Many homeowners will pride themselves on keeping their homes as well maintained as possible. Unfortunately, this dedicated upkeep often fails to include the crawl space into the equation. Serious issues can easily creep into the crawl space and upset the rest of your otherwise clean home.
Of course, many homeowners may not know where the crawl space is located or how to maintain or protect this space. One of the first places to start is to find the crawl space door somewhere along the outside of your home. If this door becomes loose or does not close properly, this can invite all sorts of unwanted problems inside your home.
Staying alert to any problem signs you see can be a great help in reducing the impact of this damage. Let’s take a closer look into the most common problem signs a loose crawl space door can cause, what creates this damage in the first place, and how Tar Heel Basement Systems can repair these issues below.
Causes Behind Crawl Space Damage
Though being able to identify problem signs before they grow worse is useful, you will not be able to prevent the damage that has already been done. Oftentimes, it might be more helpful to know what can cause crawl space damage so you can implement countermeasures against them.
- Loose Crawl Space Door
The crawl space door is meant to shield the crawl space from any outside elements, irritants, or pests of any kind. If it is failing to do that, it is possible that the door may be loose in some way. Moisture of any kind can then easily slip through to the crawl space and ruin the crucial systems within.
If your crawl space door is made of wood, it is also possible that exposure to the elements has led it to rot and wear down over time. The metal hinges may also rust and eventually break off into pieces. Your crawl space door should not be this vulnerable to the elements. It is supposed to protect your home from moisture, fungi spores, and make it more difficult for pests to get inside the crawl space, after all.
- The Stack Effect
North Carolina’s summers tend to be rife with humidity, which can negatively affect the crawl space in particular. Basically, the hotter it is, the more moisture the air can hold. This makes it a lot easier for humidity to build up and eventually condense into liquid droplets that can flood your crawl space.
Hot air also tends to rise, which means that this hot, humid air will likely spread up to the other areas of your home. You might find yourself cranking up your air conditioner even higher to compensate for the heat wave hitting your home. Similarly, any cold air that gathers within the crawl space in the winter can push out all the warm air collected in your house. This is because warm air is much lighter than cold air. In turn, you may turn your heat up just to stay warm. This obviously leads to much higher energy bills, but they can be avoided if you fix the issues at the source: your loose crawl space door.
Common Problem Signs of Crawl Space Damage
The crawl space is easily one of the most neglected parts of an average home. Familiarizing yourself with any smaller problem signs of hidden crawl space damage can help to mitigate any further damage to your home. Below are some of the most common problem signs you should keep a sharp eye out for.
- Leaking or Flooding
Often, the first time you may even notice something is wrong within the crawl space will be if the damage has spread out to other places in your home. This is especially true if you have another area that suffers from a leaking problem or frequently floods.
Leaks are often overlooked by homeowners. It is not wise to ignore any leaks, no matter how small they might appear. They can grow bigger over time and contribute to flooding that you definitely cannot ignore.
It is possible that this flood has spilled out from an already flooded crawl space. This water may have washed in through your loose crawl space door, from broken plumbing, or through cracks found within the crawl space itself.
Additionally, you may start to notice an odd, musty smell that seems to only hang around your first floor. This can be unpleasant enough to deal with on its own, but it is more often a sign that you have standing water or even sewage trapped within the crawl space. It is not healthy to leave all that water sitting in your crawl space for too long. A crawl space expert can easily drain this water away and implement other powerful solutions that can fully waterproof your crawl space from any moisture damage.
Cracks are not superficial damage that can be glossed over or ignored. They are often indicators of much more significant, unseen damage just below your feet. Cracks that begin in the crawl space can easily spread out to other areas including along your first floor.
Hairline cracks that measure less than 1/8 inches wide tend to be relatively harmless. That does not mean you should leave these cracks alone, however. All cracks, no matter how tiny, have the potential to spread out to cause further damage to your home.
Cracks that measure 1/4 inches wide or wider should absolutely not be ignored. These larger cracks are indicative of substantial damage under the surface. You need to call a crawl space expert at Tar Heel Basement Systems to repair these cracks and the underlying damage as soon as possible.
- Mold and Mildew
Excess moisture is sure to entice all sorts of nasty things to grow within your crawl space. The most worrisome of these are mold and mildew spores. Mold and mildew are often mistaken for one another. Fortunately, there is an easy way to tell these two fungi apart.
