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How To Keep Your Crawl Space Dry | A Handy Guide For Property Owners

How often do you visit your crawl space?

Being a narrow and dingy space underneath your property, there’s a high chance that you might not spend a lot of time in there.

However, according to property experts, it’s essential that you keep a check on your crawl space throughout the year.

Although you might not enjoy the idea of sneaking down into your basement to check the moisture and humidity levels, doing so can save you from structural damages in the future.

So what do you do if you find underlying moisture in the crawl space of your property?

Keep reading for a detailed guide on how to keep your crawl space dry.

What Is a Crawl Space?

Did you know that if you are a property owner, there’s a 98% chance you will experience some kind of water damage in your home’s crawl space throughout your life?

Although the water damage could be minimal at first, if not dealt with in time, it can weaken the structural integrity of your property and destroy your quality of life.

A crawl space can be defined as an unfinished, unoccupied, deserted narrow space underneath the building.

It can be located somewhere in-between the first (ground) floor and the foundational ground of your property.

When it comes to the area- length, breadth, and height- just like its name, the crawl space has only enough room for a person to crawl rather than stand.

This means that a typical crawl space won’t be larger than about 3 ft. 3 inches to 4 ft. 11 inches (1 to 1.5 meters).

Moreover, it is important to know that not all commercial and residential establishments have crawl spaces.

Usually, crawl spaces are found in buildings or houses that lack a solid cement foundation or a basement.

Once you step inside the crawl space, you will find yourself trapped in a place where all functional systems of your property are integrated; this includes gas hookups, ventilation, plumbing, and electrical components.

The crawl space of your property plays a vital role in making all the functional property elements accessible in case they need to be replaced or repaired.

Therefore, you must know how to keep your crawl space dry as it helps with air circulation and structural maintenance of your property.

Causes of Moisture in Crawl Spaces

According to research, 15% of all new residential establishments in the United States have crawl spaces, such that having a crawl space in your property has now become more popular than slab construction or basements.

This is primarily because crawl spaces offer the ability and convenience to reach essential parts of your property without needing an expensive basement.

Despite all the advantages, there are certain problems that can occur within a crawl space.

Water damage such as moisture or humidity tops the list as, if not dealt with in time, it can cause severe damage to your property’s foundation and operational systems.

Therefore, before you learn how to keep your crawl space dry, read on to know some common causes of moisture within your crawl spaces:

Improper Grading

Having a well-structured and functional grading surface is vital to prevent your crawl space from underlying water damage.

Especially if your property has recently been a victim of flash flooding or a torrential rainstorm, there’s a high chance that water or moisture might be trapped against the foundation of your property.

In such cases, if the water gets deep enough, it can turn the air vents into spurts for water to enter, resulting in the growing amount of water in your encapsulated crawl space.

Moreover, along with water damage, residue and debris can clog the ventilation system, which can cause underlying moisture problems in the future.

In short, as soon as water enters your property, seek immediate remediation to prevent any further damage.

Gaps or Cracks in the Foundation

As your property ages, the process of settling can result in the creation of cracks and gaps to the foundation of your home manifest.

The development of even a single gap or crack can significantly reduce the ability of your property to withstand water damage.

Unwanted water seeping into your crawl spaces can cause problems like wood warping and infestation of mold or mildew within your property.

Mold being a part of the fungi kingdom can pose a serious threat to the structure of your property and your family’s health.

Moreover, sitting water can be easily absorbed by the wooden structure of your crawl space which can cause problems such as wood expansion and uneven floors.

However, the worst-case scenario in this situation is that cracks in the foundation can lead to wood rotting and ultimately cost you thousands of dollars for repair or replacement.

Leaking Vent Wells or Windows

If you have had a chance to study your property’s architectural structure, you might know that the foundation is designed to be waterproof.

This protects your property from water damage by keeping it dry even in extreme climatic conditions.

However, with the passage of time, the foundation’s ability to counter water damage weakens.

Almost all crawl spaces and basements have window wells- specific areas with windows and vents recessed into the walls for ventilation.

And so, if any kind of space or gap develops in the window well, it can result in water entering your safe space.

Fortunately, if you know how to keep your crawl space dry, you can control the problem before it becomes unfixable.

Sewer or Water Line Malfunction

Every day, a large amount of water flows in and out of your property through the plumbing or drainage system.

The water pipes within the walls of your property are of two types; the drainage lines are responsible for bringing water from the municipal source well, whereas the sewer lines are supposed to take the dirty water away to the sewer.

Moreover, the water heater system is also connected via these lines, and so even the slightest breakage or clog can lead to fresh or sewer water entering your property.

A broken line within the crawl space can dump a tremendous amount of water into your property before you even realize it.

However, if this happens with a sewer line, you will not only be dealing with a flash flood but also health-hazardous sanitation issues.

Therefore, to repair the damage and keep your crawl space dry, you must know how to keep your crawl space dry in case of an emergency.

