If your home is equipped with a crawl space, that crawl space could really come in handy. A crawl space is a type of basement under a home that provides access to areas of the home such as pipes and substructures that may otherwise be difficult to approach. Therefore, a crawl space can be a convenient resource for managing and maintaining a home. Crawl spaces can also supply a helpful storage spot, as the low heights of crawl spaces disqualify them as living spaces but make them perfect for packing with infrequently used items.
The Cons of Crawl Spaces
Crawl spaces definitely have their pros, but they also have their cons, and these cons can be very costly to the safety and stability of your home. Though crawl spaces are not heavily trafficked areas, they are still susceptible to significant damage. The nature of their location — just above the damp ground, in the pathway of moisture and water vapor — means that they enter disrepair quite easily. Moisture from the ground can penetrate the air in a crawl space and wreak havoc on both the crawl space and the house above. Common signs of crawl space damage include:
- Water or flooding in the crawlspace
- Mold in the crawlspace
- Condensation on the windows of the home
- Sagging floors in the home
- High indoor humidity in the home
- Wet insulation in the crawl space
- The failure of a vapor barrier
- Floor joint issues
- Wood rot
- Foundation cracks
The Side Effects of Crawl Space Damage
These different types of damage that your crawl space can sustain can cause big health and security problems for your family and your home. As crawl spaces are situated beneath the house, the air in the crawl space rises and reaches the upper levels of the house according to the “stack effect”. This occurrence fills your home with the air from the crawl space, and this can be air that your family would not want to breathe due to the presence of mold spores, decomposition odors, and fecal material from dust mites. Breathing such dirty air can be dangerous, as the particles in the air can aggravate asthma, allergies, and other respiratory problems, as well as lead to a variety of health concerns. The air coming from your crawl space could also have a distinctly unpleasant, musty odor that would make living in your home uncomfortable, and even worse, insects such as centipedes could begin to infest your home and bring with them a host of threats to your family’s health.
The moist air rising through your house can also affect your house’s structure. Insulation, floor joists, subflooring, windows, and more can suffer from excessive exposure to water. Signs that your home needs help avoiding the bad air from your crawl space include moldy baseboards, squeaky floors, rotting wooden framing, and high electric bills. If your crawl space vents are open, the moisture from the ground can combine with moisture from the environment, especially in warmer climates, to add even more wood rot, dust mites, mold, and mildew to your home, and a vented crawl space can also increase your energy bills by 20%. If your crawl space has exposed dirt floors, the effects of the dirt absorbing moisture can make your energy bills even higher.
The Causes of Crawl Space Problems
Moisture is obviously the big culprit when it comes to crawl space problems, but other factors can put your crawl space in dire need of attention as well. Causes of crawl space problems can also involve house settling and poor construction.
House settling can happen as a result of:
- Defective drainage and grading
A shoddy drainage setup or a completely nonexistent one will mean that water hitting your house will land near your foundation, and that water will get into the soil below your house. This water will force the soil to expand and push against your crawl space foundation, which could lead to cracks and flooding.
- Wet Weather
While your plants and flowers may appreciate rainy days, your crawl space doesn’t, because once again, a surplus of water in the soil around and under your home can cause the foundation of your crawl space to shift and split. These problems only escalate during hurricanes and tropical storms.
- Dry Weather
Though dry weather leaves the ground in the exact opposite condition of wet weather — completely devoid of moisture — hot summers and droughts can also lead to settlement issues by altering the state of the soil under your crawl space.
- Plumbing Leaks
The consequences of a leaky pipe can be far reaching: they can go all the way down to the foundation of your home and also leave your crawl space with water damage.
The foundation, floor joists, and support beams of your home all influence the long-term status of your crawl space. Certain types of foundations allow more water and air to enter a crawl space than others. For example, concrete blocks, which are a cheap and easy foundation option, as well as stone walls, which are an older and more traditional form of foundation for homes, both let a lot of air and water leak into crawl spaces. Poured concrete, on the other hand, is common in newer homes and also much more impermeable to water and air. The spacing of the support beams in your crawl space also contributes greatly to the enduring stability of your crawl space. If the supporting columns in your crawl space are not properly spaced, they can permit slack in the floor joists over time, and this letdown will lead to sagging floors, squeaky floors, and uneven floors in your home.
If any of these destructive issues — moisture, house settling, or poor construction — have created noticeable problems in your crawl space, then it is essential that you receive a thorough inspection from crawl space professionals and whatever repairs are necessary to remove any hazards from your crawl space.
The Solutions For Crawl Space Repair
At Solid Foundations, we have the experience to effectively diagnose the problems with your crawlspace. By starting off with a detailed evaluation, we can successfully discover and fix these problems. Our solutions to crawlspace problems include:
- Crawl space vapor barriers
Crawl space vapor barriers are one of the best modern solutions to the high humidity and poor indoor air quality coming from your crawl space. Crawl space vapor barriers are similar to swimming pool liners in that they are made of 10-20 millimeter thick high tensile strength material that can completely encapsulate the crawl space to block moisture and prevent its attacks on exposed wood. At Solid Foundations, we know that extending these barriers across the floor of your crawl space and up onto the walls as well creates a permanent safeguard against any onslaught of moisture that would jeopardize the environment of your home.
Waterproofing your crawl space is a step we take at Solid Foundations in order to stop water infiltration through the below grade foundation walls. To waterproof your crawl space, we excavate the exterior foundation and seal the below grade walls with a polymer membrane coating and dimple board in order to keep water from coming into the crawl space through the exterior soil. We also install an interior or exterior French drain tile system that can collect water and drain it into a sump pump or out into the hot Florida daylight away from your foundation. To complete our waterproofing process, Solid Foundations seals your crawl space and closes it in completely. Sealing inhibits humidity from invading the space and inciting condensation and mold growth.
- Foundation Support System
Your crawl space impacts the state of the floors in your home, so if you are experiencing sagging, squeaking, or cracked floors, then Solid Foundations will address the root of the problem by supporting the piers in your crawl space. Our foundation support system provides a permanent boost to your piers, which, in turn, pushes your floors back up to the appropriate level. The piers in your crawl space hold up the support beams of your floors from their place deep within the soil, but when the soil beneath the piers begins to settle, the piers themselves sink and can no longer perform their function of bolstering your floors. Therefore, Solid Foundations drives steel push piers deep into the soil beneath your crawl space in order to restore the piers to their proper position. By doing so, we are able to put your crawl space back on solid ground.
The Pros of Crawl Spaces
The crawl space of your home may often be overlooked, but at Solid Foundations, we see the value in giving crawl spaces the attention they deserve. Your crawl space can alter your indoor air quality and endanger the durability of your home, so problems with your crawl space cannot be ignored. If you are noticing any of the signs of crawl space problems in your house, put that unfrequented area of your home into the hands of the professionals who frequent crawl spaces all the time. Solid Foundations is here to solve all of your crawl space problems for the sake of your family, so contact us today to turn your crawl space into something helpful rather than something harmful!
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