When you have lived comfortably in North Carolina for many years, it is easy to forget what problems a vented crawl space could cause to your home. The common ones are mold spores that trigger allergies, high energy bills, and of course, pests and crawling insects. Not sure if you’d be happy to deal with these.
Don’t be like so many people who act surprised when they notice mold or damp floors and walls in a living space. It might be too late to reverse the damage caused by high moisture levels. Encapsulate the crawl space, and you’ll never have to deal with any of the unpleasant effects.
Crawl Space Encapsulation 101 — The Basics
You’ve probably heard your neighbor talk about how their basement contractor encapsulated their crawl space and you didn’t make sense of it. Crawl space encapsulation is a protection method that entails sealing the crawl space to keep it moisture free. Unlike other techniques, the focus is on dealing with the moisture and preventing leaks. A thick plastic vapor barrier is then used to cover the floors and the walls. If there are obstacles such as piers or pillars, foam spraying is used to seal objects. The cost of encapsulation depends on the size of the crawl space. Some contractors charge per foot, while others charge a flat project fee. Before encapsulation starts, it’s good to get a free estimate of the project cost so you can budget accordingly.
How does Encapsulation Work?
Now that you know what encapsulation is, it’s natural to ask what the process entails. Typical encapsulation projects go like this:
- Prepare the crawl space. Before the work begins, the contractor will clear and clean out this space by removing dirt, debris, and old and damaged insulation.
- Water vapor barrier installation. This entails covering the crawl space walls and floor with a polyethylene vapor barrier, then taping it using a double-sided sealing tape.
- Seal pipes, ducts, and cabling. The contractor cuts the barrier around obstacles and mechanicals. Any gaps created are filled with extra sealing tape.
Once the crawl space has been sealed, your contractor may suggest that you install a dehumidifier to control moisture levels.
Note: Bulk water or seepage has to be addressed with solutions like interior perimeter drainage and a sump pump before the encapsulation project gets underway.
What are the Benefits of Crawl Space Encapsulation?
Though it may seem costly at first, crawl space encapsulation has many lasting benefits. The first is clean indoor air. Since no toxic gases or musty smells are entering your home, you and your loved ones can live and breathe easy. Your home will be a haven of comfort and you can live, eat and sleep in peace.
Further, you won’t have to worry about mold or fungi, which is known to thrive in humid and damp homes. Mold is a toxic substance, and it’s a major cause of allergies and asthma attacks. Because the crawl space is sealed, water and moisture won’t penetrate the living space above and trigger mold growth. Your home will remain dry and free of mold all year round.
Structural issues such as rotten wood joists or rust and cracks on walls are common problems in homes with vented crawl spaces. Left unchecked, these can weaken the subsurface structure of the home and make it a dangerous place to live. Crawl space encapsulation together with waterproofing methods ensures no water from the outside gets to the crawl space. The outcome is a dry and strong structure that can hold up the home for many years.
Are you struggling with high monthly utility bills? The open crawl space below your home could be the cause. Encapsulation can help you create an energy-efficient home. Since the temperature in the living space and the crawl space will be the same, you won’t have to turn on your heater or air conditioner for long. This means less power consumption and a lower utility bill at the end of the month.
Another benefit of encapsulation is that you’re going to need fewer repairs than before. Repairing a water-damaged home or one with cracks is a costly undertaking that could run into thousands of dollars.
Since there’s no moisture to cause wood rot and pipe rust or termites to chew your joists, you will effectively not need the plumber and home repair contractor for a long time! In short, you won’t need repairs anytime soon.
No one wants to wake up at night and find uninvited guests crawling on their floorboards, walls or countertops. Encapsulation discourages pests such as mice, cockroaches, and termites from entering your home. Not only does the sealing remove the conditions that allow them to thrive but it locks these critters out too.
Whichever way you look at encapsulation, it pays off to encapsulate your crawl space. The sooner you do it, the better, as you will reap all the benefits that come with it. Call your crawl space contractor to arrange a free inspection and estimate.