The concept of “crawl space encapsulation” can sound very scary to people who are new to the world of home repair. The good news is that it’s really not that complicated. Crawl space encapsulation is about making sure your crawl space doesn’t have any access to the outside, which can make it better for your home.
There are a number of steps to crawl space encapsulation, but these steps aren’t very complicated to understand. Plus, you shouldn’t be the one doing them anyway. You should talk to a crawl space repair expert who will be able to help you understand how crawl space encapsulation works and will be able to install these fixes.
An encapsulated crawl space is vital if you’re going to tackle your crawl space concerns. In fact, encapsulation can help you with a variety of worries you might be having with crawl space issues. By just learning a few things about the basics of crawl space encapsulation, you can be better prepared when you contact a JES expert to start.
What Can Crawl Space Encapsulation Help With?
The first step to understanding crawl space encapsulation is understanding the benefits of crawl space encapsulation. If you’ve never looked into crawl space encapsulation, you might not actually understand its benefits. These are the most commonly cited benefits.
Far and away the most commonly cited benefit of crawl space encapsulation is that it can help reduce crawl space moisture. Crawl space moisture is a scourge that can significantly impact your home’s overall health. It can cause all manner of pests to come into your home, cause various things to grow in the crawl space, and make your home feel less comfortable and muggier.
There are two main sources of crawl space moisture, which crawl space encapsulation can help you avoid. The first is crawl space vents. Most homes have crawl space vents because at one point, people mistakenly believed crawl space vents could actually help avoid crawl space moisture. The second is dirt crawl spaces. Although dirt crawl spaces are the most common types of crawl spaces, they’re also the most likely to cause excess crawl space moisture.
Do you have pests in your crawl space? It could be because of an unencapsulated crawl space. When you encapsulate your crawl space, you’re going to cover any crawl space vents you already have. That means it’s going to be much more difficult for pests to get into your crawl space and also make it easier to remove any pests you currently have.
No matter how small the opening is, any crawl space opening is going to leave you wide open to crawl space pests. Pests can get through the tiniest of openings; snakes in particular are notorious for this, but insects are also great at getting into very tiny openings. If you leave any sort of opening, pests are sure to invade your crawl space.
Crawl spaces with significant amounts of crawl space moisture are almost always going to end up with mold and mildew. Mold and mildew thrive in areas with significant amounts of moisture; any time your crawl space moisture gets up above about 65%, you can pretty much guarantee you’re going to end up with mold and mildew in the crawl space.
Mold and mildew can cause anything from serious allergic reactions to general respiratory concerns, and it’s also a great source of food for many insects. In general, it’s something you want to get rid of. If you can get rid of it through something as simple as crawl space encapsulation, you should definitely consider investing in it.
When you have pests in your crawl space, mold and mildew growth, and an entrance for air, you’re going to have issues with allergies and respiratory problems in general. However, many people don’t know that this is the case. They just instead assume their allergies and respiratory problems are a part of life, and they don’t pursue things like encapsulation, which could make these problems go away or at least get easier.
The main thing that causes this is the stack effect. The stack effect is the name of the effect that happens when there’s an entrance for air in both the crawl space and the ceiling. Cool air enters the crawl space, and as it warms up, it moves up through the house. The thing is, if there are allergens in the crawl space, those allergens move up through your home, wreaking havoc on you and your family members.
One important issue associated with unencapsulated crawl spaces that you may never have known about is high electric bills. As a matter of fact, unencapsulated crawl spaces can cost up to 15-25% more than encapsulated crawl space in energy bills, even if you factor a dehumidifier into the equation, which is a tool you may need to bring your crawl space back down to a normal humidity level.
Why is this? There are a number of reasons unencapsulated crawl spaces can be so much more energy-dense than encapsulated ones. Moist air is more difficult to condition, so your air conditioner may have to work harder with high-moisture air than with low-moisture air. Additionally, crawl space vents and other places that air can get out also allows your air-conditioned air to get out, which means you’re basically pumping air-conditioned air into the world.
The Crawl Space Encapsulation Process, Step by Step
What does crawl space encapsulation actually mean? When you go through the crawl space encapsulation process step by step, here’s what you’ll more than likely see in your crawl space.
The first step in the encapsulation process may be installing an interior drainage system and a sump pump if you have standing groundwater or leakage. Although not all crawl spaces need a sump pump, it might be important if you’re dealing with a leak or if your home has a build that will result in water slowly gathering in the crawl space. With these situations, a sump pump can be a great way to avoid further problems that standing crawl space water can cause.
The drainage system and sump pump work best when paired together. The specially designed CrawlDrain™ is placed in the crawl space floor to collect leaking water. This water is then directed to drain into the sump pump system so that it can be properly removed from the crawl space. Additionally, drainage matting can be placed on the crawl space floor to help direct water from other parts of the crawl space to the perimeter CrawlDrain™ system.
Next, you need to make sure the crawl space doesn’t have an open dirt floor. If your crawl space has any open dirt space underneath it, which may be the case for some or all of your crawl space, it’s important to have a JES expert place a CrawlSeal™ vapor barrier liner. By sticking exclusively to a 20-mil vapor barrier liner, which is the thickest liner available, you can be certain you’ll keep all water vapor outside your crawl space.
Remember that any dirt crawl space needs a vapor barrier. This is true whether it seems like the area has a lot of moisture in it or it seems like it is mostly dry. Even dirt that seems dry will connect much further down to dirt with a lot of moisture in it. Dirt retains moisture very far down, and any dirt crawl spaces will eventually release that moisture. It’s a good idea to put a vapor barrier liner over any dirt areas that might be in your crawl space.
Does your crawl space have vents? If you currently have crawl space vents in your home, you’re going to need to install a crawl space vent cover on each of those vents. In the past, many people believed that “airing a crawl space out” was the best way to avoid crawl space moisture. However, nowadays, experts believe this venting process actually allows more moisture to collect in the crawl space because of the math that goes along with relative humidity.
Installing airtight vent covers can fix this additional moisture problem. A vent cover is very easy to install, overall; all you have to do is fasten the vent cover on the vent and you’ll be protected from extra moisture that may come in from the vent. Vent covers can also protect you against pests that might enter through a vent and water that might come in during rain or floods. Overall, covering your crawl space vents is absolutely a better choice than leaving them open.
Lastly, especially if you tend to have a very humid home, it’s important to install a dehumidifier. Even if you’ve completely sealed off the crawl space from humidity, it’s still possible for the home and the area around it to carry more moisture, as is often the case with homes on the east coast. In these situations, you may need to consider a crawl space dehumidifier.
Dehumidifiers shouldn’t be your first step. If you have a humid crawl space, you can’t necessarily stick a dehumidifier in the space and call it done. You really need to tackle the base problem of the crawl space, which is probably open vents or a dirt crawl space, before you can install a dehumidifier. However, a dehumidifier can be a genuinely useful part of encapsulating a crawl space, so you also shouldn’t rule out the possibility for a dehumidifier.
Rely on the Experts at JES for Help with Crawl Space Encapsulation!
Clearly, crawl space encapsulation is an involved process, but it doesn’t have to be a difficult one. Aside from educating yourself about the benefits and specifics of crawl space encapsulation, you can contact a JES expert to turn your vented crawl space into a closed crawl space. This can make your crawl space last longer and stay healthier. Crawl space encapsulation is quite simply the best option for any crawl space that has vents, a dirt floor, or moisture problems in general. Schedule a free inspection with a JES crawl space repair expert to learn more about your options.
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