Crawlspace Repair WikiCrawl Space Questions & Answers by JES
Crawlspace Repair Wiki
Crawl space repair can seem very confusing, especially if you’ve never looked into crawl spaces before. You’re bound to come up against some brand-new concepts that will definitely seem a bit strange because you’ve never heard of them before. However, it doesn’t have to be so confusing that you eventually give up on your questions entirely.
With this Crawl Space Repair Wiki, you can get answers to the most common crawl space repair questions. That includes information about the causes of crawl space problems, why open vents don’t work, and what “venting” your crawl space is actually doing. If you still have questions, feel free to talk to a JES expert so you can learn more and set up a crawl space inspection.
Crawl Space Repair Questions and Answers
Click on any of the questions below to learn more.
What Is Crawl Space Humidity?
Crawl space humidity is pretty simple because it’s exactly what it sounds like: It’s the humidity trapped in your crawl space. What’s not so obvious is the fact that humidity is easily your crawl space’s number one enemy.
The high levels of humidity in your crawl space are sure to move into the rest of the home because of the stack effect. Whether that humidity stays mostly in your crawl space or it starts to circulate everywhere else, moisture will always have negative impacts on your home, which means it’s important to avoid it whenever possible.
What Is the Stack Effect?
The stack effect is an effect that occurs whenever you have an opening in the attic and in the basement or crawl space. Most homes have some sort of opening in the attic or roof, and homes with open crawl space vents or basement waterproofing problems will also have an opening in the basement or crawl space.
The base premise of the stack effect is that warm air rises. When air enters your crawl space, it will either be warm or cool. If the air is warmer than the air inside, it will start rising immediately. If the air is cooler than the air inside, it will take some time to warm up, then start to rise. It will continue to rise all the way through your home, no matter how many stories it is, until it exits through the roof.
The thing is, the air isn’t the only thing that rises. This air also carries with it airborne particles. This can be anything from crawl space condensation to mold spores to even small insect droppings. The stack effect inevitably causes health and cleanliness concerns throughout your home.
What Is Crawl Space Encapsulation?
Crawl space encapsulation is a phrase you’ll see a lot on the JES website because it’s an important concept for a healthy crawl space. When you have an encapsulated crawl space, that means your crawl space doesn’t allow anything inside. The crawl space stays encapsulated, which means the outside world has no impact on it.
Typically, crawl space encapsulation requires that you close the crawl space with well-fitting crawl space doors, water vapor barriers, and crawl space vent covers if you have an open crawl space. This process gives you access to a healthier crawl space.
Why Is It So Important to Have a Well-Fitting Crawl Space Door?
If your crawl space door is open to the outside world, it’s extremely important that you maintain the fit of the door. Even a tiny opening can be enough to let in pests, water, outside air, and all sorts of terrible things. That’s why JES offers a variety of options that will make it easier for you to have a well-fitting, secure crawl space door.
There’s a reason JES puts such an emphasis on your crawl space door being “well-fitting.” If you have an ill-fitting crawl space door, you might as well not have one at all — either way, you’re going to end up with unwanted things in your crawl space.
Will Crawl Space Encapsulation Lower My Energy Costs?
Crawl space encapsulation will almost certainly help you lower your energy costs. In fact, some people suggest you could save up to 15-25% in energy costs when you encapsulate your crawl space. It can be more difficult to cool your home when the air is humid, and the same holds true whether you’re cooling your crawl space or the rest of your home.
When you encapsulate your crawl space, you’re removing all ability for moisture to enter the crawl space. When moisture can’t enter your crawl space, it also can’t rise up through the rest of the home. That means you have to use much less energy to condition the air in your crawl space and in the home in general.
Why Do I Need a Crawl Space Liner?
A vapor barrier liner can be tempting to ignore or do away with all but entirely. Some people see, for example, that the IRC only requires a 6-mil or less vapor barrier liner, and proceed to decide that they should only fulfill the minimum requirements and no more.
However, a 6-mil vapor barrier liner is thin and easy to tear. You’re going to need to replace these vapor barrier liners regularly, and that cost will add up dramatically. Plus, even the smallest gap is enough for moisture to rise up through the crawl space liner, which means a 6-mil vapor barrier liner might not even work properly.
The only option should be a professional-grade crawl space vapor barrier liner. JES uses the CrawlSeal™ Crawl Space Encapsulation System, which is a 20-mil vapor barrier liner. Only with this strong liner can you make sure you’re getting the protection you need.
What Causes a Musty Smell in My Crawl Space?
That “musty smell” that many people think of as being indicative of a regularly functioning crawl space is actually not an intended crawl space feature. The musty crawl space smell actually occurs because of mold growth, which feeds off moisture to grow.
