Do you know what’s underneath your house? Unsightly, unhealthy things could be lurking beneath your feet, and you may not be aware of them.
Many homes throughout the country were built on top of a crawl space. This is a tight, 1-3 ft. high area that elevates the home structure off of the ground. It also can contain essentials such as plumbing pipes, ductwork, and HVAC equipment.
While this area serves a purpose, it can be a dangerous place that negatively impacts the health and safety of your home and family. While it is important to be aware of the condition of your crawl space, we don’t advise venturing into this area. Instead, we recommend keeping a keen eye out for various issues. Here are nine signs to look out for throughout the rest of your home that could indicate you have a problem with your crawl space:
Sagging, Uneven Floor
When you walk across some areas of your first floor, do they feel bouncy and unstable? Have you also noticed visible dips in the floor or gaps between the floor and wall? Sagging, uneven floors are common because of problems with crawl space floor joists. Whether they are made of wood or metal, floor joists can easily succumb to the presence of excessive crawl space moisture and humidity, as well as termites and other pest damage.
Drywall and Other Cracks
Similarly, any problems with the supports in your crawl space can lead to additional issues throughout your home. Drywall cracks in the walls and off of doorways and window corners could be connected to weakening crawl space floor joists and supports. They also could be happening because of foundation problems like settling.
Condensation on Windows
Water droplets in the form of condensation can be seen on surfaces like your windows. While there could be a problem with the window itself, this most likely happens because of too much moisture and humidity in your home. This leads us to the next problem sign.
Increased Humidity Throughout Your Home
If the inside of your home feels like a balmy summer afternoon, there’s too much moisture and humidity in the air that likely originates from the crawl space. The ideal humidity range for a comfortable home is 40 to 60 percent. Humidity levels above 60 percent can lead to health issues as well as mold, mildew, and fungal growth.
Mold spores can easily circulate up from the crawl space and throughout the rest of your home. Mold thrives in humid areas with organic material it can use to sprout and spread. This includes bathrooms and kitchens. It comes in a variety of colors including black, pink, gray, and green.
Cold Floors in Winter
Winter inevitably brings cold temperatures. But the floor under your feet should not feel cool to the touch. If it does, the problem could be with a vented crawl space under your house that allows cold outdoor air to enter your home environment.
High Electric and Energy Bills
In a similar vein, we naturally turn our thermostats up to be comfortably warm when the weather turns. But your furnace may be overtaxed if it is fighting to heat the freezing air brought in by open crawl space vents. Not only can this take its toll on your furnace, but it can be seen in higher than normal electric and other energy bills.
Unpleasant, Musty Odors
Even after a thorough cleaning, do you still notice unpleasant, musty odors throughout your home that you just can’t seem to pinpoint? It may not be an old pair of shoes or a forgotten gym bag. Nasty smells from wet or moldy insulation, pest waste, or other nuisances could be wafting up from your crawl space.
Increased Pest Activity
Spotting the occasional spider is not uncommon in homes, but too many creepy crawlers are unnerving and unhealthy. Pests and bugs love crawl spaces because of their darkness, moisture, and isolation, but they may get bold and find their way up to your main living area.
What Causes Crawl Space Problems?
While crawl space problems can happen for a variety of reasons, they typically occur because of fatal design flaws. Since the mid-20th century, crawl spaces have been built with open vents and dirt floors. Leaving the dirt exposed was generally cheaper than covering it or pouring concrete. The open vents were intended to allow air to flow freely throughout the space to reduce moisture and humidity. But foundation experts have found the reverse is true. Open vents only allow water, pests, and unconditioned air into the space to wreak havoc on your home.
When there is too much humidity, moisture, or water in the space, it can lead to damage including rotting wood and sagging floors, energy drains, pest infestations, mold growth, unpleasant odors, and more.
A vented crawl space also fuels the stack effect, the natural flow of air from bottom to top. Because of this, half of the air in your home comes from your crawl space. That means anything in your crawl space like unpleasant odors, mold, and mold spores are also circulating in the air throughout the rest of your house. This can lead to or worsen lung and breathing conditions including asthma and allergies.
How Can Crawl Space Problems Be Fixed?
The first step in remedying any crawl space problem is to have a professional inspection. Your local Groundworks company can provide a free inspection with one of our highly trained and experienced experts. Our inspector will complete a thorough evaluation of your home inside and out, including your crawl space. That way, they can determine what’s going on, what caused these problems, any potential future issues that may arise, and the best way to solve them.
We provide reliable crawl space repair and encapsulation solutions that are proven to permanently protect your crawl space and home. These include vapor barriers, vent covers, and energy-efficient dehumidifiers. Each solution is fully customizable based on your home’s needs, and they carry long-term, nationally backed warranties.
If you notice any of the signs mentioned here and suspect there might be a problem with your crawl space, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local crawl space repair experts to schedule your free inspection and repair estimate!