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What’s going on underneath your house? Are you aware of this area’s condition? You might be thinking, “Oh, it’s out of sight and out of mind. I don’t have to worry about it.”
But the truth is, you do have to worry about it. The crawl space under your house may be out of sight, but it should not be out of your mind. A lot more could be going in the crawl space than you realize. And it could be affecting the health of your family.
While not every house has a crawl space, almost 70% of South Carolina homes have crawl space foundations, according to RLC Engineering, PLLC. It is a very common practice to construct homes atop this 1-3′ hollow area to elevate the house off the ground. These areas typically have dirt floors because it is cheaper than pouring concrete. Crawl spaces usually are empty, but they can be convenient for concealing HVAC units, plumbing, ductwork, and electrical wiring. (Source: Realtor.com)
Crawl spaces can be handy, but they also can be dark, dirty, and downright gross. Most people never go into these areas and have no idea what’s going on under the house. Would you feel comfortable knowing there could be mold, mice and other problems underneath your feet? Especially if anyone in the house suffers from asthma or allergies, the conditions in the crawl space could be contributing to sickness.
On this page, we’ll address some common questions about crawl spaces that we hear from homeowners like you, and how our expert team at Mount Valley Foundation Services can help you improve the health and safety of your home.
Let’s start by highlighting some of the telltale signs of crawl space problems that you’ll notice in your home.
Crawl Space Problem Checklist
Do any of these issues sound familiar in your crawl space and/or home?
What Is Causing These Problems?
Your home could have been having these problems since day one. The biggest cause of crawl space issues has to do with the way your home and crawl space was constructed. Building code has traditionally called for crawl spaces to be vented for air drying purposes. This sounds all well and good at first. But really, this is an outdated practice that is very harmful for your home and your family.
Open vents allow outside air, water, and unwanted pests into the crawl space and ultimately into your home. Nobody wants or needs to deal with that.
More than 50% of the air you breathe in your home comes from the crawl space. So, whatever is in your crawl space – like mold spores and other allergens – is in the rest of your home and affecting you and your family. This is because of what is known as the stack effect.
What is the Stack Effect? What is it Doing to My Home?
The stack effect is the airflow pattern in your house from bottom to top. Air pressure also comes into play. Air flows from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure. When there is a greater difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures, the more significant this airflow becomes. (Source: Fine Homebuilding)
True, you can’t actually see airflow, but it might be helpful to have a way to visualize the stack effect to better understand it. Your home certainly is not located in the northern portion of the country, but a lot of good information can be gained from The Cold Climate Housing Research Center’s YouTube videos, including “Your Nothern Home: Stack Effect” that illustrates the stack effect.
Here are other ways a vented crawl space and the stack effect impact your home:
- Leaking Water
Any kind of water in the crawl space – whether it comes from the ground, through the walls, through the vents, or from plumbing leaks – is bad news. Water in naturally damp and dark areas like crawl spaces is very attractive to bugs and other pests. It also can saturate and weaken wooden structural supports, lead to corrosion and rust on metal supports, and lead to mold growth.
- High Humidity
Along with and because of water intrusion, humidity is a major culprit of crawl space problems. Humidity levels above 50% contribute to mold growth, unpleasant odors, failing support systems and more.
Crawl spaces commonly have high relative humidity and moisture. These conditions promote mold growth, especially on organic materials like wood and insulation. Moisture in the crawl space also can enter other areas of the home through wall, ceiling and floor cracks, and contribute to mold growth there. (Source: EPA)
- Wood Rot and Sagging Floors
Other related problems that go hand in hand with water and humidity are rotting wooden supports and sagging floors. When hot, humid air is vented into the crawl space during warmer months, this can cause wood to rot. Coupled with the presence of water, this also can lead to sagging, soft, buckling floors above, and affect hardwood floors.
- Energy Loss
You’re probably no stranger to how hot South Carolina summers can be. Neither is your house. When hot and humid air is vented inside, you’ll be cranking up and potentially overtaxing the air conditioning to stay cool. Similarly, cooler wintertime air vented inside makes your furnace struggle to keep up in maintaining a comfortably warm living environment. Floors may feel cold because of the cooler air from the crawl space underneath.
Why Should I Fix These Problems? What Are The Benefits of Repairs?
Why would you want disgusting conditions underneath your home? That alone should be enough for you to want to correct the problems. But you might be wondering, “what’s in it for me?” A lot, actually. There are so many benefits of having a clean crawl space, which you can read about in our blog, “10 Reasons to Clean Your Crawl Space This Season.” Here are a few of the major perks:
A cleaner crawl space means improved health for you and your family. Especially if anyone in your house suffers from asthma or allergies, a cleaner crawl space can help prevent flare-ups and sickness. If you choose solutions like a dehumidifier, the air quality will be greatly improved throughout the entire home.
