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Crawl Space Repair

Crawl Space Repair & Encapsulation

Crawl space moisture means crawl space mold. Mold creates health problems for your family.

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Sagging floors and unpleasant odors might seem like the norm to homeowners with a crawl space under their homes. But these common crawl space problems are far from normal. They might seem like typical nuisances at face value, but they indicate something deeper is happening below the surface. The condition of your crawl space greatly influences the health and safety of your home overall. Problems that stem from excessive moisture and humidity include mold growth that can be dangerous for many people to breathe, as well as wood rot that compromises your home’s structural integrity.  

While these issues are serious, they are not beyond repair. Our experienced team at JES Foundation Repair specializes in crawl space repair and encapsulation that will protect your home for years to come. 


Causes of Crawl Space Issues

There are numerous reasons your house may have these problems. Most of these causes stem from the ground.

Open crawl space vents let in moisture, which creates the perfect environment for wood rot, mold, mildew and dust mites. Plus a vented dirt crawl space can also cause your energy bill to be nearly 20% higher!

Exposed dirt in your crawl space absorbs moisture open crawl space vents allow inside. As damp soil dries, it rises through your house, changing relative humidity inside your home, contributing to high energy bills.

Spring showers are great for your flowers & landscaping, but create problems for your crawl space. Extra moisture forces the soil to expand & press against your crawl space foundation, eventually causing cracks.

If your home doesn’t have a drainage system in place, then all the water that flows out of your gutters or roof will land near your foundation. That water forces the soil to expand & will push against your crawl space foundation, forcing water in & creating cracks.

Most of us think about the damage to the inside of our home when we find a plumbing leak. Those problems spread to your crawl space. Cracks in pipes or water lines leading to your home create a mess out of your lawn but can also harm your foundation, & create water damage in your crawl space.

Is Crawl Space Repair and Encapsulation the Right Solution for Me? 

While basements are common in homes throughout Western and Northern Virginia, homes in more southern and coastal areas like Hampton Roads and Northeast North Carolina typically have crawl spaces. Crawl spaces offer a buffer between the ground and the house itself and often contain essentials like plumbing pipes, ductwork, and HVAC equipment.  

Crawl spaces can be helpful, but they have major flaws that cause problems for the whole structure. Since the mid-20th century, crawl spaces have been built with open vents and dirt floors. These features allow precipitation, unconditioned air, pests, and groundwater to enter your crawl space and cause a variety of damage. This is prevalent and particularly concerning in locations like Charlottesville, Richmond, and Baltimore which experience high humidity and frequent precipitation. 

You don’t have to live with these dangerous crawl space problems. Our experienced professionals at JES can ease your mind and help you create a safer and healthier living environment with our permanent crawl space repair and encapsulation solutions. Call us today or fill out this form to get started. 

FAQs

Humidity, unfortunately, is not a harmless visitor in your home. If you allow humidity to gather in your crawl space, then you may find yourself contending with unwanted damage in the days, weeks, and months to come. Humidity, after all, does more than make your space uncomfortable to live in. Unwanted moisture in the air can cause significant damage throughout the whole of your home, such as: 

  • Unpleasant smells 
  • Mold growths 
  • Warped door frames 
  • Damaged windowsills 
  • Sagging floors 
  • Rotting floor joists 
  • Wood rot 
  • Foundation sinkage 

If you find yourself contending with crawl space humidity, you can reach out to a professional contractor in your area to schedule a home inspection. During a home inspection, you can find the source of a leak and determine how best you can resolve the damage done to your home. You can also discuss what waterproofing measures might help you protect your home from unwanted moisture after repairs have been completed.

The stack effect is a condition in a home describing the behavior of air based on its density. Air that is warmer has a less significant density than cooler air. As a result, warmer air tends to rise to the top of a home. However, if the air in your crawl space takes on an excessive amount of moisture, the density of the air can increase significantly. In most cases, you’d assume that’d mean air would remain in the bottom of your home. However, if the moisture from your crawl space starts to leak into the rest of your home, that dense air can spread, exposing all belongings and other structural supports to conditions that might result in damage. 

There is no getting away from the stack effect, unfortunately. No matter what steps you take, the warmer air in your home will always rise to the top of your home. However, if you work to eliminate the excess moisture in your crawl space, you can prevent wood rot and other moisture-induced damage from appearing in the rest of your home. It is in your best interest to see what you can do to seal off the entirety of your crawl space. Even if you haven’t taken any preventative measures yet, you can keep the vents in your crawl space closed and blocked off while also making sure your crawl space door fits well in its frame.

