Many people think about crawl space encapsulation only for homes that clearly have a problem, not considering how often crawl space moisture can be a problem even in homes where the owners have previously tried to control it. That was what happened in this case study, where JES experts were able to help the James family with their moisture-heavy crawl space.
1. The Challenge
Though the James family had a few obvious signs of issues, the challenges they were facing were actually more distinct than they even realized at first. These included moisture problems, ineffective plastic sheeting, seasonal venting, and more.
Of course, the most obvious problem for the James family was their serious moisture concerns. The home was beautifully maintained and made of brick, but unfortunately, the crawl space was unsealed and set over dirt. Moisture further complicated things by becoming a breeding ground for mold and mildew and invited in pests like rodents. This was the most obvious problem the James family was dealing with, and it was what they were asking for help with.
The plastic sheeting in the James’ crawl space was actually an older fix gone awry. The plastic sheeting was installed to try and dry out the crawl space, but unfortunately, that sheeting was thin and didn’t hold up well to the dirt underneath it. Rather than helping, the plastic sheeting just ended up harming the James’ crawl space. As it quickly deteriorated, it contributed to the unhealthy environment. Not only did it let moisture enter the crawl space, but it also provided a space for mold and mildew to grow.
The last main problem in the James’ crawl space was another attempted fix. For many years, the prevailing wisdom was that venting the crawl space was helpful in avoiding moisture. Therefore, crawl space vents were installed in an attempt to let the moist air out. Nowadays, experts know that crawl space vents actually allow more moisture inside. By having seasonal venting, the crawl space was experiencing even more of a moisture problem.
2. The Solution
The good news is that there were reliable solutions for these problems that the James family could take advantage of. After a thorough crawl space inspection, JES experts fixed things up with these solutions that included external vent sealing, installing the CrawlDrain interior drainage system, encapsulation with CrawlSeal, and keeping moisture in check with a dehumidifier.
The first order of business was to seal up all the crawl space vents. Crawl space encapsulation requires a crawl space to have no option for moisture to get inside, and that usually means removing all external vents. There were 10 crawl space vents in the James’ crawl space. JES experts were able to use crawl space vent covers, which intentionally fit to crawl space vents specifically, to ensure the removal of external sources of moisture.
JES experts knew that the air may end up maintaining moisture anyway. Even with all the proper precautions in place, it’s difficult to tell whether a space will remain entirely moisture-free. That’s why these experts installed both a CrawlDrain and a JES dehumidifier. Both the CrawlDrain and the dehumidifier actively work to avoid additional moisture in the air or from the rest of the home. They work together to maintain the current level of humidity, which is a healthy level of moisture for a crawl space.
The next main source of moisture in the crawl space was the floor. The unsealed dirt crawl space was allowing moisture to travel from the ground to the home, and that wasn’t going to go away with a simple layer of plastic. CrawlSeal was the obvious answer. JES experts were able to encapsulate with 1,255 square feet of CrawlSeal. This ultra-thick, heavy-duty crawl space encapsulation system ensures that no moisture comes into the home through the dirt crawl space floor.
3. The Result
Now, the beautifully maintained brick home has a beautifully maintained crawl space to match. The James family is extremely proud of their well-maintained crawl space. Mr. James even makes everyone take off their shoes before entering the crawl space.
Although crawl spaces can easily fall victim to issues like crawl space moisture, mildew, and pests, you don’t have to worry about whether or not this will be an ongoing problem. With a JES expert’s input, you’ll be able to encapsulate your crawl space and know you’re getting the best treatment available.
JES Project Engineer: David E. Stinnette, PE
JES Certified Inspector: T. Hugh Williams
Installing Contractor: Juan Dominguez
Products Installed: 1,255 square feet of CrawlSeal, 10 crawl space vent covers, CrawlDrain and JES Dehumidifier Crawl Space Dehumidifier