Yes, crawl spaces are low down places easy to ignore. After all, who wants to go crawling around down there – just think of what might be down there – critters with no good on their minds. It probably smells nasty, and it is dark and creepy. Yet around half the air in our home above that crawl space is affected by the air down there. So, maybe you do need to think about that space a little more.
Encapsulating a crawlspace can improve the air quality in your home and will control the excess moisture that can lead to the growth of mold, which can damage both the health of those in the house and the structure itself. Precisely what is encapsulation, and what is involved? Here are ten of the most common questions asked about encapsulation with answers provided.
What Are The Benefits of Encapsulation?
First and foremost, the amount of moisture and the temperature is controlled by a dehumidifier. Controlling humidity is critical to keeping the space mold-free. The health effects of mold on humans and animals range from allergic reactions to severe breathing problems. Those who are old, young, or with weakened immune systems are especially vulnerable.
Mold feeds on the organic material present, wood for example, and disintegrates its as it feeds. So the encapsulation protects the structural integrity of the house is as well. The vapor barrier laid on the ground can shield the air in the house above from possibly dangerous gases such as radon. An encapsulated space has also been reported by the Department of Energy to cut energy costs. The value of a home is increased as well. Encapsulation also serves as a deterrent to insects, rodents, and small animals. Finally, the area under the house can become a storage area – and what homeowner does not need more of that!
Can I Do It Myself?
You can try, but there are so many elements to consider when deciding on the best way to condition a space that would make it really beyond a layman’s scope. Let’s take a look at the process next as a way to explain what we mean.
What is the Process?
A professional will evaluate the space, knowing what to look for, and where to look for it. Any signs of microbial growth or prior water damage must be identified, and mold and water removed if present. The wood should be inspected. Electrical systems and mechanical systems in the space should be checked as well. Supplemental electrical outlets may be needed for the dehumidifier and sump pump. Drainage is considered.
After the resolving any leaks or other repairs, the process can begin. All trash, ruined insulation, or sharp objects such as rocks and debris are removed, and the ground graded to a low point. Any improvements to the drainage or installation of drainage will be the next step. Vents are sealed unless the home is in a flood zone where functional vents are required.
The ground is then covered with a vapor barrier, and the vapor barrier is run up the columns and walls, leaving about 3″ bare for future termite inspections. The technicians carefully seal all seams. If insulation is required for the ceiling, it will be installed. The dehumidifier and the sump pump will be installed. As you can see, this is not a project for the amateur.
Will My Insurance Cover the Cost of Encapsulation?
How Thick of a Vapor Barrier is Needed?
Six mil vapor barrier is the most common thickness of the vapor barrier, but you can get a vapor barrier as thick as 20 mil. The benefit of a thicker barrier is that the barrier is less likely to tear, and the longer it will last.
Are There Energy Credits for Encapsulation?
Potentially. However, this will depend on your state and current federal guidelines.
When Should You Encapsulate Your Crawl Space?
If you live in an area with high humidity or are currently experiencing moisture and water intrusion issues, then you should have you crawl space encapsulated. The sooner you do it, the sooner you can prevent further damage.
How Else Can I Improve My Crawl Space?
There are a couple of great pieces of technology available now. You can install an alarm that alerts you if there has been water intrusion. There is also a monitor that gives a readout of the temperature and humidity in the space. This is especially helpful for those who have two homes or rent their homes and are not present at all times.
What is the Cost of Crawl Space Encapsulation?
The cost of encapsulation – as with so many other projects – depends on so many factors. The size of the space, the materials used, labor costs, and the condition of the crawl space all affect the price. If there is not already a drainage system, a dehumidifier or a sump pump, that will add to be the price tag. That said, you can expect to pay $5,500 on average, but that price can go as high as $15,000 – maybe even more if additional work is needed, such as mold removal or structural repairs.
What Maintenance Is Needed After Encapsulation?
The single most important thing that you can do is to monitor the relative humidity in the crawlspace – never let it go above 60%. Some homeowners prefer to keep it lower – say 50%. Cold temperatures will keep humidity levels lower, whereas heat can increase humidity levels. Don’t ignore the crawl space – inspect it every once on a while, and keep filters for the dehumidifier clean. Most companies offer a maintenance plan, and that is a great option!
Contact HydroHelp911 for Free Crawl Space Inspection
Are you experiencing, moisture, humidity or other crawl space issues? Schedule a free consultation with our expert team at HydroHelp911. One of our specialists will thoroughly inspect your crawl space, walk you through their findings and recommend solutions to fit your needs.