The process of encapsulating your crawl space allows you to protect your home against unwanted moisture. A professional will cover the walls and floor with a dense layer of plastic-like material. In doing so, they create a tight seal within your space, preventing both water and most gas particles from making their way inside. It’s important to maintain the health of your crawl space and the function of your protective measures. So you will need to keep an eye on your encapsulation materials over the years to ensure that none of them are wearing thin. 

The cost of encapsulating your crawl space will vary based on the types of materials you want to purchase, as well as the size of the space you want to protect. If you let your crawl space suffer from damage for an extended period of time, however, the cost of eventual repairs will vastly outstrip those protective measures you might invest in ahead of time. Additionally, encapsulating your crawl space can help lower your electric bills, as they can improve your ability to control the temperature throughout your crawl space and the rest of your home.

Crawl space encapsulations help you create a sealed area within your crawl space. In doing so, they make it easier for you to prevent unwanted humidity and, in turn, to deal with it accordingly. If something breaks the seal you have on your crawl space, you might find yourself contending with a spread of moisture throughout the rest of your home. 

An ill-fitting crawl space door will let moisture into the rest of your home. You’ll want to work with the professionals in your area to first identify the source of moisture in your crawl space and fix it. With a leak fixed, you can then go about removing the rest of the unwanted moisture from the rest of your crawl space. Only once your space has dried out should you go about replacing your crawl space door and its frame. Once you’ve reached that point, you can make sure that the door fits well into its frame and benefits from another waterproofing measure you may have installed in your space.

Crawl space encapsulation will almost certainly help you lower your energy costs. In fact, some people suggest you could save up to 15-25% in energy costs when you encapsulate your crawl space. It can be more difficult to cool your home when the air is humid, and the same holds true whether you’re cooling your crawl space or the rest of your home.

When encapsulating your crawl space, you’re removing all ability for moisture to enter the crawl space. When moisture can’t enter your crawl space, it also can’t rise up through the rest of the home. That means you have to use much less energy to condition the air in your crawl space and in the home in general.

On an aesthetic level, an unlined crawl space tends to smell unpleasant. These types of smells tend to arise as a result of precipitation and the unprotected dirt or materials you’ve left unlined in the space. The smells coming from your crawl space can rise up through your home along with unpleasant, moist air and permeate otherwise clean spaces. It can be extremely difficult to get rid of these smells, even if you make a point of clearing out the rest of your home. Leaving a crawl space unlined can also result in: 

  • Warped door frames 
  • Damaged windowsills 
  • The stack effect 
  • Sagging floors throughout your home 

In short, by lining your crawl space, you protect that space from extensive damage. You can reach out to professional contractors in your area to determine what kind of crawl space lining might help you protect your space against the aforementioned problems. Note that not all linings are waterproof, but that you can invest in waterproof lining when you’re first installing the protective measure. Some other types of linings are merely aesthetic, but they can still provide tentative support in your fight against unwanted moisture.

That “musty smell” that many people think of as being indicative of a regularly functioning crawl space is actually not an intended crawl space feature. The musty crawl space smell actually occurs because of mold growth, which feeds off moisture to grow.

This is exactly why a “musty smell” should be a sign that you need to fix something. If your crawl space smells musty and stale, there’s something wrong. You can fix it and avoid potentially permanent damage from mold and moisture, but you have to take the first step. Don’t wait to check out your crawl space; there’s a decent chance that there’s something happening you can fix.

That “musty smell” that many people think of as being indicative of a regularly functioning crawl space is actually not an intended crawl space feature. The musty crawl space smell actually occurs because of mold growth, which feeds off moisture to grow.

This is exactly why a “musty smell” should be a sign that you need to fix something. If your crawl space smells musty and stale, there’s something wrong. You can fix it and avoid potentially permanent damage from mold and moisture, but you have to take the first step. Don’t wait to check out your crawl space; there’s a decent chance that there’s something happening you can fix.

Some people seem to think that fixing bouncy or sagging floors can be a DIY project that you may be able to fix with the addition of a brick or a stack of wood. However, you should always consult an expert if you’re experiencing issues with bouncy floors.

It’s true that this method of providing additional support, also called “sistering,” can be beneficial in some cases. However, this additional support will only last for a short period of time. If the floor joist is bouncy because it’s over-spanned or full of wood rot, you’re just putting a bandage over the problem rather than addressing it head-on.

