Encapsulating Your Crawl Space? 4 Essentials

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Even though you may not see or think about it, the crawl space is an important part of the home. Not only does it make up a large part of the home's overall appearance, but the crawl space is also an essential part of the home's support. With the right design, the crawl space can promote healthy air quality, conditioning, and energy efficiency. Encapsulating your crawl space can also reduce energy bills by up to 20 percent. Of course, knowing how to encapsulate properly is key. Here are a few must-haves if you want to encapsulate your crawl space effectively.

Ground Cover/Vapor Barrier

A vapor barrier that covers the entire ground of your crawl space is one of the most important parts of effective encapsulation. Not only must it be installed properly over the entire ground in the most secure manner possible, but it should also be made out of the highest-quality material.

Check with local building codes to get started. Even though a thin sheet of plastic may be up to code, a thicker material will be better for the most effective protection. Choose a thick polyethylene material that is durable enough to withstand tears and punctures. This will also ensure it has a low permeability, meaning it will not allow moisture to seep through the sheeting and into the ground of your crawl space.

Sealed Vents

In the past, contractors and homeowners believed crawl space vents should be opened to allow air to flow through the area under the house. Unfortunately, air was not the only thing flowing through the crawl space vents — pests, moisture, and humidity were also becoming problems in vented crawl spaces.

Because of the risk of pests and moisture, many builders avoided building vents into the crawl space, but whether this is possible depends on your local building codes. If you have vents in your crawl space, you may be wondering how to treat them during the encapsulation process.

Sealed vents are ideal for a few reasons. Sealing the vents obviously will prevent dirt, dust, and pests from entering the crawl space. However, it will also reduce moisture in the space. Unvented crawl spaces and crawl spaces with sealed vents will stay much drier.

Insulated Walls/Seams

In addition to covering the ground with a sturdy vapor barrier and sealing the vents, all the walls and seams of the crawl space must be insulated.

Choose insulation with the highest R-value possible to ensure the most protection from moisture and energy loss. Avoid fiberglass and cellulose insulation, since these materials will not protect your crawl space from moisture damage.

You should also have insulation installed around the joists and junctions for even more protection against air loss and moisture.

Air Conditioning

Finally, a truly protected and encapsulated crawl space will have some sort of air conditioning.

A dehumidifier, for example, can be an excellent addition to your encapsulated crawl space, especially if you are already noticing moisture problems in the space. It is important to note that a dehumidifier will not dry up puddles of water in the crawl space, so if you have a leak, it needs to be addressed before attempting to remove the moisture and humidity.

Also, if moisture and humidity have led to mold growth, a dehumidifier will not restore the crawl space back to its healthy state. You will need a mold remediation service to help you. However, the dehumidifier can be a great tool for preventing further mold growth in the future.

Help is available if you want to improve the value, health, and efficiency of your home. This guide will help you design an effective and efficient encapsulated crawl space. Contact a company like Central Penn Waterproofing for more information about waterproofing your crawl space.

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19 August 2019

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