The Purpose of a Crawl Space

Depending on who you ask, the term “basement” may or may not include crawl spaces. A basement crawl space definitely differs from a basement cellar, and most people will use the term “basement” to refer only to the large type of basement.

What is the purpose of a crawl space foundation? The various tidbits you may learn about crawl spaces may actually be very surprising.

When Did Crawl Spaces Become Popular?

Crawl spaces are typically used instead of basements when a basement would be too expensive to create or impractical for the area. Because crawl spaces still require the construction team to dig into the ground, however, they started to become popular just after the basement started to become popular — around the time of industrialization.

It’s common for homes to contain crawl spaces even if they don’t contain basements. Although basements can require a substantial amount of maintenance, crawl spaces provide some of the same benefits of a basement while requiring much less maintenance. That’s one of the reasons for their enduring popularity.

How Were Crawl Spaces Originally Built?

As the name would imply, a typical crawl space only allows for enough space to crawl in, rather than a basement’s space to stand up in. Most stand around three feet to five feet tall. It’s also unfinished, meaning that wiring and plumbing can sometimes be completely out in the open.

One of the things many crawl spaces originally offered was open-air vents. That’s because the prevailing wisdom at the time was that the crawl space needed to “breathe” to avoid moisture. However, now most experts agree that the crawl space vents actually invite more moisture into the area. Many people are sealing the air vents in their crawl basement to stop the moisture buildup.

Why Do So Many Homes Have Crawl Spaces?

A crawl space is a good way to allow for building inspections and direct access to parts of the home that you may need to fix or upgrade. With a basement, you may need to drill directly into concrete to access important parts of the plumbing or wiring to fix it. However, with a crawl space, it’s much easier to gain access to these systems.

Most commonly, crawl spaces exist in homes that have a fairly temperate climate for homeowners that don’t need additional storage space. Although a basement can be very useful, it can also require additional maintenance and upkeep, which can be extremely difficult for some homeowners. A crawl space allows you to split the difference.

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