While you probably don't spend much time thinking about the crawl space of your home, you should definitely give it some consideration if you want to prevent expensive foundation damage and unhealthy air quality. Because crawl spaces are only about 18 to 36 inches high with minimal airflow, the dirt is always wet, so moisture is continually evaporating under the home.
Due to the minimal flow and circulation, the air is humid, dirty, and mainly trapped under your home, creating a breeding ground for mold, mildew, wood rot, and insects. This air does work its way through your home's flooring, with most studies estimating 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's Purpose?
A vapor barrier is a type of plastic material, usually sheeting, that is used to line the ground under your home's crawl space or unfinished basement. It's an impermeable material, so air and moisture can't flow through it, so the evaporated moisture from the dirt under your home is blocked.
However, if your crawl space or basement is still vented, a vapor barrier is not a 100 percent effective way to block moisture from under your home. Even though the moisture may not evaporate from the dirt below your house, humid air from outdoors will still enter any crevices, cracks, and vents where it will stagnate and bring the same kind of problems.
Should You Choose Vapor Barriers for Your Sanford Home?
While they are technically better than nothing, they really only slow down mold growth and wood rot.
Depending on the climate you live in and the relative moisture in the air, most homes will need a more efficient and effective moisture deterrent that blocks all types of vapor from entering your crawl space or basement. In dry or cold climates, such as the Northeastern United States, Upper Midwest, and parts of Canada, homes that don't rely on the central air conditioning or exterior foam sheathing on the walls may find a vapor barrier to be adequate moisture prevention.
In the Southeast, including North Carolina, a vapor barrier isn't nearly as effective to block water vapor from taking its toll on your home in Sanford. Because our climate is so hot and humid for much of the year, a vapor barrier is insufficient to handle the day-to-day conditions of our extreme climate.
The science behind it shows that most water vapor doesn't permeate through diffusion (meaning the evaporated moisture seeping through the solid floorboards and subflooring). Instead, it is more likely to come through in gaps and voids - meaning moisture 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.
The Downside to Crawl Space Vapor Barriers
If you're relying on only a vapor barrier 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. No matter where dampness comes from, it still can speed up wood rot as well as become a breeding ground for insects, including termites. Over time, this can cause your home's foundation and floor joists can become damaged or weakened, requiring professional floor leveling and intensive repairs.
Another factor to consider is that moist humid air from your crawl space of the basement is unhealthy and could even be dangerous. Unless you encapsulate your basement, this stagnant, moist air can permeate the rest of the house, carrying toxic mold spores and mildew. Spores can also enter your HVAC system and circulate unhealthy air through your home, triggering asthma attacks, allergy symptoms, headaches, and other chronic issues.
Protect Your Sanford Home with More than a Vapor Barrier
You need a comprehensive solution to preventing moisture from entering your home from your crawls space. To better protect your family from the harmful effects of poor moisture management, the experts at Crawl Space and Basement Technologies offer individual solutions to encapsulate your crawl space. This seals any cracks, voids, 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 Sanford
If you'd like to learn what options are available to ensure a drier crawl space or basement, schedule your no-obligation estimate, call us today at (919) 847-7072 or fill 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.