Your crawl space contains many important systems in your home, such as plumbing, air vents, and electric wiring – and the support beams that reinforce the floors of your home. With all of this important infrastructure located below the home, high moisture levels can cause serious problems for your home and foundation.
One of the most effective ways to avoid moisture damage below the home is by installing a vapor barrier. Not only will it fight off moisture and the various problems associated with it, but a vapor barrier can also make your crawl space easier to move around in and give it a fresh, clean look.
Signs That Indicate You Need a Vapor Barrier
As stated before, moisture can cause major damage to your home and crawl space. Here’s an overview of the common instances you may need a vapor barrier installed.
Leaks and Flooding
Since plumbing pipes are located in your crawl space, It’s entirely possible a leak could spring at any time. Water dripping into the dirt or wood in your crawl space is only going to cause issues such as high humidity or mold and wood rot.
Placing a bucket to catch the water won’t fix the problem, as the water will still evaporate and cause humid conditions in your crawl space. Get the leak fixed and install a vapor barrier to fight against this potential issue in the future.
Musty Smell and Mold
Musty smells are often caused by mold and mildew– symptoms of high moisture levels in your crawl space. One of the biggest dangers associated with this sign is that your nose quickly becomes used to the smell in your home. If left unchecked, you could have a huge mold infestation in the future.
Pay attention to the smell when you walk into your home and listen to what others say when they visit. If a musty smell is present, you need a vapor barrier.
Bugs and other animals are drawn to the warmth of a humid environment. When your crawl space becomes moist, animals are more likely to be drawn to it. Over time, they might leave feces below your home or die and decompose in your crawl space.
Not only does this make the air in your home smelly, but it can also be dangerous for your health. Vapor barriers eliminate the humid environments they love and decrease the likelihood they will nest below your home.
Moisture is devastating to the wooden supports in your crawl space. If left to fester, humidity will break down wood, and your foundation will struggle to hold the weight of your home. As a consequence, the floors in your home will begin to sag and bounce under your steps.
Homeowners notice this problem sign with creaky noises or rattling glasses in the cabinet as they pass by. Be aware of how your floors move when you walk. If they creak heavily or seem to sink, it’s time to install a vapor barrier.
Other Moisture Problems
Relative humidity is measured by the percentage of water vapor the surrounding air can hold. If the relative humidity in your crawl space is already at 100 percent capacity, then any humidity that enters from the outside through crawl space vents will condense ont he walls and supports of your crawl space. Homes in Florida are especially vulnerable to this kind of damage due to the state’s humid climate.
Humidity on its own can also ruin electrical wiring or other delicate systems you have stored in your crawl space. This space must remain as dry as possible to prevent this type of damage from occurring. That is why having an effective vapor barrier is crucial.
In Florida, rainwater and moisture are likely to collect within the soil surrounding your foundation. The more water your soil takes on, the more pressure this combination exerts on your foundation. Eventually, your foundation will shift or crack, allowing water to flood your crawl space. This phenomenon is known as hydrostatic pressure.
Ineffective DIY Vapor Barriers
A vapor barrier is meant to protect your crawl space from any moisture that tries to seep through, but DIY installations rarely work. Installation requires specific tools and precise measurements. Most store-bought vapor barriers tear easily and are too thin to provide effective moisture protection. Eventually, you’ll be dealing with the same moisture problems even after all the effort of installing a vapor barrier. Hiring a professional will save you time and money in the long run.
Health Hazards of a Non-Encapsulated Crawl Space
The encapsulation process ultimately helps keep any moisture out of your crawl space and home as a whole. Without a professionally installed vapor barrier, your home and those within it can face health hazards as well.
Mold in the Air
Mold spores can seep into the airflow of your home. When you breathe in mold, it can cause respiratory issues or irritate your eyes and other sensitive areasof your body. Vapor barriers actively defend against mold buildup and prevent moisture from accumulating. Mold can’t threaten your safety when a vapor barrier is below your home.
Waste from Pests
Animals that are drawn below your home because of high moisture levels will inevitably leave feces and urine below your home. It’s gross to think about, but it’s the reality without a vapor barrier. When the particles from these waste products enter the airflow in your home, it might make you and others ill.
Not to mention, if an animal dies in your crawl space, the smell can become unbearable if not dealt with in time. Avoid illness and unpleasant smells with a vapor barrier in your crawl space.
Vapor Barrier Frequently Asked Questions
The encapsulation process consists of four key components: waterproofing with an interior drainage system and a sump pump, vapor barrier, vent covers, and dehumidifiers. Having all four of these systems combined will ensure the crawl space won’t face moisture issues again. The interior drainage system and sump pump will address any leaks or floods from infiltrating this space, instead redirecting it far away from your home. The vapor barrier will encompass the entire crawl space, preventing any groundwater, mold, mildew, or pests from getting inside. The antimicrobial additive this barrier is coated in will also prevent mold or mildew from growing along the outside surface as well.
Contractors once believed that leaving open vents around a home’s crawl space would help to circulate dry air around this space. Unfortunately, open vents also let in more moisture, mold, pests, and other issues into the crawl space as well. This is why you need to seal your crawl space vents during the encapsulation process. Our sturdy vent covers will completely cover any open vents.
Once your crawl space is sealed, a positive air flow must be established, we recommend installing one of our powerful dehumidifiers. These self-draining dehumidifiers keep the air inside circulated, drier, and fresher than before. With our sump pumps handling any large floods, the vapor barrier and vent covers blocking off moisture, and the dehumidifier taking care of any humidity, you can count on this process to keep your crawl space totally dry!
Mold is a microorganism that is capable of triggering allergies, illness, or in the worst-case scenario, hazardous breathing problems. Long-term exposure to mold damages your respiratory system, so a moldy crawl space is a health hazard. Even if you don’t spend time in your home’s crawl space, mold can still cause health problems because of the stack effect.
This is because the air in your basement or crawl space rises into your home and pollutes the air. Mold releases spores in the crawl space, so the air that rises into your home is infected with spores and other particles from the crawl space. Breathing this poor air quality in for months can lead to health issues. Plus, your nose quickly becomes used to the smell of mold, which can make identifying it even harder. Stay alert.
Mold is so persistent that you need to get remediation specialists to remove it. Professional mold removal is guaranteed to remove all mold from your crawl space, even the mold in places you never considered. Next, you’ll want to waterproof your basement with the help of the experts at Alpha Foundations. If moisture can enter your crawl space, mold always has a chance to grow.
Contact Alpha Foundations for Your Florida and South Georgia Crawl Space Needs
A safe and healthy home begins with a dry crawl space. Our team at Alpha Foundations can inspect your crawl space for any issues at no cost to you. We also offer a free quote on our quality crawl space encapsulation system, the CrawlSeal™ vapor barrier.
Now that you understand the many benefits provided by a crawl space vapor barrier, don’t hesitate to contact us. Give Alpha Foundations a call at 850-446-6562 and request your free crawl space evaluation to keep your home safe.