The Signs of Crawl Space Problems
When you start to investigate crawl space problems, you’ll probably notice there are many of them. Unfortunately, because there are so many, it can sometimes be difficult to narrow down the problems you’re having.
Different crawl space issues have different signs, and if you’re able to keep your eyes open for those signs, it’s possible for you to avoid them. You just need to know what’s going on and have a good understanding of your home.
Crawl Space Repair
Crawl Space Problems: Which Ones Are You Having?
Although there is a variety of crawl space problems out there, there is a handful that pop up frequently enough to warrant staying on the lookout for. With these crawl space problems, there are a few things you can think about and notice.
As a homeowner, remember to always keep an eye out for these issues.
- Water in Your Crawl Space
This is the concept of “standing water,” or water that simply rests in your crawl space for long periods of time. That water can come from many sources: it might be a plumbing leak, a flood from the outside, or even hydrostatic pressure, which is when water from the outside exerts pressure on your foundation, causing it to crack and allow water to seep inside.
You’ll probably start to notice this due to high levels of humidity, even if you can’t see the water in your crawl space. Additionally, if you have open crawl space vents and you’ve recently had a serious storm, you probably have water in your crawl space.
- High Indoor Humidity
Once you have water in your crawl space, you’ll undoubtedly end up with high indoor humidity, one of the most damaging types of crawl space issues. That’s because humidity introduces a variety of problems including mold, mildew and a general weakening of your floor joists. It also makes it more expensive for you to condition your home and it makes the whole place more uncomfortable.
Because of the stack effect, wherein air coming from the bottom areas of your home rises up through the rest of the home, you’ll almost certainly start to notice this immediately. If your home is more humid inside than it is outside, you need to call a professional, because it’s very likely that you have high humidity in your crawl space.
As humidity gets higher, you’ll start to notice problems with condensation. Condensation happens when the air becomes too saturated with water for it to stay in the air, so it collects on a surface. That surface can be anything, and in a crawl space, it’s especially likely for it to be floor joists or foundation, which can be dangerous.
It’s most common for condensation to happen when cool air meets warm air; cool air can hold less water vapor than warm air. Thus, water vapor tends to condense more as it rises from the bottom of the home with cold air up where you are heating your home. That means having open crawl space vents, which let in warm air, can itself be a warning sign for this possibility.
- Mold in Your Crawl Space
With humidity also comes mold. Mold thrives at humidity around 70% and up, but it can grow at general humidity levels much lower if it has somewhere to grow. That might be water-soaked wood, wet crawl space insulation, or standing water at the bottom of your crawl space. Mold can cause plenty of health risks and weaken the structure of your home.
It’s tough to definitively determine signs of mold in your crawl space without actually getting down there and checking. With the health problems it poses, you shouldn’t do that on your own. If you notice warning signs of high humidity or standing water in your crawl space, talk to a professional before continuing.
- Wet Crawl Space Insulation
Condensation typically wants to form on anything it can, and if any sort of condensation, standing water, humidity, or plumbing leaks have happened in your crawl space recently, it might have started to attack the crawl space insulation. That can lead to wet crawl space insulation, which is nearly impossible to get rid of without completely replacing it.
You can often see whether you have wet crawl space insulation by entering the crawl space. It often falls and sags for a long time after becoming wet. However, if you don’t want to get into your crawl space or don’t have the ability to, you can often tell if you have issues with your crawl space insulation just by paying attention to the humidity levels of your home.
- Wood Rot
Wood rot is a specific fungal infestation you might find when water stays on wood too long. Some people will also use the term to describe any sort of water-soaked wood that’s lost a substantial amount of its form and structure. Obviously, that can be very dangerous for your home’s structural stability.
You can often notice wood rot and other similar problems by paying attention to your floors. Do you find that your floors are starting to slope downward? Have you noticed your floors feeling bouncy around a certain area? If so, it’s time to call in a professional.
- Floor Joist Issues
What if you simply have existing floor joist problems, and not ones brought on by a fungal infestation? These issues can still be genuine and difficult to maintain. You may have problems from poor planning and poor design, or just issues from a previous infestation that you didn’t quite manage to contain altogether.
These problems can often develop in very similar ways to the problems you’ll see regarding wood rot. You might notice your floors sloping or having serious bounce issues. Typically, if the issues are not caused by moisture you will be able to tell based off of the humidity in your home.
