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Crawl Space Encapsulation

Crawl space encapsulation is one of the best ways to tackle the issues caused by a damp crawl space. Keep reading to learn how it can benefit your house and health.

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Crawl spaces were constructed to act as a barrier between the home and its occupants and the moist, wet dirt beneath them. For many years, this appeared reasonable, especially because they provided a convenient location for utility wires and ductwork needed to distribute air all throughout the house. 

Nonetheless, we now know that rather than acting as a buffer, a crawl space gathers water and acts as a repository for damp air. Mold and mildew growth, poor indoor air quality, wood rot, and musty odors are all risks in this humid atmosphere, which can lead to structural deterioration and insect invasions. 

As the epicenter for your home’s plumbing, HVAC systems, vents, and drainage systems, your crawl space requires regular maintenance and protection. Fortunately, crawl space repair and encapsulation can help this area and the rest of your house across the varying seasonal changes in Colorado Springs and Denver, Colorado. Although these areas have a predominantly dry climate, there is no harm in inspecting your crawl space and ensuring it stays safe from the consequences of dampness. 

Encapsulation is particularly suited to reducing dampness, moisture, and leakages in your crawl space, and it is a relatively standard technique these days. Apart from the older homes that require major remodeling, most houses in the U.S. already have some amount of encapsulation and waterproofing in place. Knowing what constitutes a good encapsulation, on the other hand, is critical if you want it to be effective. 

Encapsulated crawl space with pillars

Encapsulating Your Crawl Space 

Crawl space encapsulation is a waterproofing procedure that entails covering the floor and walls with sheets of thick, tear-resistant polyethylene plastic that effectively cover the crawl space’s interior, essentially sealing it. This has numerous advantages for a house including improving the health and safety of the structure. 

Many of the notions and techniques of waterproofing and encapsulation are similar. However, there are a few major variances. Encapsulation is a term that pertains to the installation of items that enclose your crawl space, thus creating a kind of inner bubble. Encapsulation methods include procedures like installing vapor barriers and vent covers. 

Waterproofing, on the other hand, is a broader term that pertains to anything that stops or eliminates water from entering or leaving your home, whether in a gaseous or liquid state. Waterproofing procedures include adding a dehumidifier, upgrading drainage systems, and insulating your crawl space. 

How It Works 

Although the encapsulation procedure itself is rather quick and easy, there are a number of other procedures that are frequently performed in combination with encapsulation as part of a larger waterproofing strategy. These can be one or more of the following procedures: 

Covering Vents and Doors 

At one point, the rationale of vents was not disputed. All we understood was that venting could help avoid moisture buildup and the destruction that comes with it. However, new research suggests that these fixtures worsen the situation and cause more damage to your home. 

Crawl spaces with uncovered or exposed vents and exterior access doors are considerably more likely to have humidity, dampness, and all of the other difficulties they can induce. This is partly due to the way they let water into your crawl space following storms, but it’s more due to the stack effect and the condensation it can generate. 

As a result, waterproofing includes sealing crawl space vents with vent covers and replacing crawl space doors to be waterproof and resistant to moisture. In the long term, this will guarantee that the encapsulation procedure achieves the required objectives. 

Troubleshooting Drainage Systems 

It is critical to improve your property’s drainage capacities to ensure that the waterproofing and encapsulation procedure goes smoothly. Blocked drains can result in seepage, and broken pipes in your house can result in leaks that pool in your crawl space. Installing an interior drainage system, drainage matting, and a sump pump system are examples of this. 

Insulating Your Crawl Space 

For a variety of reasons, insulation is an essential component of any crawl space encapsulation. For instance, insulating visible pipes can help protect them from fracturing and breaking even during cooler months of the year. Also, due to the water-repellent nature of foam insulation, insulating your walls will help to maintain the climate within your crawl space and lead to generally reduced humidity levels. 

Vapor Barrier Installation  

Once your crawl space has been waterproofed and insulated, the true encapsulation happens. A thick and durable vapor barrier is then installed in the crawl space along the walls and floor, effectively isolating the area from the earth. The 20-mil thick barrier is waterproof and treated with an antimicrobial to resist mold and mildew. 

Dehumidifying Your Crawl Space 

Proactively eliminating water from your crawl space can significantly reduce relative humidity, but if your crawl space remains humid, experts may advise you to use an energy-efficient dehumidifier. These devices clean and filter your air, help minimize the possibility of mold growth, and will keep your home secure, dry, and fresh. 

When all of these procedures are completed, your house will be considerably less prone to humidity, dampness, and leakage. Consequently, it will be protected from the issues associated with excess moisture, such as mold, mildew, or pest infestations. 

