crawl space problems throughout your home, your crawl space may need to be repaired and encapsulated.
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Learning to recognize the signs of dampness and flooding in your crawl space is all-important to property health. These are the problem signs you should look out for.
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A good vapor barrier is absolutely essential to moisture control within your home. If you have a bad vapor barrier, you could face serious issues in your home.
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Bouncy, uneven, or sagging floors are indicators of a much larger problem. Wood rot may be the culprit taking apart your home.
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Mold is common in homes that have exposed or unsealed crawl spaces. Learning to recognize the problem signs is key to maintaining good health.
If your home has a crawl space, odds are it is a dirty, musty, foul-smelling area beneath your living space. Most homeowners avoid this area for those reasons. However, those crawl space problems are why this area needs attention. More than half of the air you breathe in your home comes from your crawl space because of the stack effect. So, if pest droppings, mold spores, and other allergens are present in your crawl space, you and your family are likely breathing them. This is why crawl space repair and encapsulation are critically important to the health of your home and family.
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THE CAUSES OF CRAWL SPACE PROBLEMS
Crawl space problems can be caused by many factors. Understanding them helps you make the right decision for repair.
Building code typically calls for homes with crawl spaces to have vents. This was meant to allow for better airflow to reduce the chance of elevated humidity and mold growth. However, foundation experts have found this to be a detrimental process that causes the very problems open vents were meant to avoid. A vented dirt crawl space allows outside air, water, pests, and other nuisances into the crawl space. This results in a dirty, unhealthy area that also affects the rest of the home. Things like mold spores and pest dropping odors can circulate in the air throughout your home because of the stack effect.
The stack effect can impact your home especially if you have a vented dirt crawl space. Outside air, water, and pests enter the crawl space through the open vents. Any unhealthy conditions like high humidity, pest droppings, unpleasant odors, mold spores, and mold growth can circulate in your home as warm air rises from your crawl space. So, whatever is in your crawl space is also in your home and affecting you and your family.
Even though Colorado is generally dry, humidity can still plague homes and the crawl spaces beneath them. Vented dirt crawl spaces are notorious for their humidity problems. As warmer, unstable outside air enters the below-grade crawl space that is cooler, humidity can form and lead to a variety of problems. These include mold growth, wood rot, uneven floors, unhealthy air, and pest infestations. All of these issues are not only in the crawl space, but in the above living environment as well.
The floor joists in the crawl space underneath your main living area are meant to support your home. If the joists were placed too far apart, they cannot properly uphold the floor above. Too much weight also could be straining the floor joists, and they could succumb to high crawl space humidity, wood rot, and pest activity. Having sturdy floor joists made out of durable material that also are properly spaced and protected from humidity and pest damage will serve your home for years to come.
A huge thank you to Matt Daily for his detailed evaluation and thorough recommendations. I honestly learned SO much. I know the integrity of our house will be protected for our entire lifetime after this foundation repair.View review Read Vera Ananda's review for Complete Basement Systems
Derek was great, very polite and respectfulView review Read Jeremy Taylor's review for Complete Basement Systems
Michael Gold came to my house to give me an estimate on foundation issues I am having. He was honest and genuinely cared about my situation. I would not hesitate to contact him again. Thank you.View review Read Lisa Brone, Md's review for Complete Basement Systems
We had to secure our sinking home foundation with 5 subterranean piers AND raise our concrete basement floor slab, along with seal all of the cracks in it. This, where bugs, moisture, and uneven floors allowed moist cold air in. Now, our basement…View review Read D Tapia-gonzales's review for Complete Basement Systems
Michael Gold (salesperson) gave us clear information on the problem, and what we can do to resolve it. We were also happy with the estimate to do the work. Looking forward to having this issue dealt with.View review Read Chris Rubino's review for Complete Basement Systems
Derek was very patient and knowledgeable. We had a very good experience.View review Read Judy Powers's review for Complete Basement Systems