- Sagging Floors
The symptom of sagging floors is an important one to pay attention to regardless of why it’s happening. It may be happening because of wood rot, because of poor design and floor joist issues, or because of unrelated problems. However, regardless of what’s causing it, this is a serious problem you should address as soon as possible.
This is typically a pretty obvious symptom: you can look at your home and see where the floors are sagging. However, you might not notice it because it changes in such a small way every day. If you start to notice that things slide toward the center of a room, or you have a tough time setting up tables, chairs, and cups, you’re probably dealing with this issue.
- Open Crawl Space Vents
These are overall a bad decision for your home. It used to be the prevailing wisdom that crawl spaces needed to “breathe,” so crawl space vents would help avoid crawl space moisture and musty smells. However, because crawl space vents allow cool air into a warm area, they tend to increase condensation, leading to problems.
More than likely, you already know whether you have open crawl space vents. It may have been something pointed out to you when you bought your home. You also must take steps to try to avoid water flowing into them. If you’re not sure, there’s nothing wrong with talking to a professional to get their professional feedback.
- Foundation Cracks
Cracks in your foundation almost always portend something bad happening. After all, your foundation typically doesn’t crack for no reason. Although hairline cracks within six months after pouring the concrete can sometimes be cosmetic, anything larger than about an eighth of an inch probably means you’re dealing with structural problems.
Your foundation is the basis for your home’s entire structure, and that means you have to take these cracks seriously. If you’re able to get down to see your foundation, these cracks will likely be obvious. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to maintain regular inspections and call in an expert if you have any concerns regarding your foundation’s stability.
- High Electric Bills
This is a less-obvious sign that can still showcase a lot regarding your home. If your home’s electric bills have recently gone up, especially if it’s because you’re running your air conditioner more often, there’s a reason for that. If there’s no specific reason you can see happening in your home, that reason might simply be that you have moisture in your crawl space.
This isn’t a super obvious signal for crawl space moisture, but it should be. Humid air takes more energy to condition through your air conditioner. That means if you have very high electric bills, it may be because your air suddenly got more humid due to high humidity in your crawl space, which can, in turn, lead to moisture-related problems.
The Causes of Crawl Space Issues
All these crawl space issues can be confusing to sift through, but they’re even more confusing if you don’t really know why they’re happening. What could be the cause of these problems?
There are typically four reasons you may run into these crawl space problems.
- Moisture from the Ground
The first thing you may encounter is moisture from the ground. That may mean standing water in your crawl space, or it may mean hydrostatic pressure pushing on the outside walls of your crawl space. These are both ways of experiencing moisture from the ground that have different but equally dangerous effects.
If you’re experiencing moisture from the ground, there are options to fix it. You may be able to install a sump pump or a drainage system that can minimize hydrostatic pressure. A JES expert can help you understand more about the customizable solution for your home.
- Moisture from the Air
What about moisture from the air? This is typically where problems arise like mold and wood rot. You may encounter moisture from the air when humidity comes up from the soil if you have a dirt crawl space, or when it starts to evaporate from standing water. Either of these can cause high relative humidity.
Relative humidity often requires crawl space encapsulation, especially if you have a dirt crawl space. However, it can also require removing standing water and other sources of moisture. Talk to a JES expert to learn more about how you can eliminate this issue.
- House Settling
What if your home is settling? A little bit of home settling is normal, but if it continues too far, you can end up with a cracked foundation, cracking drywall, sinking floors and more. These are all issues caused either by overall settling or uneven settling.
Your approach to house settling may vary depending on your exact problems. It may include installing additional supports such as push piers or helical piers. Regardless, a JES expert can help you understand all your options and choose the right one.
- Poor Pier Column Spacing
The piers under your home are extremely important when it comes to understanding your home’s stability. You need to make sure they’re able to support the weight and that they’re spaced properly, or you could end up with home settling and other general structure problems.
That means if you have poorly-spaced columns, you’re going to have problems overall. Your best options for poor pier column spacing tend to be the installation of the IntelliJack crawl space stabilization system. However, a JES expert will come out to your home and with your goals in mind give you the best solution.
How Do I Get Help with My Crawl Space Issues?
There are all sorts of crawl space issues you need to pay attention to in your home. It can be difficult to keep an eye on all of them and make sure you’re paying attention to all the various warning signs. Instead of trying to keep an eye on it yourself, talk to a JES expert and get information about a free inspection and how it can help you with your problems.