Vented crawl spaces are a liability to any homeowner in Columbia, SC. The reason is they introduce pests and encourage mold and mildew to grow, as well as make the home less energy efficient. Left unchecked, this can lower the quality of the home and make it costly to maintain. Sealing this space ensures the home remains clean, dry and free of mold.
What is Crawl Space Encapsulation?
Encapsulation refers to the process of insulating and sealing your home to prevent moisture and water damage. The most important part is installing a thick polyethylene vapor barrier to cover and shield the inside of the crawl space completely. The barrier goes from wall to wall and covers the entire floor of the crawl space as well. Once the exposed area is sealed, a dehumidifier is then installed to control moisture levels.
While encapsulation is not mandatory under the local building codes, it’s a method that can protect your home from water damage and high humidity.
Why Should I Encapsulate My Home?
Crawl space encapsulation makes your home energy-efficient. You won’t need to run your air conditioner for long during summer or leave the heater running for hours during winter. Encapsulation ensures the temperatures and moisture levels in the crawl space remain constant just like that of the living space above.
Encapsulating your crawl space also turns a cold, toxic and damp home into a comfortable space. Floors and walls will feel much warmer in winter and cooler in summer. Since there’s no backdrafting from combustion appliances below the home, you will breathe quality indoor air.
As well as keeping your home free of wood-destroying pests and insects such as rats and termites, crawl space encapsulation helps you rid your home of mold and fungi. Both are dangerous microscopic organisms that can cause asthma attacks and allergies.
Decaying joists and wooden beams are common problems in homes with vented crawl spaces. By eliminating moisture through sealing the crawl space, you’re going to prevent wood rot or decay and metal rust and preserve the structural integrity of the home. This reduces the need for repairs and at the same time, increases the value of your home.
Steps for Encapsulating the Home
Once you contact your crawl space contractor, they will come and:
Step 1: Inspect the crawl space and carry out preparatory work before encapsulation starts
As well as removing dirt, the contractor will unblock the drainage system and ensure proper grading. Other specialists will come in and remove mold if any. The contractor will also check to ensure no toxic gases from combustion appliances seep through to your living space.
Step 2: Seal vents, doors, openings and gaps in the crawl space using spray foam
Traditionally, crawl spaces are vented, meaning they’re not air-tight. Sealing openings and vents will curtail the cycle of cold air and moisture entering the crawl space and leaking into your home. The outcome is warm winters and cool summers. Since the humidity will go down, you won’t have to leave your HVAC running for hours like you used to before.
Step 3: Take Flood prevention and water damage control measures
During heavy rains, homes in Columbia, SC, get inundated with water from the outside. Flooding can cause water damage and moisture problems, including mold growth. If you live in a flood-prone area, installing an interior perimeter drainage system and sump pump is a great way of ensuring running groundwater doesn’t fill up the crawl space and enter your home.
Step 4: Encapsulate the crawl space
Real work starts here. Your contractor will line the walls and the floor with a thick and durable plastic vapor barrier roughly 20 mm thick. The barrier will go all the way to the top of the block walls and leave space for a termite inspection. A barrier this thick can withstand regular use by servicemen who frequent the crawl space without tearing. While you can install a barrier of any color, white is the best as it accentuates lighting.
Step 5: Install a dehumidifier
Just because you have sealed off the crawl space using a vapor barrier doesn’t mean it will always be dry or free of moisture. You will need to install an energy-efficient dehumidifier to keep the crawl space dry and free of any trapped moisture. A good dehumidifier should be self-draining (channel excess moisture outdoors) so you won’t have to get inside and drain water to a bucket.
If you’d like to encapsulate your crawl space but don’t know where to start, contact your local experts. They will inspect your crawl space and supply you with a free crawl space encapsulation estimate today!