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Have you been dealing with a leaking crawl space for too long? Don’t worry – you have a broad array of waterproofing solutions available to you. One such solution, the vapor barrier, is ideal for both minor leaks and major ones. An essential part of the encapsulation process, vapor barriers, when coupled with perimeter drainage and a sump pump, will help redirect water that has intruded upon your crawl space. What, though, is a vapor barrier, and what does the installation process look like? Find your answers below and see if a vapor barrier will relieve some of your rain-related stress.

Vapor Barriers: The Basics

Vapor barriers will differ in appearance, depending on the type you want to invest in. In general, though, vapor barriers are broad and plastic-like in appearance. They’re often white in color as well.

A vapor barrier is designed to entirely seal your crawl space. As a result, they’ll also keep most gases out, only allowing for oxygen particles to pass through the barrier they form. If they can keep most gases out, then you can bet your boots they won’t let water or dampness into your crawl space either, regardless of how hard the Virginia rains come down.

Encapsulating your crawl space with a vapor barrier system is a permanent solution that will properly seal the area from the earth.

When To Install a Vapor Barrier

Keeping up with precipitation patterns in Virginia isn’t always easy. If you live farther west, for example, you’ll be dealing with less precipitation – or different types of precipitation and rainy seasons – than your friends who live on the coast. As such, you may not need to install a vapor barrier to keep your crawl space safe.

Vapor barriers are ideal waterproofing solutions, however, when Virginia’s precipitation does become too much to handle. If you suspect your crawl space may be leaking, keep an eye out for the following signs:

  • Cooler crawl space temperature. As water gathers in your crawl space, the temperature is going to start to drop. Why? Because water vapor draws the heat out of your home. The best way to keep an eye on the temperature of your crawl space is to keep a thermometer near the door. When you do, you’ll be able to make note of the temperature before and after a storm. If the temperature starts to drop after the rain passes through, you’ll want to keep an eye out for a leak.
  • Water damage. While you don’t want to rely on your belongings to determine whether or not you have a leak, they’re often the surest sign of the leak’s existence and its severity. If your paper belongings are starting to curl up at the edges or your wooden belongings are starting to warp, you’ll need to get in touch with a contractor to preserve them while you can.
  • Pests. Fun fact: if insects and animals can make their way into your home, so can water. Keep an eye out, then, for signs of an infestation. This can include droppings, nests or damage done to your belongings. Unfortunately, if you have a crawl space infestation, you’re going to have to deal with both the infestation and the leak prior to installing a vapor barrier in your crawl space.
  • Mold clusters. When water starts to make its way into your crawl space, it’s going to feed any dormant mold particles that have settled there. As a result, a leaking crawl space can also result in a burst of old-growth. Head down into your crawl space, then, and make note of any mold clusters you can spot near your space’s joints. You’ll want to remove the clusters on your own or with the help of a professional before you start to waterproof the rest of the space.
  • Bad smells. You can most frequently determine whether or not your crawl space is leaking by taking a good sniff of the space. After a rainstorm – or on your average day – your crawl space shouldn’t smell damp. If it does, you may have a leak on your hands. You’ll also want to get in touch with a contractor if you frequently notice a smell like rotting coming from your crawl space. It may be coming from an infestation, your belongings rotting, or something else – but it’s never good.

The Installation Process

In the era of DIY, you may consider installing a vapor barrier on your own. If you’ve never done so before, though, you may want to seek out the guidance of a professional.

In general, the process of installing a vapor barrier involves the following steps:

  • Clear out your crawl space.
  • Find any old or new leaks.
  • Seal off your leaks.
  • Take out damaged insulation.
  • Put up your new vapor barrier.

Don’t let the Virginia rains keep you from using your crawl space. Talk to your local contractor about installing a crawl space vapor barrier.

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