Incorrectly supporting the floors can sometimes be worse than not supporting them at all. Cinder blocks can tip or crumble, which can damage your home when they fall. Jacking up floor joists very quickly can cause the floor to buckle and drywall cracks to form. Using any pieces of wood may just add fuel to the fire and allow mold and wood rot to spread.

Clearly, the only answer is to contact a crawl space expert to fix your bouncy floors. You want the job done right the first time, and the only way to do that is to contact a JES expert for help.

For a long time, people thought open crawl space vents were actually a benefit in a home. The idea was that crawl spaces needed ventilation because the ventilation would help “dry out” the crawl space. In fact, many building codes required ventilated crawl spaces, with minimal exceptions for unventilated crawl spaces.

Although this was a popular idea for many years, it doesn’t hold up to scrutiny nowadays. Because of the different temperatures of outside air and air in your home, open crawl space vents may actually increase the amount of humidity in your crawl space, rather than reducing it. Clearly, it’s not a good idea to leave your crawl space vents open.

The good thing is that there are many ways to return your crawl space to an encapsulated state. JES offers crawl space vent covers that you can add to your vents to avoid the entrance of water, moisture-laden air, or anything else into your crawl space.

Dehumidifiers can serve as effective waterproofing measures in your crawl space. Whether or not a dehumidifier can help you solve your crawl space problem, however, will depend on the extent of damage you’re seeing in your space. Dehumidifiers help pull moisture from the air and can run fairly consistently, as long as you cycle them regularly. If a contractor believes that the extent of your damage can be confined to high levels of humidity and not, for example, mold growths or standing water, dehumidifiers can help protect your space against immediate damage while also preventing a build-up of air pressure that might, later down the line, circulate moist air through the rest of your home.  

However, note that dehumidifiers are not fix-all devices. If you’re contending with more significant moisture levels in your crawl space, it may be in your best interest to pair a dehumidifier with another set of waterproofing measures, like a vapor barrier, interior drainage system, and a sump pump. This way, the multiple waterproofing measures can support one another as they draw unwanted moisture out of your space.

Wet insulation will not do its job in your home, but it can also become a host for mold spores. You can again work with a professional to inspect your crawl space and reveal any insulation that might have suffered damage as a result of a leak. Should you find wet crawl space insulation, you may have to hire a professional to effectively remove it and replace it.  

You can remove that moisture, dispose of it in accordance with your county’s regulations, and install new insulation material. We recommend rigid, waterproof panels called ExTremeBloc™ that also are treated to resist termites. Above all else, be sure to check over the space where your insulation used to be for signs of mold growth. You’ll want to do what you can to remove all such growth from your home before they have the opportunity to spread further.

Why Crawl Space Repair and Encapsulation Are Needed 

Just as crawl space problems have a variety of impacts, crawl space repair and encapsulation offer your home and family countless benefits. Here are just a few of them: 

dehumidifier to manage efflorescence

Improves Energy Efficiency

Vented crawl spaces allow the unconditioned outside air inside your crawl space and home. This can make your floors feel cold during the winter and warm during the summer. Thus, you would be constantly fighting with your HVAC system to find a comfortable temperature. This not only strains your HVAC, but its constant operation can drive up utility bills. But with airtight vent covers, a vapor barrier, and a dehumidifier, your home will be more comfortable and energy-efficient. 

bugs in crawl space

Helps Deter Pests

Bugs and other pesky critters can easily make their way inside through the ground, cracks in your crawl space, and open or faulty vents and doors. They are attracted by the isolation, darkness, and moisture your unconditioned crawl space offers. But by deploying moisture control methods, you can decrease their interest in the space and make it more difficult for them to get inside. This can be done with vent covers, a thick vapor barrier, rigid insulation panels (that are integrated with a termiticide), and an energy-efficient dehumidifier

stack effect

Offers Positive Impact from the Stack Effect

Nearly half of the air you breathe in your house comes from your crawl space. That is largely due to the stack effect, the natural movement of air throughout your home from bottom to top. This means that anything in your crawl space like mold spores, pest waste, and unpleasant odors also circulates elsewhere in your house. This is unhealthy and unsafe, especially for people with existing breathing conditions. But once your crawl space is properly encapsulated and dehumidified, the cleaner, conditioned air within this space is circulated. 

