If you want to retain the overall value of your home, you need to protect your crawl space. This isn’t always as easy to do as it may seem, though. Few homeowners get up close and personal with their crawl space right off the bat. In turn, they may miss some early signs of damage that might put the whole of your home at risk.
The good news is that you don’t have to try and protect your crawl space on your own. Instead, you can call a professional out to your home to inspect it for you. Professional contractors serving Kansas City, Moberly, St. Louis, and Springfield, MO, can help you identify the weakest points in your crawl space, including vents you might have otherwise missed. If your vents are open, either due to damage or design, then your crawl space is going to take on an unsafe amount of moisture. Luckily, contractors can help you invest in the vent covers or repairs that you need to keep your home watertight.
The Vents in Your Crawl Space
At first glance, you may not be able to tell whether your crawl space has vents. Most crawl spaces, however, do. These vents are designed to ensure that air continues to flow through your crawl space, keeping the space fresh and free of mold and other dangers.
Unfortunately, crawl space vents that go unprotected tend to do more harm than good. Vents without covers tend to allow moisture and pests into your crawl space, putting your exposed supports at risk for damage. Even vents that have some minor protection can still expose your crawl space to unsafe levels of moisture.
Funnily enough, open crawl space vents—which, again, are supposed to prevent mold and rot from entering your home—can actually make it easier for related spores to settle in your crawl space. Mold spores and wood rot travel via air currents. As the wind moves through your crawl space, these spores may take up residence in your vents. As those same vents allow unwanted moisture into your space, they can start to grow and damage your home.
The Forces Behind Your Crawl Space Damage
Moisture is the number one enemy of homeowners in Kansas City, Moberly, St. Louis, and Springfield, MO. It isn’t the only force that can take advantage of open crawl space vents, though. There are a few different forces that work against the overall stability of your crawl space, including:
Hydrostatic pressure is the most volatile force to work against your home. This pressure builds up both inside and outside of your home as moisture gathers near your sensitive structural materials. Moisture causes those materials to change temperature and size on a molecular level. In turn, those materials will shrink and expand to the point where they may crack from the stress.
If the vents in your crawl space are stuck open, then hydrostatic pressure doesn’t even need to crack your sensitive materials to start impacting your home. Instead, moisture can enter your crawl space through your vents. There, it can start to work against exposed and unprotected structural supports. If you don’t make a point of repairing this damage as quickly as possible, you may find yourself dealing with bouncing floors or bowing walls in the upper levels of your home.
Pests and tree roots don’t intentionally target your crawl space when settling around your lawn. However, the structural supports in your crawl space are relatively sensitive, as is the soil around them. If pests or tree roots have disrupted your soil’s stability, then your structural supports—and subsequently, your vents—may start to slip out of place. This can allow additional moisture into your crawl space, even if the vents were appropriately covered or installed.
Vent-specific damage most often involves some manner of hydrostatic pressure. However, the team that initially installed your crawl space vents may also be to blame. Construction teams that failed to install vent covers at the time your home was built had a role, after all, in allowing unwanted moisture into your crawl space. Similarly, your vents may be improperly placed to the point where they weaken the soil around your crawl space.
Signs of Crawl Space Damage
If you don’t make a point of visiting your crawl space on a regular basis, it may be difficult for you to notice when your home has started to take on damage. The one good thing about crawl space damage, however, is that it tends to give itself away. Some of the most common symptoms of crawl space damage include but are not limited to:
- Unpleasant smells
- Bowing walls
- Buckling floors
- Standing water
- High levels of humidity throughout your home
Unfortunately, many of these symptoms can indicate damage elsewhere in your crawl space or even in your foundation. If you haven’t worked with a damaged crawl space before, you may not be able to determine specifically where the damage in your crawl space originates. This is where area crawl space professionals come into play. When you reach out for a home inspection, these professionals can distinguish between a sinking foundation and a crawl space that’s been damaged by open vents.
Fixing Damaged Vents
Sometimes fixing vent-related damage starts with simply closing your crawl space vents. If your vents have endured damage over the years, however, then your repairs may be more extensive. Vents that have started to rust, for example, due to long-term exposure to moisture may need to be replaced. When you reach out to area professionals, you can get a better idea of what your vents look like and what repair means may suit your home best.
