Missouri and Iowa have a wet and humid climate that can make keeping a home dry hard enough, and the presence of heavy, clay-loam soils only exacerbates this issue. This powerful combination of a wet climate and absorbent, expansive soil can cause many different problems for any property, but homes that don’t have the proper waterproofing and encapsulation measures in place are by far the most vulnerable. This is partly because of the climate, but it’s also because of the porous nature of concrete, which is the primary material in the construction of most property foundations.
The damage that persistent dampness and humidity can cause in a home ranges from issues like mold and mildew to wood rot and localized collapse. Thankfully, there are things that you, as a homeowner, can do to protect your home and prevent serious, avoidable side effects from impacting your property and your health and wellbeing. Crawl space encapsulation is the overall name for the systematic installation of waterproofing and drainage in order to manage the climate inside your home.
What is Crawl Space Encapsulation?
Crawl space encapsulation is a sealing technique that is used to create a dry, hygienic, and safe interior space that repels moisture and allergens. This can be achieved in many ways, but one key component is the use of a thick and durable vapor barrier inside a crawl space. The goal is to protect a property and create a healthier interior climate within the home. The process can be variable, depending on what kind of work is needed in a home.
While the process of encapsulation is tailored to the needs of the home in question, it generally has four main steps:
First, the space must be prepared for the process of encapsulation. This means clearing debris and sharp objects from the crawl space to ensure that the vapor barriers that will be laid down are not damaged, torn, or punctured by shrapnel and debris. If needed, then the ground in your crawl space will be graded to create a level surface. If water intrusion is a problem, an interior drainage system and a sump pump can be installed.
Sealing External Openings
The presence of external access and ventilation points in a property’s crawl space puts the health and wellbeing of the space, and indeed the whole home, at risk. As such, covering the crawl space vents or access points in order to create a water and airtight seal is an important part of crawl space encapsulation.
Vapor Barrier Installation
The installation of a thick, tear-resistant vapor barrier is one of the most important parts of any encapsulation process. For the best possible results, crawl space experts at Foundation Recovery Systems only install 20-mil vapor barriers. The thicker the vapor barrier is, the more resistant it will be to tears and punctures; this will prolong the life of the encapsulation, even if you frequently enter and traverse your crawl space.
Once a crawl space has been fully sealed and encapsulated, it will be necessary to ensure that the environment stays healthy and that the levels of humidity are properly controlled. This can mean the installation of a dehumidifier. Once these conditioning systems are in place, the encapsulation process will be complete.
Many people also choose to install or upgrade their property’s insulation during the process of encapsulation in order to maximize the benefits to their home and remove the need for disruption at a later date.
When is Crawl Space Encapsulation Needed?
Crawl space encapsulation, like any kind of waterproofing, is most effective when it is undertaken preemptively. Once there is active dampness in a property, the process of encapsulation will become far more complex, and if there is structural damage to the property’s foundation or foundation walls, it may not be possible to encapsulate the space right away. If there are issues like settlement, subsidence, bowing walls, or serious spreading cracks, these issues will need to be repaired before encapsulation can be effectively undertaken.
The signs of damage and dampness in a home include:
- Mold and mildew formation
- Spreading cracks
- Floor and wall gaps
- Sagging floors
- Musty smells
- Pest infestation
If you see any of these signs, then crawl space encapsulation could well be a great idea; but, you will have to deal with the damage first. Of course, whether the process is undertaken before damage takes root or as a reaction to dampness and humidity, crawl space encapsulation has many different benefits.
The Benefits of Crawl Space Encapsulation
Aside from the obvious, why would crawl space repair experts recommend crawl space encapsulation? The benefits of this process are many and can range from very direct and tangible in nature to far more subtle and indirect. Of course, the benefits that you can expect to experience in your home may vary in nature and intensity depending on the health of your home and the extent of the encapsulation process.
Here are some of the most common benefits of crawl space encapsulation:
Humidity is a common problem in properties that have exposed crawl spaces in some way or another, either as a result of open vents or structural damage. Encapsulating your property’s crawl space will prevent moisture from getting into the space and increasing humidity.