Michael Gold was very knowledgeable about the product and services. The estimate was built the same day. He has been quick and responsive with texts. I appreciate his professionalism and will be using him in the future. – Johnathan Wintersmith…View review Read Robert Wintersmith's review for Complete Basement Systems
Matt Daily was very knowledgeable and helped guide me in the right direction with my concrete foundation.View review Read Ty Keyes's review for Complete Basement Systems
I had the pleasure of working with Mike Kilduff when groundwork came out to look at my property. Mike was professional, courteous, and knowledgeable. Mike even offered to take off his shoes before entering the home which has been uncommon. Mike was…View review Read Freddy Fajardo's review for Complete Basement Systems
Jacob and the team were responsive, friendly and helpful. They quickly scheduled an inspection and answered all my questions. Thanks!View review Read Hanna Vadeboncoeur's review for Complete Basement Systems
Matt Daily was a great CPI who was not only honest with our inspection but understanding of our situation! Thank you so much.View review Read Carly Ruiz's review for Complete Basement Systems
We have only received a proposal from them so far, but we appreciated the Inspector’s (Matt Daily) informative review of our options and the fact that we didn’t feel pressured.View review Read Kristen Wieber's review for Complete Basement Systems
Matt Daily was informative, friendly, and very helpful in assisting me to understand my options for my foundation repair and basement waterproofing as a first time home owner. He was thorough and helped walk me through my options as well as assist…View review Read Britt Rosenquist's review for Complete Basement Systems
Mike Kilduff and Matt Dailey were awesomeView review Read Carmen Hall's review for Complete Basement Systems
Can’t speak for long term durability at this point, but I’m happy with the work done recently to level my basement and a few exterior spots around the house. Zack & Jackson were the install crew and were on time, very communicative, and courteous. I…View review Read Eric Steimel's review for Complete Basement Systems
Derek was great. He explained everything in detail. Never felt pressured to purchase anything I did not want. Will definitely recommend Complete Basement System. Trina O.View review Read Trina Organ's review for Complete Basement Systems
Derek was very professional. Did a great job.View review Read Jay Vicic's review for Complete Basement Systems
Derek had time to talk with me and show the plan. Like the idea of plan to save some money in long run. Also have with five years warranty plan for my concrete.View review Read Ramiro Moncada's review for Complete Basement Systems
My initial installation of a basement water mitigation system was performed in October of 2021. After my basement flooded twice through two separate window wells, my neighbors recommended that I reach out to Complete Basement Systems (now…View review Read Mike Carvill's review for Complete Basement Systems
Michael did a great job showing what they could do to seal our crawl space. He was knowledgeable, friendly, and professional.View review Read Donald Nestingen's review for Complete Basement Systems
Crawl Space Repair and Encapsulation Solutions
Crawl space repair and encapsulation can be tricky, and it’s important to be able to trust these repairs and the company installing them. Our experienced team at Complete Basement Systems specializes in all types of crawl space problems. We will customize a solution to fit the needs of your specific crawl space problems.
Is Crawl Space Repair and Encapsulation the Right Solution for Me?
While many homes throughout Colorado have basements, some have a crawl space or a combination of both with a partial crawl space adjacent to a basement. Other local areas that may experience these issues include Westminster, Englewood, Douglas County, Henderson, Lakewood, Bennet, and Brush, CO. Whatever your home layout, a crawl space beneath your main living space can significantly and negatively impact the rest of your home and your quality of life.
The biggest problem with crawl spaces lies in their tradition. When homes are built with a crawl space, they typically have open crawl space vents. The reasoning behind this was to allow air to flow freely in and out of the crawl space to regulate temperature and humidity (even though Colorado is generally drier). But vented dirt crawl spaces have been found to be the source of different kinds of crawl space problems like mold and mildew growth, wood rot, sagging floors, and more.
Along with the aforementioned problems, crawl spaces can potentially cause or worsen health conditions like asthma and allergies especially if mold is present. Because of the stack effect – the movement of air from the crawl space and up through the house – whatever is in your crawl space also is in the air in the rest of your home and affecting you. The best way to combat these issues is to repair and encapsulate the crawl space with solutions including vent covers, a vapor barrier, a drainage system, and a dehumidifier.
