Condensation is something of a canary in the coal mine when it comes to your crawl space (and your property as a whole, actually). At its heart, condensation is a sign that humidity in your home has reached a tipping point.
Condensation forms when the air cannot hold any more water. Of course, there are some perfectly benign examples of condensation within a home. For example, condensation can easily form in the bathroom or kitchen; that’s not necessarily something to worry about unless it is consistent and present when the rooms are not in use. However, too much condensation is something that’s worth investigating at the very least.
Condensation: What it Means for Your Home
Condensation is a strange issue; while it’s perfectly harmless on its face, it can contribute to serious damage and be a warning sign of existing damage in your home. This is really because of its connection with dampness, humidity, and all the things they can bring into your property. Understanding the effects of condensation and dampness on your property is important to knowing what you must look for in terms of damage and warning signs.
What Can Cause Condensation
There are many different things that can cause the dampness and humidity required for condensation in your home. Broadly speaking, however, they can be broken down into internal and external causes.
Internal causes are leaks within your plumbing system and attached appliances. Whether this is a small, persistent leak or a sudden plumbing flood as a result of a burst pipe, internal dampness is very common in homes across Colorado.
External causes of dampness, by contrast, tend to be connected to structural damage within your home. For example, foundation damage, bowing walls, or crawl space flooding as a result of bad weather all result from an external cause of dampness. The humidity that is caused by any of these occurrences can easily lead to condensation in your crawl space and property as a whole.
What Condensation Can Do
Condensation can cause (or at least contribute to) a lot of problems in your home, as well as create a generally unhealthy environment. While general dampness and humidity in your home cause many issues like mold formation, wood rot, sagging floors, increased energy bills, and the destruction of drywall, condensation can add a unique layer to this.
Unlike general humidity, condensation will get into soft furnishings and exposed wood. This will cause a vicious circle of dampness, humidity, and condensation that exacerbates all of the issues that are already connected to dampness.
As such, it is important to address condensation as soon as possible. If you do not, you might find that the issue snowballs until it becomes a much bigger issue. This is the only way to ensure the damage is limited and your home is protected in the long term.
How to Spot Problems in Your Crawl Space
Condensation is an easy problem sign to spot, but it tells you only one thing: that humidity in this part of your home has reached its peak and the air cannot hold any more moisture. This is useful because it shows you where to start looking for damage and issues. However, you need to consider the secondary problem signs that will help you narrow down the forces at work and the risks to your home.
If you want to take care of your home and minimize the secondary and tertiary damage, you should look out for these warning signs:
Mold and Mildew
Mold and mildew tend to also be symptoms of damage rather than causes, but they also provide a very good indication of where the humidity is worst. If you see mold or mildew in the same area as condensation, this is a very strong sign that the source of dampness in your home (or one of many sources) is close by. Be careful as you start to investigate, however, as certain species of mold can be dangerous to your skin, eyes, and respiratory system.
Rotting wood is another strong warning sign that you have a problem with dampness in your property. Exposed, untreated wood is vulnerable to dampness and mold, and when it becomes saturated, it will start to rot. This leaves it weak, but also makes it susceptible to mold and prone to producing bad odors. This can escalate into sagging floors (insert link), ruined drywall, and many other problems in your home.
Pest infestation of any kind is a problem for obvious reasons. Whether it’s from cockroaches, mice, rats, or even spiders, an infestation is not just a symptom of damage but can cause damage. In fact, cockroach infestations, in particular, can be damaging to your health as well. These insects carry a huge number of diseases and can cause issues with your skin and respiratory system. Rodents, by contrast, can chew through electrical wire and damage the structure of your home.
A lingering, musty odor in your crawl space or home as a whole is a sign that you have wood root, stagnant water, and/or mold in your home somewhere. If you have tried cleaning and airing out your home and it still won’t go away, it is time to call in a professional for a thorough inspection. At best, it could be stagnating water, but at worst, you could have a serious infestation or a nasty strain of mold taking root in your home.