This, in turn, will seriously reduce the risk of issues like mold and wood rot. These fungal substances require a certain amount of humidity to form and thrive, as well as organic matter to feed upon. These substances are dangerous in many ways, but they are primarily dangerous to people’s health and to the wooden surfaces in a home, respectively.
Dampness and Water Damage Prevention
Crawl space encapsulation is incredibly effective at preventing water damage and dampness as it keeps water that enters the space through processes like seepage from impacting the interior climate of your home. When the process of encapsulation is supplemented by things like interior drainage installation, it also can allow water that enters the space in this manner to be gathered and drained away.
This will play a part in the reduction of relative humidity in the crawl space and wider home.
Increased Energy Efficiency
One of the lesser-known benefits of lower humidity and dampness in a crawl space is an increase in energy efficiency. Humid air is far harder to process than arid air, so a property’s HVAC system will need to work harder to get the same results when the level of humidity in a home rises. This will lead to temperature fluctuations and cause the HVAC system to work harder. This extra workload will mean that your HVAC system consumes more energy and therefore increases the cost of your energy bills in both the short and long term..
Lower Risk of Pest Infestation
Homes that have exposed crawl spaces or problems with dampness and humidity are more vulnerable to pest infestations for two main reasons. First, exposed crawl spaces are easier for pests to get into. Secondly, damp, humid environments tend to be more appealing to certain kinds of pests, especially when they allow mold and mildew to form.
The kinds of pests that are most likely to take up residence in a home with humidity and dampness issues are cockroaches, rodents, and spiders (though there are many others). Encapsulation will make your home safer and more hygienic.
Reduced Rate of Appliance Wear and Tear
It’s not just your property’s HVAC system that can benefit from crawl space encapsulation. A lower level of relative humidity also will minimize the wear and tear on other appliances around your home by making corrosion and rust far less likely in things like exposed pipes and metal components. This means that your appliances and HVAC system will be likely to have a longer lifespan and experience fewer avoidable breakdowns over the course of their lives.
As you can see, crawl space encapsulation is an incredibly beneficial process that should not be overlooked. It not only can protect your home but also your health. It might even save you money in the long term. With this in mind, it pays to undertake this process even if your home has never had an issue with dampness and humidity. When paired with annual maintenance from local professionals, it can make all the difference.
Crawl Space Encapsulation
Have you noticed signs of dampness and humidity in your crawl space? If so, then it is time to consider your repair options. The source of moisture could either be internal or external. What that really means is that the issues in your home either will be found in your plumbing system and appliances or within the structure of your property.
Leaks in your property’s appliances and plumbing system are unique in that they are far more likely to cause substantial water damage and build-up in a home, but when they are caught quickly, they tend to be easier to fix and less likely to cause serious structural damage. This means that in the grand scheme of things, finding out that a plumbing or appliance leak is the main cause of dampness and humidity can be somewhat of a relief for homeowners. There are two exceptions to this, however.
A full-scale plumbing flood is far more likely to cause serious structural issues than any other form of internal leak as a result of the amount of water it releases and the pressure at which the water exits the system. Low-level leaks that take place over a prolonged period of time are far more likely to lead to serious issues like wood rot because they will have time to seriously increase humidity and facilitate the growth and spread of fungal issues. The most common internal leaks occur in the joints between pipes or the meeting point between pipes and appliances or faucets.
If there are no signs of internal leaks and plumbing damage in your home and the amount of water is small and persistent, then it is far more likely that it is entering your property from outside through areas of structural damage. The most common forms of damage that can lead to dampness and humidity in a crawl space are foundation damage, cracking, or fragmentation. Any cracks in your property’s structure will let water in, but cracks that are situated below ground level represent a particularly strong risk of allowing water to seep in.
There also are structural factors that cannot be classed as damage, however. Seepage, for example, is a process that occurs because of the porous nature of concrete as a building material. When a home has unsealed concrete surfaces at or below ground level, seepage can produce significant moisture. In an area like St. Louis, MO, where the climate is humid and the soil is heavily clay-based, this process is exacerbated further. Secondly, there is the matter of crawl space vents–these features are outdated, but there are still homes that have uncovered vents. If your home has exposed vents, then this could be the source of your dampness and high relative humidity.
