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How to Handle Standing Water Under Your House

Professionals tell you what to look out for and how you can clean up your wet, dingy crawl space.


You trust your home to keep you safe and dry. But is that happening at the expense of your wet crawl space? Standing water in the crawl space is an issue seen widely in the majority of North Carolina including Wilmington, Raleigh, Durham, Winston-Salem, and more—and when it hits home, you may be at a loss for what to do.  

Neighbors or even online resources may have you thinking you should put off repairs. But when you suspect this issue, it’s always time to take action. Learn more about how to handle standing water underneath your house below.  

Is It Normal to Have Standing Water in The Crawl Space? 

Yes, and no! For many crawl spaces with open or broken crawl space vents, it’s very common to deal with moisture control issues. Whether or not you should live with stagnant crawl space water is a completely different question.  

Signs That There’s Standing Water in Your Crawl Space

  • You sense a nasty smell that’s hard to track down 
  • Noises are coming from your crawl space 
  • Allergies or asthma has been worse for members of your household 
  • Your floors are bouncing or feel soft and moveable 
  • Your floors are sagging  
  • Hardwood floors feel cold 
  • Energy bills seem to have spiked recently  
  • Your gutters are clogged 
  • Water pools up around your foundation during heavy North Carolina rainfall 

How You Can Handle the Standing Water Underneath Your Home

It’s not recommended to go into your crawl space all by yourself. But you can easily perform a visual test on your crawl space by opening the vent or door and looking in from the outside using a flashlight. From a safe distance outside of your crawl space, you should be able to detect standing or puddling water, or smell mold and mildew. At that point, it’s time to call in the professionals at Tar Heel Basement Systems to do a full inspection, which will include going into your crawl space to inspect the structural integrity and other symptoms that you won’t be able to see from the outside looking in. Armed with safety equipment, our certified field inspectors will be able to go underneath your home to fully inspect it inside and out.  

Even if nothing seems to be amiss, but you’re still experiencing these problem signs above, contact our experts for a free inspection even if just to rule out any issues.  

Clogged and Overflowing Gutters 

Having properly working gutters is vital for homes on the eastern seaboard, which experiences a lot of rain throughout the year. When your gutters fill with leaves, pest nesting, mud, or other junk, the debris will block your downspouts from draining rainwater during a heavy rain. When this occurs, water will find other ways to drain, including overflowing over the sides of your gutters. Without a drainage system to redirect water away from your home, you’ll notice water pooling around your foundation and crawl space, leaving your crawl space vulnerable to leakage and flooding.  

Open Crawl Space Vents  

open crawl space vents

Throughout the 1960s to the 1990s, it was a commonly held belief that crawl spaces should include vents to allow air to flow freely underneath the home. Over time, this theory was proven to be false, and it was revealed that crawl space vents are actually the culprit for many crawl space moisture problems. When there’s any sort of opening into your crawl space, it leaves the area exposed to the elements. So, if you have an unsealed or broken crawl space door or vent, then you likely will have mold, pests, and stagnant water on your hands.  

Negative Yard Grading  

flooded yard with bad drainage

While you may not realize it, yard grading could either be making or breaking your foundation. A positive yard grade means that the general landscape around your home slopes downward and away from your foundation. This is so that when it rains, your yard can naturally drain water away. A negative grade means that your landscape is sloped downward toward your home, where rainwater is free to gather around your foundation and overwhelm the soil. Negative yard grading paired with a crawl space that is not encapsulated will surely cause standing water in the crawl space.

Your Crawl Space Walls Are Cracked 

cracked brick on the foundation

Just like a basement wall, if a crawl space wall is cracked, that provides yet another opening for the outside elements to infiltrate your crawl space. Your crawl space walls can crack from a variety of things, but it all boils down to the soil. Clay soil prevalent in North Carolina is expansive, meaning that it grows larger as it soaks up water. This pressure can cause the structures underneath your home to crack or buckle. Then, when the soil dries out, it will shrink back down to size, promoting settlement. One of the best ways to combat this is to install drainage and water management systems around your home.  

Broken Sump Pump

sump pump broken

You may be the homeowner who’s already taken precautionary measures, but you still deal with standing water in the crawl space. The simple factor behind this issue might be faulty or broken equipment like a sump pump. You may have even experienced a heavy hurricane or storm that took your lights out; without any sort of backup for your drainage system, your system fails when you needed it most. At Tar Heel, we believe in backing up sump pumps with a battery so that in the most severe of weather, you’re still covered. It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it, and not have it.

Here’s What the Professionals Recommend 

Every home is unique, and each crawl space will need its own tailored solution. At Tar Heel Basement Systems, that’s what we specialize in. When you have your home inspected, a certified field inspector can offer you crawl space encapsulation solutions that will best fit your home and lifestyle. This can be any one or multiple products, including a 20-mil thick vapor barrier, crawl space vent covers, battery backup sump pumps, dehumidifiers, and more.  

Want to learn more about the range of solutions that can solve a wet crawl space? Discover our solutions here.  

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TarHeel Basement Systems Service Map

Our Service Areas

Greensboro Location

611 Summit Ave, Suite 5
Greensboro, NC 27405

Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill Location

3333 Air Park Road
Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526

Winston-Salem/High Point Location

2910 Griffith Rd
Winston-Salem, NC 27103