Even though most homeowners rarely access crawl spaces, it’s still critical to keep these areas dry. These spaces leave room for easy access to run ductwork, wiring, and plumbing. Plus, they have footings that protect the foundation of the house from most soil settings. Oh, and did we mention their impact on the air quality in your home? Almost 50% of the air in your living space can come up through your crawl space. Due to these reasons, it’s critical to keep your crawl spaces free from pooling water.
Flooded crawl spaces can lead to high utility bills at best and respiratory issues at worst. Also, wood rot, insects, mildew, and mold thrive in wet crawl spaces. A short rain shower is enough for these problems to form. Moreover, it doesn’t take much water to create cracks in the foundation wall – a plumbing leak can easily bring enough water to damage the structural integrity of your home.
Other problems that strengthen the case for crawl space waterproofing include:
- Mildew or musty odor
- Damp or wet insulation
- Steep HVAC bills
- Sweating windows
The good news is that it’s possible to prevent water from seeping into your crawl spaces. Here’s what you can do to keep moisture out:
- Replace Leaking/Broken Pipes
Water lines transport water to several areas of your home. Damaged, improperly sealed pipes and those that have been exposed to extreme temperatures can sometimes malfunction. If the flood in your crawl space is the result of leaking or broken pipes, the damage to your home’s structure can be extensive. Ask a professional to inspect your water lines and replace those that are currently leaking or are at risk of failing.
- Take Out the Fiberglass
Fiberglass contains glass fibers that are woven together. Many uninformed homeowners get fiberglass installed in a humid crawl space before dealing with water issues. However, fiberglass absorbs moisture from the air, which means it can get heavy and fall out of its space. You may also have a mold issue if high moisture levels or humidity invade your crawl space. Plus, displaced fiberglass can start to sink, causing even more moisture to fill in the area. A better solution for controlling moisture in your crawl space is to invest in a dehumidifier. Which brings us to our next point.
- Invest in a Dehumidifier
A dehumidifier, hands down, is the best solution for managing humidity and moisture in your crawl space. Preventing the buildup of excess moistures minimizes the risk of pest infestations. Plus, using a dehumidifier helps to improve indoor air quality via moisture control and may even reduce potential health issues, including headaches, eye irritation, and respiratory problems. What’s more, if you start using a dehumidifier in your crawl space, rather than turning up your HVAC system, you can use the equipment to maintain ideal humidity levels (below or at the recommended 40-50%) during summers, springtime, and the fall.
- Get a Sump Pump
Especially if your crawl space is prone to flooding, consider investing in a sump pump. These are appliances that are known to prevent water buildup in crawl spaces by diverting water away from a house. Sump pumps are best installed by professionals who are experienced in the correct type, unit size, and placement. If you already have one installed, get it inspected to ensure that it was placed correctly and is functioning properly. Again, a skilled professional is recommended to inspect, repair and, if needed, replace crawl space sump pumps.
- Unclog Your Sewage System
Heavy showers can sometimes overwhelm a sewage system. When a large amount of water is trying to pass through the system at once, sewage can attempt to backup via drains. Clogged pipes can cause the sewage to come up as well. Sewage buildup can lead to extensive water damage, health problems, and crawl space contamination. If you find that your sewage is the cause of wet crawling spaces in your home, get in touch with a professional for a solution.
- Ventilate the Crawl Space
Building codes require proper ventilation of these spaces. Ideally, a crawl space should have 1 sq. ft. of screened ventilation for every 140-150 sq. ft. of space. In case of a moisture barrier, there should be 1 sq. ft. of ventilation for every 1400-1500 sq. ft. of crawling space. Additionally, the crawl space should be vented to the interior of the residential living space. Other measures include placing a water retardant material on the crawl space and insulating the area according to the climate and region of the homeowner’s city.
- Seal Those Cracks
Even the smallest of cracks in the foundation can lead to water entry and damage the structural integrity of your home. Cracks should also be dealt with to keep moisture issues at bay. If you identify cracks while inspecting your foundation, get them repaired by a professional to avoid a wet crawl space or other damage to your property. Until the repair happens, consider installing a French drain (it’s a trench filled with gravel and pipe) to prevent water from seeping through the cracks and saturating the ground below.
- Cover the Vents
More air isn’t always a good thing. In a residential crawl space, maximum airflow will just suck moisture in without offering it a pathway to get out. This is why it’s critical to cover the vents in a crawl space…completely. Leaving them exposed or open will attract moisture, resulting in issues like pests or mold. In other words, a crawl space should be closed off as well as possible.
- Address Drainage Issues
As the last step, inspect your draining system to see if it’s damaged or not directing water flow in the correct direction. If you identify problems in the system, it might be best to talk to a professional. Additionally, consider placing extensions at your downspouts’ base to discharge water away from your home.
If you have issues with flooding or mold in your crawl spaces or other area of your home, make sure to call the experts. Depending on the severity, water and mold cleanup can be dangerous if you don’t have the know-how and equipment to take care of it properly. It’s best to confer with a professional cleanup service before moving forward.