When it comes to the care and keeping of your crawl space, you may not be overly invested in what all happens to that patch of your property. Many homeowners, for example, are reluctant to take on the expenses that come with crawl space waterproofing projects that can drive unwanted moisture away from these underused spaces. Others believe that the damage their crawl space might see won’t be severe enough to make home waterproofing worthwhile. Others still are budget-conscious and want to make sure they have enough money on hand to commit to future projects.
When you protect your crawl space, however, by installing vent covers or a ventilation system, a vapor barrier, and other economical waterproofing measures, you’re protecting your finances and your family. Leaving your crawl space unprotected can lead to the appearance of unwanted moisture—and its affiliated problems—throughout the rest of your home. By investing in home waterproofing measures before any damage has time to settle in or after you’ve invested in any essential home repairs, you can better pad your repair budget for the future.
Protecting the Value of Your Home
Your crawl space is more central to your home’s overall health and value than its small stature might suggest. Unfortunately, any water damage that appears in your crawl space can lower the value of your home by a significant degree. Crawl space damage can not only introduce molds and damage to your home, but it can also suggest that there are deeper problems with your foundation in play. If you don’t seek out necessary repairs, future buyers who may otherwise be interested in your home may not want to pay full price for your property.
If you do not choose to repair a water-damaged crawl space or to invest in crawl space vent covers or a ventilation system and aids, you can lose up to 30 percent of your home’s market value. As long as you invest in repairs and waterproofing measures prior to putting your home on the market, you can win that value back and come away from a sale having made a profit, even if your repair needs to be taken into account.
Protecting Your Family’s Health
While a little bit of humidity in your home isn’t going to hurt anyone, too much can put the health of even the heartiest of your family members at risk. Exposure to excessive amounts of humidity and moisture can cause your more sensitive family members to develop respiratory problems over time. The longer these family members are exposed to unsafe or unusual amounts of humidity, the longer it will take them to recover from any related illnesses or conditions.
Similarly, high levels of moisture in your home can make your crawl space a haven for mold. While there are several different types of mold that can make their way into your crawl space, almost all of them can cause allergic reactions or severe health problems for both those family members with pre-existing conditions. Even family members who have never displayed respiratory problems or allergies before can start to suffer from worsening health if exposed to excessive moisture and mold for too long.
The good news is that if you waterproof your home before these kinds of conditions can start cropping up, you can keep your family healthy.
Understanding a Crawl Space Leak
While there are some forces that work on your crawl space more aggressively than others, you can’t always blame crawl space leaks on a single problem. If you start to see standing water or higher humidity levels in your crawl space, you’ll want to work with a professional to suss out the problem in your home.
Hydrostatic pressure is often the culprit behind your leaking crawl space. This kind of pressure builds up outside of your home when water, either from rain, snow, or deep within the ground, starts to come into contact with the materials making up the exterior of your crawl space. Water can cause those materials to change temperature on a molecular level. As those materials’ temperatures fluctuate, they can begin to develop stress cracks that will allow even more moisture into the rest of your home.
If overexposed to this kind of pressure, the supports in your crawl space and even in your foundation can give out entirely. If this is the case, you can start to see your walls bowing, your floors squeaking, and your home destabilizing both inside and out.
Considerable amounts of hydrostatic pressure tend to cause the most damage around your property. However, that kind of pressure isn’t the only force that can work against your home. If the construction team who built your home made any mistakes while laying your foundation, that slab may be more vulnerable to the impacts of hydrostatic pressure than your neighbor’s.
Green wood, for example, that’s been used for your structural supports will snap or otherwise give faster than wood that’s been allowed to age and dry. Similarly, certain construction materials will take in more water and experience more change when exposed to hydrostatic pressure than others. While a home’s construction team can’t anticipate the amount of rain or snow runoff that your home will have to contend with, they can still work to give your foundation a fighting change during its initial construction phase.
Trees can have just as much of an impact on your crawl space’s health as the precipitation in your area. While you can’t control the rain, you can keep a wary eye on any trees or bushes that appear to have been planted too close to the perimeter of your home.
On average, you want larger trees and bushes to be at least 20 feet away from the perimeter of your home. If they’re planted any closer, the roots in question can start to grow beneath your crawl space and foundation. As these roots continue to seek out water and nutrients, they can leave gaps in the soil behind them. Your foundation and crawl space, in turn, can start to sink into these gaps. This kind of movement can severely destabilize your floors and existing structural supports, allowing more moisture into your crawl space and, subsequently, the rest of your home.
While it can be nice to see critters around your home every now and then, some creatures can do a significant amount of structural damage to your crawl space when you’re not looking. Of all the creatures you might see while living around your home, you’ll want to watch out for:
The aforementioned critters tend to burrow in the places that they believe to be the warmest. As such, they can readily make themselves at home beneath your crawl space. The burrows that these critters dig can be up to 45 feet long and can severely destabilize not only your crawl space’s structural supports but your foundation too. In turn, both your crawl space and your foundation can begin to prematurely sink. This makes your home more vulnerable to cracks and leaks while also putting your family’s safety at risk.
Not all your moisture-related problems are going to originate outside of your home. Damaged pipes can also put the integrity of your crawl space at risk. The pipes in your crawl space are especially sensitive to water damage. When exposed to high levels of humidity, they can begin to leak. If your HVAC system suffers from any damage, it too can add moisture to the air in your crawl space.