Investing in Vent Covers
Whether you’ve had to repair your vents or not, professionals will often recommend that you invest in vent covers. These covers, which can be attached from the outside, limit the amount of moisture that can make its way into your home. Most of the time, they cut your crawl space off from the outdoors entirely.
While this may seem as though it limits the flow of air through your crawl space, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. By preventing moisture from getting into your crawl space, vent covers protect your exposed structural supports from the rot that might otherwise weaken them. If you’re concerned about the amount of air flowing through your crawl space, however, you can work with area contractors to find vent covers that keep your space fresh without allowing water to flow freely into your home.
Sometimes, it’s easier to hope the damage in your home will just go away instead of doing anything about it. After all, your crawl space should dry out when the weather turns, right? Not always. Unfortunately, crawl space damage does not go away over time. Instead, it often grows much worse.
Dealing With Crawl Space Vent Damage in the Long Term
The moisture that makes its way into your home via your crawl space has an all-encompassing and negative impact on the health of your crawl space. This moisture weakens unprotected wooden supports, seeps into your insulation, and can seep down into your foundation. The longer you leave that moisture to do its work, the worse the damage you see is going to get.
Consider this: After a heavy rainstorm, there may be standing water in your crawl space. While this is inconvenient in the moment, it doesn’t pose an immediate threat to your home’s structural integrity. Over time, however, that moisture, if it’s left behind, can allow mold and wood rot to fester in your crawl space. Before you know it, your family may be dealing with mold-related health problems, and your wooden supports may succumb to fast-moving rot.
Preserving the Value of Your Home
A damaged crawl space doesn’t just get worse over time. One can also actively devalue the whole of your home. You have the option to try and sell a home with a damaged crawl space. When you do, however, you’ll need to note any damage your property’s taken on in your listing.
While a damaged crawl space won’t turn all your potential buyers away, it may alienate some of your audience. What’s worse, you may lose up to 30 percent of your home’s market value due to your failure to address your damage. Future buyers will want to be compensated for the work they have to do to your home, after all, meaning you’ll have to accept a market loss if you want to leave your property.
If you’re concerned about how much crawl space repair work may cost you, you’re not alone. You may be tempted to try and repair your crawl space damage on your own. This is not a good idea. If you don’t have experience repairing crawl space damage, you can often do more harm than good when trying your hand at DIY work.
DIY Crawl Space Vent Repair and Your Expenses
DIY crawl space repair is often far more expensive than most homeowners think. For starters, aspiring DIY-ers have to purchase all the materials and tools they need to start working on their crawl spaces. This preliminary work first requires you to determine what kind of damage you’re dealing with. If you’re not sure what’s happened to your vents and the rest of your crawl space, then you may not purchase the appropriate tools or materials.
Many of the tools you use to remove, replace, or otherwise repair damaged vents in your crawl space may also be one-time use. One-time use tools are a net loss for most homeowners, as their initial cost may not be worth the work they do. Professionals, comparatively, already have access to the tools and materials they need to go about repairing your crawl space’s damage. When you work with area professionals, you’re paying for time spent repairing your home as opposed to the materials you need before you can even start your work.
The Cost of Mistakes Made During DIY Repair
Inexperienced homeowners who try to fix their own crawl spaces can often make mistakes. While it’s never a bad thing to make mistakes while learning a new craft, you don’t want to make mistakes while trying to repair your home. These mistakes can lower the overall value of your home while also making it less safe for you to live in.
DIY mistakes can often cover up damage in your crawl space instead of dealing with it directly. If you treat the symptoms of crawl space damage instead of the source, you allow that source to continue damaging your home over the months and years to come. Your mistakes may even allow more moisture into your home, meaning that your problems may grow exponentially despite your efforts. At the end of the day, you may still need to call area professionals to repair your space. This endeavor will be more expensive than it would have been had you reached out to area professionals earlier. Professionals will also have to remove your DIY repairs before they’re able to implement their own.
Calling professionals out to your property is one of the best decisions you can make when faced with crawl space damage. What is it that professionals do when they first take a look at your crawl space?
