If your crawl space is left untreated and exposed to the elements, your health could be in jeopardy and your home could be at a higher risk for rot and damage. While that may sound exaggerated, your home’s crawl spaces is only about 18 to 36 inches of space, and the minimal air flow, combined with the constant dampness that’s evaporating from the dirt is a breeding ground for wood rot, insects, and mold.
That damp, unhealthy air can enter your home through cracks and gaps and circulate mold spores, mildew, and other toxins through your home. In fact, it’s estimated that up to 40 percent of the air on your home’s first floor is coming from your vented crawl space.
What Is a Vapor Barrier Exactly?
A vapor barrier is a common option to reduce moisture in a home’s crawl space or basement. It’s a plastic sheet material that is lined over the earth under your home that lines the ground of your crawl space to block water vapor from evaporating from the ground and entering your home. While evaporation from damp earth does play a role in the amount of moisture under your home, it’s not the sole culprit. In fact, if your crawl space or basement is vented, a vapor barrier won’t stop the warm, humid air from outdoors from entering through small cracks, crevices, or vents. Due to minimal to no air flow, the air will stagnate, causing the same problems.
Is a Vapor Barrier Right for Your Chapel Hill Home?
For people living in cold, dry climates, a vapor barrier is generally an acceptable way to prevent moisture in the home. However, most of the United States is too warm and humid for a vapor barrier to be effective because it can’t block all the moisture in your crawl space. Chapel Hill is not only extremely hot in the summer, but much of the year is also extremely humid, making a barrier insufficient protection for your home.
Vapor barriers simply can’t block all the moisture in your crawl space, so they’re only slowing down mold growth and wood rot. In reality, anywhere there are gaps and spaces, moisture can seep in and is more likely to enter your home through cracks and vents in your crawl space, then find holes and spaces under your flooring to enter. That’s why sealing is a much better option.
Why a Vapor Barrier May Not Be Enough
If you’re only relying on plastic sheeting to keep your vented crawl space or unfinished basement dry, you may be surprised to find that humid and mold-laden air is still able to enter the area. Just like moisture from the ground, humid air from outside is just as disastrous for your home’s structural integrity. Warm, damp places speed up wood rot and encourage insects and termites, and over time, this can cause your home’s foundation and floor joists can become damaged or weakened, requiring professional floor leveling and intensive repairs.
Warm, moist air can increase how quickly bacteria grows and supports mold growth that can then enter your home. Unless you encapsulate your crawl space or basement, the air that enters will end up moving through the rest of the house and can make you and your family sick as well as cause damage to your walls, flooring, and anywhere mold can grow. Spores can also enter your HVAC system and circulate through your home, triggering asthma attacks, allergy symptoms, headaches, and other chronic issues.
Protect Your Chapel Hill Home with More than a Vapor Barrier
In order to prevent damage to your home and poor air quality, you need to prevent as much moisture from entering your home through your crawl space as possible. That’s why the experts at Crawl Space and Basement Technologies recommend basement and crawl space encapsulation. This totally seals all the cracks, crevices, and vents around the perimeter of your crawl space or basement as well as sealing the floor, keeping your home drier, healthier, and more comfortable!
Call Our Crawl Space & Basement Moisture Specialists in Chapel Hill
If you’d like to learn what options are available to ensure a drier crawl space or basement, schedule your no-obligation estimate by calling us today at (919) 847-7072 or filling out our online form. We will visit your home to give you the most accurate price point for the job. Our trained specialist will guide you through the options to determine the best solution for you and your budget.