Clogged Drains

Apart from excess water entering your property, another problem that comes with heavy rainfall is an overwhelmed or clogged drainage system.

When this happens, the water within the pipeline of your property starts backing up and ultimately over flooding your property.

If neglected, the fixation cost of damage done due to overwhelming drains can burn a hole in your pocket.

Regardless of what kind of water damage you are dealing with in your crawl space, only knowing how to keep your crawl space dry will maintain the structural integrity of your property.

Why Is It Important to Keep Your Crawl Space Clean and Dry | Benefits

Does knowing how to keep your crawl space dry benefit you and your loved ones in any way?

Due to continuous negligence from people, crawl spaces become dirty, musty, unusable, and pest-infested .

But did you know that sooner or later, all the mud, dirt, and pest infestation can enter your living space and make it inhabitable?

Therefore, you should always prioritize the cleanliness and dryness of your crawl spaces. Listed below are some of the common benefits of maintenance of your crawl space:

Eliminates Moisture

Being located underneath your property, the crawl space is prone to water and moisture damage.

Especially in the monsoon season, rainwater enters and stagnates within the crawl space causing high moisture levels and dampness.

Using an encapsulation system and regular cleaning will help you control the dampness within the crawl space.

Improves Air Quality

Did you know that 60% of the air circulating within your property originates from the crawl space?

Proper cleaning of your crawl space removes pests and insect droppings, dust, debris, mold, and other factors that may result in reducing the quality of air that you breath-in.

Keeps the Insects and Pests Away

Other than mold and mildew, the damp and dark environment of your crawl space makes it the perfect home for rodents, pests, and insects; knowing that they aren’t just a nuisance but a health hazard, it is essential to regularly remove debris (nesting and breeding grounds) and eliminate the moisture source within your crawl space.

Minimizes Strange Odor

Regardless of how many air fresheners you use, your property will smell awful if the crawl space isn’t clean and dry.

Proper maintenance of a crawl space is the only way to keep the musty and unpleasant odors away from your property.

Protects the Structural Integrity

From mold triggering wood rot to stagnant water weakening the foundation of your property, improper care of crawl spaces can severely affect your life.

High moisture levels can cause the plumbing to rust and give way to cracks forming within the walls of your property.

Therefore, it is significant to keep your crawl space moisture-free before it causes permanent damage.

How to Keep Your Crawl Space Dry | Things You Should Do

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As stated earlier, the build-up of moisture within the crawl space makes it the ideal habitat for termites, rats, bacteria, viruses, and mold.

These organisms feed on the wooden structure of your crawl space, which ultimately compromises the integrity of your home and your family’s health.

Listed below are some of the most effective ways to deal with moisture within your crawl space:

Damage and Repair Inspection

The first and most essential step in how to keep your crawl space dry is to check it for cracks or holes that mice, cockroaches, and small critters may use to enter the area.

Due to their naturally destructive nature, the crawling pests and insects will chew on the electric wires, wooden structures and tear the insulation system within your crawl space.

Therefore, it is essential to check all the entry/exit points within your crawl spaces and seal the openings by covering them with caulking, wood, or foam.

As even the tiniest opening can easily be the perfect habitat for mice and unwanted insects.

Moreover, you should always keep a check for any leaks or malfunctions that may be adding to the moisture or water within your crawl space.

Pay particular attention to the HVAC ducts and plumbing components.

Also, to stop condensation insulate the plumbing system and remember to get the damages fixed as soon as possible.

Installation of Crawl Space Vapor Barriers

Dirt exposure within crawl spaces allows ground moisture to seep into your property, increasing humidity levels.

Therefore, if your crawl space has been exposed to dirt recently, it’s best to get it sealed before the damage worsens.

Installing vapor barriers will prevent moisture from entering your crawl space and keeping it dry.

Moreover, you can hire professionals to encapsulate the crawl space using a polyurethane sheet.

They will measure the size of your crawl space, spread the barrier on the floor, and tape it down on the walls.

If done correctly, it can reduce the humidity level in your crawl space by 50%.

Insulate Your Crawl Space

Once you have installed the space vapor barriers, the next step to keep your crawl space dry is to insulate it.

You can do this by using rigid panels manufactured from polystyrene foam, as they will not only keep the mold and pests away but will also keep your crawl space dry.

Insulation of your crawl space also promotes air circulation throughout your property.

However, damaged or torn insulation can negatively impact your property’s heating and cooling system, increasing energy costs.

Without proper insulation, the cold and hot air escapes through the floor, directly affecting the consumption of energy throughout your property.

Invest in a Dehumidifier

During humid and hot months, moisture build-up from the roof can cause serious problems.

Using a dehumidifier will help you regulate the moisture levels within your crawl space.

It works by collecting the excess humidity or moisture in the air condenser and ejecting it to keep your crawl space clean and dry.

Cover the Vents

The air vents of your property are continuously exposed to the outside world, which makes them the nastiest and unhygienic part of your crawl space.

