Winter is here in Appomattox, VA, and that means contending with cold, ice, and snow. Your crawl space just like your roof and siding will take a beating. Be wary of frost, melting ice, and winter pests escaping the old weather outside. They can wreak havoc on your crawl space if the area doesn’t have a vapor barrier or encapsulation. In this post, we will look at the signs of crawl space winter damage and how to restore the health and safety of the crawl space.
Winter Damage Signs
When inspecting the crawl space for damage in winter, keep an eye out for these signs not only within your crawl space, but throughout the rest of your home.
Failing support beams — Shifting soils can destabilize the foundation of your home, dislodging the piers or beams that hold your home. Because the soil is unstable, the beams will fail.
Foundation wall cracks — Gaps and crevices may appear on foundation walls too. The culprit here is the moisture that penetrates and freezes on tiny cracks. This water expands and exerts pressure on the concrete, causing cracks to appear or widening them.
Foundation settlement — The freezing and thawing cycle can cause vertical ground shifts of between four and eight inches. How much the soil shifts depends on water conditions and soil type. When you home adjusts to fill any gaps left by shifting soil, it is settling into these crevices.
Sagging floors — Uneven or sagging floors are bad for your home and your family and indicate a problem with floor joists and supports below. These supports in your crawl space could be rotting from excess moisture, mold, and termite damage.
Insulation damage — Fiberglass and cellulose insulation tend to soak up moisture and sag before falling off. Wet insulation can also harbor pests and mold.
Deteriorating wood — Termites, mold, and gnawing pests also can attack and weaken your girders and floor joists. Keep an eye on the inside of your floor joists as they’re susceptible to dry rot. After some time, they won’t be able to support the load above.
Awful smells — The source can be dirt, mold, bacteria, or even pests that have infested your crawl space.
Stains — Dirty underground water can also come into contact with your carpets and personal belongings and soil them.
Cold weather can affect your crawl space adversely. When the ice on the ground freezes and thaws, it causes the foundation soil to heave and contract. The frost heave cycle makes the soil unstable. The extent of damage increases if temperatures drop below 40 degrees and stay there for three days.
Crawl Space Solutions for Winter
Because the crawl space is often not isolated from the ground and air around it, excess moisture is a common problem. This moisture creates the perfect conditions for mold and wood rot. To keep this low-lying area of your home dry during winter, implement these measures and solutions.
Crawl space waterproofing. If any water happens to get into your crawl space, you need waterproofing solutions to keep it out and safely remove it. An interior drainage system and a sump pump work together to collect and pump any leaking water out of this space. A dehumidifier also comes in handy to control moisture and humidity.
Crawl space encapsulation. Enclose the crawl space with a heavy-duty 20-mil plastic vapor barrier. It goes over the dirt floor, across walls, and around obstacles like beams then taped down at the seams. What this does is lock out moist winter air and underground water, and create an inhospitable environment for pests.
Install vent covers. Not only do exterior vent covers block outside air from getting into the crawl space, but they also avert moisture buildup and condensation.
Crawl space Insulation. Properly insulating your crawl space with rigid insulation panels protects it from biting winter temperatures, and it helps keep your home as a whole more comfortable. Don’t forget to wrap your water pipes, ducts, and seal doors and gaps that allow heat to escape and cold winter air to come in.
Seal and repair wall cracks. Look for any kinds of cracks along the crawl space walls. While some smaller cracks can easily be sealed with epoxy injection, there also could be more going on that meets the eye. Have your local foundation and crawl space professionals take a look to determine if they are cosmetic or structural cracks requiring repair.
Re-grade the yard. Poor grading is the leading cause of landscape drainage issues. Re-grading ensures melting ice or snow flow out and away from the crawl space, not toward your home.
When the crawl space is neglected or poorly insulated or sealed, it can deteriorate and fall apart. JES Foundation Repair can help you repair and waterproof your crawl space so it stays dry, clean, and mold-free this winter. Schedule a free crawl space inspection and repair quote to discover the best fixes for your water damaged crawl space.