The Blog

Crawl Space Care: How To Protect Your Home From Disaster

By Chuck Henrichsen on July 30, 2014

Having a safe and healthy home is a top priority for all of us. Our family’s safety is our greatest concern as parents and homeowners. It’s for this reason that we believe good crawl space care is a vital aspect of every homeowner’s home maintenance.

Crawl spaces that are infested with pests or mold allow toxic air to circulate through your home. Mold growth and moisture damage can weaken the structure of the support beams and foundation walls. Poor insulation will allow drastic changes in temperature, allowing for moisture accumulation and causing a large dent in your wallet as your heating and cooling systems try to compensate for the influx of cold or warm air coming from beneath your floorboards.

One of the ways that you will hear crawl space servicemen suggest to prevent all of this from happening is a process called crawl space encapsulation. While this process is effective in some areas of the United States, at Clean Crawls, we have found that this method does not prove as effective here in the Pacific Northwest.

So, how do we prevent all of this? Good crawl space care! At Clean Crawls, we believe that there are several steps necessary to make sure that your crawl space is in good condition. Here’s how we do it...

Step One: Clean Your Crawl Space

A thorough professional cleaning is recommended as the first and best step a homeowner can take in caring for the crawl space. This is especially true for crawl spaces that have problems with mold or high levels of moisture. If there are any areas in the crawl space that have water leaking, that problem must be eliminated. If there is a large amount of water, a perimeter drain may need to be fixed or installed. Any rodent or pest infestations must also be dealt with during this stage.

crawl space cleaning

If homeowners skip this vital first step and continue on to following steps, such as installing a vapor barrier, sealing the crawl space, or installing insulation, they are creating a recipe for wasted money, and ruined vapor barriers and insulation. When mold, mildew, or pests are sealed into the area, it can create new and serious problems.

Because of this, we recommend that every homeowner invest in a crawl space cleaning service from professionals. This relatively small cost will save many thousands of dollars in the future and help to prevent any serious problems from arising or becoming worse.

Step Two: Exclusion and Ventilation

The next step your crawl space team will take is to block off all the rodent entry points to your crawl space and ensure your crawl space is properly ventilated. Ventilation is checked for sufficient airflow as well as for holes or gaps that could allow pests inside the space. Seams in the walls and around the vents and door to the crawl space must also be checked and sealed. Proper exclusion on all entrance points will ensure that no rodents are able to infiltrate your crawl space, and making sure you have enough airflow in your crawl space will help keep moisture at bay.

Exclusion work is performed as a rodent deterrent and is necessary to effectively control rodent infestations and re-infestation. Clean Crawls' exclusion work is not guaranteed to prevent rodents and pests from re-inhabiting a home and by itself may not completely eliminate the problem. The customer is recommended to be on a pest management program to prevent or eradicate present and future infestations.

Step Three: Install a Vapor Barrier

A vapor barrier is an essential tool for preventing moisture from accumulating in your crawl space, paving the way for weakened supports and mold infestations.

We will begin installing your vapor barrier by lining the crawl space walls and floor with sheets of thick plastic. This plastic is very difficult to tear or damage, though it can get holes in it if poked by sharp objects or sharp little teeth.

Step Four: Insulate

Once the vapor barrier has been installed, it is time for insulation to be placed. There are various forms of insulation that may be used in the crawl space. The most popular type of insulation is fiber glass batts, installed between the floor joists and held in place with string ties or stay rods.

While fiber glass batts work well, we recommend combining that with closed cell spray foam insulationin a solution called 'flash and batt'. This involves a relatively thin layer of spray foam, which is able to get into all cracks and crannies, where it expands, creating a very tight seal against air and heat transfer, and then filling the joists with the (less expensive) fiber glass batts.

Another benefit to this solution is that spray foam also helps to prevent mold growth and moisture damage due to it’s exceedingly tight sealing capabilities and it’s impermeability to moisture.

Insulation will help to keep the temperature of the crawl space regulated and contribute to an even temperature in the home. In the coldest and warmest months of the year, non-insulated crawl spaces are responsible for skyrocketing energy bills, as your heating and cooling systems struggle to combat the warm/cold air flowing up from beneath your floor.

Crawl space maintenance is an important part of good home care. By protecting the support structure of your home from moisture, mold, rodents, and decay, you ensure that your indoor air is clean, your energy bills remain low, and your house will be structurally sound for years to come.

Contact our team of crawl space professionals for a free quote.

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

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