The problem with a dirt or vented concrete crawlspace is that as warm air rises in your home, it brings up with it the air that was previously in your crawl space, including moisture and mold spores, as well as anything else that may be airborne down there.
As this air rises in your home, replacement air enters from the lowest part, your crawlspace. This replacement air is made up with unconditioned outside air that enters through vents and other leaks, and air that is actually sucked from the crawlspace floor, either dirt or concrete, which is typically filled with lots of moisture. This natural upward air movement is called the "stack effect" -- this is how chimneys work. Consequently, whatever is in the air at the lowest point eventually flows up into the living sections. Up to 40% of the air we breathe on the first floor of our home comes from the crawl space.
A concrete or dirt crawl space with a crawl space vent is a never-ending source of moisture. Even if the dirt's surface seems dry, digging down a few inches reveals moist earth.
A Crawl Space Vapor Barrier System is the Answer
Sealing the crawl space from the earth and outside air is the solution to moisture and dampness in the home. Some contractors and homeowners will simply put down a thin, non-UV-resistant plastic liner, like a 6-mil plastic liner. This really has no effect as there's still too much opportunity for air to enter from (air is very small and can come through crawl space doors or hatches, crawl space vents, pipe penetrations, porous concrete walls, the hollow cores of blocks, and various other gaps and holes. The CleanSpace crawl space encapsulation system includes solutions to all these challenges.
Why Is Crawl Space Moisture so Bad?
Because it's the moisture that leads to mold growth, musty odors, and structural damage, not to mention that insects and critters love moist environments and energy costs are higher. Moisture ruins houses by providing a hospitable environment for mold, fungi, and insects that destroy wood framing. Crawl space moisture, and the mold and mildew that thrive in this environment, affect not only the floor system directly above, but also the entire house.
Three things destroy organic materials in general, and wood in particular: water, heat, and ultra-violet radiation. Of these, water is by far the most damaging... and the one we can control.
Properly sealing the crawlspace and removing the moisture from the ground and air is part of the solution that helps provide a mold-free, radon-free, and insect-free environment, which leads to a more more energy-efficient and healthier home.
To avoid moisture's negative affects, a crawlspace should be completely sealed and isolated from the ground and the humid outside air. An effective method to lower crawl space humidity, tested and perfected throughout the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Ireland, is now available from Slate Belt Energy -- the CleanSpace Crawlspace Encapsulation System representative for Northeast PA. This crawlspace vapor barrier system involves installing a 20-mil 7-ply sandwich of high and low-density polyethylene with polyester-cord reinforcement on the dirt or concrete floor, that is fastened and epoxied to the walls. This extra-heavy reinforced lining is made especially for this system and is treated with an antimicrobial finish that protects against mold and mildew growth under the crawlspace liner.
Lower energy bills, resulting from reduced crawlspace humidity, translate into comfort and savings year after year. The CleanSpace crawlspace vapor barrier is tough enough for service people to crawl on and safe enough for storage. Being bright white, the CleanSpace liner really brightens a crawlspace too, making it a relatively pleasant storage place.
Does Your Crawl Space Leak or Flood?
Many crawlspace foundations leak and many crawlspaces flood. Such crawlspaces may require a drainage system. Basement Systems has several patented sump pump systems for your peace of mind. They all feature a built-in WaterWatch sump pump alarm system to let you know if there is ever a pump or power problem before the crawlspace floods. Basement Systems' SmartSump
Just remember that your crawlspace, although often neglected until it's too late, is one of the most important spaces in your home. It can be a spawning ground for mold, bugs, embarrassing odors, and even radon gas. The moisture generated in the crawlspace will lead to structural damage and higher energy costs! On the other hand, a clean, sealed crawlspace can be an extra source for much needed storage while making your home more energy efficient, healthy, and safe for your family.