For a place as cold as the Fort Collins-Loveland area, it can be surprisingly humid in the wintertime. Excess humidity can prove to be a huge issue in the crawl space considering how small and compact it is. Indeed, mold and mildew spores and certain pests tend to thrive more in humid climates than colder, drier areas. Your humid crawl space might therefore be rife with all these moisture issues without your knowledge.
For reference, a healthy humidity level should range between 30 to 50% at the most. Winters in the Fort Collins-Loveland area have around 53 to 61% humidity on average. Mold and mildew grow quickly at any percentages above 60%, though sometimes they are known to start growing at 55% humidity levels as well. Unfortunately, this is not the only problem excess humidity can create in your home.
If you notice that your home seems to feel a lot warmer than it usually is in the summer, then you might then turn up your air conditioner higher as a response. Additionally, your home might be much colder in the winter than it used to be, which means you will then crank up your heater. Both of these are a direct result of the stack effect. Warm air is lighter than cool air, so this humidity gathering in your crawl space then will rise up to the rest of your home in the summer and cause it to feel muggier indoors. In the winter, however, this warm air is then pushed out by the denser, frigid air that seeps into the crawl space, making it feel freezing in your home. Your energy bills will skyrocket as a result of this misuse.
If you’re concerned about how much money crawl space repairs may cost you, it can be tempting to consider replacing damaged insulation on your own. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the best idea. Problems can pop up in any home DIY effort, but especially during your initial efforts and in the months and years to come after your work is done.
Problems During Your Initial Efforts
Trying to remove your damaged insulation without the appropriate tools can be dangerous for several reasons. For starters, touching insulation without gloves or removing it without protective materials can put your health at risk. Insulation can also be difficult to dispose of if you don’t know which disposals will accept it. You’ll also find yourself contending with the remnants of your insulation if you don’t have the tools on hand to keep it from falling apart as you work to remove it from your home.
As you go to install new insulation, you may face a variety of issues. First off, you may overlook the structural damage that allowed unusual levels of moisture into your home in the first place. Secondly, you may not be able to spread your new insulation as thoroughly as professionals otherwise would. You may also bring home a type of insulation that is either too water-absorbent or that otherwise may not protect your home from damage as well as those types of insulation available to area professionals.
It’s also more difficult to install home waterproofing measures over your insulation if you’ve never made an effort to do so before. In short, when you rely on professionals, you can forgo all the effort of DIY and rest easy. Thanks to their ample experience, the contractors on your property can install your new insulation and any approved waterproofing measures with the confidence of trained professionals.
Problems in the Future
Even if you don’t have any problems while installing insulation on your own, you may find yourself contending with issues later down the line. For starters, replacing the damaged insulation in your crawl space only allows you to address a symptom of a larger problem throughout your home. If your crawl space insulation is taking on unusual amounts of water, you likely have a leak on your hands. Failing to address this leak will see you having to contend not only with damaged insulation in the future but worsening stability throughout your home as well.
That kind of instability does more than just make your crawl space less pleasant to visit. The longer you allow a leak to fester in your crawl space, the more likely it is that you’ll see the walls not only in your crawl space but of your foundation begin to crumble. This kind of instability can have impacts on the whole of your home if it isn’t addressed appropriately. Professionals have the experience to notice when damaged crawl space insulation is a sign of a larger problem. When you reach out to area contractors, you may spend more money on repairs, but you can avoid the cost of other potentially necessary services later down the line.
Vent covers for your crawl space will be an effective solution, but not if they don’t seal the vents full time. That’s because crawl space vents will continue causing problems whenever you open them for ventilation. It happens more often than not in the summer. Instead, homeowners should consult with a professional to have the vents properly sealed. If you try to simply block up the vents yourself, there will be problems.
A Temporary Fix
Homeowners consider crawl space vent covers as an affordable solution to all associated problems. Taking the DIY route seems counterintuitive because it does not undo the pre-existing damage. That means you will still need crawl space repairs to resolve structural and environmental problems caused by the open vents.
