A crawl space is an unfinished, narrow gap between the ground and a building’s first floor. Generally, crawlspaces are much smaller than basements, offering only enough room for someone to navigate them while crawling. When a basement is impractical or too expensive to create, a crawl space is often built instead. A crawl space can also replace a concrete slab foundation, making construction inspections significantly less challenging.
To access your crawl space fully, you must install a properly fitted door. This door is essential for numerous reasons beyond just entry purposes. Let’s look at some tips and suggestions for crawl space access doors.
Why You Need a Crawl Space Access Door
A crawl space serves various purposes, including allowing access to repair plumbing, electrical wiring and heating and cooling systems without digging up the ground. In addition, a crawl space can act as a barrier between the moist earth and the wooden portions of a house, and it can aid with radon mitigation if adequately sealed.
Because most people don’t spend much time in their crawl spaces, it’s easy to forget about the crawl space door. As a result, it may appear to be a minor component of a more extensive system, or it might not even cross your mind. However, correctly securing the entry to your crawl space is critical and an essential element of the crawl space restoration process.
A high-quality, professionally installed crawl space door provides the following essential benefits:
- Keeps out critters
- Protects from the weather
- Saves you money
- Allows necessary access
- Helps stabilize the crawl space environment
Crawl Space Door Locations
There are two places you can install a crawl space door — either on the exterior or interior of your home. If your house already has a crawl space door, you can locate it by looking around your house’s exterior foundation or near the ground inside of your home’s first floor. Here’s more information about each version.
EXTERIOR CRAWL SPACE DOOR
An exterior crawl space door is used to access the crawl space from outside a house. This entryway is most frequently seen in mobile homes with an underground space solely for storage, but it’s also popular among homeowners who wish to optimize their vertical living space.
INTERIOR CRAWL SPACE DOOR
An interior crawl space door is a stair or adjustable frame attached to rod brackets put into the foundation or floor. The joist nearest to the door opens parallel to the beams and supports it. This sort of door gives you direct access to your crawl space from inside your house, making it simple to get in and out. It also provides some protection against tiny animals like rats, bugs, spiders, and snakes from entering your home.
Choosing a Crawl Space Door
When it comes down to picking the right crawl space door for your home, you should consider the different types of crawl space doors and the materials they’re made out of. Beyond the kind of door you choose, size is important to remember. All crawl space doors must be at least 18 by 24 inches to comply with guidelines from the International Residence Code (IRC).
There are three main kinds of crawl space doors.
- Swing-out doors: These doors are available in two styles — double and single. A double swing-out door swings away from the center, whereas a single swing-out door opens on the left or right, allowing easy access to the crawlspace.
- Slide-away doors: Because slide-away doors only have one point of access, they can be installed in places where there isn’t enough room for both an entry and exit point from outside the crawl space, such as under steps or in homes with low ceilings.
- Insulated crawl space doors: These doors are used to provide access to the space beneath your home’s foundation. They can be installed as a “walk-in” trim, allowing you to walk right down onto the dirt floor or as a one-step drop to stand while accessing the truck compartment. The insulation is long-lasting and resistant to dampness, ensuring any standing water after a rainstorm doesn’t leak into your home through the door. It also helps regulate temperature.
Of the above crawl space door styles, you can decide between different materials based on your specific crawl space.
- Wood doors: Plywood is used to make most crawl space doors. Wooden doors have the advantage of being easily trimmed to size, which enables the installation of a tightly sealed door. If your crawl space door is made of wood, we recommend painting it to help protect it against decay caused by moisture exposure. Be sure you allow enough time for green wood to dry completely before painting it. Note that wood doors aren’t as sturdy as metal or plastic doors.
- Metal doors: Metal doors don’t deteriorate as easily or as quickly as wood doors, meaning they can be a good long-lasting solution. However, they do rust. They’re also more difficult to cut to size and, as a result, don’t always provide as good of a seal.
- Plastic: Of the three materials, plastic is the most resistant to the elements but is also the most expensive. When it rains and snows, plastic won’t decay or rust.
Ultimately, purchasing a crawl space door and having it professionally installed ensures you secure the entry to your crawlspace as effectively as possible. When you build your own door and attempt to install it without expert knowledge and techniques, you risk improperly protecting your crawlspace and running into a dangerous situation. A well-made, properly built crawlspace door allows the space to function as intended.
Installing a Crawl Space Access Door
The general steps to install a new crawl space door are as follows.
- Pick the installation site: The installer will select an inconspicuous area without any obstructions for the installation site of your crawl space door. Then, they’ll measure the selected area to ensure the right size door will fit. Whether the installation site is inside or outside your home will depend on whether you choose an interior or exterior door.
- Cut the opening: Next, the installer will create the opening with the proper tools using their measurements as a guide.
- Install the door: It helps to double-check the door to ensure it has all the necessary components — a frame, hinges, a latch and a lock with a key. Assembly starts by cutting the frame to fit the new opening as tightly as possible. The frame is secured to the wall or floor with screws. Then the hinges, latch and lock are attached to the door. Finally, the door is placed on the frame and fitted appropriately.
- Seal the door: As a final step, the installer should seal the crawl space door using weatherstripping to regulate the crawl space’s temperature and prevent pests from entering.
It can be challenging to install a crawl area access door. The opening’s dimension is crucial in ensuring your new door fits perfectly and functions properly for many years. Issues like airflow problems, water leakage and insect entry can all be caused by a poorly installed or sized door. Call a professional if you’re not sure how to measure for or install a crawl space access door.
Contact HydroHelp911 for Expert Crawl Space Door Service
Whether you need to replace your crawl space door or require new crawl space door installation, HydroHelp911 is here to get the job done. Without a properly secured crawl space door, your crawl space could experience high moisture levels, extreme temperature changes, pest infestations and other problems. Further, attempting to take on the installation yourself can be difficult and potentially dangerous.
Let us help you avoid these problems with professional crawl space door installation. If you’re in one of our many service areas in North Carolina, we can provide quick, expert installation to outfit your home’s crawl space with a secure entry and exit point. We also offer complete transparency along the way, so you always know what’s happening throughout the project.
Call us at 704-741-9737 today for a free quote!