The Blog

Protect Your Home With Vapor Barriers

By Chuck Henrichsen on October 23, 2014

The crawl space is one of the most neglected areas of the home. Because what is out of sight is out of mind, most people fail to remember to perform regular inspections of their insulation and vapor barrier.

We all know that the Pacific Northwest is a rainy, damp region. But this doesn’t mean that our houses have to be. Having a crawl space vapor barrier protects your home from the excess moisture rising from the exposed earth below. That moisture can cause big problems.

As you know if you’ve read any of our blog posts before, we take moisture in the home very seriously. We’ve seen firsthand the effects of moisture on the structural integrity, air quality, and livability of a home. Mold always follows a damp environment, and effectively destroys wood and insulation. If not checked, it will literally eat away your entire support structure. Such houses are not always recoverable, and are often condemned if the mold is a virulent variety.

Vapor Barriers

Crawl space vapor barriers protect against mold, mildew, and rot. The vapor barrier is made of a heavy plastic that completely covers the floor of the crawl space. The sheets of plastic overlap each other by 6 - 12 inches, but are not completely sealed to allow for water drainage.

The following are some of the negative impacts that damaged, insufficient, or nonexistent vapor barriers can cause.

Poor Air Quality

Because the majority of the air in your home has risen from the lower levels of your home, you’ll find that a clean, dry crawl space is going to have a very positive impact on the air quality of your home. Crawl spaces that have mold and mildew in them will negatively impact your air quality, sometimes inciting allergic responses from family members, causing irritation or congestion of the nose, throat and lungs. It’s important to keep your air clean!

Warping Due to Moisture

Because the floor of most crawl spaces is bare dirt or soil, it is susceptible to normal groundwater and flooding. This moisture leaking into your home can cause warping of your subfloor and even the floor itself. It can also weaken support beams, allowing areas of your floor to sag or become unstable.

Wood Rot, Mold, and Odors

As we’ve stated, moisture commonly results in mold or wood rot. In addition to weakening your home, wood rot, and most molds, have an unpleasant odor that will waft into your home. There, allergies and other respiratory issues can be triggered.

Insects and Pests

Moisture and wood rot attracts insects—they love nothing better than a soft wooden beam to burrow into. But if insects weren’t bad enough, mice, rats, and snakes are often right behind them. Crawl spaces without a vapor barrier make it easier for these pests to sneak into your crawl space and make their homes. Once established there, it can be difficult and very unpleasant to remove them, not to mention exposing the rest of the household to their scampering and feces.

Burst and Frozen Pipes

In winter months, excess moisture that is not minimized or stabilized by a crawl space vapor barrier can cause condensation on pipes or ducts to freeze. Frozen pipes can create a host of problems, the most worrisome of which is bursting or cracking. These pipes will have to be replaced, and any damage that resulted repaired—an expensive fix.

Our Services for Your Home

Clean Crawls specializes in the proper installation of vapor barriers throughout Western Washington for your crawl space. You invested in purchasing your home—shouldn’t you invest in protecting it as well?

Contact our office today to schedule a free estimate.

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