Homes in Minnesota, North Dakota, and eastern Montana are no stranger to dampness and humidity. The climate in this part of the U.S. is notoriously wet and changeable. While this makes for stunning scenery and a bracing environment, it can be incredibly tough on the structure of a property. Buildings with crawl spaces, in particular, can face serious problems as a direct result of high levels of humidity and dampness. From mold formation to rotting support joists, dampness can cause many different problems which all impact the wider health of your home.
Here at Innovative Basement Authority, we specialize in preventing dampness and all its related issues from taking root. Our crawl space encapsulation system is an effective and durable solution to humidity and dampness. Whether you have just started noticing problems in a new home, or you have come into possession of an older home in need of a lot of work, our team is here to help.
The Effects of Humidity in a Crawl Space
Homes are, of course, not airtight even when they are first built. However, a property is never more protected from dampness than when it is first constructed; the initial structure that is connected to your crawl space has very few, if any, gaps, cracks, or entry points for water and dampness. Once your property has its electrical wiring, pipes, and HVAC system installed, however, the potential entry points for water and dampness are numerous, especially in your crawl space.
If you have uncovered crawl space vents, dampness is pretty much unavoidable. This is before cracks form, sealants wear away, and other minor forms of damage build up. When you add all of this up, it is pretty much guaranteed that most properties will have some form of dampness and humidity. The question, however, is if this dampness is within acceptable levels. If humidity exceeds a certain level, it can have many implications for your crawl space and property as a whole.
- Mold and Mildew Formation
Mold and mildew are almost certainties in a crawl space that has issues with dampness, flooding, or standing water. Most species of mold thrive in humid, dark spaces, especially where organic material is present. The presence of mold in your crawl space can have many effects. First and foremost, it can cause musty odors to permeate the space, and even your home (mold can take up residence in your HVAC vents). Certain species of mold can also cause respiratory problems and skin irritation.
- Pest Infestation
Pests like cockroaches, spiders, and mice love dark, sheltered environments and your crawl space provides the perfect habitat. Any exposed pipes you have will also provide heat which will attract insects and animals (especially in winter). This heat can also increase the levels of condensation on outer crawl space walls.
- Rotting Wood and Organic Materials
If you have exposed wood in your crawl space dampness can cause it to rot. This will not only provide food for pests, but it will undermine structural integrity and can lead to a sagging floor in the room above.
- Increased Energy Consumption
Humidity in your crawl space leaks slowly but surely into your home, making your HVAC work harder to heat and cool the air in your home. This, in turn, can cause your energy bills to increase. They could increase quite dramatically.
- An Unstable Internal Climate
As heat rises within your home, it pulls colder, damp air from your crawl space up to take its place. This means that uncontrolled dampness in an exposed crawl space can have a direct effect on the temperature and humidity inside your home as a whole.
So, as you can see, having a humid and damp crawl space has an effect on your home as a whole. It could even cause more damage to your property in the long run.
Choosing the Right Dehumidifier
The benefits of installing a dehumidifier in your crawl space are diverse and numerous. Aside from the obvious benefits of preventing dampness and humidity from allowing mold to flourish, a dehumidifier can be good for:
- Managing interior air quality
- Managing respiratory conditions
- Improving energy efficiency
- Lowering energy bills
- Keeping your home comfortable
Furthermore, modern dehumidifiers are quiet and compact. You no longer need to worry about putting up with the constant humming of an older model or struggling to find the perfect spot for a clunky machine in your home. Of course, what you do need to worry about is making sure that you get the right kind of dehumidifier for your property.
How Dehumidifiers Work
To put it simply, dehumidifiers work by drawing moisture from the air and trapping it. They do this with the use of a fan that pulls in moist air, drawing it through cooling coils used to condense it. The heat recovery system then puts warmer, drier air back into the room, collecting the water in a reservoir or self-draining it into an interior drainage system or sump pump. The most basic models simply circulate air continuously, but more advanced models have built-in humidistats, which can be set to maintain a certain level of relative humidity.
Which Dehumidifier is Best?
Choosing the right dehumidifier for your home is not as simple as it sounds. You can’t just walk into a hardware store and pick up any dehumidifier that catches your eye. You must consider many factors, including:
- The size of your home and crawl space
- The climate you live in
- The relative humidity in the air
- How many people live in your home
- How exposed your crawl space is
Each of these factors has an impact on the type of dehumidifier you need. The truth is that it can be hard to know exactly which model of dehumidifier is best for you without professional input. That’s where we come in.
Crawl Space Dehumidifiers
Your home’s crawl space is one of the most exposed and vulnerable parts of your property, especially if you have uncovered crawl space vents. Uncovered vents are the most obvious points of entry for water and dampness in a crawl space, however, there are many others that are perhaps less noticeable.
- Foundation Damage
Foundation damage is one of the most dangerous and serious forms of damage that a property can suffer. When you have a cracked, settled, or sinking foundation it is understandable that dampness is the last thing on your mind, but it is a common co-occurring problem when a property’s foundation is damaged. Subsidence, foundation heave, and excess hydrostatic pressure are the most likely to result in standing water, dampness, and humidity because water is at the root of the damage in each case.
