You might not give much thought to your home’s crawl space, but this structural feature serves the important purpose of lifting your house off the ground to help prevent flooding and insect invasions. Unlike slab foundations, crawl spaces leave room to run wiring, plumbing, and ductwork for easy access at a fraction of the cost of building a basement. You can also use the crawl space as a storage area for lesser-used items.
There’s just one problem with crawl spaces – as with basements, they are susceptible to moisture problems. You might think that because the crawl space is below the main living area, water intrusion is of no consequence. However, this is not correct. Learn why you need crawl space waterproofing and the methods available for keeping moisture out.
Benefits of Crawl Space Waterproofing
Homeowners are advised to waterproof their crawl space for several reasons.
Control the Temperature
High humidity in the crawl space affects the temperature throughout the rest of your home, making it feel colder or hotter than it should be. This may force you to run the furnace or air conditioner more just to stay comfortable.
A waterproofed crawl space is cool and dry, so it has a much smaller effect on home comfort. As a result, you save on energy costs by reducing the amount your HVAC system runs.
Improve Indoor Air Quality
Up to 50 percent of the air in a crawl space can flow up into the living area. If the air is damp, moldy and fumy, this can obviously impair your indoor air quality. Sensitive individuals may even suffer from headaches, respiratory distress and allergy symptoms as a result of overexposure to moldy air.
When your crawl space is clean and dry, mold growth is hampered. This keeps harmful spores away from your family’s lungs so everyone can breathe easier.
Protect Your Home’s Structural Integrity
Excess moisture can rot wood, rust metal and damage drywall. It also makes the ideal environment for mold and termites, which can eat away at your home’s structure. If left unaddressed, your floor joists may degrade to dangerous levels, resulting in sky-high repair bills.
Adding a vapor barrier to the crawl space deters moisture from entering. This gives you peace of mind that your home is well protected from the ravages of wood rot, mold growth and termite infestation.
Protect Your Stored Belongings
One major benefit of a crawl space is that it increases home storage. However, if water regularly pools on the floor and mold growth runs rampant, the items you store here could be ruined, leaving you distraught when you go to retrieve your keepsakes or heirlooms.
Waterproofing ensures the storage space under your house remains a reliable place to hold precious belongings without fear of losing them to water or mold damage.
Reduce Electrical Hazards
Moisture and electricity don’t mix. If you have wiring running through your crawl space, water problems could cause electrical shorts, rusted wires or even a house fire.
Ensuring your electrical system is free from moisture is critical for maintaining your family’s safety. If you notice problems with your wiring, consider waterproofing the crawl space to decrease the risk of electrocution and fire.
Preserve Plumbing & Ductwork
You probably have water pipes, sewer lines and air ducts traveling through the crawl space. This placement makes them easy to maintain and repair, but if the humidity is too high, rust may become a problem. Over time, corrosion may cause pipes to burst or ductwork to fail.
Extend the life of your plumbing and air duct systems with crawl space waterproofing.
Maintain Your Home’s Value & Insurability
All of the problems associated with excess moisture in the crawl space – including mold growth, structural damage, poor air quality and comfort issues – can affect the ability to sell your house in the future. Even if you don’t plan to move, homeowners insurance may be harder to come by if you have a waterlogged crawl space.
A vapor barrier in the crawl space may not directly increase home value, but it prevents problems from developing that could have a negative impact. In this way, crawl space waterproofing is a wise investment that proves to be worth every penny.
Signs You Need Crawl Space Waterproofing
Detecting moisture problems as early as possible gives you the chance to remedy the issue before irreversible damage is done. Unfortunately, a vast majority of crawl space water leaks go unnoticed for a long time because this is among the least visited areas in your home.
To make sure you catch leaks promptly, plan to inspect your crawl space about twice a year – once in the spring and again in the fall. When you do, watch for these signs that you need crawl space waterproofing:
- Standing water
- Musty odor
- Mold and mildew growth
- Insect or rodent infestation
- Rusty pipes or ductwork
- Rotting wood
- White deposits on the crawl space walls
- Peeling paint on your home’s exterior
- Air quality problems throughout the house
Crawl Space Waterproofing Methods
The techniques used to waterproof a crawl space depend on several factors, including the type of foundation you have, where the water is coming from, whether you have a storm drain near your house, and the grade of the soil around the foundation.
A waterproof, condensation-proof vapor barrier is the key to waterproofing your crawl space. This prevents moisture in the soil under and around your home’s foundation from evaporating and entering the crawl space. A vapor barrier is a specially engineered, heavy-duty polyethylene sheet designed to deflect water rather than absorb it.
Waterproofing methods may be implemented either on the exterior of your home or interior of the crawl space.
Because excavation is required to waterproof a crawl space from the outside, this technique is considered quite intensive. It’s most feasible to perform exterior waterproofing during the initial construction phase or alongside another renovation, repair or landscaping project.
Exterior waterproofing involves installing a moisture barrier around the foundation walls to keep water out. A drainage system is also often installed to help reduce hydrostatic pressure on the walls that can cause cracks to form over time.
Less costly interior waterproofing is often just as effective as exterior techniques with less disruptive action required. First, it involves installing a vapor barrier on the dirt floor, partway or all the way up the walls, and sometimes even the ceiling. This is known as crawl space encapsulation, and it helps keep all exterior moisture out.
Then, other methods may be used to remove water and dry up any residual moisture in the crawl space, including running a sump pump, dehumidifier, ventilator or gravity discharge system. Using a combination of interior waterproofing techniques may prove most effective.
Crawl Space Waterproofing Services in Frederick County
Homeowners in the Baltimore area can rely on Budget Basement Waterproofing for crawl space waterproofing and encapsulation services. We’ll assess where the moisture is coming from and implement the necessary techniques to protect your home against high humidity, leaking pipes, poor drainage and other problems. Save time, money and stress by leaving crawl space waterproofing to our certified, experienced contractors!
To enjoy all the benefits of a waterproof crawl space, please contact Budget Basement Waterproofing today at 410-690-4970. We’ll provide you with a free crawl space waterproofing estimate before work begins.