There are many reasons a crawl space barrier might not work in your home. These are the most common reasons you might find your crawl space barrier is no longer working or seems to have never worked.
If you have a crawl space barrier that’s too thin, you’re not going to get the right amount of function from the barrier. Sure, the IRC minimum requirement for vapor barrier thickness is 6-mil, but are you really comfortable with utilizing the minimum requirement when you could instead go with a crawl space vapor barrier that’s thicker and more effective?
The thin nature of the crawl space vapor barrier will necessarily have an impact on its efficacy. A thinner crawl space vapor barrier will be more likely to tear, more likely to allow moisture through, and less likely to encapsulate your crawl space effectively. It’s much better to choose a thicker alternative like the 20-mil CrawlSeal crawl space vapor barrier instead.
Whether you tried to install the crawl space yourself or you just used a crawl space repair “expert” that didn’t really know what they were doing, it’s entirely possible that your crawl space vapor barrier has an incorrect installation. If your crawl space vapor barrier was installed incorrectly, there’s a very high chance it’s not really doing its job in keeping out water vapor.
The only way to fix this problem is to tear out the crawl space vapor barrier and start from scratch. More than likely, the barrier already has tears, debris, water, and other terrible things under and on top of it. This is a great reason to invest in a high-quality crawl space repair expert from the very beginning; installing things correctly can make it much easier to handle in the future.
Too Much Already-Existing Humidity
This is typically a problem if you installed a crawl space vapor barrier without really thinking about the situation in your crawl space. For example, if you already had an extremely damp crawl space, chances are that crawl space will be damp with or without a crawl space vapor barrier, if you don’t do anything extra to fix that barrier.
For the most part, you can fix this with a crawl space dehumidifier. However, be careful; if you’ve waited too long, your crawl space may have condensation and mold in it already, which are both problem signs you need to address directly. Ideally, you should put a dehumidifier in as soon as you install a vapor barrier in the crawl space.
Debris on the Crawl Space Ground
Some people, to cut corners, may choose not to remove debris on the crawl space ground before they lay down the crawl space vapor barrier. Although this may make the crawl space vapor barrier more affordable at the time, it’s also not a great option for saving money because it will invariably have a poor effect on the crawl space vapor barrier you’ve just applied.
Many times, this debris can be the cause of tears in the crawl space. Even if the debris is just the remains of a previous crawl space that broke down, it doesn’t matter. The debris will inherently change how the crawl space vapor barrier falls, which will cause additional stress on the barrier as a whole and may impact the lifespan of the barrier.