Installing a sump pump system is not always necessary when undertaking crawl space encapsulation, though it will generally be beneficial in many ways. In areas like Kansas City, MO, however, where the climate is wet and humid and there is a large amount of clay-loam soil, having good drainage is absolutely key.
Other Drainage Options
There are many potential drainage options that can be applied as a part of wider encapsulation for homeowners who want to protect their homes. The most common systems used to protect properties from flooding, dampness, and humidity are interior drainage systems. This measure is effective in removing the water that it gathers from the immediate vicinity of a property so long as they remain unobstructed.
One of the biggest limitations of these kinds of drainage systems is that they are passive in nature and can only remove water that drains into them naturally–unless you invest in specific models that allow for water to be gathered as it seeps up into your home. As such, this system is effective but not on its own. It’s crucial to pair an interior drainage system with a quality sump pump.
The Benefits of a Sump Pump System
One of the main advantages of a good sump pump system is that it can actually be connected to existing drainage options. This means that as well as allowing for water from around your crawl space to gather in the sump pit, it can also be set up to gather water from the furthest corners of the space. Unlike the interior drainage system, it can be connected to, however, a sump pump is an active drainage system that can remove large quantities of water quickly because of its powered pump and long discharge line.
Sump pump systems are less prone to severe blockage because of their filtration systems and concentrated intake point. This means that if a clog does occur, it will be far easier to pinpoint and rectify the issue. Finally, sump pumps offer a more effective drainage process and a more intense version of the benefits offered by manual and passive drainage systems.
We do not recommend that you try to undertake the process of crawl space encapsulation alone for a number of reasons. While this process is fairly straightforward and simple, it does require a certain number of specialist tools and products that can be hard for non-professionals to acquire and deploy effectively. If this process goes wrong, then it can have many impacts on the property in question, and they are not likely to be positive.
Why DIY isn’t a Good Idea
DIY has its place, of course, and we understand that many homeowners find it both useful and enjoyable. Nonetheless, there are some things that we recommend you never try to do alone. We do not recommend that you attempt to undertake any structural work alone, and while it may not seem like it, this includes crawl space encapsulation. This is because the structure of your property may need repairs before encapsulation can be properly undertaken but also because improper encapsulation can lead to structural damage in a number of ways.
If you use poor quality products, install products improperly, or trap moisture in your home, then there is a high chance that you will increase the humidity in the space and allow substances like mold and wood rot to grow at an accelerated rate. This can cause huge issues for your home in the long term and also could impact your health and wellbeing over time. It is best to let a professional deal with this for you; the benefits are many!
The Benefits of Professional Services
As well as the benefits of safety and efficiency, professional crawl space encapsulation offers an increased level of cost-effectiveness. Not only do professionals have all the tools and equipment they might need on hand, but they also can buy products from professional supply stores or manufacturers directly. This means that they can offer better quality at comparable prices.
Higher levels of effectiveness, quality, durability, and generally better value for money. When you consider all this, it just makes sense to let a professional handle your crawl space encapsulation. So, why not give your home the best and call Foundation Recovery Systems to discuss crawl space encapsulation and waterproofing?
Choose Foundation Recovery Systems for Crawl Space Encapsulation
Whether your home is in good health or you have seen signs of structural damage, dampness, and humidity, crawl space encapsulation can have many benefits. In order to get the best possible results from this process, you should contact a professional who has the tools, skills, and training to deal with all the potential issues that could be a part of the encapsulation process. Thankfully, the team here at Foundation Recovery Systems meets all of these criteria! We’re proud to serve Kansas City, MO, Moberly, MO, Springfield, MO, St. Louis, MO, and Des Moines, IA.
Our team of skilled specialists has the experience and support to deal with any issue that might be at work in a home undergoing crawl space encapsulation, including foundation damage. If you want to talk about the process of crawl space encapsulation with us or you want an estimate for the cost of the process, then please contact us today to schedule your free inspection and repair quote. We will send a team member to your home to ensure that you have access to all of the information that you need to make the right decision for your home.