If your home has a mildew odor and you can't figure out where it's coming from, your crawl space could be to blame. You may not give your crawl space much thought, but it actually has a big impact on the quality of the air inside your house. One major problem with crawl spaces is dampness, and a damp crawl space can lead to a host of problems.
Here's why a damp crawl space is a threat to your home and what can be done to dry it out.
The Dangers of a Wet Crawl Space
Mold is a serious problem for your home and your family. It not only causes musty odors, it can also irritate allergies. When mold begins to grow in your crawl space after prolonged dampness, it can work its way into your living space.
The high humidity from below will start to affect the inside of your home too. It can cause condensation on your windows and further promote the growth of mold. Dampness attracts insects, so your home may become overrun with roaches and other bugs that come up from the crawl space.
While these dangers can be just annoyances, the most serious problem of a wet crawl space is wood rot that can weaken the foundation of your home.
The Reasons Your Crawl Space Holds Moisture
You might have water draining under your home because of malfunctioning gutters or the way your yard is sloped. If this is the case, then diverting the flow of rainwater might cut down on the amount of dampness you have to contend with.
Even if water doesn't leak into your crawl space when it rains, you can still have a moisture problem. That's because water vapor naturally rises from the soil. It then condenses on the ceiling and walls of the crawl space and drips back down to the ground to repeat the cycle.
Your home probably has a vent on the side to allow airflow in the crawl space to evaporate the dampness, but unfortunately, the vents don't always keep dampness under control. A better way is to seal or encapsulate the area.
The Methods of Waterproofing Your Crawl Space
One way to keep your crawl space dry is to cover the soil with barrier fabric so water vapor can't enter the air. The floor, as well as part of the walls, are covered when the crawl space is sealed. However, for the best results, encapsulation is the preferred way to dry out your home.
This involves placing plastic barrier sheets on the floors, walls, and ceiling so the entire crawl space is covered and protected from water intrusion. The plastic fabric used is tough and durable so it lasts a long time and is it safe to walk on it when you want to check on things in your crawl space. You can also choose to have insulation installed at the same time for additional protection and energy savings.
One thing to keep in mind is that mold and drainage problems have to be repaired first so that water doesn't keep flooding the crawl space during a heavy rain.
Once the crawl space is encapsulated, the inside will remain dry, but the last step is to treat the air in the encapsulation. This can be done by installing an exhaust fan or dehumidifier in the space.
When the job is complete the area under your home stays completely dry, and that has a beneficial effect on the air you breathe in your living space. Even though it seems like a crawl space is not connected to your home, it affects your living space just as much as having a wet basement, so drying it out is important for your health and comfort.
If you're tired of musty odors coming up from your crawl space or if you're concerned about the moisture causing wood rot, then call H2O Waterproofing for an assessment of your situation and a solution that helps.