Whether your Springfield, MO, crawl space floods every time it rains or has small, stubborn leaks, a wet crawl space can mean expensive repairs plus a host of other problems. The key to managing and keeping your crawl space dry is controlling moisture.
Moisture buildup creates conducive conditions for wood-eating organisms like rats and termites. When they come in, they will take over the crawl space, contaminate it with fecal matter and chew your wooden structures. In a few months, the underlying structures will weaken, and this may compromise your home’s integrity. And then there’s mold, mildew, and other bacteria that can harm your family’s health.
The best and most effective way to manage moisture levels and stop the growth of mold in your home is to eliminate or limit the conditions that foster high humidity levels. Here are some effective crawl space preventative measures you can take to ensure it stays dry.
Inspect for damage and repair
Check your crawl space for any holes or cracks that small critters, cockroaches, and mice use to enter this space. Crawling insects and pests are naturally destructive, meaning they will tear insulation and chew on wooden structures and electrical wires. You can expect them to do much worse once they get inside your home.
As such, you want to ensure there are no entry or exits points within the crawl space. Seal holes using foam insulation, caulking, or wood. Don’t leave even the tiniest holes open as a mouse can squeeze through them. They only need an opening that’s a quarter of an inch wide to get inside.
Similarly, check out any leaks that may be sending drips of water into your crawl space. Pay particular attention to the plumbing components and HVAC ducts. We strongly advise you to insulate the plumbing system as it helps stop condensation during cold weather. Also, fix any other issue you come across as soon as possible.
Install a crawl space vapor barrier
If your crawl space has exposed dirt floors, you should consider sealing it. Exposed dirt floors allow ground moisture to seep into your home, increasing humidity levels. Vapor barriers are effective in preventing moisture from entering your crawl space.
Your local contractor will measure the crawl space before cutting the polyurethane sheet to size. They will then spread the barrier tight on the floor and over walls and tape it down. When done properly, encapsulation can reduce moisture levels in your crawl space by 50% and keep it dry for many years.
Insulate your crawl space
Once you install the vapor barrier, you will need to insulate the crawl space. We recommend rigid panels made of expanded polystyrene foam, such as ExTremeBloc™ that contractors including Foundation Recovery Systems use. This type of insulation is more reliable and won’t fail or harbor mold or pests when wet. Insulation creates a tight seal that keeps air out while protecting the crawl space from moisture and mold growth. Remember that the crawl space also promotes air circulation throughout your home.
Torn or damaged insulation can affect conditions inside your home, and worse, increase your energy costs. Without proper insulation, heat and cold air can easily escape through the floor. Crawl space insulation helps maintain a cool ambiance while enhancing your home’s energy efficiency.
Get a dehumidifier
During hot and humid months, moisture can go through the roof and cause problems as well. Don’t let it build up. Get a dehumidifier and use it to regulate humidity levels in your crawl space. A crawl space dehumidifier collects the excess moisture in the air condenses it then ejects it out as water leaving your space dry and clean. We recommend energy-efficient, self-draining models.
A vented crawl space is a nasty, unhealthy crawl space. Open vents allow outside air, water, and pests easy access to your home, which leads to a multitude of other problems like flooding, moisture, damage to your structural supports, and more. Make sure any vents are concealed with airtight covers to keep these nuisances out.
Position gutters and downspouts properly
All gutters and downspouts should face away from your home; otherwise, water could flow back when it rains. Repositioning your downspouts helps prevent backflows toward the foundation of your home as well as various problems associated with water damage.
While you’re at it, make sure the gutters are clear and not clogged with leaves and debris.
Install a sump pump
As part of your flood prevention initiative, have a sump pump installed at the lowest section of the crawl space. You never know when it could flood. In the unlikely event that large amounts of water get in, like after a heavy downpour or a burst pipe, the sump pump will remove the water before it collects and causes damage.
Stay alert and carry out periodic checks and maintenance. Fix any issue that develops before it hurts your crawl space. Regular cleaning will also help keep your crawl space clean and moisture-free. Remember that the sooner you catch any signs of crawl space moisture like mold, the easier it will be for you to remove and stop its growth. Are you struggling to contain moisture buildup in your home? Schedule a free crawl space inspection to learn more about the real issues behind the persistent moisture and find lasting solutions to address them.