An often ignored, yet quite significant, portion of the home is called the crawl space. A crawl space functions as an alternative to the basement. They are most commonly found in places where basements are not practical to have like low-lying areas, which make them prone to flooding. What differentiates crawl spaces from basements is that they do not add an entirely new level in the property. Instead, they add just enough space for the person to crawl though.
The intended purpose of crawl spaces is for the creation of a gap between the floor and the ground in the event that the electrical and plumbing systems need repair. This space allows workmen to come in and take the necessary action. In addition to this, crawl spaces can also cool the property by allowing the air to circulate more freely. The downside of this is that moisture can accumulate in the area, making crawl spaces susceptible to damage.
Although a lot of property owners find it convenient to store items in the crawl spaces of their homes, this is not always the best setup. The moisture that is found in the property can be quite damaging. To make sure that the crawl spaces are always kept in good condition, there are some choices that property owners need to make.
A collective groan may be issued by people because the maintenance of crawl spaces may seem to be just another item in the to-do list. However, keeping crawl spaces in good condition is quite significant and relates directly to the value of the property.
One of the most significant reasons is that crawl spaces is prone to moisture and thus can be a breeding ground for mold and mildew. Once these contaminants appear, they can quickly spread to other parts of the house. This is a dangerous situation to encounter because mold and mildew can actually disrupt the healthful environment of the property. They can cause rashes, allergic reactions and other respiratory ailments. In fact, there are some varieties of mold that can be quite toxic and lead to death.
Crawl Space Maintenance
In order to keep the crawl spaces in good condition, start off by covering the ground. Most of the tips that relate to the maintenance of crawl spaces pertain to the management of the amount of moisture that enters the area. A significant source of moisture in the crawl spaces is the groundwater. To control this, it is best to take steps in order to cover the ground.
There is no need for complicated steps in order to keep the ground of the crawl spaces covered. Most property owners simply make use of thick plastic sheets to keep them covered. If you choose to make use of this method, then it is a good idea to weigh down the coverings using bricks or dirt. There are plastic liners available in the market, which are especially made for crawl spaces. Although they are more expensive than regular plastic sheets, they are thicker and thus give more protection. Usually, these products are made out of layers of polyethylene and measure at least 20 mm. in width.
Insulation from moisture of the crawl spaces should be done after any standing water is removed. After all, it would be an immense waste of resources and time if you end up locking in moisture rather than keeping them out. When draining the crawl spaces, take the drainage properties of the structure into consideration. Pumps can be quite helpful in ensuring that there is no water in the crawl spaces before the insulation is put in place.
Another good tip for the maintenance of crawl spaces is to replace or install the insulation during the summer when the ground is less likely to be wet. This goes back to the principle that the area should be dry in order for the insulation to work.
Maintaining the conditions of the crawl spaces, just like in any part of the house, means that regular inspections must be made. It is not unusual for debris to accumulate at crawl spaces. These should be regularly cleared out because pests such as cockroaches and rats can easily call those areas home. There is no need to explain why such a situation can be disastrous for the homeowner. In this situation, the images demonstrate the truth.
Watch out for rotting wood because it can signal a weakening of the foundation of the house. Take note of any repairs that may need to be done in order to maintain the integrity of the property. Keep in mind that organic material is also a food source for many organisms. Clearing these items can help prevent or alleviate infestation problems.
If there are portions of the crawl spaces’ floors that are sagging, this can signify that the moisture has already accumulated at such a level that the support system has already been weakened. In these cases, prop up the structure using jacks that can be adjusted in accordance with the need. Pay close attention to these as this can be a cause of serious concern if the sagging is not immediately resolved. Any issue pertaining to the strength of the house’s structure can endanger those that are living in it.
Another maintenance tip is to keep the crawl spaces ventilated. Most crawl spaces usually need foundation vents to be placed within it. If you are unsure of the details of the vents, such as when to open or close them, ask the HVAC contractor for help. These ventilation systems can significantly help you control the amount of moisture found in the crawl spaces. Furthermore, they can balance this need with the need for cool air in the property. The levels can easily be controlled through the closing and opening the vents.
Encapsulation may be considered by the property owner in cases where the maintenance of the crawl spaces becomes too difficult because of the recurring presence of too much moisture. This is a good alternative to ventilation in this situation because it completely seals in the crawl spaces. Instead of managing it by opening and closing vent doors, the crawl spaces are permanently locked in.
Homeowners who are considering this option have the advantage of less work. They are guaranteed that their crawl spaces are free of excess moisture and thus do not have to worry about cleaning up mold and mildew as well as other problems associated with excessive moisture in the area. However, there are some other considerations that should be given thought of. First, encapsulation of crawl spaces can only be done by professionals. What this means is that the homeowner has to pay a higher cost compared to other methods of maintenance. Furthermore, the property owner loses the opportunity to let air circulate in the home and cool the air. The bottom line is this: it is important to consider your options carefully before signing up for the encapsulation of the crawl spaces.
The maintenance of crawl spaces does not always have to happen within the crawl space itself. A lot of people may be surprised when they hear that keeping the landscape of the property crawl space-friendly does wonders for this part of the house. Water can be kept away from the crawl spaces by integrating this concept with the actual design of the property.
For example, homes that are elevated are exposed to a lot less groundwater compared to those that are not. For those who are planning on buying or constructing property, this is a consideration that is worth dwelling on. Another simple way of keeping the maintenance of the property easy is to plant trees and plants around the house. In addition to adding beauty to the property, vegetation can actually do the work of crawl space maintenance for you. Remember that crawl spaces mostly get their moisture from groundwater. Adding plants and their ability to absorb copious amounts of water into the equation can be quite helpful.
Finally, the installation of sump pumps can be a wonderful addition to the property. Sump pumps are reliable devices used to remove water from basements as well as crawl spaces. When making use of the pumps, make sure that you empty them out to a place with good drainage and far away from the crawl spaces. In case the sump pump drains the water into the ground of the property, then the whole act would be futile. It will just make its way back into the property.
The best maintenance tip that can be given to property owners when it comes to crawl spaces is to conduct regular and frequent checks. Problems may emerge that were not present before. Taking the time to inspect these areas can allow the property owner to spot potential disasters without them actually having to happen at all. The ability to prevent problems with crawl spaces is worth significantly more than having to make actual repairs.
Crawl spaces are quite important in the property. Refusing or failing to properly maintain them can translate to weaknesses in the building which can lead to deterioration of the property or illnesses for the people. Having a vigilant attitude when it comes to crawl spaces can make the home safer.