Your crawl space has more sway over the health of your home than its size and use might suggest. While you’re likely not using your crawl space to entertain, you’ll still want to keep an eye on it to ensure the rest of your home remains as safe and watertight as possible.
Addressing Early Crawl Space Problems
Different crawl space problems can appear at different times during your tenure as a homeowner. The common crawl space problems you’re most likely to encounter during your first few years in a new home include but are not limited to:
Your crawl space is naturally dark and damp. Mold thrives when it has ready access to conditions like these. If you don’t make a point of waterproofing your crawl space when you first move in, the insulation you have in place may absorb water faster than it should. This will allow mold spores let in by your air ducts to take root.
If you want to keep your loved ones safe from mold clusters and spores, you’ll want to clean your crawl space on a consistent basis. Waterproofing your crawl space with a dehumidifier will also eliminate some of the space’s natural dampness and subsequently stunt mold growth.
When water can get into your home, critters can get into your home. If you’re seeing more insects than usual, or if you’re hearing chattering in the walls, you’re going to want to act fast.
Unfortunately, area contractors may not be able to help you remove unwanted guests such as these from your crawl space. However, you can collaborate with an exterminator to first remove the pests, then a contractor to repair the damage that’s been done to your home. To prevent infestations, it’s best to keep your crawl space as clean as possible. Set traps and eliminate sources of food that animals might otherwise enjoy.
If you let your crawl space go uncleaned for too long, you risk letting that higher level of humidity in a crawl space without waterproofing measures evolve into something more significant. Your crawl space can flood without you realizing it if you live in an area that sees heavy rains and you fail to keep a close eye on the aforementioned space.
One of the best ways to avoid this type of severe water damage is to keep your space clean and waterproof. You can easily reach out to a local contractor to have them perform a crawl space inspection, during which you can get a better look at what cracks or other faults may have grown since you first moved into your new home.
Problems with Your Insulation
If you choose to install insulation in your crawl space, you’ll want to make sure it’s either waterproof or well protected by other waterproofing means. Insulation, while effective at keeping the temperature in your crawl space consistent, can just as readily serve as a home to mold as it can work as a protective measure throughout your space.
You may need to replace thermal insulation that’s doubling as waterproofing material on a three-to-five-year basis, depending on the material used and its condition. If you don’t, the insulation will lose its effectiveness and become the perfect breeding ground for mold. This is especially true of fiberglass insulation. Mice that make their way into your home can also use it as nesting material, so be sure to clean out your crawl space and replace your insulation regularly.
Addressing Long-Term Crawl Space Problems
Short-term problems with your crawl space are one thing. Long-term problems, comparatively, can creep up on you when you least expect them. Examples of common, long-term crawl space damage include:
Damaged Structural Supports
If your crawl space starts to suffer from unanticipated damage, the rest of your home may not be too far behind. As mentioned, your crawl space dictates the health of the bulk of your home. As this space declines, you may notice your chimney developing cracks, your floors starting to buckle, and the upper levels of your home growing more humid. It can be difficult to trace these problems back to your crawl space, but professionals know how to identify the connections and address the source of the problems instead of just the symptoms.
Hydrostatic Pressure and Your Crawl Space
Hydrostatic pressure is the primary force behind most of the crawl space damage, though there are other forces that may put your home at risk. Hydrostatic pressure builds up outside of your home when water comes into contact with your home’s building materials. That water causes your supports to change size on a molecular level. Rapid changes like these force your supports to endure high levels of stress, under which they may crack if they’re not treated or relieved. With those cracks come short- and long-term crawl space problems that may plague your life as a homeowner.
Reach Out to Area Professionals for Crawl Space Repair
If you’ve been having trouble contending with unwanted moisture or damage in your crawl space, don’t worry. You’re under no obligation to take on this kind of challenge alone. The professional contractors serving Birmingham, AL, can help you tackle any crawl space problems that come your way. To get started, you can schedule a home inspection with the pros at AFS Foundation & Waterproofing Specialists and look over a free services quote detailing what repairs or protective measures you may need to invest in.