People are becoming more and more educated about how moisture enters their homes, as well as all the negative impacts that it can have on their living conditions. Because of this, ignoring the conditions in your crawl space is a thing of the past! Water vapor enters your crawl space from the ground, and can penetrate even cement. Up to 50% of household air can flow up from your crawl space, so people have started encapsulating their crawl spaces to keep damaging moisture out of their homes.
What is Crawl Space Encapsulation?
Encapsulating or sealing crawl spaces are both popular solutions for avoiding moisture issues. You can think of it like adding lining to a swimming pool to avoid leaks. A heavy-duty polyethylene barrier is put in place to completely cover your crawl space—the floors, foundation walls, and sometimes even the ceiling. Water vapor barriers are most effective when they completely cover the space. Next, sealing tape is used to connect the barrier pieces throughout your entire crawl space.
Once it’s completely sealed, the final step is to condition the air inside the crawl space to maintain a healthy humidity level. The most common way to do this, is to add a dehumidifier to regulate the moisture level. Doing these things will protect your crawl space, and the rest of your home, from excess moisture and all the problems that come with it.
Should You Encapsulate Your Crawl Space?
Water vapor and excess moisture can cause a lot of problems. Most people encapsulate their crawl space because of these common signs:
- Mildew or musty smell
- High cooling costs
- Wet insulation
- Sweating windows
- Insect problems
Encapsulating your crawl space will not only fix these problems, but will also improve the air quality in your home, create an inhospitable area for pests and termites, help you avoid fungi or mold issues and structural damage, and give you a more energy efficient home.
Sealing vs. Full Encapsulation
Some people use the terms “sealing” and “encapsulation” interchangeably, but the truth is, while they serve similar purposes, they’re very different. Sealing generally refers to only covering the floor of your crawl space and about eight inches up the walls. Encapsulation covers the floors, walls, and ceiling of the space. Some professional encapsulations will also include adding insulation to the walls and any access doors.
Should You DIY?
Most people go with a professional when they decide to encapsulate their crawl space. They’ll survey your area to make sure it’s suitable for encapsulation (not all crawl spaces are) and address any and all foundation or excess moisture issues in the surrounding area.
You can do this yourself, but there are lots of potential problems that can arise from doing an inadequate job. At the very least, have a professional inspect the space before you start anything!
Things to Consider
If your space is sealed or encapsulated incorrectly, a lot of other problems could arise. A main concern is bulk water problems—these issues should be completely taken care of before encapsulating a crawl space. Sitting water or water stains on your foundation walls are signs of bulk water problems.
Some termite control companies place restrictions on how much of your crawl space can be covered, so it’s a good idea to contact your pest control company before you start doing anything, especially if you have an active termite bond.
If you have any combustion equipment in the space, there are extra considerations that come with those. Consider any backdrafting that could occur, and adjust. These potential problems are why most people hire a professional—it’s simply safer than doing it yourself.
For professional advice and services, contact Southern-Home Structural Specialists today!