Crawl Space Care 101 – Taking Care of Your Plastic Vapor Barrier

crawl space inspection

Like every crucial installation in your home, your crawl space encapsulation needs that extra care and love. A lot of people sit back and relax thinking their plastic vapor barrier can remain intact for up to 25 years.

Wear and tear can weaken the encapsulation of your St. Louis, MO, crawl space, rendering it ineffective and prone to damage. Regular maintenance will ensure your sealing remains intact for many years, stopping water and moisture from coming in and causing problems.

Crawl Space Inspection Checklist

Crawl space inspection is something every homeowner should embrace. After all, this is an area where issues tend to crop up, affecting the rest of the home. Some people do it only when they want to list their homes. That’s not a wise move. Make it part of your annual maintenance plan.

Whenever you’re doing a visual inspection, it’s good to have a list of things to look at. Some of the red flags you should look out for during a visual inspection include:

That way, you are aware of any problems and can have them fixed before the sale or adjust the sale price accordingly.

Best Time to Maintain Crawl Space Encapsulation

Spring, summer, or autumn — what’s the best time to take care of the plastic vapor barrier? The best time to check the condition of your crawl space and perform maintenance is in springtime. During this time, the weather is neither hot nor cold. You can get in comfortably and do a visual inspection. While that’s the case, there are instances where it’s wise to check on the crawl space to see whether it’s dry or not. You can carry out inspections on rainy days to determine whether rainwater is dampening the crawl space.

The other time you can perform a crawl space inspection is in the fall, just before the cold winter starts. A lot may have happened between springtime and the fall. You’ll want to verify your subflooring is intact, that plumbing is properly insulated, and that there are no other issues or problems that need your attention.

How to Maintain Your Encapsulation

Just because you’ve sealed up the crawl space doesn’t mean it’s going to be 100% secure. Seasonal changes can introduce moisture into the crawl space. To deal with this issue, install a crawl space dehumidifier to control humidity levels.

Check and seal air leaks around the crawl space door or ducts. Left unchecked, these can introduce moisture into the crawl space. In a short period, your once dry and comfortable crawl space will be damp and moldy.

Some people get tempted to drag all their tools and equipment down to their clean and dry crawl space. Big mistake. Sharp tools and objects can rupture your vapor barrier, rendering it ineffective in combating moisture. Plus, it can create an opening for pests.

Don’t store food or water in your crawl space. It’s not a pantry. Keep food in the kitchen where it belongs. By bringing food to the crawl space, you’re tempting rodents and other pests to attack this space.

Signs of Crawl Space Encapsulation Failure

When the crawl space encapsulation fails, it will always announce that something’s wrong. Here are telltale signs your plastic vapor barrier is defective.

A lot of these problems are easy to address. Fix the damaged encapsulation and dry up the air, and they’ll go away on their own. If crawl space maintenance doesn’t seem like a fun activity, sign up for an annual maintenance plan. It will take away the burden of crawl space care and mitigate problems that are beyond your scope.Not sure of what to do with a dirty, moldy, or torn crawl space encapsulation? Schedule a free crawl space encapsulation inspection with your local contractor and get answers plus recommendations to fix any issues. We’re happy to help you repair and maintain your encapsulation so it can serve you for many years.


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