Flooding or Standing Water
If you find that your crawl space is flooded or has pools of standing water, this is a serious warning sign that you cannot ignore. Even if there is a clear, one-off cause, you should contact a professional immediately to ensure that the damage is limited. One of the most potentially devastating things that could cause this kind of problem is foundation damage. Foundation settlement and subsidence can let surprising amounts of water into your home very quickly. Of course, these issues are far more serious than the dampness and humidity they can cause.
If you see any of these warning signs or a few of them in tandem, you should contact a professional to look deeper into the issues. They can help you determine what must be done to protect your home. Moving quickly when you see these issues could save you a lot of money and stress in the long run.
Crawl Space Condensation
Broadly speaking, condensation is caused by humidity and changes in temperature, but there is a little more to it. Damage to your property and the actual environment in the crawl space itself all have their roles to play.
Dampness and Humidity
Moisture is a prerequisite for condensation, whether it’s in your crawl space or your kitchen. If you can prevent dampness from taking root in your home, you will go a long way toward keeping condensation from forming in the first place. However, you must also consider the relative humidity in the area around your home.
While Colorado isn’t as humid as other locations, any uptick in humidity can leave properties in this area more prone to condensation. This is especially the case if your property has lackluster drainage and moisture control measures in place. If your property cannot process the humid air that makes its way into your home from the outside, or if it’s created in your home, condensation is sure to form.
Your Crawl Space Environment
A non-waterproofed crawl space is one of the most vulnerable points in any home. Properties that have uncovered crawl space vents, for example, are vulnerable not just to humidity, dampness, and condensation, but also to pest infestation. Likewise, any crawl space that still has a dirt floor and bare walls will see higher levels of humidity and condensation.
This is because of the way in which moisture seeps up through the earth and hairline cracks in the crawl space walls. Furthermore, when warmer, humid air circulates in a non-waterproofed crawl space, it will come into contact with the colder surfaces inside and form condensation. This will add to a generally high level of relative humidity.
We understand that, in the grand scheme of things, a little condensation might not seem like a huge issue. However, there are reasons you should worry about seeing condensation in and around your home.
Condensation is a Symptom Dampness
There are certain situations in which condensation is not a symptom of a deeper issue; for example, when it forms in the bathroom after a shower. Nonetheless, excessive amounts of condensation are indicative of a deeper issue somewhere in your home. An issue with dampness and flooding in your crawl space, for instance, could cause persistent condensation.
If you have an unencapsulated crawl space, this can be easily fixed, but if you can’t find an obvious cause for the dampness, it could be a sign of structural damage. Foundation settlement or subsidence, for example, can cause issues with dampness as water seeps through cracks in the foundation and into a property’s crawl space.
Condensation Can Make an Environment Unhealthy
Even if the condensation in your home has a perfectly benign cause, it can still create issues for you and your property. A little humidity in the air can be beneficial for the hair and skin, of course, but by the time you start seeing condensation, it has officially moved beyond normal levels. This can cause a lot of problems, but the most insidious is mold formation.
While many species of mold won’t do much except make your home smell a little musty, there are others that can have more serious side effects. Black mold, for example, can cause skin irritation, persistent headaches, and respiratory problems. Mold in your home can also exacerbate pre-existing conditions like eczema and asthma.
If you notice persistent condensation around your home or in your crawl space, it’s time to act. Of course, what needs to be done depends on the cause of the humidity. As a homeowner, the first thing you should do is call a professional.
Book an Inspection
When you notice high levels of humidity and condensation throughout your home it is important that you take the time to find out exactly what is contributing to the dampness. In some cases, the causes will be very easy to fix, but there could well be structural damage to blame as well. This is why it is important to book a professional inspection.
Getting an expert in to inspect your crawl space and look for signs of damage won’t take long and could save you a world of trouble in the long run. A professional will not only be able to properly diagnose the causes of dampness and condensation in your property and crawl space; they will be able to formulate a tailored solution.