Mold can be a myriad of colors, though the most common variants are black or green. Mold also has a slimy or fuzzy texture to it. By contrast, mildew is more often white or ashen gray in color. Its texture is often powdery and fluffy in nature. Both types of fungi can induce similar negative health symptoms in homeowners.
Keep in mind that mold and mildew are not technically toxic. However, it can induce unpleasant symptoms in otherwise healthy adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that mold can cause symptoms such as burning eyes, stuffy nose, sore throat, and coughing or wheezing. Those with asthma or chronic lung diseases, on the other hand, tend to be more at risk for lung infections.
These fungi can spread out through the HVAC system located within the crawl space, leading to these harmful spores spreading out to other rooms in your home. It is vital that you keep the air in your home as clean and dry as possible to discourage these spores from taking root in your home—or any of your family member’s lungs, for that matter.
- Pest Infestations
Houses with moisture problems tend to draw pests of all kinds. Insects, rodents, snakes, or other dangerous pests may sneak into your home if they can sense moisture pooling up in your crawl space. Certain pests such as cockroaches may also emit a musty smell that will only attract even more pests to your home.
You will know that this infestation has grown particularly bad if you see any pests daring to crawl along your floor in broad daylight. Pests try to avoid human contact as often as possible, so if this happens, then it is possible the underlying infestation has grown beyond what you may be able to handle.
- Higher Energy Bills
This is a problem sign many homeowners may not be aware of. Naturally, you will want to turn your air conditioner up in the summer and your heater up in the winter. If you find yourself constantly cranking your thermostat up or down more than normal just to stay cool or warm respectively, then it is possible that there is an issue within the crawl space.
Your HVAC system’s main hub may be housed within the crawl space. If the crawl space door is loose, it can allow outside air into the crawl space and eventually all throughout the rest of your home as well. Hot, humid air can creep up to the upper levels of your home in the summer, creating a sweltering environment that makes you crank your air conditioner up to compensate. Similarly, in the winter, cold air can push the much lighter warm air up and out of your home, leaving you to turn your heater up higher in response to this sudden chill.
No homeowner wants to deal with the higher energy bills that come as a result of these sudden changes, especially if there is a simple way to circumvent these issues. Your home should always be at a comfortable temperature that suits your tastes. By having your crawl space inspected every year for any issues, you can actually save more money in the long run.
How Will I Know if My Crawl Space Door is Loose?
Your crawl space door should stay tightly shut no matter what. Unfortunately, even the sturdiest metal crawl space door is prone to wear over time. Many homeowners may not realize just how worn the crawl space door has become until they start to notice the other problem signs listed above. So how can an average homeowner check to see if their crawl space door is loose or too old?
- Measuring the Crawl Space Door
Your crawl space door should fit exactly around the opening it was placed into. Over time, a wooden or metal crawl space door is prone to rotting, rusting, or warping from the elements or other moisture problems. You might find that your crawl space door no longer fits the frame or opening it was first set into. Any openings can invite plenty of problems you do not want to deal with.
Some homeowners might not be able to tell if their door is loose, especially if there does not appear to be visible signs of rot. Measuring your door and the opening itself can help you figure out if your crawl space door needs replacing or not.
- Visible Signs of Rot
Of course, the most obvious way to tell your crawl space door is getting too old is to watch out for any signs of rot or wear. This tends to be most obvious in wooden crawl space doors. Moisture can easily wear down even the toughest of woods, rendering them totally ineffective.
Metal doors can also experience wear and tear. Rusting or simple fitting mistakes can cause the masonry around it to start to crumble away as well. This creates cracks or gaps that allow moisture, pests, or other irritants to infiltrate your crawl space. Tar Heel Basement Systems’ crawl space experts can replace these worn-out doors with more durable plastic covers that can completely shield your crawl space from anything.
Loose Crawl Space Door
The crawl space might not seem like a very important space. However, that does not mean you should venture inside the crawl space if you do know where it is. This space holds far too many valuable systems within it. Repairs of these systems should be left to crawl space repair experts. Let’s take a closer look into just how important the crawl space is for your home below.
- Contains Your Home’s Most Crucial Systems
The crawl space is typically used to contain the most complex systems that support your home. This can include your insulation, your electrical wiring, your plumbing, your HVAC system, and much more. None of these systems should be wet at all, let alone submerged underwater. Should any moisture seep through to this space at all, you risk these systems breaking or ceasing to function properly.