This is exactly why a “musty smell” should be a sign that you need to fix something. If your crawl space smells musty and stale, there’s something wrong. You can fix it and avoid potentially permanent damage from mold and moisture, but you have to take the first step. Don’t wait to check out your crawl space; there’s a decent chance that there’s something happening you can fix.
I Have Bouncy Floors. Can I Fix It on My Own?
Some people seem to think that fixing bouncy or sagging floors can be a DIY project that you may be able to fix with the addition of a brick or a stack of wood. However, you should always consult an expert if you’re experiencing issues with bouncy floors.
It’s true that this method of providing additional support, also called “sistering,” can be beneficial in some cases. However, this additional support will only last for a short period of time. If the floor joist is bouncy because it’s over-spanned or full of wood rot, you’re just putting a bandage over the problem rather than addressing it head-on.
Incorrectly supporting the floors can sometimes be worse than not supporting them at all. Cinder blocks can tip or crumble, which can damage your home when they fall. Jacking up floor joists very quickly can cause the floor to buckle and drywall cracks to form. Using any pieces of wood may just add fuel to the fire and allow mold and wood rot to spread.
Clearly, the only answer is to contact a crawl space expert to fix your bouncy floors. You want the job done right the first time, and the only way to do that is to contact a JES expert for help.
Is It a Good Idea to Leave My Crawl Space Vents Open?
For a long time, people thought open crawl space vents were actually a benefit in a home. The idea was that crawl spaces needed ventilation because the ventilation would help “dry out” the crawl space. In fact, many building codes required ventilated crawl spaces, with minimal exceptions for unventilated crawl spaces.
Although this was a popular idea for many years, it doesn’t hold up to scrutiny nowadays. Because of the different temperatures of outside air and air in your home, open crawl space vents may actually increase the amount of humidity in your crawl space, rather than reducing it. Clearly, it’s not a good idea to leave your crawl space vents open.
The good thing is that there are many ways to return your crawl space to an encapsulated state. JES offers crawl space vent covers that you can add to your vents to avoid the entrance of water, moisture-laden air, or anything else into your crawl space.
Will a Dehumidifier Fix Water Problems in the Crawl Space?
Although a crawl space dehumidifier may be a great tool for some crawl spaces, it won’t fix your water problems. What it can do is help you deal with water problems that are unavoidable; for example, a crawl space dehumidifier can help you keep your crawl space dry if you live in an extremely humid area.
However, you can’t put up a crawl space dehumidifier in a space full of standing groundwater and expect it to fix the problem. You need to first collect and then pump out all standing water, remove all entrances for water in the future, then add a dehumidifier if you still need it to maintain a healthy, dry crawl space.
Anytime you have water problems in your crawl space, it’s crucial that you fix the source of the problems long before you install a dehumidifier. This can be a great second step, but it should never be your first step. Contact a JES expert to learn more about how you can get to the point of installing a dehumidifier.
How Do I Fix Wet Crawl Space Insulation?
Wet crawl space insulation can be some of the most frustrating issues to deal with. When crawl space insulation becomes wet, it loses its R-value, which is the measure of its ability to insulate things. That means if you have a crawl space insulated largely with wet or moist insulation, chances are you’re not actually getting a lot of insulation use from it.
Additionally, because crawl space insulation typically uses some sort of organic material, wet crawl space insulation is a breeding ground for mold, mildew, and all sorts of other things. The only way you can really fix wet crawl space insulation is usually to replace it.
The best option in this situation is to request a crawl space evaluation from one of the JES experts. These experts will give you answers that are uniquely suited to your individual situation. That way, you’ll know you’re getting the best solution for your crawl space issues, not a generic answer for crawl space issues in general.
Rely on the Experts to Get the Best Experience In Virginia, DC, Maryland, or Northeastern North Carolina?
As much as you probably want to save yourself some money by trying to fix some of these problems yourself, it’s important that you don’t go too far in the DIY mindset. Sometimes, certain problems, especially home repair problems, will only go away if you request help from an expert. After all, isn’t that why the experts are there in the first place?
JES offers the best opportunity to fix your crawl space concerns. It doesn’t matter what your concerns are right now; when you rely on JES to help you with them, you can avoid having those concerns spiral out of control. When you contact a JES expert to request a crawl space inspection, you’ll be able to learn whether or not you’re dealing with a problem. That knowledge is what helps you make the right decision.
We now have a crawl space to be proud of and feel very secure that we will not have any future problems. Pauline and I will not hesitate in recommending your company to anybody. We thank you for your services.
~ Burt & Pauline S., Williamsburg, VA