While it’s true that your crawl space will never be the most pleasant part of your home, it should still be a safe and hygienic environment. After all, the environment in your crawl space has an effect on the environment in your home as a whole.
Damage, pest infestation, mold, and dampness in your crawl space can quickly spread and cause issues throughout your property. While it may seem like the least worrying of the lot, dampness and water in your crawl space really should cause you the most concern. After all, crawl space water could very well be at the root of all the other issues.
How Water Gets into Your Crawl Space
Water can get into your home via several channels. First and foremost, a crawl space that has not been properly protected via waterproofing or encapsulation will be more prone to humidity and water buildup. This can be as a result of condensation or because water enters through unprotected crawl space vents during storms or spring thaws. The harsh winters in Denver, CO, mean that the runoff as ice and snow melts can be considerable. For properties with poor drainage measures in place, this often results in water pooling around the perimeter and making its way into the crawl space.
Secondly, water can enter your property as a result of structural damage. Whether you have cracks in your walls or foundation problems, any cracks, crevices, or weaknesses, no matter how small, can allow water to seep into your property. In most cases, this will result in general dampness and humidity rather than standing water. However, significant damage can allow substantial amounts of water into your property.
Finally, internal leaks and breakdowns can cause water to pool in your crawl space. If, for example, your crawl space has not been insulated, a sudden cold snap (which is common in Colorado) could result in a pipe bursting. Likewise, corrosion to pipes and degrading appliances can lead to small amounts of water building up in your crawl space. However water manages to get into your home, it is important that you identify and address it before too much damage takes place.
Problem Signs of Crawl Space Water
Once water gets into your crawl space it can cause many different problems; the real danger lies in the way that water in your crawl space will cause the relative humidity in your property to rise. Once this happens, the issue will quickly become far more noticeable.
Standing water in your crawl space is, of course, the most obvious sign that you have problems with dampness. If enough water is entering your home to cause it to form pools, however, the water itself should not be your most pressing concern. Unless you have had a recent plumbing or external flood that can account for this, it is very likely that there is serious structural damage at play. In these cases, foundation repair may be needed to secure your property going forward.
High Indoor Humidity
A high level of relative humidity in your home is another obvious sign of water somewhere in your crawl space. Unlike standing water, humidity is more likely to be a sign of low-level moisture issues. For example, a crawl space with a dirt floor is likely to experience a spike in humidity after heavy rainfalls or storms. Of course, humidity can also be raised by small leaks in your plumbing system and broken or malfunctioning appliances.
Unlike standing water, humidity is not immediately visible. There are some ways to test it, however. You can get a relatively accurate hygrometer in most hardware stores at a reasonable cost. You can also look for condensation within your home.
Condensation is one of the most reliable signs that you have a hidden water source affecting levels of humidity in your property. Condensation can show up in many places but is most likely to display itself on cool surfaces like concrete, tiles, glass, and metal. As such, there are some levels of condensation which are considered normal.
For example, if you occasionally notice small amounts of condensation on the inside of your window, this may not be a sign of damage. If, however, condensation is regularly forming on your walls, this is a strong sign that humidity within your home is entirely outside of normal bounds.
Mold and Mildew Formation
Humidity and dampness are almost guaranteed to lead to the formation of mold and mildew when persistent. If you find mold in your crawl space, you should investigate your home as a whole. Mold doesn’t stay put, you see, and some species can thrive inside HVAC vents as well as spreading through a property via air circulation. If your property’s humidity levels are generally within safe levels, mold should not be an issue.
As such, spotting mold of any kind (but particularly black mold) is a sign that something is wrong, and you should call a professional immediately.
A strong, musty odor in your home is a strong sign of dampness or decay somewhere on the premises, especially if you cannot find a specific cause. Musty, sweet odors are most commonly caused by mold or rot, and both are connected to high levels of humidity and dampness in a property. This is a fairly useful problem sign, however, as it can help you to identify problem areas quickly. When investigating for damage you should start with areas in which the smell is strongest.
If you notice a persistent, musty odor that will not go away no matter how you air out or clean your home, it is time to look for other signs of water damage.
