Excess moisture is a leading cause of crawl space damage for many homeowners in winter. It doesn’t help that this area lies below grade. So, it’s out of sight and out of mind for the most part of the year.
Without proper sealing, water from heavy rains and melting ice and snow enters the crawl space. It lays stagnant and creates problems like mold and bacteria growth, sagging floors, unwanted pests, and rotting floor joists. This is why keeping the crawl space dry is extremely important this winter.
Here are a few measures you can take to keep your crawl space dry and protect your home.
Seal Off Crawl Space Vents
Open crawl space vents can raise indoor humidity levels and encourage pests to come into your home. They can also cause the water lines to freeze and burst. While designed to allow airflow in your home, crawl space vents let in air but don’t circulate it. Cold unconditioned air accumulates in the crawl space, causing a stack effect. By closing these openings with crawl space vent covers, you can block outside air and make it difficult for pests to get inside your crawl space.
Insulate the Crawl Space
Investing in crawl space insulation is a fantastic way of curbing heat loss and promoting energy efficiency around your home. Don’t make the mistake of insulating the crawl space ceiling and leaving the walls and rim joists bare and exposed. Insulating the walls and rim joists creates a pocket of warm air that reduces condensation. Go for rigid boards, spray foam, or any type of insulation that is water-resistant.
Crawl Space Encapsulation
As long as the crawl space remains exposed, there’s no way you’re going to control moisture or what happens to it. You have to isolate this area from the outside world. Sealing involves applying a 20-mil plastic vapor barrier on the floor and walls. This liner goes around obstacles and is taped down at the seam. Contractors usually leave a few inches for termite inspection. With the crawl space all sealed up, outside air and underground moisture won’t cause problems.
Seal All Leaks
Fluctuating temperatures and snowy days are common in the winter. And while beautiful and a blanket of brightness on those shorter winter days, it also means you have to watch out for snowmelt. The resulting runoff can create a breeding ground for bacteria, mold, and mildew. It also causes structural problems if not addressed for too long. A great way to make sure that doesn’t happen is to inspect the crawl space for any leaks and seal them. Enlist the help of a professional to identify any cracks that may lead to water seepage.
Protect Your Pipes
When temperatures drop in the winter, water freezes, and the pipes burst. Make sure you check on them regularly. Protect any pipes close to the exterior walls with pipe warmers and wraps. You can also use the discharge lines from your sump pump. Address any potential problem spots, including condensation around pipes, as soon as possible. You don’t want to have to move to a hotel in the dead of winter.
Fix Drafty Sill Plates
The sill plate sits right on top of the foundation. Check it for gaps and seal them with expanding foam sealant. Fit pieces of rigid polystyrene foam or fiberglass insulation against the rim joist and between floor joists. This will further stop cold air from blowing into the crawl space.
Your gutters should be clear of debris and in good condition so they can channel melt-offs from the roof down the downspout lines to the drainage system. If they’re broken or clogged, they won’t function properly. Water will pour out the sides and accumulate around your home’s foundation. There’s also the possibility ice dams could form. When this happens, they could bring down the fascia and downspouts.
If you are ready to waterproof your crawl space in Raleigh, NC, get in touch with Tar Heel Basement Systems. We have plenty of experience in waterproofing and offer free crawl space inspections and repair quotes, as well as lasting fixes to crawl space problems.