Identifying the Signs That You Need Crawl Space Encapsulation 

There could be many old and new homes throughout the area that are not encapsulated, so it is worthwhile to talk about the most common reasons for waterproofing and encapsulating the crawl space. The reasons can differ vastly depending on your situation and whether or not you already have a waterproofed crawl space. 

If you live in the Denver area, you are more likely to experience spells of rain and snowfall. An expert can accurately guide you on what you need for your house. Nevertheless, the following are common indications that you need crawl space encapsulation: 

Deteriorating and Damaged Crawl Space 

Although most waterproofing and encapsulating solutions are meant to last for the long term, there comes a moment when they begin to lose effectiveness. In some situations, this degeneration is natural, but it will put your home at risk as it advances. It is critical to have your home examined and repaired on a regular basis to ensure that it remains in working order even when the weather is harsh. 

If you currently have waterproofing and encapsulation systems in place in your house, destruction is one of the most common reasons you might need to examine them. A sump pump failure, interior pipe leak, a fractured crawl space door, and structural damage may all turn a once dry, secure, and protected crawl space into a damp, stuffy, unhealthy environment. In many circumstances, the basic damage must be addressed before the waterproofing mechanisms in the crawl space can be replaced or repaired. 

Exposed Crawl Spaces 

Many older homes, as well as those that have been vacant for a relatively long time, still might have open crawl spaces. In these circumstances, you will need to encapsulate and waterproof your property to ensure that it is secured, but initially, an expert will need to inspect it for visible damage. Damage and deterioration can fester undetected and unregulated within your house if you merely cover it up with vapor barriers and sheathing. This will lead to a lot of problems in the future. 

How Does Crawl Space Encapsulation Help? 

Crawl space encapsulation has some advantages similar to that of waterproofing, but these advantages can differ with certain factors. Some of these advantages include: 

  • It Helps Regulate Your Home’s Internal Climate 
encapsulated and insulated crawl space

Though your crawl space may appear to be a secluded area, it has a significant impact on the rest of your house. If the humidity inside your crawl space decreases, the humidity in your house as a unit will decrease as well. It will have a number of implications, the most visible of which will be how your structure’s climate stabilizes. Since the stack effect would no longer be in play, humidity and temperature changes would be less frequent. By boosting heat and cold preservation within your house, you can contribute significantly to your energy use and efficiency levels. 

  • It Helps You Save on Energy Bills 

One of the lesser-known advantages of encapsulating your crawl space is that your home can be more energy efficient. Since drier air is easier to cool down or heat than moist air, your HVAC system can provide a better outcome while utilizing the same amount of electricity, if not less, than it did when humidity levels are greater. This would not only save you money on electricity bills, but it would also reduce the amount of stress and strain on your HVAC systems. 

  • It Reduces Humidity and Dampness 

Among the most significant advantages of crawl space encapsulation is the reduction in wetness and dampness in your crawl space. This is a perk you will notice fairly quickly, but its impact will grow and develop over time. Dry crawl spaces are less susceptible to microbial growth and rusting, and they are also less appealing to most insects and bugs. If your crawl space is completely encapsulated, critters will have a much more difficult time getting in. Your crawl space will be cleaner, drier, and more agreeable as a result of this. 

  • It Offers Space for Storage 

Crawl spaces are generally handy in terms of storing away appliances and unused items around the house. However, a damp crawl space can ruin whatever you store there. Since crawl space encapsulation uses a thick, reinforced, tear-resistant vapor barrier, it makes the space safer to store your items in. Having the option to properly store seasonal and other items in a safe and healthy crawl space is a massive benefit. 

Crawl Space Encapsulation

FAQs

Having access points, doors, and air vents in the crawl space can lead to dampness and humidity, considering that these entry points allow the external environment to come in. 

Warm and Humid Air Enters the House 

Vents give access to warm and humid air to the rest of the house. This phenomenon is known as the stack effect, and it can cause dampness in your crawl space while affecting the rest of your home’s internal environment. It was first noticed in the early 1990s and changed how homes were constructed. 

The stack effect, also known as the chimney effect, provides a conduit of flowing air from the top of a structure to the base, completely disrupting the home’s equilibrium due to thermal changes. It has a lot to do with temperature variations. Warm air rises when you are using your HVAC system to heat your home, for instance. This airflow will persist in a residence that is not affected by the stack effect till all the air is nearly the same temperature, at which time it will settle. Heated air will continue to rise until it leaves your home and pulls cold air in from underneath when the stack effect is in effect. This cooler air is frequently moist, resulting in a humid and moist atmosphere over time. This cycle reverses in the summer, causing cooled air to descend and escape the home while hot air is drawn in from outside. 