Rotting or Warped Wood
Wood rot is one of the most unmistakable and dangerous of the problem signs of crawl space water. As wood rots, it loses its tensile strength and can attract pests. This poses a two-fold risk for stability and hygiene. However, rotting wood is also very hard to miss as its appearance will quickly start to change, and it can produce strong odors (this is not always the case, however).
Unfortunately, by the time many homeowners notice dampness, wood rot has often advanced significantly. This is largely because dampness and rot flourish best in areas that are rarely traversed and therefore escape immediate notice. In rare cases, the floorboards themselves may begin to rot or warp, but this generally only happens where there is another form of flooring covering them.
There are two main ways in which crawl space water can cause your floors to sag. First and foremost, the dampness and humidity could cause wooden supports and joists in your property to rot. This will lead to your floor slowly sagging in certain areas as the level of support is gradually reduced.
Secondly, persistent standing water in a crawl space with a dirt floor could undermine support beams by eroding the dirt directly beneath each column. This could cause the supports to gradually sink, leaving a gap between the floorboards and their supports. This will cause the floors to become bouncy and eventually to sag.
Increasing Energy Bills
An unexplained increase in energy usage and bills in your home can happen for a number of reasons. Most people don’t think about crawl space water when considering this, however. Nonetheless, dampness and humidity in your crawl space will eventually cause a rise in the relative humidity of your whole home. Humid air is harder to heat and cool than arid air.
As such, you are likely to notice a spike in your energy bills when you have serious and ongoing issues with dampness. This is because your HVAC system will have to work harder to produce the same results. You may also notice temperature fluctuations in your home when this is the case.
These problem signs are not the only red flags when it comes to crawl space dampness and water, but they are the most common and recognizable. If you see these signs, you should contact an expert to deal with the underlying causes as quickly as possible.
Crawl Space Water
Broadly speaking, there are a few ways in which water can make its way into your crawl space; it can come from inside your home or from outside of your home.
If your crawl space has not been encapsulated, there is a range of ways in which water could make its way into your property. First and foremost, water can come through uncovered crawl space vents, especially during heavy storms. Crawl spaces that have not been waterproofed can also become damp as a result of condensation during humid months.
If you have a dirt floor in your crawl space, water is very likely to seep up from the ground. This is especially the case in areas like Denver and Colorado Springs, where the winters are harsh and the spring thaw brings a lot of run-off. If the ground under your home is saturated enough for this to happen, you should also investigate the health of your foundation.
Internal leaks are a common cause of water in a crawl space. In fact, internal plumbing leaks are often the cause of the most severe levels of crawl space moisture. Plumbing floods, such as those caused by a burst pipe, can be incredibly destructive and will cause water to pool in your crawl space. This can cause a number of issues.
However, there are other internal leaks and water sources that can also cause water to pool in your crawl space. Blockages in your sewage line, for example, and damage to your water heater can cause water to pool in your crawl space and raise humidity levels. Identifying the precise cause of dampness and standing water in your crawl space is best left to a professional, however.
There is a number of reasons as to why you should be concerned about water in your crawl space, but they all fall into two broad categories.
Because It Is a Sign of Damage
Water should not be getting into your crawl space and pooling there. As such, the presence of any amount of standing water is a sign that you have damage to your property that is allowing water into your crawl space in the first place. Foundation damage and cracks in your walls are just two examples of issues that can let water in.
Of course, water and humidity in your crawl space can also be a sign that your crawl space has not been adequately protected. A crawl space that has uncovered vents, for example, will have more issues with water than those that have covers for their vents. Likewise, crawl spaces with dirt flooring will face risks of pest infestation as well as dampness.
Because It Can Cause Damage
Once water has found its way into your crawl space, it must be drained away. If it cannot drain away naturally and you have inadequate drainage solutions in place, it will stand, stagnate, and start to cause problems. These issues can range from cosmetic to structural and can often lead to the formation of tertiary issues.
