Why Bother With a Clean Crawlspace?

While not as sexy as solar panels on the roof or a remodeled bathroom, a clean crawlspace can significantly increase the durability and healthy enjoyment of your home.

Ask yourself, when was the last time you went into a crawlspace? It’s generally a dark, dank environment where critters and odors run free! Too often old construction materials or storage boxes are crammed down below, providing habitat and food for critters and mold. Due to the stack effect air from crawlspaces is sucked up through small holes, gaps and cracks in the building and that nasty and wet air makes its way into your home. That’s why we suggest having your crawlspace professionally cleaned and “rebuilt.”

You may be living in the 1% of homes with a clean crawlspace already, but the odds are stacked against you. If you still have any doubts lift the hatch and take a peak and whiff. If you wouldn’t want to spend 30 seconds in your crawlspace – keep reading.

Signs You Need a Clean Crawlspace

If there is standing water under your home you must address the bulk water issue. A musty smell or frequent condensation on windows in the home means that you likely need to address moisture in the crawlspace. If there is evidence of critters under the home and repeated efforts to rid them have failed, you need to invest some time and energy down below. Or if your feet are cold standing barefoot indoors, yup – time to look down below.

Prioritize Water Control Strategies

Strategies for enhancing a basement or crawlspace will vary depending on how much water and moisture are present. Liquid water from rain, stormwater runoff, improperly designed downspouts, or leaking pipes would be considered “bulk water,” and these are by far the worse offenders. However, evaporation of bulk water or soil moisture can create dampness problems sufficient to support microbial growth, so it is critically important that the primary source of water is addressed in your crawlspace work. This may involve fixing plumbing leaks, installing french drains outside the home, installing submersible pumps under the building, etc. No crawlspace solution is 100% until you have considered and planned for these common moisture sources.

Renovation Opportunities for a Clean Crawlspace

Goals for a crawlspace renovation often include moisture management, improved air quality, long-term durability of structural elements, and energy efficiency.

Before beginning a crawlspace renovation, you should:

1) Identify access and egress issues;

2) Identify any threats to life and safety;

3) Determine if the crawlspace is dry enough to seal and insulate;

4) Determine air barrier location: crawl space floor or walls and grade?;

5) Determine what grade of ground cover you’re going to install;

6) Survey mechanical, electrical and plumbing for opportunities;

7) Determine appropriate insulation for the surfaces considered; and

8) Collect measurements and photos to estimate any improvements.

For more useful tips, download our Crawlspace Action Plan here!


Read the full article here. Republished with the kind permission of Alex Stadtner, President & Senior Consultant at Healthy Building Science. Alex has more than two decades of experience working in sustainability and resource management, green building consulting, and with third-party building rating systems (LEED), He has completed numerous environmental testing inspection courses to broaden his knowledge of the industry and bridge the gap between environmental science and building science.

Visit his websites, Healthy Building Science and Four Season Stewardship.

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