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Maintaining Crawl Space Encapsulation: Tips & Advice

crew encapsulating a crawl space

As a homeowner, you’ll encounter problems that demand your attention beyond typical issues like plumbing and HVAC repairs. Moisture and damage underneath your home require crawl space encapsulation to repair and protect it. But that’s not a set-it-and-forget-it project.

Your crawl space encapsulation measures must be in good working order to prevent recurring issues that can harm your home and your family. This makes ongoing inspection, service, and maintenance important.

Learn more about crawl space encapsulation, how to address any issues and maintain it, and how local crawl space professionals help ensure your home’s health and safety.

What is Crawl Space Encapsulation?

Crawl space encapsulation is a method of keeping your home’s crawl space moisture-free by laying down a vapor barrier that seals the floor and walls. Complete encapsulation also includes interior drains, a sump pump, an energy-efficient dehumidifier, and insulation panels. Working in tandem, these solutions protect your home from the negative effects of soil and other external elements.

Proper maintenance is key to ensuring that your crawl space encapsulation continues to function effectively. Unfortunately, many homeowners neglect their encapsulation, assuming that their vapor barrier will remain intact for decades. This can be a costly mistake, as neglecting maintenance can cause damage and ultimately compromise the effectiveness of the encapsulation.

Don’t let neglect compromise your home’s health and safety—prioritize maintenance and care for your crawl space encapsulation.

4 Crawl Space Encapsulation Mistakes to Avoid

Encapsulating your crawl space is a significant investment, so it’s essential to get everything right the first time. Here are some of the mistakes you should avoid when encapsulating your crawl space:

1. Avoid Leaving Large Air Gaps During Encapsulation

Encapsulating your crawl space without sealing all the outer air sources is a mistake. Large air gaps will allow outside air to enter your crawl space, rendering the encapsulation ineffective. Ensure that you seal all the air gaps to allow the dehumidifier to work optimally in conditioning the air below.

2. Avoid Using Fiberglass Between Floor Joists

Fiberglass insulation is not recommended for crawl space insulation, as it absorbs moisture and loses its R-value. The urea-based adhesive used to hold fiberglass batches together is a breeding ground for mold and mildew. Avoid using fiberglass altogether.

3. Don’t Attempt DIY Over Professional Installation

Although DIY crawl space encapsulation might seem fun and cost-effective, it’s not a good idea. Without the necessary skills and experience, you could end up wasting time, resources, and effort. Working with a professional installation expert ensures that the job is done right the first time and lasts longer. Avoid DIY crawl space renovation to prevent costly mistakes.

4. Be Careful What You Store In The Crawl Space

Another important tip to maintain your crawl space is to refrain from using it as a tool shed or pantry. Storing sharp or heavy items in your crawl space could damage your vapor barrier, rendering it ineffective, and create an opening for pests to enter. Likewise, keeping food supplies in the crawl space will attract rodents and other pests.

3 Steps to Ensure a Successful Crawl Space Encapsulation

When planning to encapsulate your crawl space, it’s crucial to understand what you should do to ensure a successful project. Here are some steps local crawl space experts follow:

1. Prepare The Crawl Space

Before starting the encapsulation process, assess the current state of your crawl space. You should address any drainage issues around your home’s foundation, inspect for mold growth, and check for harmful emissions from appliances. Seek the help of experts to resolve these issues before encapsulating the crawl space.

2. Install a Drainage System

Encapsulation with a vapor barrier alone does not prevent water from entering your crawl space or flooding beneath your house. Installing a drainage system is essential to avoid water damage that could be expensive to repair. Pair this system with a sump pump to direct water away from your home and prevent water from collecting around your house.

3. Seal the Vents, Walls, and Floor

Once the crawl space is ready and includes water management solutions, the next step is to seal off areas that could allow moisture and damp air to penetrate. Install a heavy plastic vapor barrier on the floor and attach it to the walls and support columns. Seal all vents and openings using foam board or spray foam, and focus on sealing gaps and cracks, including plumbing penetrations, band joists, wiring, and HVAC drain line runs.

How Professionals Inspect Your Crawl Space

Your crawl space can be a tricky area to maintain, as any problems that arise there can affect the rest of your home. Many homeowners only have their crawl space inspected when they plan to sell their property, which can lead to costly damages that can lower the value of their home. To prevent this, Groundworks recommends inspecting your crawl space annually.

However, we don’t recommend venturing into your crawl space on your own, whether it’s encapsulated or not. Don’t risk damaging the area, potentially exposing yourself to unsafe conditions, or even getting stuck beneath your home. Instead, rely on experienced professionals like the Groundworks company serving your area.

During a crawl space inspection, our experts keep an eye out for any red flags that indicate a problem, including:

Groundworks inspector evaluating a crawl space
  • Condensation
  • Standing water
  • Warped materials
  • Electrical wiring, plumbing, or ventilation issues

By properly maintaining your crawl space, you can prevent it from affecting the rest of your home and ensure that your property retains its value. Don’t wait until it’s too late – make sure to inspect your crawl space regularly and address any issues as soon as they arise.

Best Times to Inspect and Maintain Your Crawl Space Encapsulation

You may be wondering when is the best time to perform crawl space maintenance. While spring is a great time to do this, as the weather is mild and you may already be in the mood for spring cleaning and home maintenance, it’s important to keep in mind that there are other times when it’s wise to invest in a professional crawl space inspection.

For example, it’s crucial to check your crawl space during heavy rainstorms to see if rainwater is entering the area. Additionally, it’s a good idea to inspect your crawl space in late fall, as a lot can happen between spring and fall, and you don’t want to head into winter with a compromised crawl space.

By performing maintenance just before winter starts, you can ensure that your subflooring is intact, your plumbing is properly insulated, and there are no other problems that could cause issues during the colder months. Keep up with your crawl space encapsulation maintenance, and you’ll enjoy a safe, comfortable home all year round.

Maintain Your Crawl Space Encapsulation with Groundworks!

Groundworks inspector meeting with homeowners

If you have encapsulated your crawl space, you may be wondering how long it will last. Existing encapsulations may succumb to moisture and damage, but Groundworks’ encapsulation projects are designed to last.

If you suspect your encapsulation has failed or has become moldy, don’t hesitate to contact your local crawl space repair expert to schedule a free inspection and repair quote. By addressing any issues early on, you can avoid more costly repairs in the future and maintain a safe and healthy living environment.


Many builders, contractors, and big-box stores offer vapor barriers in 6-mil, 10-mil, and 12-mil thickness. These are relatively thin and often puncture easily, failing to properly protect your crawl space. Instead, opt for a 20-mil crawl space vapor barrier exclusively installed by Groundworks companies. This is a far more effective and long-lasting solution than other conventional materials, as it resists mold, moisture, pests, and punctures.

Yes, completely sealing your crawl space from the outside environment with proper encapsulation is important to prevent moisture, pests, and unconditioned air from entering. While a vapor barrier and waterproofing measures address moisture, a dehumidifier also helps condition the air. Working in tandem, these solutions protect your crawl space, structural integrity, and your home and family’s health.

Crawl space encapsulation can enhance your home’s health and value by decreasing the risk of mold, mildew, and structural damage. However, the extent of its impact on home value varies depending on the local real estate market and potential buyer preferences. 

Holly Richards-Purpura

Holly Richards-Purpura

Content Writer

Holly is a Content Writer for Groundworks who has written and edited web content for the foundation services industry for almost 10 years. With a background in journalism, her passion for the written word runs deep. Holly lives in Columbus, OH, with her husband. Along with educating homeowners, she also has a big heart for the Big Apple.