Other issues that crop up within the crawl space may spread to other parts of your home as well. For instance, mold and mildew spores can find their way into your HVAC system or in your plumbing. Your family could very likely become sick from inhaling or ingesting these tiny spores.
- The Foundation
Another important component typically found within the crawl space is your home’s foundation. This structure keeps your house standing upright. Any damage to this crucial structure will start to affect the rest of your house’s infrastructure as well. You may first notice any damage as larger cracks or leaks that can crop up in other areas of your home.
Foundation damage can also cause your doors and windows to stick. The doorways and windowsills themselves could shift and cause these structures to become much harder to open or close. Additionally, the very walls and floors of your home may even sway or even collapse. You definitely do not want to fall victim to any accidents this might cause. Protecting the foundation protects your home as a whole. This is why proper crawl space inspections and repair are crucial.
No homeowner should ignore any crawl space damage they see for very long. It is always a good idea to make an appointment with a crawl space expert to repair any smaller issues before they get out of hand. Here are just some of the solutions that Tar Heel Basement Systems can provide your home.
- Sump Pumps and Vapor Barriers
Our powerful sump pumps can easily pump thousands of gallons of water out of your crawl space no matter what the weather. It will also activate on its own, so you do not have to worry about rushing to turn it on in the middle of a heavy storm. Its back-up batteries will also ensure that it will not stop working should your power go out. You can rest easy knowing that your crawl space will stay completely dry with this pump around.
Installing a thick vapor barrier around your crawl space can fully protect the space from any potential moisture damage. This durable barrier can protect your crawl space from any humidity or moisture, mold, and mildew spores. It is also covered in an antimicrobial additive that will discourage any dirt, dust, or mold spores from settling on the barrier itself.
- Vent Covers and Dehumidifiers
If your crawl space door is not adequately protecting your crawl space from moisture, you need a better waterproofing solution to seal off your crawl space. Tar Heel Basement Systems’ crawl space experts can easily fit vent covers over any open crawl space vents. These covers are made of a sturdy plastic that is guaranteed to never rot away or blow off in a storm.
Humidity can impose plenty of problems to both your crawl space and your home above. Therefore, you need a machine that can keep the air within the crawl space completely dry. Dehumidifiers can filter and circulate the air around your crawl space to ensure it will not retain too much moisture and ruin the systems that keep your house running.
Most homeowners will want to repair everything around their homes themselves. When it comes to the crawl space, however, you should always leave these repairs to the crawl space experts.
- Why DIY Repairs are Not Recommended
Most crawl space ceilings tend to range anywhere between one to three feet tall. Couple this with the fact that delicate systems can be scattered all around this space, and it is not at all recommended that just anyone attempt to enter this space. At the very worst, you might even find yourself trapped in this tiny space without help.
DIY repairs you might find at home improvement stores also will not provide much in the way of relief. At best, they work as temporary solutions to hold off the worst of the damage until our experts can take a look at it. These stores will not offer the powerful, industry-grade solutions that Tar Heel Basement Systems can. If you want complete waterproofing protection, rely on our crawl space experts to get the job done.
- Leave Repairs to the Crawl Space Experts
It is best to leave any crawl space repairs to the experts at Tar Heel Basement Systems. Our experts have experience working in even the most cramped crawl spaces, and we can implement any repairs or waterproofing solutions without disrupting any of the other systems embedded inside. We can also completely replace your ineffective, loose crawl space door with a more durable and airtight one that can permanently keep your crawl space nice and dry.
We have all the necessary tools and equipment to take care of any issues your crawl space might be dealing with. No need to scrounge around for DIY repair solutions that might not even work in the end. You can rest assured that your home will stay permanently dry with our solutions.
Contact the Crawl Space Experts at Tar Heel Basement Systems
Maintaining your home’s crawl space is an essential part of your home’s overall upkeep and health. This space contains far too many important systems and structures not to at least have it inspected once every year or so. This is where the crawl space experts at Tar Heel Basement Systems can help.
Contact our crawl space experts for a free crawl space inspection. We can also provide free quotes on all our powerful crawl space waterproofing solutions. Tar Heel Basement Systems serves homeowners all throughout the Raleigh and Winston-Salem areas.