In the case of foundation heave, water in the soil expanding after a cold snap causes the foundation to bulge and crack. Where subsidence is the issue, saturated soil loses its stability and a property starts to sink, often causing pressure in unusual ways and leading to damage and cracks. Finally, excessive hydrostatic pressure can cause cracks to form. In any case, once cracks form water will quickly seep into your crawl space.
- Cracked or Damaged Walls
The walls of your crawl space, too, can allow water and dampness into your home. Like your foundation, crawl space walls can be damaged in a multitude of ways. Of course, damaged crawl space walls also present more pressing concerns than dampness, but, once again, dampness and humidity are almost mutually inclusive with damaged or cracked crawl space walls.
Your home’s crawl space walls can be damaged by several issues, as well as the problems which commonly affect a property’s foundation. Alongside subsidence, hydrostatic pressure, and foundation heave, your crawl space walls can be damaged by ice and snow building up around your perimeter by flooding and repeated shrinking and expansion as a result of seasonal changes. All of this damage will let
Humidity and dampness are insidious issues which often occur alongside more pressing issues and go unattended as a result. However, dampness is at the root of many serious issues within a home and can be damaging to your health as well. The most common problems associated with dampness are mold formation and rot.
- Mold Formation
Mold and mildew are almost guaranteed in damp and humid environments. The specific types of mold that you are likely to see in a property depend on the area it is in and the amount of organic material available. However, once mold takes root it can spread very quickly, even making its way into your HVAC system.
Mold and mildew can cause many problems which range from the irritating, like a bad odor and damage to soft furnishings or clothing, to the severe. Severe mold-related problems include respiratory issues, migraines, skin irritation, and an increased likelihood of pest infestation. If you have allergies, you may notice very severe side effects from prolonged exposure to certain species of mold.
Where dampness takes root, organic material is sure to start rotting. If you have exposed woodwork in your property, like wooden support joists, you could see damage and rot taking root. Rot and decay will present as discoloration and then as softening in the structure of the wood. If the floorboards of the room above are exposed, they may also begin to warp.
The most likely result of rotting joists or floorboards is a musty odor and sagging in your floor. If the floorboards themselves are starting to rot, they will feel bouncy and soft. If the joists which support them are rotting, you may notice a slight tilt to the room or sudden depressions in your flooring. This can easily snowball into the collapse of certain parts of your floor.
Protecting your crawl space from dampness and humidity can feel like an uphill task at times, but there are some simple things that you can do. Keeping your gutters and drains clear, for example, and shoveling snow away from your property perimeter can go a long way. However, the best thing that you can do is take preventative measures.
- Call a Professional
If you suspect that you have damage to your crawl space, the first thing that you should do is contact a crawl space encapsulation and repair specialist. Getting an expert opinion on the health of your property and what needs to be done to prevent damage or its escalation, is an important step in understanding what your property needs.
It can be tempting to try a DIY approach to repairs; we urge you not to do this. If you try to implement DIY repairs, you could easily end up causing more damage, or complicating matters. This could cost you more money, and take more time to repair, in the long run.
- Consider Waterproofing and Encapsulation
Professional waterproofing and encapsulation is the best thing you can do to protect your home from dampness and humidity. These processes are hugely flexible and can be tailored directly to your property and situation (this is why it is so important to have professional input). By starting with a free inspection, you can get a good idea of the best products for you and the cost of installation.
The most common solutions deployed during encapsulation are insulation, vent cover installation, vapor barrier installation, and dehumidifier installation. When combined, these measures create a completely encapsulated, dry, clean, and climate-controlled space with minimal dampness, controlled heat loss, and less pest presence.
A Highly Efficient Dehumidifier for Your Home
Innovative Basement Authority has been helping people in and around Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana to encapsulate and protect their crawl space with the best possible solutions since 2005. We take great pride in having built up a portfolio of the best waterproofing and crawl space encapsulation products on the market today.
Our energy-efficient, high-performance dehumidifier was designed in the USA and is still manufactured here today. This system efficiently removes dampness and odors from your crawl space to protect your home. The main features of this energy-efficient dehumidifier are:
- Capacity of 12 gallons per day
- Elimination of odors, mildew, and mold growth
- Effective up to 2,500 square feet
- Corrosion-resistant aluminum coils
- Convenient self-drainage
- User-friendly controls
- 5-year warranty as standard
These are just some of the reasons that we recommend this model consistently to homeowners. Of course, one of the biggest benefits of this model is that it comes with the Innovative Basement Authority team. We only sell this model directly and will install it personally to make sure that every part of the process is finished to the highest possible standard. This is something that no other system can offer and we believe that it is priceless.
Install a Reliable Dehumidifier with Expert Help
A dehumidifier is only one part of a full encapsulation; if you want to fully protect your crawl space and home from the elements, you should start by booking a free inspection appointment with our team. Our staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and dedicated to helping every single one of our clients get the best possible results. These appointments come with no obligation to book repairs or encapsulation with us, but you will be provided with a detailed, written estimate for the products and services you express interest in. This will help you to make an informed decision about the path that you wish to take.
When you add all this up, you get the best possible service at the best possible prices, and a wealth of experience to ensure that you get the results you want. Our crawl space encapsulation system includes crawl space vent covers and durable, high-quality vapor barrier installation as well as the option of insulation to provide a more stable, controlled climate.