How to Know If You Have an Ineffective Vapor Barrier
An ineffective vapor barrier can be one of the most frustrating concerns you can experience as a homeowner. If you have a vapor barrier, you were probably expecting that it would work in a certain way. However, a low-quality vapor barrier can end up causing more problems than it solves. If you have an ineffective vapor barrier, you’re going to end up with serious crawl space concerns, which can cause significant problems all across the crawl space. Here’s what you need to know about an ineffective vapor barrier and how to handle the problem.
Uncovering an Ineffective Vapor Barrier
First off, you need to know how to find an ineffective vapor barrier in the first place. Think about these things when you’re trying to decide whether your vapor barrier is working in a way that’s most effective for your needs.
- Know the Warning Signs
First and foremost, you need to know the warning signs of an ineffective crawl space vapor barrier. Many things can give you some insight into the fact that your crawl space vapor barrier isn’t doing its job properly. Here are just a few of them:
- High electrical bills
- Bouncy floors
- High indoor humidity
Of course, these can all be warning signs of other things as well; mold and mildew may indicate that you have standing water in your crawl space, for example. However, you might want to look and see whether an ineffective crawl space barrier is the culprit, especially if it doesn’t seem like there are any obvious warning signs.
- Get a Crawl Space Repair Expert to Inspect Your Space Every Year
Every year, you need to inspect your crawl space with an expert’s help. A yearly expert inspection is one of the best ways to make sure your crawl space stays healthy. Even if you think you don’t necessarily need a crawl space inspection this year, it’s important to schedule yours to make sure your crawl space stays as healthy as possible.
Some people don’t opt to fix their crawl space repair needs with an expert inspection because they think it’s an unnecessary expenditure. However, remember that a crawl space expert inspection is there to help you avoid worse problems in the future. A crawl space repair expert should be able to get in your crawl space and help you understand both current and potential problems.
- Inspect Your Own Crawl Space If Possible
True, an expert crawl space inspection is one of the best ways to make sure you know what’s going on in your crawl space. However, an expert can only be in your crawl space once a year. You live in your home every day, which means you’re perfectly positioned to point out problems as soon as you see them.
Even if you aren’t able to inspect your crawl space regularly, you should inspect the rest of your home as often as you can. Inspections can be a great way for you to better understand what’s going on in your crawl space, with your foundation, and with the home as a whole. That’s why you should inspect your own home even if you’re getting expert inspections as well.
How Can an Ineffective Vapor Barrier Harm Your Crawl Space?
With an ineffective vapor barrier, you’re going to end up with serious crawl space concerns. Here are just a few of the ways an ineffective vapor barrier can cause problems in your crawl space and beyond.
- The Crawl Space Itself
With an ineffective vapor barrier, you’re going to have crawl space problems. The truth of the matter is that an ineffective vapor barrier will let in water vapor, even if it held that water vapor back at some point. Water vapor in your crawl space is a terrible thing; water is one of your crawl space’s biggest enemies, and you should treat it that way.
In your crawl space, you want to make sure everything is as dry as possible. That means you need to keep crawl space water vapor out because water vapor often turns into condensation, which can wreak havoc on your crawl space. With a functioning water vapor barrier, you’ll be more ready to avoid crawl space water problems.
- The Rest of the Home
The home as a whole will see an impact when you have higher levels of crawl space humidity. For the most part, indoor humidity is something that starts in the crawl space before moving to the rest of the home. If your home seems to have an abnormally high level of humidity, it may be worth it to look in your crawl space first.
Remember, your home shares up to 50% of its air with your crawl space. If you have high crawl space humidity, you’re always going to have high indoor humidity as well. Crawl space humidity isn’t the only problem you’ll end up with, either. You could also have problems with dust and dirt, pests, and plenty of other things.
- The Property as a Whole
Most of the time, these problems arise if you’re having problems with your crawl space vapor barrier because of an external force. For example, if you have problems because you have too much hydrostatic pressure, you’re probably experiencing hydrostatic pressure concerns throughout your property, not just in the crawl space.
This is why it’s so important to tackle whatever problems you’re seeing in your crawl space. It’s very common for these problems to indicate a much deeper concern you may not have otherwise noticed in the rest of the home. As soon as you notice crawl space problems, start looking for overarching problems.
FAQs About Ineffective Vapor Barriers
There are many potential reasons for ineffectiveness in a crawl space vapor barrier. If you have a vapor barrier that is too thin, has cuts and tears in it, or isn’t sealed to the crawl space walls properly, you could end up with ineffectiveness in the crawl space.
- Too Thin with Cuts and Tears
It’s common for inexperienced homeowners to opt for a crawl space vapor barrier that just isn’t thick enough for what it needs to do. ‘Close enough’ won’t be effective when it comes to a vapor barrier’s density. It might not even prevent water from permeating the thin barrier that you’ve put down. It can also more easily develop cuts and tears.
Your crawl space vapor barrier may also have been poorly installed. If it was damaged–even in small ways–when it was laid down, these issues can escalate. Cuts and tears will quickly get out of hand. It’s even common for people who put down a very thin barrier to go down into the crawl space and find out that it appears as though it’s been “shredded” into multiple pieces.
