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Open Crawl Space Vents

Open crawl space vents are a huge contributor to crawl space unhealthiness. What should you know if you have open crawl space vents?

Close-up of open crawlspace vent.

Open Crawl Space Vents

When you’re looking for a way to maintain your crawl space’s health, you want to make sure you’re thinking about a variety of elements. One thing that you should think about relatively early in the process is open crawl space vents. When you have open crawl space vents, you’re essentially inviting a lot of problems into your home. Why is this such a big problem? Here’s everything you need to know about the issues with open crawl space vents.

Why Are Open Crawl Space Vents So Bad?

Some homeowners feel shocked when they learn that open crawl space vents are bad in the first place. Why are these vents so bad? What’s the big problem? There are several concerns that open crawl space vents can introduce, but here are the most obvious ones.

  • Relative Humidity 

One major issue with open crawl space vents is the problem of relative humidity. Relative humidity is the metric used to measure how much water is in the air compared to how much water it can potentially hold. Once it reaches 100%, condensation will form. When you have open crawl space vents, you allow cold and warm air to mix together which naturally creates condensation. It becomes the perfect habitat for mold.

  • Outside Water and Air 

Open crawl space vents allow water and air to freely enter your crawl space. This is not ideal, as your crawl space should have as little outside interaction as possible. To ensure that your crawl space stays dry and utilizes only conditioned air, you should prevent outside water and air from entering.

Allowing outside water and air into your crawl space increases the likelihood of a flooded crawl space and an air conditioner that is working overtime. Keep in mind that up to 50% of your home’s air comes from the crawl space, so it is important to maintain healthy air quality in the crawl space.

  • Rodents and Pests

Crawl space vents can act as easy access for rodents and pests. It’s hard to keep them open without infestations. Even grated crawl space vents may not prevent smaller pests like gnats and flies, or predator pests like snakes and rats.

More causes of crawl space issues

How to Avoid Open Crawl Space Vent Problems

When you have open crawl space vents, you’re going to have problems. Fixing those secondary problems, which can include things like high humidity, requires that you fix the open crawl space vents themselves. Here’s how you can avoid these problems overall:

Close the Vent for Good!

Your best option for avoiding crawl space vent problems is to make sure you close the crawl space vents for good. Depending on how old your home is, or how the vents were designed, they may be open by default, leaving your crawl space vulnerable without your knowledge.

Closing the vent will prevent access by pests and better manage the humidity or overall temperature in the crawl space. Doing so can also lower your electricity bills and safeguard the crawl space against flooding or water damage.

Talk to an Expert Today!

Consulting with an expert is necessary to fix these problems properly. Applying a catch-all solution may not be effective and could cause further, hidden issues. Attempting a DIY fix could also be more expensive and lead to additional damage that requires professional assistance.

A Groundworks crawl space repair expert can provide a free inspection to identify current problems, warning signs for related issues, and prepare for future problems. This can help maintain a healthier crawl space overall.

If Vents Are So Bad, Why Are They Popular?

Many homeowners wonder why their home has crawl space vents if they are bad for the crawl space. After all, why would the construction crew build the crawl space vents in the first place if they are bad? There are a few main reasons that crawl space vents still exist in homes, even newly-built ones.

  1. Tradition
  2. Building Codes

Homeowners used to think that crawl space vents were a good idea because they allow outside air in, drying and airing out the crawl space, which would prevent the growth of mold, wood rot, and infestations. However, crawl space vents tend to cause significant issues and make a vital area of your home exposed and vulnerable to flooding, drastic temperature changes, and drifting mold spores.

Crawl space vents are now waning in popularity, but building codes in many areas still require them. An unvented crawl space often requires more work, but some construction crews would rather build the unvented crawl space and allow homeowners to fix it later if they want. Now that you are aware of the damage crawl space vents are causing, you can get ahead of the issue.

How Do You Maintain a Healthy Crawl Space Without Crawl Space Vents?

Many homeowners believe that open crawl space vents are the only way to maintain a healthy crawl space, which means they may never have even considered closing them. Here’s how you can make sure your crawl space stays safe and healthy even without open crawl space vents.

  • Crawl Space Encapsulation 

Invest in crawl space encapsulation to maintain a healthy crawl space. This process involves a vapor barrier, sealing crawl space vents, and doors to prevent air and moisture from entering. The specific steps required depend on the issues with your crawl space.

  • Crawl Space Dehumidifier 

A crawl space dehumidifier is often needed in areas with high humidity levels. Crawl spaces can get cooler than the rest of the home, which can lead to higher humidity levels. A crawl space dehumidifier can help, but it should not be the only solution. You should also maintain your crawl space health in other ways.