- Structural Integrity
Compromised support systems and sagging floors are dangerous and could result in significant structural damage and safety hazards. By shoring up the support system in your home, you will have a more stable living environment for your family.
- Energy Efficiency
When you invest in proper, reliable crawl space encapsulation and insulation to reduce energy loss, you can save between 30 and 50% on your energy bills. (Source: Clean Crawls)
- Functional Space
Once your crawl space has been properly waterproofed, sealed and insulated, you have an area of your home you can use in a new way. You’ll be able to store your belongings in the crawl space without worrying about them being damaged by water, mold or pests.
- Real Estate Value
There are a lot of factors that impact a home’s resale value, but issues with the structure, any water intrusion and crawl space problems are all areas you need to be aware of. When selling your house, it is important to disclose any known past or current damage. This sets clear expectations regarding the quality and condition of the home. Homeowners selling their house in South Carolina are required to provide a written disclosure statement to the purchaser noting any known defects. This includes information on the foundation, basement and other structural components, as well as current or prior infestations of wood destroying insects or organisms. (Source: Nolo)
How Do I Fix My Crawl Space?
Now that you’ve seen what nastiness could be lurking underneath your feet and the toll it can take on your home and your family, aren’t you motivated to get rid of it? As tempting as it might be to head out to your local home improvement store to gather supplies, pause for a moment.
Crawl space repair is not something you can tackle in a weekend, no matter how handy you are. A lot can go wrong, and we have seen many problems result from fast fixes. Especially concerning real estate transactions, quick fixes can raise red flags. You’ll then have to spend more time and money to repair these issues. It’s best to leave these projects to professional contractors so the problems will be fixed correctly the first time around.
We encourage you to educate yourself to make the best decision and sound investment with trustworthy repair solutions from a reliable contractor.
So, How Much Is All of This Going To Cost?
This is by far the most common question we hear. And rightly so. Your home is a significant investment, and you want to make sure you’re also investing in the best, long-lasting repair solutions.
To give you an idea, HomeAdvisor estimates the average cost of crawl space repair to be $6,000, with a wide range depending on the exact problem, size, accessibility and what’s being removed.
That being said, if you call in to ask our office or search our site for the answer, odds are you aren’t going to get a clear picture right off the bat. And we understand how frustrating it can be to not get a straight answer right away. But there is a lot to consider when talking about repair work.
First off, it’s not fair to you to give a rough estimate or ballpark figure when we have no idea what we’re dealing with. That’s why it’s important to have an inspector out to look at exactly what is going on with the crawl space.
Other factors like the extent of damage, square footage, and how much material needs to be used also need to be considered.
There isn’t a “one size fits all” fix for crawl spaces. What worked for a friend or neighbor down the street might not be exactly what your home needs. Every home and every crawl space is different and requires its own unique repair solutions.
The best thing you can do is educate yourself about your crawl space and research repair contractors who will be able to find the best solution to your repair needs. Once you meet with a contractor, don’t be afraid to have an open and honest discussion about the cost of repair. Odds are, your contractor of choice will be able to take your budget into consideration and work with you on payment and financing options.
How Do I Hire the Right Contractor?
We know how daunting hiring a contractor can be. You’ve probably heard horror stories about how a contractor didn’t finish a job or left a house a complete disaster. That’s why it is so important to work with a company you can trust. You have so many tools at your fingertips, and it’s up to you to educate yourself before working with anyone.
Below is a list of 10 helpful tips for selecting a reputable contractor, courtesy of Popular Mechanics:
- Go with Your Gut. The contractor will be working in and around your home, so trust your instincts about his character.
- Make Sure the Contractor is Licensed to Work in Your Area, Bonded, and Insured. A contractor that has the proper licensing and insurance indicates credibility, knowledge, and trustworthiness.
- Pick a Contractor Who Specializes in Your Project Type. Experience through research, training, and hands-on work in the field matters.
- Have a Detailed Contract in Place Before Any Work Begins. Having detailed plans and everything in writing clearly spells out expectations so there are no surprises.
- Find Out Who Will Be Performing the Work. Knowing exactly who will be coming to your home will give you peace of mind and confidence in the contractor.
- Give the Contractor Guidelines for Working In/Around Your Home. Let the company know of your preferences including arrival times and any off-limit areas of your home.
- Know What Your Responsibilities Are. If you need to move anything out of the way or need to plan for pet accommodations, it’s best to address that before the project starts.
- Ask About a Mechanic’s Lien. Check on the contractor’s legal status before signing anything.
- Look at Work Samples. This lets you see the quality of the work, and it might give you ideas for your own project.
- Think Locally. Support the local companies that have been in business and in the community for a long time.
We at Mount Valley Foundation Services are proud to meet these points and go above and beyond for our customers. We are challenging and changing the way homeowners view and work with contractors, and we want your experience with us to be memorable.
But don’t just take our word for it. You can learn more about others’ experiences firsthand by viewing reviews and testimonials from actual customers we’ve worked with. Our About Us page also has great information for you to further get acquainted with our company and our team.
