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What is Crawl Space Encapsulation and is it Right For You?

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Crawl space encapsulation is a process of completely sealing a home’s crawl space to control moisture, regulate temperature fluctuations, and improve air quality. Watch the video to learn more or read the article below.

YouTube video

What is a Crawl Space Anyway?

A home that is built on a masonry foundation with space under the flooring system has a crawl space. This space under the house can be used for plumbing or HVAC systems, allowing easy access to the components for repair or service. A crawl space foundation is typical in the Charlotte, North Carolina area due to the rolling topography. A home site does not need to be perfectly level as it would for a slab foundation, as the pier and beam foundation allows for slopes and fluctuations in the lot.

A lot of people, including many of our customers, don’t make a habit of going into their crawl space. In most homes, it’s not the most welcoming area. Very few crawl spaces have enough room to stand up, and they are generally dark and sometimes smelly. But what if the area were light, bright, comfortable temperature, and clean? That’s exactly what an encapsulated crawl space is like.

There are other benefits of crawl space encapsulation, such as a more energy-efficient home that puts less strain on the heating and cooling system, humidity control to prevent damage to the floor system from mold and decay, and improved air quality in the crawl space, which translates to better air inside the home.

A 2005 study funded by the U.S. Department of Energy compared homes in North Carolina with two different crawl space systems: vented and sealed (encapsulated). The entire study is a fascinating read if you have time, but some of the findings were:

“The sealed crawlspace has rather stable temperature throughout the year whereas the vented crawlspace experiences large variations in temperature due to the ventilation with outdoor air. The temperatures also fluctuate more in the vented crawlspace than in the sealed crawlspace.”

“The experimental investigation has demonstrated the mold growth potential for the ventilated crawlspace, while none was observed for the sealed crawlspace configuration.”

“As fibers, pollutants, radon gas, dust particles may accumulate with time in the crawlspace attention should be taken to have pressures in the crawlspace that should be lower than in those in the house.”

 

Does My Crawl Space Need to be Encapsulated?

Most of our customers contact us about crawl space encapsulation because they have noticed problems in their homes. They may have chronically cold floors or a home that doesn’t cool or heat evenly, or their floors are squeaking or feel soft or spongy. Moisture in a crawl space can damage the wood flooring structure. Even if you don’t have standing water in your crawl space, the humidity levels in the space are high enough to encourage mold growth and wood decomposition due to our humid climate. The ground underneath your home contains moisture, so if it is not completely sealed off, the humidity will transfer to the air and rise, right to your wood support system.

If you are uncertain whether there is damage to the wood under your home, if you want to determine if you have mold, or if you’re just curious about the health of your crawl space, we perform free crawl space inspections in the Charlotte area. We are also available to answer any questions you may have.

What is the Crawl Space Encapsulation Process Like?

When you schedule a crawl space encapsulation with HydroHelp911, we take the following steps for the project:

1. DETERMINE IF A DRAINAGE SYSTEM OR WATERPROOFING IS NEEDED

If there is standing water in your crawl space, we first determine the source. If it’s from a plumbing leak, repairing the pipes should stop further water. The space will then be completely dried out before we begin encapsulation.

If the water source is coming from outside the home, due to improper grading or faulty gutters, we can identify the issue and find a solution. It could be as simple as adding downspout extenders or cleaning the gutters, or it could be a more complex issue that would involve exterior waterproofing. In some cases, an interior drainage system would need to be installed to contain water and direct it out of the space. Encapsulating a chronically wet crawl space without proper drainage is not an option, as encapsulation will not stop water, it only controls humidity. You can find more on drainage systems here.

2. REMOVE ANY EXISTING MOLD AND REPAIR WOOD ROT OR DAMAGE

Though an encapsulation will prevent mold formation, it will not kill any existing mold in the space. Complete mold remediation is needed if any mold is found in the crawl space. We will also determine if there is damage from wood rot to your flooring system and will complete those crawl space repairs before we begin the encapsulation. In order to get a complete picture of your flooring system, any insulation will need to be removed. We will also remove any plastic or coverings from the floor.

3. INSTALL A LIGHTING SYSTEM

Most crawl spaces are not well-lit, and we think it’s important to not only have light while we are working but also for the homeowner to have a well-lit space for future maintenance or repairs. We do not charge for the lighting system, it is included as part of the encapsulation.

4. INSTALL THE VAPOR BARRIER

We use a 20mil woven moisture barrier for our crawl space encapsulation, one of the highest quality moisture barriers on the market. We wrap all of the pillars as well as the floor. The material will not only prevent moisture and dust from the ground from entering the crawl space, but the white material also creates a nice aesthetic to the space.

5. SEAL THE VENTS

In order to control the humidity in the space, all of the space must be completely enclosed, including the vents. We use high-density foam on the back of the vent and seal around it with expanding spray foam.

6. SET UP THE DEHUMIDIFIER

The workhorse of our encapsulation process is our Aprilaire dehumidifier. These commercial-grade crawl space dehumidifiers will pull any moisture from excess humidity out of the space, and the liquid is removed through a drainage line outside the crawl space. An electronic control panel keeps the humidity level consistent year-round.

Once work is complete our crews will clean up and leave the newly encapsulated crawl space neat and tidy. The homeowner will now have a space that is humidity-controlled and more energy efficient which will add value to the home.

Contact HydroHelp911 for Crawl Space Encapsulation Services

Wondering if crawl space encapsulation is right for your home? Contact us at HydroHelp911 for a free consultation or give us a call at 704-741-9737. Our team will thoroughly inspect your crawl space, walk you through their findings and guide you through your encapsulation project.

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