The Ins and Outs of Crawl Space Inspections
Before professionals can start repairing your crawl space, they’ll need to inspect it. Most inspections involve three steps: the initial inspection, a superficial inspection, and an in-depth inspection.
- Initial inspections allow professionals to look over the entrance to your crawl space. If it isn’t up to code, professionals cannot enter your space to continue the inspection. Instead, you’ll need to invest in repairs or an entrance expansion before the inspection can continue.
- Superficial inspections allow professionals to look through your crawl space for obvious signs of damage. This includes the presence of wood rot, mold, standing water, or vent damage. If a professional can identify damage at this stage of an inspection, it’s likely your crawl space has been taking on moisture for an extended period of time.
- In-depth inspections let professionals take a closer look at some of your structural supports. Professionals tend to move onto this kind of inspection if the damage in your crawl space isn’t immediately obvious. The good news is that if you progress to this stage of an inspection, the damage in your crawl space is likely minor.
You can discuss the inspection process with the professionals who make their way out to your home, keeping abreast of your home’s condition all the while.
Repairing Vent Damage and Waterproofing Your Crawl Space
The means professionals use to repair the vent damage that your crawl space has taken on will vary based on the extent of the damage. If you’re dealing with some minor moisture and seepage, professionals may only have to install vent covers before waterproofing the rest of your crawl space. If your damage is more significant, then professionals may have to remove and replace your vents before restoring the rest of your crawl space.
You can discuss just what kind of work professionals may need to do to your crawl space long before that work even starts. Professional contractors serving Missouri, can walk through your home with you and point out what kind of damage you’re contending with. From there, they’ll provide you with a free services quote you can look over. You’ll be able to determine what kind of repair work and home waterproofing measures you want to invest in. In short, the professionals in your area will make their recommendations, but you’ll determine what kind of work they do at the end of the day.
Repairing Additional Crawl Space Damage
It’s possible that the moisture that made its way into your home via your vents did more damage to your crawl space than you initially spotted. The structural supports throughout your crawl space, for example, may have started to take on rot damage. Alternatively, the moisture that caused so many problems for you may have migrated down into your foundation.
You’re going to want to invest in comprehensive repairs when your crawl space has been compromised by open vents. If you let certain degrees of damage go unattended, then that damage will only worsen.
The repairs that suit you best will vary based on the kind of damage you’re seeing. Foundation sinkage, for example, can often be reversed with piers. Wood rot in your crawl space and other parts of your home can benefit from chemical treatment, but professionals may alternatively recommend that you have the damaged wood sistered or replaced entirely. Sagging floors above your crawl space also can be reinforced and lifted with crawl space supports.
If you’re not sure where to start with crawl space and other home repairs, don’t worry. Reach out to area professionals for a comprehensive crawl space and home inspection. At the end of the day, you can look over a free services quote detailing what damage your home’s taken on over the years and what means may best help you restore your property’s value.
Waterproofing Your Crawl Space
It’s never a bad idea to waterproof your crawl space. If you’re just coming off a repair job involving your vents, you’ll want to make sure you do what you can to keep water from returning to your crawl space. The professionals who help you repair your space can guide you through the catalog of waterproofing measures readily available to you. Some of the best include:
- Crawl space encapsulation with a vapor barrier
- Waterproof insulation
- Interior drains and sump pumps
You’re under no obligation to install just one of these home waterproofing measures. Instead, if you think your home may benefit from the additional protection, you can stack crawl space waterproofing measures. A dehumidifier and a vapor barrier, for example, work well together, both eliminating any moisture that makes its way into your home.
Get In Touch with Area Professionals ASAP
Dealing with moisture damage in your crawl space can be time-consuming and costly. Luckily, you don’t have to try and do this work on your own. Instead, you can reach out to the professional contractors serving Kansas City, Moberly, St. Louis, and Springfield, MO. These experts at Foundation Recovery Systems can provide you with a free crawl space inspection and repair quote. Not only will you have the opportunity to invest in vent covers, but you can also work with the experts to better understand what waterproofing measures might protect your crawl space in the future.