More importantly, homemade installations are a short-term fix. They might protect your crawl space for a few weeks or months. There are, however, other factors involved that do not get addressed with a makeshift cover. As a result, secondary crawl space issues might crop up. Most of these may require professional consultation. Escalated damages could increase maintenance costs, making covers an expensive investment.
Crawl space specialists can detect underlying problems when they arrive for a home inspection. Their expertise can help you fix issues and potential threats. They also provide premium-quality covers that have higher durability and weather-resistance. If required, they can tailor the covers to your exact vents and make sure they absolutely seal the vent, instead of opening or shutting. These covers can offer you better temperature regulation and control.
Those qualities will make the custom-built covers a more viable and worthwhile option than DIY hacks. Besides that, our cooperative professionals can align crawl space repairs with your budget goals and individual needs. That means you shall get a well-fitted cover at a cost-effective price. Plus, you don’t have to worry about installation or maintenance. These services are a part of the service package.
Mold is a surprisingly robust substance that can thrive in many different environments, temperatures, and areas. There are only three requirements for mold formation: moisture, spores, and organic material. Most crawl spaces have organic materials (like exposed wood) and every area has prevalent mold species.
Some of the most common causes of dampness and humidity in Colorado Springs and Denver properties are internal leaks from a home’s plumbing system or attached appliances. In a property that has an unsealed crawl space, for example, it is fairly common for pipes to freeze during the harsh Colorado winters. This can cause them to burst and flood the crawl space.
While the flooding itself can be drained easily, the dampness that a serious flood leaves behind, however, can be lingering. This is because of the way it will saturate insulation and seep into any exposed wooden supports and joists it touches. This saturation will release moisture into the air and cause the relative humidity to rise. If this persists over time, mold is sure to form (along with a large selection of other issues like mildew, pest infestation, and rot).
Of course, moisture can also get into your home via points of structural weakness and damage. Cracks in your crawl space walls, for example, will let water seep into your home. This kind of seepage will be most pronounced during the wettest months of the year, storms, and of course the spring thaw. Another gateway for moisture is foundational damage.
Damage like foundation settlement or subsidence is notorious for causing persistent dampness and humidity in a property’s crawl space. When cracks appear in your foundation, they essentially act as channels for groundwater to make its way up into your property. This will, of course, be more severe during wet seasons.
Your crawl space is an incredibly vulnerable area within your home. If you do not encapsulate your crawl space or take waterproofing measures, you leave it open to flooding, dampness, and pests. This may seem like an isolated issue, but it will have an effect on your home as a whole.
A Safe, Clean Crawl Space
Vapor barriers are rarely (if ever) installed as an isolated or singular protective measure. This is possible, of course, but they are generally part of a wider waterproofing system. When used as a part of an encapsulation system, a good vapor barrier will essentially close your crawl space off from the rest of the world as a whole.
This makes a neat, tidy, and clean bubble within your crawl space. This bubble should have a dry, comfortable, hygienic climate that improves the overall climate of your property. An encapsulated crawl space will enjoy a more controlled level of humidity and a more stable temperature, which lowers the likelihood of freezing pipes in winter.
As well as creating a clean, protective space under your home that acts as an extra buffer zone between your property and the soil, an encapsulated crawl space can also be a wonderful storage space. Many people who encapsulate their crawl spaces use them to store seasonal decorations and items that are needed only once or twice per year.
If you intend to do this, you should invest in a very thick and durable vapor barrier of at least 20-mil. This will ensure that the barrier does not tear or puncture when boxes or people move across it. A thinner barrier may need to be regularly replaced if the items you store are too heavy or you drag them across the ground when placing and removing them.
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.
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.
Why is Crawl Space Repair and Encapsulation Needed?
Vented dirt crawl spaces can be hazardous to homes and their occupants in many ways, and there are even more ways crawl space repair and encapsulation can be huge benefits.
