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How to Encapsulate a Crawl Space

Crawl spaces are often forgotten areas because they are not readily visible or part of the main living space. But they have a lot of sway over the condition of the rest of your home. Most homeowners do not want anything to do with their crawl space because, more often than not, it is a dark, dingy, smelly area that can harbor pests, mold growth, and other dangers. However, these problems are exactly why it’s important for you to maintain crawl space vigilance. Your home’s safety and your family’s health could be in jeopardy. 

The best way to tackle your crawl space and its problems for good is with professional encapsulation. Groundworks companies across the country have many years of experience with accurately diagnosing crawl space issues and installing nothing but the best permanent encapsulation and repair solutions. These include waterproofing with interior drainage and sump pumps, insulating the walls with thermal insulation boards, and sealing the space with a vapor barrier and vent covers. We have fixed approximately 8,000 crawl spaces this year, and we are eager to help you transform your crawl space, as well. 

What Is a Crawl Space?

Before encapsulating your crawl space, it’s important for you as a homeowner to be familiar with this area under your house, what it is, and how it affects your home and family. 

A crawl space is the area directly below your main living area that elevates your home off the ground. This “buffer” between the earth and the home itself is typically 1-3” high, just enough room to crawl through, hence the name. Crawl spaces are generally cheaper to build than basements, and they are convenient for tucking away plumbing pipes, electrical wires, ductwork, and HVAC equipment. 

Not every house has a crawl space. Some were built on a slab, have a basement or crawl space, or contain a combination with a basement and adjacent partial crawl space. Only 12 percent of homes built in 2021 were constructed with a crawl space, and this foundation type is more popular in the south, also accounting for 12 percent of new homes in the region. 

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What are the Most Common Crawl Space Problems?

While crawl spaces have their advantages, they also are fraught with troubles. The most common crawl space issues include: 

  • Mold and mildew growth 
  • Musty, unpleasant odors 
  • Wood rot 
  • Sagging, uneven floors 
  • Wet, failing insulation 

Not only will these issues show up in your crawl space, but you’ll also notice them elsewhere in your house. Because your crawl space can be a dangerous and delicate place filled with these dangers, we do not recommend that you venture into this area to investigate. If you notice these problems in your house, it is best to reach out to your local crawl space specialists for a free and thorough inspection

What Can Cause Crawl Space Issues?

Your crawl space can suffer damage for many reasons, but the primary source is how the crawl space was constructed. Building code has traditionally called for crawl spaces to have open vents that were intended to allow for better airflow and mitigate moisture and mold issues. However, vents have been found to help cause the exact problems they were meant to prevent. They allow precipitation, runoff, humid and unconditioned air, and pests into the crawl space to create a host of other problems. 

Open vents also aid in the stack effect, the natural movement of air through a building from bottom to top. This means anything in your crawl space like humid air, mold spores, and pest waste, will be airborne and circulate throughout the rest of your house. Not only does this contribute to poor air quality, but health hazards, as well. 

While crawl spaces have been fatally flawed due to their construction, it is worth noting that building codes have been amended in recent years to accommodate unvented crawl spaces. 

Crawl Space Repair Options: What Not to Do

To put an end to moisture issues and other crawl space problems, repair and encapsulation are essential. A variety of crawl space solutions exist, but only certain ones were designed to stand the test of time. 

The crawl space can be a tricky area, and just as we do not advocate your self-inspection, do-it-yourself repairs also are ill-advised. Most DIY solutions available online and at big box stores are temporary solutions at best that can end up being more expensive and difficult to install. Along with DIY projects, other “crawl space don’ts” include investing in thin vapor barriers, poor or partial encapsulation, and single products like a conventional dehumidifier or spray foam. 

How to Encapsulate a Crawl Space

Groundworks companies across the country have been in business for many years, and we have heard and seen it all when it comes to crawl spaces. We understand how complex and hazardous these areas are, which is why we’ve invested time into developing the very best solutions to tackle crawl space issues at the source and protect your home. Everything we install is made in the United States, fully customizable to meet your home’s crawl space needs, and carries long-term, transferrable, nationally backed warranties

Following a free inspection by an experienced professional from the Groundworks company serving your area, you will be presented with encapsulation and repair solutions that meet what your home needs to face its crawl space challenges. Your crawl space may require one, some, or all of these solutions, but a full crawl space encapsulation and repair project looks like this: 

1. Waterproofing Systems

If your crawl space suffers from leaks or flooding, water management systems are needed to keep it dry. Specially designed interior drainage will be placed in trenches created around the crawl space perimeter. These internal drains will collect water from the walls and floor, as well as any groundwater that rises through the dirt floor. Water from these channels is directed to drain into a sump pump, which pumps the water out of the crawl space and away from the home. Drainage matting also will be placed on the dirt floor to help direct water to the drainage system as well as serve as a level of durability enhancement for the vapor barrier. 

Crawl Space Sump Pump
Crawl Space Insulation
Crawl Space Support Jacks

2. Insulation

Having proper insulation is imperative for your home. Soft fiberglass insulation is not ideal for crawl spaces because when it gets wet it holds onto the moisture, falls down, and attracts pests. Our alternative is placing thermal foam board insulation on the crawl space walls. These thick panels contain an expanded polystyrene body, are graphite-infused, have a radiant heat barrier coating, are infused with a termiticide and pest deterrent, and have an R-value of 11. 

3. Structural Repairs

If over-spanned joists or wood rot are contributing to sagging, uneven floors, we will repair them with durable crawl space support posts. Our adjustable crawl space supports will reinforce crawl space floor joists and help lift the floor. These steel supports resist rust and corrosion, can be customized to fit the height of your crawl space, and each support has an allowable load capacity of more than 24,000 pounds. 

4. Sealing the Space

Once any water issues are addressed and structural repairs have been made, next is the actual encapsulation of the space. A thick, durable vapor barrier is placed on the walls and floor to fully seal the crawl space and isolate it from the earth. Our 20-mil vapor barrier is waterproof, mold and puncture resistant, and its light color brightens up the space. Along with sealing the crawl space with a vapor barrier, we will use airtight vent covers to conceal and cut off open vents, as well as secure doors to serve as access points that are safer and durable. 

Crawl Space Vapor Barrier
Crawl Space Vent Cover
Crawl Space Dehumidifier

5. Dehumidification

For additional moisture control, we will install a dehumidifier. Our dehumidification unit cleans and filters the air, controls moisture and humidity levels, and reduces odors and the potential for mold growth. It is compact to fit into tight crawl spaces, but it is powerful enough to collect and remove approximately 100 pints of water per day. Our dehumidifier also is energy-efficient and self-draining. 

Trust Groundworks for Reliable Crawl Space Encapsulation

A wet and moldy crawl space is harmful to your family’s health and your home’s safety and value. Nip your crawl space problems in the bud for good with encapsulation solutions installed by a professional. Groundworks installs only the best crawl space solutions guaranteed to permanently repair and protect your home. We have helped more than 1.5 million homeowners across the country repair their homes, and we are ready to help you, as well. We operate more than 45 nationwide offices, so contact your local Groundworks company today to schedule your free crawl space inspection and repair estimate