A damp crawl space can be the source of many structural woes for the average homeowner. Excess moisture in crawl spaces not only creates conditions for mold and mildew to run rampant, but it can also set off wood rot and cracked foundations. Shutting out moisture through encapsulation offers the best solution for dealing with crawl space moisture. However, it's easy for contractors and homeowners alike to make mistakes during the process.

1. Using the Wrong Insulation

Fiberglass and open-cell spray foam are the most commonly used types of insulation in residential homes. Fiberglass is popular thanks to its low cost and effectiveness at insulating indoor spaces, while spray foam allows installers to insulate voids and other hard-to-reach areas. While these two types of insulation are ideal for indoor insulation, they make terrible choices when it comes to your crawl space.

Both materials are adept at absorbing and holding moisture and water. Over time, this can set the stage for a number of problems within your crawl space. For starters, the excess moisture and water held by fiberglass and spray foam insulation can trigger mold and mildew growth and encourage rodents and other unwanted vermin. Excess crawl space moisture caused by using the wrong insulation can also lead to structural problems.

Rigid foam insulation boards offer the best way to insulate crawl spaces without the risk of moisture absorption and the problems that follow. All seams should be sealed with waterproof tape to minimize moisture intrusion between the boards.

2. Keeping Multiple Vents Open

Ventilation is crucial for maintaining healthy and comfortable indoor spaces, so it's understandable why people think this extends to crawl spaces. However, your crawl space doesn't have the same air circulation requirements as the living space above. Nevertheless, it's not unusual to see crawl spaces with multiple open vents in a misguided attempt to prevent excess moisture.

Keeping these vents open actually adds more moisture to your crawl space, making it much harder to control moisture inside your crawl space. You're better off sealing your entire crawl space from the outdoor elements.

In lieu of unconditioned outdoor air, you can link your home's HVAC system to the crawl space below. Not only does this provide drier air to your crawl space, but you'll also have the added benefit of warm air circulating under the floor, which helps improve indoor comfort while making heating costs more manageable.

3. Using the Wrong Drainage Solution

Proper drainage is another issue that's often forgotten during crawl space encapsulation. Moisture and water can slowly accumulate in even the most watertight of crawl spaces, creating pools of standing water in spaces that should ideally remain dry. Plumbing leaks and flood conditions can also pose problems for homes without an effective crawl space drainage solution.

Dealing with crawl space drainage should be a top priority for your contractor. The type of drainage system your home's crawl space needs will depend on existing conditions. For instance, a sump pump may be necessary to drain water outside if there's insufficient pitch for manual drainage.

4. Forgetting About Termite Treatment

All of the things that make up a successful crawl space encapsulation can make it difficult for exterminators to treat your home's crawl space for termites. Encapsulation can block access to the foundation wall and surrounding areas, making it harder for exterminators to detect signs of termite infestation.

Fortunately, there are several things that can be done to make your home less appealing to termites after crawl space encapsulation:

  • Install metal termite shields around the foundation to deny termites entry into the crawl space and other portions of the home.
  • Use spray cellulose insulation impregnated with borate additives to seal the foundation against moisture and prevent termite infestation.
  • Use bait systems to eliminate nearby termites and prevent colonies from being established.

These tips can help prevent termite infestations and ensure your crawl space remains properly sealed. Reach out to a place that offers crawl space waterproofing for more information and direction. 

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