What Is Crawl Space Encapsulation?
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When homes are built, they are usually constructed on top of a basement or a crawl space – each with its own advantages and drawbacks. About 20 percent of all newly built homes in the U.S. have crawl spaces. A crawl space is an unfinished, narrow space between the ground and the first floor named so because there is typically only enough room to crawl rather than stand.
Before encapsulation, crawl spaces consist of exposed earth, which contributes a lot of water vapor into the crawl space air. The earth is damp, and as that damp soil dries beneath the house, the water vapor moves upward.
This is a problem for several reasons:
- That mold and rot riddled air of your crawl space is the same air you’re breathing in other parts of your home. Between one-third and one-half of the air you breathe on the first floor of your home comes through your crawl space.
- You’re paying more for heating and cooling costs because damp air takes more energy to cool in the summer and heat in the winter.
- Crawl spaces house your HVAC, electrical, plumbing, gas lines, and irrigation systems of your home, and moisture-related issues such as mold and mildew can compromise the efficiency and durability of your HVAC equipment.
That’s why experts recommend encapsulation. Although often confused with crawl space insulation, crawl space encapsulation is a very different process and serves a different purpose. Insulating your crawl space will likely only address cold floors, while encapsulation helps to tackle those issues of ground moisture and humidity.
Benefits of Crawl Space Encapsulation
- Improves air quality — By promoting clean air circulation throughout your home, you’re making it healthier to breathe for your family.
- Eliminates insect infestation — Wet, damp crawl spaces are breeding grounds for pests and termites.
- Prevents mold and mildew — Unwanted moisture issues are prevented when moisture is eliminated from under your home.
- Prevents structural damage — Crawl space encapsulation helps prevent moisture retention and makes your foundation more stable for years.
- Increases energy efficiency — Studies show that homeowners who properly fix their vented dirt crawl space can save 15 to 25 percent on their heating and air conditioning costs.
By now you’re probably thinking, “Sure, this all makes sense, but how does encapsulation fix it?” The answer is fairly simple; it takes just a few high-quality products to keep moisture and humidity out of your home.
Step 1: Fix the Groundwater Seepage
The first thing that needs to be done is to install a sump pump. A quality crawl space sump pump removes standing water from the crawl space. The sump pump is typically installed in the lowest spot of the crawl space. Any water that gets into the crawl space, such as rainwater, melting snow, or a plumbing leak, will naturally drain into the sump pump and will be pumped out and away from the foundation.
Step 2: Isolate the House from the Earth
To do this, Basement Authority of West Virginia uses a product called the AquaStop CrawlSeal Vapor Barrier, which is a 20 mil thick plastic liner that can be fitted in your crawl space to completely seal off your home from the earth. CrawlSeal also has an antimicrobial additive manufactured into the material, which prevents mold growth. Plus, the bright white color transforms the aesthetics your crawl space!
Step 3: Seal Out “Evil” Outside Air
Air is constantly moving, being drawn into your crawl space from the outside, and since it can slip through the tiniest of cracks, keeping it out can be a challenge. Our AquaStop vent covers are designed to do the trick. They are plastic, so they won’t rust or rot, and they are gasketed for an airtight seal using fasteners drilled into the wall.
Step 4: Keep Your Crawl Space Air Dry
At Basement Authority of WV, we use the AquaStop Crawl Space Air System, designed to dry a basement or crawl space — no matter how damp — and keep it that way. The AquaStop Air System takes up to 100 pints of water per day out of your crawl space air (while using the same energy as a 40-pint dehumidifier), and it filters particles out of the air to less than 2 microns in size — smaller than any mold spore or dust mite dropping. Plus, by hooking it up with a hose that drains the water away automatically into your sump pump, you never have to worry about the chore of emptying it!
So What Are Some Signs That Crawl Space Encapsulation Would be Good for Your Home?
- Dust Mites
- Sticking/swollen doors and windows
- Smelly damp carpets
- Buckling hardwood floors
- Condensation/rotting/mold in your attic
- Frost or condensation and mold on the inside of windows in cool weather
- Increased cooling bills
- Increased heating bills
- Mold upstairs
- Decreased life of roof sheathing and shingles
- Decreased life of the paint on the outside of your house
- Aggravated asthma and allergies
If any of these pertain to your home, contact us for a free, no-obligation estimate! You’ll be glad you did.
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