How Can Mount Valley Foundation Services Help Me?
When you contact us, you can speak to one of our customer care representatives about your crawl space concerns. We will then work with you to schedule an appointment for a free inspection and estimate with one of our certified field inspectors.
Here’s what you can expect during this consultation. The inspector will:
- Complete a thorough evaluation of your home’s interior and exterior. This includes going into the crawl space to check the condition of the area including any water intrusion, damage, pests, etc.
- Discuss his findings with you, as well as your goals with a repair project.
- Offer customized solutions that best fit your repair needs.
- Provide you with a proposal of recommended solutions before leaving your house.
- Discuss payment and financing options with you.
Then, if you decide to move forward with a repair project, we will work to schedule your repairs with one of our highly trained installation crews. Our crew members will treat your home as their own, with the utmost care and respect. They will use world-class solutions for your repairs, and their work is not complete until you are 100% satisfied with the job. If something crops up after installation, we will return to fix any issues. We also offer various service and maintenance opportunities to protect our work and your home.
Along with writing a review about your experience with us, it would mean the world to us if you would refer us to your friends and family!
What Will Mount Valley Use To Fix My Crawl Space?
We are committed to your satisfaction and your home’s safety. That is why we only use the very best repair solutions. The products we use are manufactured right here in the United States, and they are tested and proven to effectively work in keeping your crawl space clean, dry, safe and healthy. All these solutions also are designed to work together to give you the most bang for your buck and prevent any further problems.
Here is how we tackle crawl space problems, as well as the solutions we use and how they work:
- Address Leaking Water
To address seeping water, we first need to catch the water, then get this water to a sump pump system, and then send this water away from the home.
Our specially designed CrawlDrain™ perimeter drainage system is placed in the dirt crawl space floor around the perimeter to catch seeping water from the walls and floor. The drainage channels then direct this water into the SafeDri™ Crawl Space Sump Pump System, which then pumps the water out of the crawl space and away from the home. A FreezeGuard™ also can be attached to the exterior sump pump discharge line to prevent flooding if the line should freeze or become blocked.
- Seal the Crawl Space from Outside Elements
It is important to seal your crawl space from outside air, water and pests. The first step is having durable vent covers placed over the crawl space vents.
Then, a heavy-duty moisture and vapor barrier is installed. Our CrawlSeal™ is a true 20-mil liner rated above 25-mil strength at the seams. This liner, which is three times thicker than builder’s grade liner, is used to completely isolate the crawl space from the earth. CrawlSeal™ prevents moisture and vapor intrusion, is waterproof, and has been treated to resist mold.
Additionally, thick drainage matting can be placed on the crawl space floor before the encapsulation process to help direct water to the perimeter CrawlDrain™ system, as well as enhance the strength of the CrawlSeal™ liner.
- Properly Insulate the Crawl Space
Rigid ExTremeBloc™ panels placed on crawl space walls will better insulate the area and will not fail or develop mold like fiberglass insulation. These panels resist moisture, and an integrated termiticide is added to deter termites below grade. CrawlSeal™ also helps insulate the crawl space, and spray foam can be added to rim joists to seal gaps around the perimeter of your foundation. These insulation methods help prevent wood rot and enable termite treatments.
- Condition the Air
Our low-profile crawl space dehumidifier is powerful and energy efficient. It effectively works to clean and filter the air, control moisture and humidity, and reduce odors and potential mold growth. This dehumidifier also is self-draining, meaning there aren’t any reservoirs or buckets to have to worry about emptying. The unit can be directed to drain into the crawl space perimeter drainage system or sump pump system, or a condensate pump can be installed.
- Reinforce Support Systems
Wooden floor supports and light-duty jack posts commonly fail in wet and humid crawl spaces. Our durable IntelliJacks™ are made of galvanized steel, making them more reliable supports that can stabilize and lift sagging floors and floor joists back to level.
If you aren’t sure of where to start, have any questions along the way, or just want some advice, don’t hesitate to give us a call! We are committed to helping you create a safe and healthy home!
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Mount Valley Foundation Has the Perfect Solutions for Your Crawl Space
We have the professional equipment, experience, and know-how to properly install your crawl space encapsulation system. Our crawl space installation procedure is better than other typical methods because we make sure that the encapsulation material stays in its place and works perfectly right from the start. Plus, we only send our best technicians to handle the job to ensure that the installation is completed within the given deadline and budget.
Aside from crawl space encapsulation, we also provide other crawl space services that further improve its performance. These include:
- Crawl space drainage system
- Crawl space vent covers
- Crawl space dehumidification
- Drainage matting service
When you’re ready to upgrade your crawl space, call Mount Valley Foundation Services at 803-220-3550. Our friendly operators are more than happy to receive your request and answer any questions you have about our crawl space and foundation services in South Carolina.
Contact Mount Valley Foundation Today!
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