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Crawl Space Encapsulation & Repair

Addressing all of your crawl space’s issues will promote energy efficiency and comfort in your home.

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Is Crawl Space Encapsulation the right solution for me? 

Does your crawl space have vents? If you currently have a vented crawl space, 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.

If your crawl space is damp, musty, and humid, crawl space encapsulation will transform this area underneath your home from dirty and wet to a clean, dry, usable space.  

Not only does mold growth, mildew, and excessive moisture ruin your home’s indoor air quality, but it also causes structural damage to your home’s foundation. Cleaning up any water is a good first step, but encapsulating your crawl space using a high-quality vapor barrier improves energy efficiency and creates an all-around healthy living environment.   

AFS Foundation & Waterproofing Specialists have been developing cutting-edge crawl space encapsulation products for more than 20 years. Our durable 120-mil thick vapor barrier, combined with AquaStop™ Thermal Insulation board, state-of-the-art sump pump systems, and high-capacity dehumidifiers ensure your crawl space will not only be dry and usable for storage but also greatly improves the indoor air quality throughout the entire home.   

Fully Encapsulated Crawl Space

Why is Crawl Space Encapsulation Needed?

These days there are a number of homes that already have some level of waterproofing and encapsulation. Still, some older properties have exposed, vented crawl spaces. Below are the most common reasons for waterproofing and encapsulation: 

Water Damage 

If you already have a waterproofing and encapsulation system in your home, one of the main reasons that you may need to revisit it is because of water damage. Sump pump breakdown, a loose or cracked crawl space door, internal plumbing leaks, and foundation damage can all cause a previously dry, safe, secure crawl space to become damp, humid, and unhealthy. In these cases, the underlying damage will need to be dealt with before you can replace or repair the waterproofing measures in your crawl space. 

Exposure 

Some older properties may still have exposed crawl spaces. In these cases, you will need to encapsulate and waterproof your home for the first time to ensure that your home is protected, but first, it will be necessary to have a professional look for signs of damage. If you simply cover up the damage with vapor barriers and insulation, it will grow unseen and unchecked inside your home. This will cause a world of trouble further down the line.

Deterioration 

Most waterproofing and encapsulation products have long lifespans, but there is a point at which they will start to become less and less effective. This process of deterioration is natural, but it will put your home in danger as it progresses. Having your home assessed and maintained regularly is important to ensuring that your home stays in good condition even when the weather is extreme. 

The reasons for choosing to encapsulate your property (either for the first time or to upgrade your current waterproofing systems) can differ greatly depending on your situation. Therefore, we recommend that you talk to a professional about the process and its potential benefits as well as the costs.

Crawl Space Encapsulation Steps

Interior Drainage and Sump Pump

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 EZ Flow™ Crawl Space Drainage System 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 EZ Flow™ system.

Vapor Barrier Liner

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 an AFS Foundation & Waterproofing Specialists place a vapor barrier liner. By using only 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.

Vent Covers

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.

Dehumidifier

Lastly, especially if you tend to have a very humid home, it’s important to install a crawl space 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 in areas with humid subtropical climates. 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.

Common Crawl Space Tips & Mistakes

Tips:  

  • Even an encapsulated, sealed crawl space can experience excess moisture levels in the air that can lead to mold growth. A high capacity, energy-efficient, self-draining crawl space dehumidifier improves air quality inside the crawl space as well as above in the home’s living areas.   
  • Encapsulating your crawl space can save you money in the long run. HVAC, like the furnace and air conditioning ductwork, are often located in the crawl space. In the summer when temperatures are hot, if the crawl space isn’t encapsulated, the ducts are also hot. This means your air conditioner has to work harder to cool your living space when air is moving through hot ducts. The same is true in the winter when warm air runs through cold ducts to reach the desired temperature. By stabilizing your crawl space temperature with encapsulation and proper insulation, you will not only reduce your energy usage but also decrease the rate of wear and tear on your HVAC system.   
  • Building codes used to recommend a vented crawl space; we now know crawl space vents do more harm than good. As humid untreated air enters the crawl space it gets trapped beneath the floors causing mold and mildew to grow. Mold spores and high humidity can travel up through the home causing increased allergies and asthma. It’s a good idea to seal crawl space vents from the outside air with durable, airtight vent covers, even if encapsulation isn’t in your immediate future.  

Mistakes:   

  • Not installing a backup crawl space sump pump in an area of your home that is infrequently visited can result in excess water flooding the space in the event of a power outage or device malfunction. A backup sump pump allows ultimate peace of mind.   
  • Homeowners may think waterproofing a crawl space is good enough. This, however, is a mistake. Although waterproofing and encapsulation go hand in hand, a waterproofing drainage system is just one aspect of the encapsulation process. Without sealing the walls and floor from moisture and water vapor, your home’s indoor air quality and mold and mildew growth problems are very likely to persist.   
  • Attempting to DIY your crawl space encapsulation project, although completely understandable, can actually cause more harm than good. Unfortunately, many of the high-quality products we use at AFS are not available at big box stores, and ensuring materials are installed properly is key. For example, if a plastic liner is installed on the floor, but not sealed, condensation will occur and mold will find yet another location to grow. Additionally, if the crawl space isn’t sealed properly, any work that is done can be destroyed by pests like ants, termites, or rodents who can easily get inside. 
  • Believing all crawl space insulation is the same is a common mistake homeowners make. Spray foam, fiberglass insulation, and ridged closed-cell wall insulation are actually very different. Fiberglass insulation becomes useless when wet, spray foam traps moisture and mold under it, allowing the problem to fester, while ridged closed-cell wallboard offers reflective properties resulting in an outstanding R-value per inch. 

Find your service area

Huntsville, AL

Huntsville, AL

Water and humidity in your home can lead to structural and health issues that impact your family’s safety. AFS has the best permanent solutions tailored to your Huntsville home’s exact repair and protection needs.

Mobile, AL

Mobile, AL

A damaged crawl space and basement are common in Mobile, AL., but it doesn’t have to be that way. AFS has proven solutions to stop moisture in its tracks and restore your home's original stability.

Columbus, GA

Columbus, GA

Auburn, located in Alabama’s “Black Belt,” is known for its dark, clay soils. As earthy as they may be, these soils cause a lot of structural problems.

Chattanooga, TN

Chattanooga, TN

Chattanooga has sandy, silty soil and a rainy climate that can cause damage to your home's concrete and foundation, as well as the basement and crawl space.

Nashville, TN

Nashville, TN

Springtime means storms in Nashville, TN, and Tennessee is one of the wettest states in the U.S. That can make waterproofing solutions and foundation repair vital.

Birmingham, AL

Birmingham, AL

Rainwater and humid, muggy air can have a big impact on the foundation of your family's home. The professionals at AFS have solutions to repair even the toughest crawl space, foundation, or concrete problems.

Knoxville, TN

Knoxville, TN

Yearly, the U.S. averages 38 inches of rain, while Knoxville gets 50 inches. This makes it easy for expansive clay soils to destroy your property.

Pensacola, FL

Pensacola, FL

Being a coastal city in Florida, Pensacola tends to experience humid weather and rainy summers. Heavy moisture can cause foundation damage. Here’s what you can do.

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