Common Crawl Space Encapsulation & Repair Tips & Mistakes 

We have heard and seen it all during our many years in the foundation and crawl space repair industry. To equip you with knowledge and advice, here are some helpful tips to consider and mistakes to avoid during your crawl space repair and encapsulation journey: 

Tips to Consider: 

  • Regularly Inspect and Maintain Your Gutters and Downspouts: While the crawl space systems we install are internal, it’s important to start protecting your home from the outside. This includes your gutters and downspouts, which often are your first line of defense against excess water around your home. It’s a good idea to stick to an inspection and maintenance schedule of these vital systems at least twice a year – in the spring and fall. Check for any holes, remove any clogs and debris, and ensure the downspouts and extensions drain away from the house. 
  • Check and Regrade Your Yard as Necessary: In the same vein, having a positively graded yard and landscape is vital to prevent excess water from collecting near your crawl space. A yard with a positive grade slopes down and away from the house, allowing for proper drainage. If your yard has a negative grade, water will flow towards the house and puddle near the foundation or leak inside the crawl space. Landscaping professionals can help with any regrading as necessary. 
  • Add Backup Waterproofing Protection: Our region experiences a considerable amount of precipitation, and flooding is prevalent in coastal areas. Along with encapsulation solutions, having waterproofing measures installed in your crawl space such as an interior drainage system and a sump pump is critical. But the latter solution relies on electricity to function, which is problematic during a power outage. Equipping your crawl space sump pump with a battery backup pump will allow this essential piece of equipment to continue operating to keep your home dry when you need it the most. 

Mistakes to Avoid: 

  • Entering Your Crawl Space: It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s not a good idea to venture into your crawl space to investigate or install anything. This is a very tight space that may contain essential utilities as well as mold and pests. You risk getting stuck, being exposed to unhealthy conditions, and inadvertently causing damage. Instead, let our highly trained and experienced team at JES handle these essential inspections and installations.  
  • Investing in a Partial Solution: When you find out that your crawl space needs repairs, it can be tempting to put them on the back burner or address them with quick solutions to get by in the short term. This includes pumping sand into the crawl space to try to sop up water, placing fans or conventional dehumidifiers inside to try to dry the air, and laying a thin, 6-mil vapor barrier liner on the crawl space floor. None of these solutions addresses the root of the problems, and they are only temporary fixes that can end up making crawl space problems worse. 
  • Installing Other DIY Repairs: As we’ve mentioned, your crawl space can be a delicate and dangerous place, and going inside this area is ill-advised. This also applies to installing repairs on your own. While some options are available at hardware and big-box stores, they often are temporary like some of the solutions mentioned above. Things like spray foam, minimum thickness vapor barriers, and “waterproof” paint may have the short-term effects you’re looking for, but they’ll need to be continually purchased and installed. They also do nothing to address the true cause of your crawl space problems. 

Find a service area near you

Washington DC & Northern Virginia

Washington DC & Northern Virginia

Is your beautiful Northern Virginia home cursed by a cracking, leaking, or settling foundation? High humidity and expansive clay soil may be the culprit.

Charlottesville, VA

Charlottesville, VA

Whether your home is old or new, the expansive clay potent in Charlottesville can impair your home’s foundation. Cracks, leaks, and sagging floors are common here.

Hampton Roads, VA

Hampton Roads, VA

Heavy precipitation year-round in coastal areas of Virginia can be a pain for any homeowner. Is your crawl space, basement, or concrete slab prepared?

Northeast North Carolina

Northeast North Carolina

Between hurricane season and sandy soil, homes in the Outer Banks and greater Northeast NC are subject to structural damage from erosion and poor water management.

Lynchburg, VA

Lynchburg, VA

The hard red clay predominant in Lynchburg is great for agriculture, but destructive for crawl spaces and basements. Experts can help you find a long-lasting solution.

Roanoke, VA

Roanoke, VA

Settled in the valley and ridge region, Roanoke homeowners know flooding all too well. JES has the solutions you need to fortify your home against the elements.

Danville, VA

Danville, VA

Expansive soils in Danville may be the cause for leaking basements, moldy crawl spaces, and cracked foundations. Local experts can help you fight back.

Richmond, VA

Richmond, VA

The sandy soil and wet climate of Richmond will wreak havoc on your home's concrete, foundation, basement, and crawl space. JES is here to help tackle the problems causing your foundation to falter!

Baltimore, MD

Baltimore, MD

Thick humidity spans across DC in the summer, and it won’t spare your basement or crawl space. Waterproofing solutions may be your best line of defense.

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