This unwanted interior moisture is a little easier to control than moisture that results from excessive precipitation, but that doesn’t mean that it’s any less dangerous. Uncontrolled crawl space moisture can cause your structural supports to crack and split, and it can even begin to negatively impact the structural integrity of your foundation. What’s worse, it can exasperate damage done by moisture outside of your home, making your necessary repairs that much more complicated.
Installing Crawl Space Ventilation
If you’re looking for a way to clear unwanted moisture out of your crawl space, a crawl space ventilation system is the best way to go. Innovative Basement Authority’s Air Control Fan combines with your crawl space air vents to bring pre-conditioned air into your home while keeping unpleasant and dangerous levels of humidity outdoors.
You can even take your protections a step further and install your Air Control Fan in addition to a crawl space vapor barrier system. Together, these systems are designed not only to keep your home comfortable but safe from the kind of water damage that might negatively impact your crawl space’s structural integrity.
To install an Air Control Fan in your home, professionals will mount the system in between your floor joists while also securing a vent in an out-of-the-way location within your crawl space. This process can be completed on a tight turnaround and should help protect your home from summer and winter precipitation. Note that you’ll only want to install this type of system after you’ve repaired any existing damage that may be plaguing your crawl space. If you install this fan system before undertaking those repairs, you risk damaging it and complicating what damage might already exist within your crawl space.
Your crawl space can take on unwanted moisture for a variety of reasons. Hydrostatic pressure is the primary force behind crawl space damage, as it can force your structural supports, walls, and other materials to crack and leak.
- The Forces Behind Your Leaking Crawl Space
It isn’t just hydrostatic pressure, however, that can cause your crawl space to start taking on unwanted moisture. Some of the other common causes of crawl space leaks:
- Errors during home construction
- Errors during window installation
- Pipe damage
- HVAC system damage
The grading of the landscaping around your home, too, may bring more water toward your perimeter than is safe. You can work with area contractors to determine where your home sits in your yard, with the grade in mind, and adjust your landscaping accordingly.
- The Benefits of Additional Home Waterproofing Measures
Again, an air control fan system and a vapor barrier will both help you keep unwanted moisture out of your crawl space, but only after you’ve invested in the repairs your home needs. There are additional waterproofing measures that you can stack with both a vapor barrier and an air control fan system if you want to double down on your home waterproofing techniques. These can include:
- Interior sump pumps
- Interior drains
- Full space encapsulations
Note, of course, that no home waterproofing measure is going to last you forever. If you think that any leaks you’re seeing in your crawl space may relate to the state of your foundation, you can invest in piering or underpinning procedures and keep your home water-free for longer.
If you’re feeling budget-conscious, you may consider trying your hand at crawl space repair and ventilation system installation before calling a professional. Trying to handle these kinds of repairs on your own is admirable, but that doesn’t always mean it’s the best idea.
- Considering the Cost
Trying to repair a damaged crawl space without professional assistance can cost you a pretty penny in the long run. If, for example, you want to check on your crawl space walls from the outside, you may have to invest in crawl space excavation work. Not only is this going to eat into the time you could be spending at work or on other tasks, but the tools you’re going to need for your excavation, repairs, and protective installations are going to run up your bill before you know it. Comparatively, most contractors have the materials and tools they need to fix and protect your crawl space on hand.
What’s worse is the cost of repairing any damage you might do while trying to install repairs on your own. Taking on this kind of repair work can be nearly impossible for someone without adequate experience. If you make a mistake while you work, you’ll need to call in professionals for guidance. If a professional has to work around your attempts at DIY before they’re able to fix your crawl space or install your ventilation system, then your eventual bill is going to be notably higher than it would have been had you reached out to contractors in the first place.
- Considering Your Time
As hinted at above, repairing your crawl space and installing a ventilation system or other protective measures can take a lot of time. You’ll not just be losing money by taking off work to try and fix the damage done to your home. You’ll also be losing out on time you could be spending with your family, friends, or on other projects.
Without additional helping hands to make the work go faster, crawl space repair and installation projects can take weeks at a time to finish. During that chunk of time, you’ll have to contend not only with the repair learning curve but with the variable weather in your area, as well. Comparatively, professionals can assess your crawl space for damage, conduct repairs, and install air control fans on a tight turnaround.
Budgeting for Crawl Space Ventilation Installation
The cost of waterproofing your crawl space will vary depending on the type of waterproofing measures you want to invest in. If you’re just interested in an Air Control Fan, for example, your costs may be lower than those for someone who wants this unit, a vapor barrier, and an interior drain.
The good news is that even though these costs can be hard to pin down, you will have the option, upon inviting a professional out to your property, to discuss what the cost of waterproofing your crawl space might look like. Note that if your crawl space has suffered hydrostatic pressure damage or other types of damage, you’ll need to factor the costs of repairs into your budget. Costs can fluctuate based on the size of your crawl space and the materials used to waterproof or repair it.
Get in Touch with The Experts at Innovative Basement Authority
Want to install a crawl space ventilation system in your home? The Innovative Basement Authority team in your area can help. Together, you can inspect your crawl space both for signs of damage and for the best place to set up your ventilation system. Then, with a little bit of guidance from a free services quote, you can work to protect not just your crawl space but the entirety of your home from the kinds of problems unwanted moisture can introduce it to.