A damp crawl space can be unsettling more so when you don’t know what caused it or how it’s affecting the underlying structure. Only a thorough inspection can reveal what problems you’re up against. But is moisture in the crawl space really a bad sign or is it normal?
The truth is crawl space moisture is a pretty normal thing in Virginia Beach, where precipitation and humidity levels are high for the most part of the year. Because of that, you can expect moisture to form in your crawl space. Whatever the reason behind it, it’s advisable for you to check this space from time to time.
How Do I Check for Crawl Space Moisture?
In the absence of moisture signs in the crawl space, it’s not easy to tell whether you have a moisture problem or not. Checking humidity levels using a hygrometer seems to be the most reasonable thing to do. If the humidity levels are higher than 50% for several days, then you have a problem. Also, take the time to inspect your crawl space walls and floors. Look out for signs of mold, condensation, or musty smells.
Lowering humidity levels is beneficial in many ways. Not only can it reduce the cost of heating and cooling by 25%, but it also helps prevent other problems such as mold and rust, which often accompany condensation.
Why is My Crawl Space Damp?
Before you do a cleanup or apply a fix, it’s good to understand why your crawl space is damp. The major causes of wetness are:
When it rains, water from overflowing gutters, leaky basement windows, or grading issues can enter your crawl space.
Soil surrounding your home can get saturated after a heavy downpour. When this happens, water can seep through porous walls and end up in the crawl space.
A burst pipe is another cause of a wet crawl space. Water may collect and sit for days until it evaporates.
This occurs when moisture-filled air from the outside gets into the crawl space and cools then condenses at dew point. When the air cools, humidity can jump up to 90%. And that’s not good.
Are these the only source of moisture? Clogged gutters and damaged downspouts can get in the way of channeling water away from the perimeter of your home, causing water to flow from the side of the gutters into your crawl space. Also, leaking pipes and moisture evaporating from the ground are other vectors that introduce moisture into the below-the-ground space.
Ways to Deal with Crawl Space Dampness
Ideally, the soil surrounding your home should slope away from the foundation. This allows water to drain away, preventing it from entering your crawl space.
Fix plumbing leaks
No matter how small a leak is, if it’s not spotted early, it can cause problems a couple of months down the road. It can be hard to notice leaks as water drips onto the dirt. If you’ve already installed a liner like a vapor barrier, you may see a puddle of water. Ask your plumber to come and check the plumbing and fix the leak before it causes damage.
Install a vapor barrier
Encapsulation with a vapor barrier can help stop moisture from the hot and humid air outside as well as water from the ground and vents in your crawl space. A thick 20-mil plastic liner is laid across the floors and on your walls and around barriers such as beams. This solution is effective when it’s combined with insulation.
Get a dehumidifier
Moisture issues can be a real problem during the hot summer months. When this air gets in, it will condense on your walls, floor, and underlying structures. A dehumidifier will suck moisture from the air and bring down the humidity levels in your crawl space.
Install interior drainage and a sump pump
Where the risk of flooding is real, it helps to install an interior perimeter drainage system and a sump pump to keep surface water from collecting in the crawl space. Otherwise, water can overwhelm this space and cause extensive damage.
Ensure there are no leaves or debris in your gutters as these might obstruct water flow and could allow water to spew over and onto your foundation.
Have a crawl space that’s plagued by persistent moisture? Take action to bring it under control. Schedule a free crawl space inspection and repair estimate with our professionals in Virginia Beach, VA, and discover what problems you have and the best fixes.