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A Homeowner’s Guide to Crawl Space Encapsulation

If you would like to create a hospitable home, save money on monthly utility bills, and prevent unnecessary repairs, encapsulate your crawl space.

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While the crawl space plays an important role in many Virginia homes, people tend to forget it to their detriment. Neglect sets the stage for water damage and high energy bills, as well as mold growth and pest infestation. All these make modern living a less-than-enjoyable experience. Fortunately, encapsulation can turn things around. What is it?

Crawl space encapsulation is a sealing technique that involves lining the foundation walls and the floor with overlapping sheets of thick polyethylene plastic. This creates an airtight vapor barrier that locks moisture out of this subfloor area. Depending on a person’s location, a contractor can install a dehumidifier to control moisture levels. The whole process takes a couple of days’ work.

Why Encapsulate Your Home?

Summers are typically hot and humid in Virginia. Left unchecked, high moisture levels (over 70%) can cause a myriad of problems. For this reason, you should invest in a full encapsulation. Failure to do so could set up your home for:

  • Mold growth infestation
  • Foundation cracks
  • High heating and cooling costs
  • Sweating windows
  • Radon gas
  • Pests and insects
  • Musty odors

Dealing with all these problems isn’t going to be cheap. While you have the chance, encapsulate your home and you’ll never have to deal with them.

How Crawl Space Encapsulation Works

Crawl space contractors follow more or less the same steps when encapsulating a home.

  1. A critical assessment of the condition of the vented crawl space 
  2. Removing old insulation, resolving moisture issues, eliminating pests, fixing cracks
  3. Spraying foam insulation to seal holes, vents, and gaps around external pipes and ducts
  4. Application of heavy-duty plastic vapor barrier on the floor and walls
  5. Securing sections and holding them together with tape or fasteners to ensure there are no gaps
  6. Installation of a dehumidifier to keep moisture in the crawl space at acceptable and consistent levels (below 50%) all year round.

Note: When applying insulation material, the contractor will seal and tape the material around piers and pillars.

5 Benefits of Encapsulating Your Crawl Space in Your Home

If you don’t always venture into the crawl space, the best thing you can do is encapsulate it. Encapsulation will keep it clean and dry. But that’s not all. Here are other benefits of encapsulation.

Mold-free home

Like pests, mold thrives in damp floors and walls, which results from an exposed and non-conditioned crawl space. Mold is a health hazard. Exposure to mold spores can trigger allergies and other respiratory problems such as asthma. Encapsulation ensures your crawl space remains dry, denying mold the opportunity to grow and colonize your living space.

Lower utility costs

Since encapsulated crawl spaces have insulation and conditioning, they’re more energy-efficient than they were before. Energy savings are in the range of 15-20% when rim joists are insulated and closed-cell foam used. You will find yourself running the HVAC far less than your neighbor who does not have an encapsulated crawl space.

Enhanced home comfort

Another benefit of encapsulating the crawl space is that it increases the comfort levels in your home. A vented crawl space makes the home hotter in summer and colder in winter. Both can make the indoors unbearable. Any changes in the external conditions will result in a change in the internal conditions too. Remember also that 50% of the indoor air you breathe comes directly from the crawl space/basement. By encapsulating this space, you prevent radon and other toxic gases from seeping through to your home.

Fewer pest incursions

A wet and dark crawl space almost always attracts pests and crawling insects. When they come in, they multiply quickly and take over the home. Both can damage wood joists and other belongings. But even more worrying is that they can be difficult and costly to eradicate. A polyethylene barrier will keep out moisture and make the area less desirable to pests.

Improved structural integrity

Wet soil following a downpour can weaken the foundation. That’s why water is always channeled from the foundation walls. But that’s not the only thing that can undermine your structural integrity. A vented crawl space will too. Coupled with interior drainage and a sump pump system, crawl space encapsulation keeps the soil around the perimeter of the foundation dry, preventing cracks and soil shift, which can cause serious and costly structural problems.

An encapsulated crawl space offers many lasting benefits, including a clean, healthier, and comfortable home. If you feel your crawl space needs urgent encapsulation, ask your local contractor for a free crawl space encapsulation quote. We will send out skilled technicians to perform a thorough inspection and discuss your encapsulation needs.

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