Access to Water and Pests 

Vents do more than just let air in. They also give access to water from storms, snow, heavy rainfall, and flash floods. Even though crawl space vents are designed in a way to minimize the amount of water that enters the area, they are not very effective in doing so. This implies that a particularly severe thaw or a spell of rainy weather might easily result in a crawl space filling up with water. To avoid problems, a crawl area that has absorbed water must be completely cleaned and dehumidified. 

The issue is that several crawl spaces that aren’t encased don’t have reliable and preemptive drainage and dehumidification solutions. As a result, once the water has entered a residence, it can be difficult to remove it completely. This is one of the most visible ways that exposed vents can cause harm to a home in a short amount of time. Open vents also make it easier for insects and small animals to enter the crawl space and cause an infestation. 

Whether you’ve recently purchased a home with open vents or you’ve been worried about the security of the home you’ve been living in for generations, there’s no better time than now to take action. You could save a lot of tension by taking control of the situation sooner. 

The Negative Consequences 

Some people tend to wait until the condition has become impossible to escape before taking action to address it. With respect to your crawl area, we strongly advise you not to do so. Sealing your crawl space openings and encapsulating the area is a simple process that experts can complete in a short amount of time and for a reasonable price. Waiting, on the other hand, can be very costly. 

If humid air or moisture has already accessed your crawl space, it has the ability to cause damage and deterioration at an alarming rate. Pest infestations, mold, dry rot, and appliance malfunctions are all common problems in houses with moist crawl spaces. Even though all of these problems may be avoided, once they arise, the expense of rectifying them can be quite significant. 

The Sooner the Better 

The advantages of crawl space encapsulation are undeniable, especially when you contemplate how simple the procedure is. One of the finest things you can do to reduce and avoid damage to your home’s crawl space is to act fast when you notice problems. It may even protect your wellness and safety by avoiding the spread of dangerous fungus spores throughout your home. 

Whereas wood rot causes sagging floors, black mold is both dangerous and long-lasting. Headaches, migraines, vertigo, fainting, breathing difficulties, illnesses, and in the worst-case scenario, seizures may be caused by this microbial activity. Whenever it comes to mold exposure, as with other issues, people who are already susceptible are at the greatest risk of catastrophic adverse effects. 

With all the DIY projects you see online these days, it is natural to wonder if you can encapsulate your crawl space by yourself. However, we highly recommend that you contact a professional to carry out the process. It’s a lot more productive and efficient this way. 

It Is a Technical Procedure 

Although waterproofing and encapsulation are simple procedures, they are not simple tasks that should be handled by just anybody. This process has the potential to go wrong very swiftly and produce catastrophic problems. When attempting to enclose their own crawl spaces, one of the most common mistakes made by DIY hobbyists is skipping the inspection stage or not adequately examining their homes. It is critical to assess and fix all damages prior to encapsulation in order for it to be effective. 

You could either conceal the warning signals or create an atmosphere that retains moisture and encourages the growth of any spores that make their way inside if you do not identify and address all mechanical and internal issues. The progression of problems such as wood rot will be expedited if this carries on. Symptoms of structural degradation or underlying difficulties will go unnoticed until they trigger a weakening in your home’s overall structure. 

Consult an Expert 

Professionals not only have the equipment and abilities to detect any inherent and co-occurring conditions, but they also have the knowledge and tools to safely and effectively fix things like foundational deterioration and dry rot. This indicates that when professionals begin enclosing your crawl space, your house will be in better shape than it was before it began. This ensures that your encapsulation and waterproofing will last for a longer time. 

Professionals can purchase directly from manufacturing companies and industrial supply stores, whereas consumers must make do with what is available on the shelf in a home improvement store. This implies you can probably get a better outcome for a similar cost, especially after you think about the expenses of buying your own products and hiring any additional help. 

Contact Complete Basement Systems for Crawl Space Encapsulation 

If you’re looking for an expert on crawl space repair and encapsulation in Colorado Springs or Denver, you’ve come to the right place. Complete Basement Systems specializes in all forms of crawl space issues. Whatever the problem, we have the resources and expertise to help you discover the best solution. Contact the Complete Basement Systems team today to book a free crawl space inspection or learn more about crawl space repair, encapsulation, and its efficiency. 

Serving Greater Denver area, Colorado Springs, Eastern Colorado, and parts of Nebraska and Wyoming

Colorado Springs, CO

707 County Line Rd.
Palmer Lake, CO 80133

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4686 Ivy St
Denver, CO 80216