Is It Normal for My Home’s Crawl Space to Be Damp?
Many homeowners are wondering, “Is it normal to have moisture in my crawl space?” Homeowners might expect there to be a certain amount of moisture from humidity, flooding, or plumbing leaks in the crawl space, but is it normal for the crawl space to be damp and flooding? Many people don’t realize that 50% of the crawl space air makes its way into their living space. Having high humidity in your crawl space also makes the humidity in your living space high.
Controlling humidity can improve indoor air quality. Keeping the humidity under control in your crawl space helps to lower the risk of bacteria, mold, viruses, dust mites, and other indoor air quality pollutants in your home. The stack effect. the phenomenon whereby warm air rises in a house and cold air enters to replace it, will move the air from the bottom of your home to the top. If your basement or crawl space is damp, chances are the rest of your home is suffering as well.
If your crawl space is damp, you may wonder why it is damp, and what should be done about it. To understand why and what to do, it’s important to determine the causes of a damp crawl space and possible solutions to remedy the situation.
Sources of dampness in the crawl space
There are many reasons for dampness in your crawl space, and there may be more than one factor causing the problem in your home.
- You could have a plumbing leak. You might not notice a drop in water pressure from a small leak, and the water will evaporate eventually, but the air in the crawl space can still be humid and damp.
- Surface water flowing through the crawl space when it rains can cause dampness. This is a common occurrence if you have faulty gutters or no gutters, or if the gutters drain too close to your foundation. Another factor that could cause surface water to enter your crawl space would be improper grading of your property.
- Cracks in your walls and foundation could be the cause of the dampness. In these situations, the dampness could cause significant damage to your foundation or supporting beams in the crawl space.
- If the soil around your home is soaked from excessive rains or melting snow, it can cause dampness in the crawl space. This happens when the moisture-laden soil causes moisture to evaporate into your crawl space.
- Vents in the crawl space can cause dampness. Although the purpose of vents in the crawl space is to dry out the space, they can often have the opposite effect, especially when the outside air is humid, as in the summertime. When moisture-filled air enters the crawl space and cools down, the humidity can increase significantly.
Because dampness in your crawlspace may be caused by more than one factor, the solution may require more than one strategy to remedy the problem. It’s important to take action sooner rather than later. Over time, the dampness can cause more damage to your home and the fix could cost considerably more if you wait.
Once the cause of the dampness in your crawl space has been identified, one or more of the following methods may be used to resolve the condition. Of course, the first steps would be to stop what’s causing the dampness in the first place.
- Gutter repair- Repair and unclog your gutters. Clean them and direct the flow from the gutters away from the foundation of your home. This may require replacing or adding to your gutter system such items as higher capacity gutter sections or extended downspouts.
- Foundation repair- If there are cracks or holes in your foundation, or if the foundation has settled unevenly, you may need to make the necessary repairs as one of your first priorities.
- Plumbing leaks-While this is obvious, it’s nonetheless necessary before you proceed with trying to dry out your crawl space.
- Surface water elimination-Along with repairing the gutters, you may need to address leaky basement windows or grading updates to help keep the water out. Ideally, the ground around your foundation should slope away from the house.
- Encapsulation-With this technique, your contactor covers the walls and floors of your crawl space with a thick tear-proof plastic vapor barrier. This is perhaps the most effective means of waterproofing your crawl space, as it will lock out moisture from the ground and from the air outside.
- Interior drainage. In areas where the risk of flooding exists, it may be necessary to install an interior perimeter drainage system and a sump pump with a backup battery. This system will allow water to drain into the sump and be removed. This can keep surface water from collecting in the crawl space. Otherwise, water can overwhelm the space and cause extensive damage.
- Humidity control- Moisture issues can be a real problem, especially during the hot summer months. Moisture-laden air from the outside should be eliminated. Installation of a dehumidifier can help bring the humidity down to a safe level, 50% or less.
Obviously, controlling the moisture issues in your home is not suitable for a do-it-yourself fix. To really get to the root of the problem and deal with it properly requires consulting a qualified professional who specializes in this kind of work and can offer the right solutions.
Budget Waterproofing has been the leader in basement waterproofing in Maryland for over 30 years. As your local leader in basement waterproofing, we offer numerous services to help keep your basement or crawl space dry. We have proven over the years that our waterproofing methods not only look good and do the job but also last. Our knowledgeable and experienced technicians utilize the right tools no matter the size or scope of the basement project.
For additional information regarding our services, call us at 410-690-4970.