Does Your Crawl Space Make You Cringe? What Every Homeowner Should Know

With frequent news headlines about finding bodies buried in them, as well as assorted other horrors, the crawl space of the average home has gotten somewhat of a bad rap. Even if no criminal activity has been associated with your crawl space, you may still try to avoid going there, especially if it is always wet or filled with mold, mildew, and an assortment of really scary spiders and bugs.

Homeowners who think this type of crawlspace is normal may be surprised to find out that it actually should be an area that is dry and relatively clean, with healthy ventilation and protection from incoming cold air or moisture seepage. If your crawl space does not fit the description of a healthy one, the following information will help you learn how you can improve a frightening crawl space and why it is important that you do so as soon as possible. 

What problems are associated with a wet crawlspace?

When moisture is allowed to build up in an enclosed area under your home, such as your crawl space, it can cause a host of problems for both the home above and the occupants who reside there. These problems include: 

  • excessive humidity issues inside the home that can aggravate respiratory issues for the occupants, as well as causing mold and mildew to form
  • decay damage in beams, sills, sub-floors, and other areas of exposed wood
  • foundation issues, including cracks caused by exposure to water or the pressure exerted on foundation walls when moisture freezes and thaws near them
  • corrosion damage to mechanical systems located in the crawl space, such as HVAC components, pressure tanks for drilled wells, water heaters, and plumbing 

Additionally, a crawl space that is perpetually moist is a perfect home for termites and other pests that are capable of causing thousands of dollars worth of damage. 

What can homeowners do to resolve crawl space issues? 

Now that you have a good idea of the seriousness of the problems that can result from a moist, unhealthy crawl space area, it is important to address them to halt the damage and protect your home and family. For most homeowners, this will involve two distinct areas: creating healthy levels of ventilation and resolving the moisture issues so that the crawl space will stay drier. 

What should homeowners do to create healthy ventilation in their crawl space? 

Since most modern crawlspaces are designed with vents or other openings that allow moist interior air to flow through and be replaced with fresh drier air, the first job for homeowners will be to check these openings and make sure they are functioning correctly.

If a previous owner has covered them or if there are vent covers that are too rusty or dirty to allow good air flow, homeowners will want to remove these existing covers and replace them with screens or new vent covers during the late spring, summer, and early fall of each year. Once the weather begins to dip below freezing in the fall, these vents should be covered with an insulated covering that will block extreme cold air and allow the crawl space to maintain a temperature well above the freezing mark. 

If the crawl space is very moist, using fans or a dehumidifier in the area may be necessary until the moisture issues can be addressed and cured. 

What can be done to reduce moisture issues inside a crawl space? 

The first thing to do when addressing moisture issues inside a crawl space is to determine the source of the moisture. To do this, homeowners will want to check for leaks in plumbing and sewage lines and look for evidence of water dripping from inside the home or from some of the mechanical systems inside the crawl space, such as the pressure tank or an air conditioning unit. If this type of moisture issue is located, having it repaired immediately is the best plan. 

Other causes of moisture are often related to groundwater or seepage from rain water outside the crawl space. This type of moisture issue can be caused by a non-functional guttering system, foundation damage, erosion, and landscaping issues, among others.

Since the cause of this type of moisture is more difficult to locate and address, homeowners will want to discuss their problem with a crawl space waterproofing service contractor in their area to determine the best way to solve the problem.