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Damp crawlspace with insulation falling.

What Does it Mean When a Crawl Space is Wet?

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Do you have a damp crawl space? You can expect it to get wet. Whether it is just normal crawl space moisture or you have water pooling under your house, you must dry out this space.

A damp crawl space can be problematic for homeowners, causing immediate and long-term problems. Mold and mildew growth, wood rotting, and musty odors are just some of the problems that come with moisture in the crawl space.

What does it mean when a crawl space is damp?

A wet crawl space can mean many things. But the most obvious is that water has entered your crawl space, and that’s why it’s damp. Don’t confuse dampness with wetness. A crawl space can be damp but not wet. Semantics aside, the most important thing is to uncover the root problem, which could be any of the following:

Cracks in your foundation walls and floors

Water seepage through cracks in the foundation is one of the leading causes of a damp crawl space. If not removed, this moisture may weaken your foundation, leaving it more vulnerable to bigger problems.

Plumbing leaks

Most plumbing pipes run through the crawl space. These pipes tend to leak occasionally. Because crawl spaces are often ignored, the pipes can leak for a long time before they are discovered. Over time, your crawl space may become damp from these plumbing leaks.

Uncovered Soil

Saturated soil due to flooding or overwatering the flowerbeds surrounding your foundation wall is another major cause of crawl space moisture. Soil lets a lot of moisture into your crawl space, making it damp.

Foundation vents

The vents in the crawl space are another source of moisture. Although their main purpose is to dry out space, most end up doing the opposite, especially in summer.

Other causes of crawl space moisture include:

  • Clogged or broken gutters and downspouts
  • Rainwater runoffs
  • Leaking or ruptured sanitary lines

Signs of a damp crawl space

Any of these issues can make your crawl space wet or damp. If you suspect you have a moisture problem in your crawl space, look out for these signs:

  • Musty odors
  • Mold and mildew growth
  • Pest and insect infestation
  • Wall cracks and movement
  • Wall settlement
  • Wet insulation
  • Higher energy bills
  • Buckling or warping floors
  • Wood deterioration in floor joists

Solutions for a damp crawl space

Do not let excess moisture in your crawl space deteriorate the integrity of your structure or harm your family’s health. Here a few things you can do to dry your wet crawl space.

Install interior and exterior drainage

Inadequate drainage and water issues are the main cause of a damp crawl space. As such, the key to preventing water in your crawl space is installing adequate surface drainage, inside and outside your home.

Install downspout extensions

Downspouts will help direct all rainwater away from the walls of your foundation.

Make sure your property is properly graded

Ideally, the ground within 30 inches of your home’s footing should slope at a rate of at least 1/10”

per foot. This prevents soil erosion and drains water away from your foundation.

Install a plastic vapor barrier

Encapsulate the walls and floor of your crawl space with a 20-mil plastic vapor barrier liner. This will help prevent water from entering your crawl space.

Improve air quality

A dehumidifier will help keep the moisture and dampness in your crawl space in check. The unit should clean and filter the air in your crawl space, control moisture and humidity, and reduce odors and potential mold growth. We recommend energy-efficient models that have the ability to self-drain.

What’s the best solution?

From our experience, the best way to protect your crawl space from moisture is to install an internal drainage system, then seal it completely with a plastic vapor barrier and vent covers, and then a dehumidifier. All three will play their part in keeping your crawl space dry.

Do you suspect that moisture has taken over the crawl space? Get in touch with the crawl space experts at Tar Heel Basement Systems. We’re happy to conduct a free crawl space inspection and recommend a lasting solution for your crawl space moisture issues.

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