Few homeowners venture into the crawl space, a low-lying area that acts as a buffer zone between the home and ground below. This area is prone to moisture and other issues that can affect the quality of life for residents. Other than attracting a host of pests, the crawl space attracts mold and holds moisture that can cause wood rot.
Many homeowners neglect this space and end up paying the price in the form of costly repairs. This post covers the signs of crawl space damage and recommendations for protecting it. This way, you won’t incur damage or unnecessary repairs.
Signs of crawl space damage
Keep an eye out for these signs in your crawl space and other areas of your home.
Damp or musty smells
Awful smells emanating from the crawl space are a sign of mold and mildew buildup. The source could be anything from condensation to leaking pipes to water seepage. If you notice any musty smells in your crawl space, consider having it inspected by a professional immediately.
Standing water is a common sign of problems in the crawl space. Stagnant water can compromise your wooden beams and trigger mold growth. Underground water also causes water damage and wood to warp, bow, or rot.
No one likes unwelcome visitors, especially gnawing pests in their homes. Unfortunately, rodents and other pests are fond of humid areas like the crawl space. Be on the lookout for droppings and pin-sized holes in exposed wood supports, all signs of pest activity. If you spot any, pests aren’t far off.
Mold thrives in dark, moist spaces. If your crawl space has a lot of moisture, you may start seeing signs of mold spores on your wooden joists. Other than eating away at your wooden structure, mold releases airborne spores which can affect your health. Mold puts your family’s health on the line. Left untreated, mold spores can cause many respiratory health issues such as allergies and asthma.
Sagging or sloping floors
Whether you own an older home or are moving into a newly built one, sagging floors are never a good thing and require immediate attention. While there’s a multitude of possible reasons your floor is sagging or sloping, a damaged crawl space is a common cause.
Sagging floors could be a sign of:
- Water seepage
- Foundation cracks
- Failing support beams
- Poor soil compaction
- Rot or termite damage
- Poor foundation installation
- Deteriorating wood supports
- Excess moisture in the crawl space
Preventing crawl space damage during winter
Here’s what you need to do to keep the crawl space dry and intact during the cold winter months.
Eliminate moisture sources
The first thing you should do is eliminate all the potential sources of water and moisture before winter sets in. Check and fix loose gutters, extend and/or bury downspout lines, and re-grade the yard so water doesn’t collect around your foundation. Remember to insulate your water pipes and shut exterior water valves. Flooding remains a possibility, and we encourage you to waterproof your crawl space by installing an interior drainage system and a sump pump to deter flooding.
Encapsulate your crawl space
Ground moisture and outdoor air can damage your crawl space. You can protect this area by encapsulating it. Your contractor will first seal all the cracks and vents then cover the crawl space floor and walls with a 20-mil plastic vapor barrier. The plastic materials go around obstacles and are taped down at the seams. With the crawl space tightly sealed, water and outside air won’t pose any more threats to your home. This also makes it more difficult for pests to get inside.
Install a dehumidifier
Sealing the crawl space won’t clear the moisture that’s present. What you need is to install a dehumidifier. This device will suck the moisture out of the crawl space air and bring down the humidity level, reducing pests’ interest in the space and curbing mold growth while preventing wood rot. Talk to your contractor for help with sizing and installation.
Protect your crawl space
Your crawl space is an important part of your home. When it’s open and exposed to the elements, it will decay and fall apart. Pests can get in and mold and develop in no time. Get in touch with the experts at Mount Valley Foundation Services to schedule a free crawl space inspection and repair quote. We can help you seal vents and encapsulate this space so it remains dry and warm this winter.