  • Crawl Space Insulation

Crawl space insulation helps regulate your home’s temperature and improves air quality. Poor insulation can lead to temperature issues as outside air seeps into your home. Since crawl spaces can impact up to 50% of your home’s air, insulating them is important for a healthy and comfortable home.

FAQs About Open Crawl Space Vents

Some homeowners wonder whether crawl space vents that you can open and close on your own are a good solution. Although these might be a step up from the typical crawl space vents, they’re not the best choice.

  • The Purported Benefits

The main benefit that this type of vent offers is you can close them when bad weather is on the horizon. This ensures you don’t have issues with flood water coming into your crawl space, which you will if you have a crawl space vent that doesn’t close.

This also gives you the chance to balance the pros of crawl space vents with the cons. You can leave them open to air out the space and gain limited access if you need to perform pest control measures. It’s not complicated to open and close them when you want. 

  • Issues with These Vents

The main problem with these types of vents is that most homeowners forget to close them. It’s very easy to leave them open for several days or weeks at a time, which counteracts the entire point of the covers. During this time, pests can easily get in and out, infesting the area when the covers are open and thriving inside while the covers are shut.

Plus, floodwater isn’t the only problem that these vents face. They’re still prone to the same problems as all home vents, including issues with airflow and high crawl space humidity, which means you shouldn’t rely on them. They certainly won’t fix the problem all on their own and their few benefits might outweigh the dangers they pose.

Putting a cover on your crawl space vents won’t necessarily fix the problem. Even though the main problem here is that the vents allow access to the outside world, there’s more to this problem than just that. Simply adding a cover yourself is unlikely to be effective.

  • More Elements Necessary

It can be tempting to just put a cover on the crawl space vents and call it a day. Although this could be an option, it’s not a great thing to do when you’re trying to DIY your crawl space vents. Any existing problems in the crawl space will need repairing, and additional solutions may be necessary to fortify against vulnerabilities that have developed in your home as a result.

Specifically, you need a lot more than just a cover to make sure your crawl space stays healthy after you close your crawl space vents. By trying to clear things up with a surface-level fix, you’ll have a few weeks or months of peace at best. After all, you may run into secondary issues that require more serious measures anyhow. 

  • Getting Help from an Expert

Putting a cover on your crawl space vents isn’t the only fix you need. You should also have a professional look over the situation and make recommendations based on your exact circumstances. They may be able to spot warning signs of other issues, or they can recommend more clever fixes that will give you a long-term solution, not just an easy one. For example, maybe a standard cover will only fix the problem temporarily, while more specialized crawl space vent covers can give you better access to your crawl space later or help to regulate issues with humidity.

Aside from that, they can help you find the most cost-effective solution. Homeowners that are tempted to simply buy vent covers and install them personally will find the results are more prone to errors, may be poorly fitting or the wrong design for their home, even if it doesn’t immediately appear this way. A professional will be able to help you pick the right design, install it properly, and provide a quality guarantee for one fixed price.

Sure, you might only need certain crawl space solutions and not others, but it’s important to know all of your options regardless of how many you’re going to end up using. There are multiple crawl space solutions that might be beneficial for you. 

  • Waterproofing 

Does it seem like you always have water problems in the crawl space? Do you regularly have standing water and condensation concerns? You might have waterproofing issues. Waterproofing can take many forms, but at the core of it all is helping you avoid the entrance of water, including pumping it out if any gets into the crawl space. 

  • Insulation 

If you want to make sure that your crawl space isn’t becoming hot and cold because of the outside temperature, you might want to invest in better insulation. Better insulation can reduce your electricity bills as well because the air in your crawl space circulates through your home, which makes it an extremely useful thing to invest money in. 

  • Encapsulation 

Crawl space encapsulation can be a confusing topic, but essentially, it’s just the process of ensuring outside air doesn’t come into your crawl space. This can include closing crawl space vents, adding a crawl space vapor barrier, and adding an energy-efficient dehumidifier, among other things.

Fix Your Open Crawl Space Vents by Enlisting Help from a Groundworks Expert

When you want to fix your crawl space vents, you need to make sure you’re going about it in the right way. Sure, you could just put some vent covers on the crawl space vents and call it a day, but that’s not going to tackle all the problems in your crawl space. Many possible concerns might arise and you must talk to a Groundworks expert to find out more about your crawl space options.

From crawl space encapsulation to just installing a crawl space dehumidifier, there are many different options for your crawl space that can make it healthy and safe. For help closing your crawl space vents, talk to a crawl space repair expert to learn more about your options.

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