If there’s one thing every homeowner in Columbia, SC, hates, it’s the idea of walking across cold floors or touching cold walls. It’s something you’re going to experience a lot this winter, especially if you have an open crawl space that’s not properly insulated. Cold air will enter this space through gaps and vents and travel into the rest of your home.
Failing fiberglass batt insulation won’t prevent the floors from cooling down. Colder indoor temperatures will force your heater to work longer and harder, meaning you will spend a lot of money on energy bills. Let’s look at how cold air interferes with the indoors and what you can do to keep your house warm.
Ways the Cold Affects the Crawl Space
One phenomenon that you’re likely to experience is the stack effect. This refers to the upward movement of air across the house starting at the lowest area, the crawl space. This phenomenon affects the indoor air quality and the temperature in your home.
The stack effect also causes energy inefficiencies. As the temperature drops, the air becomes heavier and sinks. This dense air leaves through the crawl space, creating a vacuum in the upper areas of your home. As it leaves, it pulls hot air through windows and the attic.
Left unchecked, the stack effect can make it impossible to regulate the temperatures in your home. You will waste time fiddling with your thermostat. Energy bills will go up drastically as you will have to turn your heater on for longer than necessary. Eventually, they will accrue wear and tear and you may have to replace them unexpectedly early.
Your crawl space isn’t the most sanitary part of your home. Bugs and pests seek refuge in this area, mold begins to grow, the air is likely teeming with allergens. The stack effect can bring them up into your home and deposit them in your kitchen and bathrooms. Anyone who breathes these microscopic particles can develop fungal infections or asthma.
Protecting Your Crawl Space
Outside air and moisture are the biggest threats to your crawl space in winter. Deal with them and you will never have to endure the agony of crawl space damage or the costly repairs in the aftermath. Here’s how to protect this low-lying area under your home.
Sealing crawl space vents. No matter what the local codes say, you can’t run away from the fact that outside air will keep flowing in until you seal the vents. Make sure you seal the crawl space with airtight vent covers so air won’t come in. Talk to your contractor to see what options you have to ventilate this space. As you do so, remember to seal rim joists and seals using foam sealant.
Crawl space insulation. Once you seal the vents, cover the walls with waterproof insulation. We recommend spray foam and rigid wall panels. They’re more durable and effective than fiberglass. Spray foam air seals the rim joists, eliminating tiny gaps and cracks that let in cold air, while rigid board prevents warm air from escaping to the outside. Your summer will be cool and winters warm.
Crawl space encapsulation. After sealing the vents and insulating the crawl space, you should enclose this area with a durable 20-mil vapor barrier. It covers the floor and walls, creating a conditioned space. What this does is lock out moisture-laden air from the outside as well as creepy crawlies and excess moisture. This barrier also prevents condensation and unwanted drafts, controls mold, and seals away any odors. You will end up with a clean dry and valuable space that you can put to good use. Floors that were once cold will be noticeably warmer. What’s more, you will save money on heating.
Be sure to schedule a free crawl space inspection and repair quote with Mount Valley Foundation Services. We will seal your crawl space vents, insulate the walls, and encapsulate the space so you and your family can enjoy a warm, comfortable interior in winter.