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Florida Flooding – Crawl Spaces: Insulation or Encapsulation?

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There’s nothing worse than dealing with a flooded crawl space. Crawl spaces are already dark and cramped as it is – the extra few inches of water will only make the space less accessible.

Do you frequently have to vacuum water out of your crawl space? Don’t worry – this doesn’t have to be your reality forever. By either encapsulating or insulating your crawl space, you can better protect the belongings you have stored there.

That said, which process is the most effective? Let’s explore the similarities and differences so you can determine which process is the best for you.

That said, which process is the most effective? Let’s explore the similarities and differences so you can determine which process is the best for you.

Insulating Your Crawl Space 

  1. Cleaning up – Before you get started, you’re going to need to clean any standing water out of your crawl space. Be sure to keep an eye out for any mold growths, which will need to be removed and treated before you start re-insulating your crawl space.
  2. Plugging a leak – If your crawl space frequently leaks or floods, there’s a spot within it that’s allowing the water to get in. You’re going to need to find this spot and plug it before moving forward. Most of the time, you’ll be able to plug any leaks in the walls or at the joints without an issue. However, if you can’t find the spot where water is getting into your home, reach out to a contractor. It’s possible that your crawl space may be flooding due to a crack in the foundation. If this is the case, you’re going to need to undergo a more rigorous waterproofing process in the future.
  3. Removing your old insulation – With all accessible leaks patched, it’s time to remove the insulation that’s been damaged by floodwaters in the past. You’ll need to remove this insulation so it won’t release allergens or mold particles into the rest of your home.
  4. Choosing and installing new insulation – With your old insulation removed and appropriately disposed of, you’ll need to pick out a new type of insulation and install it. Your new insulation should be waterproof, but it comes in various forms. If you’re not sure where to start, when it comes to choosing, talk to a contractor about the solutions you’re looking for.
  5. Making room for electrical circuits and outcroppings – You’re going to need to insulate any pipes that are out in the open in your crawl space. By insulating these pipes, you keep them from breaking when the colder months of winter come around. Similarly, be sure to avoid placing insulation around any electric circuits or loose wires, as doing so might cause a fire.
  6. Implementing additional waterproofing solutions – Finally, you may choose to use other waterproofing solutions in addition to insulation if you experience heavier floods. The solutions you have available to you include dehumidifiers, sealants, drainage mats, sump pumps, and French drains.

The insulation process should keep your crawl space safe from floodwaters that would come inside via a crack in the walls or the joints. Do note, though, that insulation will not be able to keep your crawl space safe from floodwaters that come up from your foundation. As mentioned, you’ll need to speak with a contractor if you think your foundation is the source of a crawl space leak.

Encapsulating Your Crawl Space

If you’re looking for a more comprehensive waterproofing solution, you may want to encapsulate your crawl space. The encapsulation process will help you protect your belongings from floodwaters rising up from your foundation or seeping through your walls.

The encapsulation process typically involves the following steps:

  1. Cleaning up – As was the case with the re-insulation process, you’re going to need to clean any standing water out of your crawl space before your encapsulate it. This will keep the encapsulation materials from being prematurely damaged.
  2. Plugging a leak – After you’ve cleaned out your crawl space, check through it to see if you can’t spot the crack through which water was reaching your belongings. Again, if you have any difficulty finding the crack, be sure to reach out to a contractor as soon as possible. If you can find the spot, however, seal it before moving on to the next step.
  3. Removing old insulation – Again, you’re going to need to remove any damaged or old insulation from your crawl space. If you don’t, you risk that insulation releasing toxins, mold particles or other allergens into your home.
  4. Installing vapor barriers – Finally, the contractor you’ve hired will need to install a vapor barrier into your crawl space. These barriers are made of white plastic – or similar materials. Coupled with perimeter drainage and sump pump systems, these barriers help drive water away from your crawl space. Be sure to cut out room for your pipes and electrical outcroppings, as you’ll need to give these crawl space features room to breathe.
  5. Investing in a dehumidifier – Optionally, you can ask your contractor to install a dehumidifier in your crawl space. This tool will remove the excess water vapor from the air and allow you to dispose of it with ease.
  6. Using additional waterproofing solutions – Again, if you experience frequent or severe crawl space flooding, consider the aforementioned alternative forms of waterproofing in addition to the encapsulation process. 

Choosing Your Process

So which process is the right one for you? That depends entirely on the needs of your crawl space. If your crawl space frequently falls victim to Florida’s fluctuating precipitation patterns, then you may want to invest in an encapsulation. Alternatively, if you only deal with infrequent leaks, your crawl space should be fine once you replace the insulation.

Not sure where to start? Talk to your local crawl space company about the condition of your crawl space during a free inspection and estimate to determine which of these two methods will best help you reclaim your home.

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