- Doesn’t Have a Proper Wall Seal
To work properly, a crawl space vapor barrier needs to have a tight seal to the walls of the crawl space. You can’t just put a barrier down loosely over the dirt and assume it’ll work. A proper wall seal is necessary to maximize your crawl space vapor barrier’s effectiveness.
To get this proper wall seal, you need to make sure you’re managing your crawl space vapor barrier appropriately. Getting an expert to install the vapor barrier is a good first step. You should also make sure the barrier is thick enough to work in your crawl space, which means you need to know the best thickness for a crawl space vapor barrier.
With so many vapor barrier thicknesses out there, you might not know exactly why you need to choose a specific thickness over another one. This is what you need to know about your crawl space vapor barrier’s thickness.
- 6-Mil, 10-Mil, or 12-Mil Barrier
A 6-mil barrier is the absolute bare minimum, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right option. Although building codes typically require at least a 6-mil vapor barrier, that’s not thick enough for your crawl space. If you put down a 6-mil barrier, you’re typically going to see extremely limited benefits, largely because it’s so easy to tear.
A 10-mil or 12-mil barrier is the crawl space vapor barrier thickness that you’ll see many crawl space repair experts recommend. This is certainly more effective than a 6-mil barrier, but that doesn’t mean it’s the most effective option. It still might end up with some of the concerns you’ll see from the thinner barrier.
- 20-Mil Barrier
Ideally, you want the thickest vapor barrier option. That’s going to be a 20-mil vapor barrier [add link], which is what Groundworks offers for all of its crawl space encapsulation jobs. Even if you think this is overkill, consider this for a moment: would you rather have the thickest option or take your chances on a thinner option?
With a 20-mil crawl space vapor barrier, you can be much more certain that you’re protected against a variety of problems. A 20-mil crawl space vapor barrier will protect you more effectively against standing water problems, pests, and other concerns. It should be a crucial part of your crawl space encapsulation process.
Because your crawl space shares so much air with the rest of your home, you’re going to end up with serious home concerns if you don’t ensure your water vapor barrier is effective. Here’s what an effective crawl space vapor barrier does.
- Keeps Water Vapor Out
As the name would imply, an effective vapor barrier should work well to keep water vapor out of your crawl space. This is the most basic requirement for efficacy and it’s why the barrier is named that way. As long as your crawl space vapor barrier keeps water vapor out, it will probably keep out the other things that you want to remove from your crawl space.
When a crawl space vapor barrier isn’t working properly, you’re much more likely to have high levels of indoor humidity, even if you don’t know where they’re coming from. The crawl space vapor barrier should be able to keep water out from the dirt underneath, and it’s one of the only ways to do so effectively.
- Avoids Issues from the Outside
You need to make sure that your crawl space vapor barrier is keeping water, pests, dust, and more out, especially if you have a dirt floor crawl space or you have serious issues with waterproofing in your crawl space floor.
There are many ways that the outside might harm your crawl space. Flooding and heavy rainfall can lead to standing water concerns even in a crawl space with effective waterproofing methods. With a crawl space vapor barrier, you can worry substantially less about flooding concerns.
It’s not necessarily easy to make sure a crawl space vapor barrier is effective. However, most of the problems that people experience start with the very basics of a crawl space vapor barrier, which means you can avoid them for the most part.
- Start with a High-Quality Crawl Space Vapor Barrier
The best way to ensure that your crawl space vapor barrier is as effective as possible is to make sure you have a high-quality crawl space vapor barrier in the first place. A 20-mil crawl space vapor barrier that uses high-quality materials will be the best option for any home.
However, it’s important to remember that many people don’t know what a high-quality crawl space vapor barrier looks like. Most people have never dealt with these materials before. Even if there’s currently a crawl space vapor barrier in place that needs replacement, it can be hard for a layman to tell when a little wear and tear has now become real damage. If you want to make sure you’re getting the most high-quality vapor barrier in the industry, you’ll need to entrust this information to an expert.
- Utilize Professional Installation
The first step to ensuring that you have an effective crawl space vapor barrier is making sure the installation is on point. The installation will have a lasting impact on the lifespan and efficacy of the barrier. Remember, you want to be able to trust your crawl space vapor barrier.
You won’t be able to do that unless you know your crawl space vapor barrier had a high-quality installation when a crawl space expert first installed it. Talk to a Groundworks expert to learn more about how you can install a brand-new crawl space vapor barrier that will be more effective for your crawl space.
Replace Your Ineffective Crawl Space Barrier with an Expert’s Help Today
The best way to make sure you have the crawl space vapor barrier for your crawl space needs is to replace ineffective barriers and only utilize high-quality ones. If you currently have ineffective crawl space barriers, the first step is recognizing that fact, but you also need to replace the barriers to ensure they work.
When you’re looking for a way to replace your ineffective crawl space barriers, you should consider talking to a Groundworks expert. A Groundworks expert can look at your crawl space barriers, understand exactly what the problem areas are, and help you fix them. Whether it’s replacing your crawl space barriers, adding some additional tools, or doing something else entirely, a Groundworks expert is your best choice.