Wood rot, for example, is commonly caused by persistent dampness and flooding. This can lead to sagging floors as the wooden supports that hold them up rot and begin to give way. Likewise, mold and mildew are far more likely to form in homes that have persistent issues with dampness in their crawl space. As such, it is best to have crawl space water dealt with quickly.
There are many potential solutions available for crawl spaces that experience persistent issues with dampness or have been flooded. As a homeowner, however, you should first call a professional to assess the situation.
First and foremost, a professional will address the standing water in your crawl space. This can be done in a number of ways, but the cause of the flooding must also be taken into account. For example, if the flooding was caused by a local river bursting its banks, no work will be effective until the waters recede. If, by contrast, it was caused by a burst pipe, all you will need to do is repair that pipe before draining.
For crawl spaces that have issues with repeated flooding or persistent dampness, the most common solutions are interior drains and a sump pump. The interior drainage system collects water as it seeps up from the ground or in through the walls, and then direct this water to the sump pump system. The sump pump then pumps this water out of and away from your crawl space. This will prevent flooding in the future.
Encapsulation and waterproofing are the best choices for those who want to protect their properties in the long run. This process can look different from property to property, but will generally involve the installation or updating of vent covers, drainage matting, vapor barrier, and a dehumidifier.
Each of these solutions works in a unique way to keep your property dry and safe. Vent covers will prevent excess moisture from getting in while a vapor barrier will prevent water from seeping into your crawl space through the walls and flooring. A dehumidifier may seem like an excessive measure to some, but it is one of the most effective ways to control the relative humidity inside your property. Once waterproofed, the risk of your crawl space becoming damp or flooded once more is drastically reduced.
Why You Should Deal with Crawl Space Water and Dampness
It can be tempting to ignore humidity in a property, especially if it is not severe. Nonetheless, we urge you to investigate and deal with all signs of dampness quickly and efficiently. This will have many benefits in the long run, but the most important is the prevention of avoidable damage to your home.
Water can be shockingly destructive, and the longer it is allowed to sit in your crawl space, the more severely it will affect the rest of your home. Temperature fluctuations and increased energy costs are just the start; if you have drywall in your home, prolonged exposure to moisture could lead to it becoming infested with mold or even pests. Likewise, once wood rot takes root, it can be very hard to treat.
The cost of repairing and replacing avoidable damages that have been allowed to flourish in a damp environment could very well dwarf the initial cost of inspection and waterproofing. Furthermore, dampness and flooding can often be a symptom of deeper and more insidious issues like foundation damage. Promptly investigating signs of dampness could help you identify and deal with more serious structural issues quickly. Nipping these issues in the bud will save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
Of course, you should seek professional help when investigating crawl space water. It can be tempting to go it alone, we know, but DIY fixes should never be applied to issues that are potentially structural in nature. This is partly because they may not be sufficient, which would end in repairs having to be carried out more than once, but mostly because of the risk that you could cause more damage to your home.
Trying to repair or encapsulate a crawl space that has a pre-existing problem with dampness could actually end in you trapping moisture in your home. This would not only fail to fix the issue but could very well magnify the damage being done to your crawl space and property as a whole. If this happens, you could be faced with more than a higher repair bill; this could be genuinely dangerous to your health and well-being.
Let Complete Basement Systems Deal with Your Wet Crawl Space
Dealing with crawl space water need not be a trial. A crawl space professional will make light work of even the most challenging of situations and leave you with a safe, dry crawl space. If you feel you have been seeing warning signs of dampness and water in your crawl space, contact Complete Basement Systems.
Our team of skilled professionals has the training, experience, and tools to identify the causes of your crawl space water. Better still, our team members will be able to formulate a tailored solution that is perfect for your property. By the time they are done, your home will not only be dry and safe but it will also be protected from future issues with dampness and humidity.
It all starts with a free inspection. All you have to do is contact our team and they will arrange to inspect your crawl space at a time that suits you. This inspection is free from obligation and comes with a same-day written quote for all suggested repairs. This means you can shop around in confidence. If you do choose to work with us, you can count on a quick, efficient, and reasonably priced service that offers high-quality results. This is just one of the reasons so many Denver and Colorado Springs, CO, residents recommend us to their friends and family!