Open vents allow pests, water, and air to enter your safe space quickly.

If not concealed with airtight covers, open vents can lead to problems such as excess moisture flooding and weakening of the foundation of your property.

Proper Positioning of Downspouts and Gutters

While finalizing the architectural design, ensure that the downspouts and gutters face away from your property so that all the water flows back when it rains.

However, if your property has already been constructed and you’re looking for an effective method on how to keep your crawl space dry, then repositioning of downspouts minimizes the chances of backflow of water.

Also, keeping gutters clog-free is significant to protect your property from water damage.

Installation of Sump Pump

You honestly never know when your crawl space could flood.

This is where having a sump pump installed in the lowest part of your crawl space saves the day.

If your property gets hit by a flash flood or a drainage pipe bursts, having a sump pump will ensure that all the water is efficiently removed from your property before it starts collecting and causing damage.

Keep a Check and Be Vigilant

Last but not the least, performing maintenance checks on the condition of your crawl space is the ultimate way to keep your crawl space dry.

Moreover, regular cleaning and fixation of malfunctions will keep your crawl space moisture-free and clean as soon as you spot them.

In short, next time when you are confused about how to keep your crawl space dry, remember that keeping an eye for early mold growth signs and moisture will help you catch the problem before it’s too late.

Step-By-Step Guide on How to Keep Your Crawl Space Dry after Water Damage

The easiest method to deal with water damage in your crawl space is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Even though major moisture causes in your crawl spaces can be avoided, the minor (neglected) issues cause the problem.

So, if you are struggling with excess water within the crawl spaces of your property, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to keep your crawl space dry:

Loss Assessment

When talking about water remediation, the first step is to count your losses.

This means that you will have to keenly inspect all the damage caused by water.

Therefore, it is ideal to hire a professional to inspect the crawl space and recommend emergency precautions required to prevent further damage.

This will give you a complete idea of the extent (depth) of the damage caused and what needs to be done to get it fixed as soon as possible.

Extraction of Water

Once you have assessed the damage, it’s time for step number two.

With the help of professionals, you will need to find the water source and eliminate or fix it.

Next, professionals drain water from your crawl space using specialized industry-grade tools such as air movers, water extractors, high-quality blowers, sub-floor drying equipment, and wood floor drying systems.

Removal of Damaged Building Materials and Items

After removing stagnant water from your crawl space, it’s time to step inside to assess the remains.

A crawl space is usually home to store items such as carpets, wooden furniture, etc.

Hence, it is significant to examine everything and categorize them into two groups keenly; replace and repair.

Once you have assessed the remaining belongings and upholstery, the next step is to inspect the insulation system, drywall, and drainage pipes to see what needs to be repaired.

Dehumidification and Drying

This is where hiring a professional creates ease and efficiency throughout the how to keep your crawl space dry after the water damage process as they use specialized dehumidification and drying techniques to remove all the remaining moisture and humid air from your crawl space.

Sanitization and Cleaning

Water damage can be categorized into three categories of the following categories:

  • White Water Damage: The health risks associated with clean water damage are very low. If left untreated for 48hrs the clean water may become habitat to contaminations and cause headaches.
  • Grey Water: Grey water promotes microbial growth and can pose mild to severe contamination risks. Both indirect and direct exposure to grey water can be hazardous to human health.
  • Black Water: This type of water hoards high contamination of viruses, bacteria, and pathogens. If you get exposed to black water, there’s a 90% chance that you might get infected.

Once the professionals have catered to the dampness in your crawl space and know the type of water damage, they will perform the cleaning methods accordingly.

Following this, the professionals will purify and sanitize everything within your crawl space.

Performing Mold Remediation

Mold treatment is a critical process and one of the main reasons you shouldn’t do it yourself.

Even though you might perfectly manage to remove water from your crawl space, there is a high chance that you will not get the dehumidification process right; this can result in the mold infestation.

Mold growth doesn’t only cause serious health complications, it also weakens the structure of your property.

Hence, hiring professionals will ensure that all areas exposed to moisture are disinfected to safeguard your property from mold infestation.

Remodeling and Restoration

This brings us to the last step of how to keep your crawl space dry after water damage, remodeling, and restoration.

Being located deep down, almost close to the foundation of your property, it is significant to ensure that the crawl space is damage-free.

Whether that means fixing a small hole in the drywall or replacing the whole subfloor, the professionals will go through all lengths to remodel and restore your crawl space into its dry state as soon as possible.

Final Thoughts

Owning a home or business is rewarding, but it also comes with great responsibility and some unpleasant tasks, such as keeping an eye on the moisture level within your crawl space.

Although it may seem unnecessary and time-consuming, keeping track of the damp conditions within your crawl space is essential for the structural integrity of your property.

Therefore, once you know how to keep your crawl space dry, you should visit it at least twice a week to safeguard your property from future damage.