Enhances Safety and Structural Stability
The floor joists in your crawl space that support the floor above need to be structurally sound. Wet, moldy, rotting joists can cause sagging, uneven floors, and other issues. But by addressing any rotting wood or sagging floor joists and floors with our trusted repair solutions, the house will be safer and structurally stable.
Makes Your Home Unattractive to Pests
Pests including small animals and bugs may be drawn to your crawl space because of its isolation, darkness, a potential source of food, and open vents. Not only can they create unhealthy conditions and odors, but they can damage essentials in your crawl space such as insulation and supports. But a crawl space that is properly sealed, encapsulated, and waterproofed is not hospitable for them.
Improves Function and Energy Efficiency
A vented crawl space can make your above floors feel hot during the summer and cold in the winter. Your HVAC systems can struggle to keep your home comfortable, and your electric bill can skyrocket. By investing in crawl space encapsulation and insulation to reduce energy loss, you can save between 30 and 50% on your energy bills. Additionally, you can use your clean, dry, and healthy crawl space as an extra storage area!
Common Crawl Space Repair and Encapsulation Tips & Mistakes
Crawl spaces can be difficult to handle due to their location and small dimensions. But it is important to keep the following tips and mistakes in mind when it comes to the care and keeping of your crawl space.
Crawl Space Repair and Encapsulation Tips:
- Keep an Eye Out for Other Damage: Crawl space problems can make themselves known in many ways. These include sagging and uneven floors, mold, condensation on windows, diagonal drywall cracks, and more. Oftentimes, like with cracking walls, these signs can point to problems with other areas like your foundation. It’s important to stay vigilant and pay attention to any form of damage around your home.
- Avoid Going into Your Crawl Space: It might seem counterintuitive, but it’s not a good idea to venture into your crawl space to check on or install something. These spaces are usually one to three feet high and often contain essentials such as plumping, ducts, and even HVAC systems. It could be easy to inadvertently cause damage to these systems, or even get stuck inside.
- Call Crawl Space Experts for Assistance: If you notice problems throughout your home such as unpleasant smells, mold, pests, and uneven floors, the best thing you can do is contact a professional who specializes in crawl space repair and encapsulation. Our team at Complete Basement Systems has years of experience in inspecting, diagnosing, and repairing problematic crawl spaces.
Crawl Space Mistakes to Avoid:
- Only Sealing Vents and Installing a Dehumidifier: Closing off vents and installing a dehumidifier if moisture and humidity are concerning are important, but they are only pieces of the encapsulation puzzle. An effective vapor barrier, waterproofing measures, and structural repairs are essential as well, depending on the extent of your crawl space damage. Plus, conventional dehumidifiers are not powerful enough to handle crawl space humidity.
- Installing Inadequate Vapor Barriers: Vapor barriers are available in a variety of thickness. But opting for the minimum coverage, usually 6-mil, is not going to protect your crawl space or home. This level of thickness is equivalent to two plastic grocery store bags, and it’s incredibly easy to tear. Having a thick and durable vapor barrier like our 20-mil CrawlSeal™ is more effective in isolating your crawl space from the earth and outside nuisances.
- Investing in Spray Foam: Spray foam is a popular choice for insulation, but it does not belong in a crawl space. Even though Colorado is generally dry, crawl spaces can easily become havens for moisture. Spray foam can lock moisture in floor joists and other supports and contribute to rot and decay. The foam also could cover utilities, wiring, and piping, and it limits pest and termite inspections.
Find your service area
Colorado Springs, CO
To maintain the security and longevity of your Colorado Springs home, cracking foundations and sagging crawl spaces must be repaired as soon as possible. Customizable, long-lasting solutions that will put your home back on firm ground are available from Complete Basement Systems.
It is likely that your home's foundation, basement, concrete, and crawl space will sustain damage if you reside in Denver’s dry environment with expansive clay.
Fort Collins, CO
Foundation and water damage can threaten your Fort Collins home if it is not properly protected. Complete Basement Systems has the best solutions to keep it dry and standing on solid ground for good.