If you're worried about mold, want to improve air quality and efficiency, and prevent damage to the foundation, crawl space encapsulation is the most effective way to stop moisture under your home. Because this is such a comprehensive update, it's normal to have questions to see if encapsulation is right for your home. To help you decide, our certified crawl space experts are sharing the answers to our most frequently asked questions.
What Is Crawl Space Encapsulation?
Crawl space encapsulation is a process of sealing the space under your home, preventing all moisture and outdoor air flow from entering the space. The foundation walls and floor are overlapped with heavy sheets of thick plastic that cover every inch of space and extend all the way up to where the foundation meets the house. The end result is a clean, dry, fully sealed crawl space in which humidity and moisture can't enter.
What Causes Moisture in a Crawl Space (and Why Is It a Problem)?
When a house is built over a crawl space, moisture enters in three ways:
- Moisture within the soil under the home evaporates and is trapped in the crawl space;
- Heavy rains and runoff around the home enter through cracks and gaps in the foundation or seep in through the blocks;
- Humidity from outside enters through vents, cracks, and crevices.
While you may think that what happens in the crawl space stays there and isn't a problem, a majority of the air in your home enters through the crawl space, traveling up through cracks and gaps in your subflooring and into your home. This moisture can end up causing the following problems:
- Mold growth under the house can lead to spores in the living areas of the home;
- Poor air quality in the home caused by mold, mildew, and bacteria can cause respiratory problems and illness;
- Damp, musty odors in your home;
- Pests that are drawn to damp, dark spaces, including roaches, mice, and termites, can infest your crawl space and your home;
- Excess moisture can rot wood floor joists and lead to structural problems;
- Heated and cooled air in your living spaces can escape down through your crawl space, causing increased energy bills.
Water and moisture can lead to both short term and long term problems for your home and family, and it's necessary to solve the issue to prevent them.
Is Crawl Space Encapsulation Necessary?
In North Carolina, our humid summers and heavy thunderstorms can continually expose your crawl space to moisture, dampness, and even pooling water. Crawl space encapsulation completely seals out moisture from the space under your home, offering the only comprehensive solution available, preventing the damage it causes.
Why Choose Crawl Space Sealing Instead of a Vapor Barrier?
A vapor barrier is a sheet of plastic installed over the floor of the crawl space. While it does block moisture that evaporates up from the surface, it's only a partial solution as it leaves the walls, vents, and cracks around the foundation open, allowing moisture, water, and humidity to flow into the area. Crawl space encapsulation places a barrier over the floor and also seals the walls, vents, and other exposed areas.
Will Sealing the Crawl Space Improve My Home's Air Quality and Efficiency?
Absolutely. The air beneath your home has been contaminated with mold spores, mildew, and other bacteria and pollutants caused by stagnant moisture. That air moves upward from the crawl space and into the living areas of your home, bringing the contaminants with it and harming your air quality. This problem can be compounded if you have HVAC ducts under your home. Leaks in the duct work allow the contaminated air to circulate up through your vents and at the same time, the heated and cooled air in your home from your HVAC system is seeping down into your crawl space or leaking out in your ducts. By sealing the space, the air under your home will be cleaner and healthier, free of mold and mildew, so when it enters your home, it won't cause respiratory problems or illness for your family.
Will Sealing the Crawl Space Prevent Pests and Termites?
In North Carolina, termites need damp soil for their colonies as well as easy access to wood and cellulose. An unsealed crawl space offers both of these, making them especially susceptible to termite infestation and the ensuing damage. In addition to termites, roaches, mosquitoes, and other pests are drawn to moisture, and will often set up nests or colonies in crawl spaces where they can easily enter your home looking for food. Encapsulation means that not only will there not be any moisture to attract pests, but they won't have a way in at all.
Can I Use an Encapsulated Crawl Space for Storage?
Once the area is completely encapsulated, with the exception of a well-fitted access panel, the area will be dry and clean, making it an excellent option for storage.
Do the Vents Need to Be Blocked During Crawl Space Encapsulation?
This is an area of debate for homeowners and contractors because there is an outdated belief that there has to be venting in a crawl space for air to escape. However, vents are only necessary when the crawl space isn't sealed as they allow a small amount of trapped moisture and gases under the house to escape. When the area is sealed, there's no moisture or gas build up to worry about, and venting will only cause humidity to enter the space.
Schedule a estimate for Crawl Space Encapsulation and Waterproofing in Raleigh
If you're concerned about moisture under your home and both the short-term and long-term problems it can cause, we can help. Our experienced, licensed team will seal the space under your home, creating a dry, clean space that will make it safer, healthier, and more efficient. To learn more or to schedule a quote for service, reach out to us at 919-847-7072
or complete our online contact form below.