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5 Reasons Why You Need to Install Crawl Space Vapor Barriers Now

By Chuck Henrichsen on April 6, 2017

Crawl spaces below your home contain dirt floors which are generally damp. Water may easily access the space, and the added moisture increases the risk of mildew, mold, insects, rust, and rot in your home.

vapor barriers

Crawl space vapor barriers are a valuable addition to your home’s crawl space, but homeowners often don't have them installed. Vapor barrier installation should occur when you build the home, buy a house, or consider your maintenance checklist. Installing a vapor barrier underneath your home can be instrumental in preventing health problems and keeping your home in good shape. A crawl space vapor barrier is also the best way to prevent moisture from seeping into your home.


What Is a Crawlspace Vapor Barrier?

A crawl space vapor barrier prevents moisture in the dirt floor of the crawl space from evaporating and then seeping into the air beneath your home. The actual barrier is usually comprised of a foil sheet or plastic material that helps to prevent moisture from penetrating the crawl space air, from where it then enters into the structure of the home. Installing a vapor barrier in your crawl space prevents problems caused by excess moisture like mold, odors, insects, wood rot and other structural and environmental concerns.


There are several reasons why you need to install crawl space vapor barriers:

1. Control the Temperature - Save Energy

Increased moisture in your home impacts the temperature. Moisture impacts the humidity level of your home, making it hotter or cooler than it should be. You may have to run your air conditioner or furnace longer to compensate for these higher humidity levels, leading to your HVAC system running for too long as it tries to manage the temperature in your home. Additionally, your furnace has to work harder to increase the heat in the home. When you seal your crawl space with a vapor barrier it helps to reduce your energy costs by reducing the time that your air systems are running.

2. Limit Dampness

Water and moisture can seep through walls and the dirt floor underneath your home. As moisture and humidity increases in a crawl space, the dark and damp environment spreads moisture and promotes the growth of mold and mildew. When you add a crawl space vapor barrier, it deters moisture from entering your home and prevents damage to the structure of your home caused by rotting wood, rusted metal, and damaged drywall.  Sealing your crawl space with a vapor barrier allows it to stay dry and keeps the hazardous fumes caused by mold away from your family’s lungs.

3. Reduce Wiring and Electrical Hazards

Moisture and electrical systems is a dangerous hazard. Moisture can lead to electrical shorts, rusted wires, and even a fire. Ensuring electrical components are free from moisture is important. Failing to do so could result in an increased risk of fire or electrocution.

4. Preserve Pipes

Your crawl space has multiple pipes for your water and sewer lines. Moisture that collects on pipes can cause them to break over time due to rust, especially if you have an older home. Applying a vapor barrier will help to preserve the life of your pipes while saving you money on repairs down the road.

5. Save Your Home’s Structure

As previously mentioned, moisture in your crawl space can lead to wood rot. Rotted wood among your joists may cause structural damage, and that damage creates a huge repair bill. Prevent this tragedy from happening with crawl space vapor barriers that keep wood from rotting. We all know the Pacific Northwest gets plenty of rain all year long. Keep this water out of  your crawl space with a vapor barrier installation underneath your home.


Watch for Warning Signs

The following are some common indications of moisture beneath your house. If you see these signs, you should install crawl space vapor barriers as soon as possible.

  1. Standing water in your crawl space
  2. Peeling exterior paint
  3. Infestations of insects or other animals
  4. HVAC ventilation shows evidence of rust
  5. Mold and mildew is present on the walls and flooring of your main floor
  6. A bad odor in and around your home
  7. High radon levels in your home
  8. Rotting wood in the ceiling of the crawl space
  9. Efflorescence on the walls of the crawl space
  10. Rusted pipes in the crawl space
  11. Frequent headaches, respiratory illnesses, allergies and asthma complications that could come from mold or mildew beneath your house


The Lack of a Vapor Barrier Affects the Value of Your Home

A mold infestation can impact the value of your home significantly. Mold is a fungus that can quickly grow in moisture-rich areas and cause illnesses among your family - only certified professionals can remove mold completely. Not only can mold cause health problems, but it also impacts the insurability of your home. A mold infestation can reduce the value of your home by up to half, which is why prevention is so important and worth every penny.


What is the Best Method for Keeping Your Crawl Space Dry?

You should eliminate all moisture and water from your crawl space. If there is standing water or wet material, such as insulation or debris, remove it. Ensure your ventilation system is in working order by examining the duct work. In addition, review the walls and window wells to make sure there are no cracks or gaps. If you do see cracks, gaps or other damage, seal these completely. Finally, after replacing any insulation you've removed, proceed with a vapor barrier installation in your crawl space.


Contact Us

Crawl space vapor barriers can keep moisture out of your crawl space, prevent rusted pipes and ducts, give you a dry home, leave a clean space, prevent animals and much more. If you have not done so already, contact us to schedule a crawl space vapor barrier installation today.

Chuck Henrichsen
President and CEO of Clean Crawls, Treasurer of E3 World Wide, proud husband and father.