Secure Your Crawl Space
If the inspection turns up no underlying damage or abnormal causes for the dampness and humidity in your property but you have an unencapsulated crawl space, your inspector will suggest waterproofing. This is good practice for anyone who wants to keep their home safe from dampness, humidity, and all the issues they can bring.
Waterproofing is one of the simplest things you can do to keep your home safe, and most crawl space professionals will be able to do the job in a day or less. By installing vent covers, insulation, and a vapor barrier, you will prevent water from getting in, but only a dehumidifier will take moisture out of the air and prevent mold from forming and spreading. Talk to a professional to get an idea of what solutions will be best for your home.
How to Fix Crawl Space Condensation
The truth is, there’s not too much you can do as a homeowner to deal with condensation in your crawl space or home. Your best approach is to eliminate humidity where possible.
However, due to the complexity of diagnosing the causes of this humidity, a professional opinion will be needed. There are far too many variables to consider.
Do Not Attempt a DIY Fix
It is good practice to conduct a thorough self-inspection once you notice signs of damage and humidity in your property, but it is important that you do not act. No matter how skilled you are, we urge you not to attempt a DIY fix for any of the issues you identify. We say this because of the complex nature of moisture-related issues.
If you do not identify all underlying causes or incorrectly diagnose the cause of the dampness, you could end up installing an unsuitable solution. In the best case, this will simply result in a recurrence of the issue and an extra repair bill for you. However, there is another potential outcome: You could do more damage to your home.
In fact, depending on the issues at work, you could even cause injury to yourself or anyone helping you. This is most likely in cases where there is structural damage of some kind. Foundation repair, for example, should never be undertaken without professional help.
Call a Professional ASAP
Calling a professional to assess the damage and make a choice as to how it can best be addressed is incredibly important. First and foremost, a professional will be able to determine if there is any immediate danger to your home and your person. If they deem that there is a pressing issue, they can work to stabilize it or otherwise give you advice as to how you can stay safe while you wait for full repairs.
Secondly, an expert will be able to correctly diagnose all underlying causes and secondary issues that have formed as a result of the dampness and condensation in your crawl space. This means that when a solution is put in place, you can count on it being a permanent solution.
You will also benefit from the best quality products and the best possible results when you hire a professional to assess and repair damage to your home. If something goes wrong, you can also count on having backup.
Invest in Waterproofing
Once the issue has been rectified, it is important that you maintain the health of your property. In this endeavor, we recommend that you undertake waterproofing measures in your crawl space. This will keep your crawl space dry and clean and, by extension, protect the rest of your home. Covering crawl space vents, adding a vapor barrier, and installing a dehumidifier will go a long way toward managing relative humidity and preventing condensation. The other benefits to waterproofing include:
- Better temperature regulation
- Lowered energy bills
- Extra storage space
You can talk to your crawl space professional about what waterproofing measures would be best for your property in particular. A tailored encapsulation system will provide the very best protection for your family and your property.
Contact Complete Basement Systems for Results
We at Complete Basement Systems are experts in crawl space repair and encapsulation. Our team is highly qualified and knowledgeable and will provide you with the best results no matter what is going on in your home. We offer a free inspection to all homeowners concerned about the health of their property.
This no-obligation appointment comes with a same-day written quote for all of the repairs that we suggest. Our inspector will assess your home thoroughly to identify all underlying causes of dampness and damage that may be leading to condensation in your crawl space and home. Once they have identified all of the issues at work, they will formulate a tailored solution for you.
If you decide to work with us, you can count on getting an efficient and effective service that gives you the best possible results. We will not only make sure we get to the root cause, but we will take every possible step to ensure that the process is not too disruptive to your home or daily routine. Better still, all our products and services come with a guarantee of quality and support should any issues arise later down the line.
This is just one of the reasons our customers so frequently recommend us to their friends and family for repairs. If you want to know what we can do for you, please do not hesitate to call our team.