Did you know that approximately 40% of existing houses and 15% of new homes are built on a crawl space? It’s not the most glamorous part of homeownership but it’s beneficial!
A typical crawl space has a dirt or cement floor with block walls and some ventilation to the outside. The thinking was that the condition of the crawlspace should be similar to the outdoor conditions, just like in your attic. Turns out, science has a different answer. The exchange of air from your attic to your living space is minimal, thanks to roof ventilation and attic insulation, a properly roofed home will have an upward draw. If you’re on a crawl space, this means you are drawing air up from the crawl space in to the living space, at a rate of up to 50%.
What kind of air quality do you have down there? Ventilation doesn’t equal air exchange, so even a code compliant home could have conditions in the crawl space that are ideal for mold or fungus. Additionally, crawl spaces are magnets for rodents and pests, and can trap allergens from the outside air. In Michigan, summertime humidity is generally between 70 and 90% – mold growth starts at 70% and can be enhanced by heat – yuck! All that dirty, contaminated air could be coming into your house! Closing or encapsulating the crawl space means installing a vapor barrier, insulation and a dehumidifier if necessary to keep humidity levels optimal.
Unlike homes built on a slab, or over a basement, crawl spaces are rarely conditioned. This means the floors in your home may be either warmer or colder than the rest of the home, depending on the season. When a space is encapsulated, it is conditioned and insulated, saving tons of energy that was just leaking out before. Typical energy savings are 15-20% when closed cell foam is used and rim joists are insulated.
Wear and Tear on Home Systems
With temperature changes comes expansion and contraction. Your pipes, furnace, HWH and other home systems that enter the crawl space can be subjected to high humidity, rapidly changing temps and interference from pests or vermin. You can protect these systems by providing a temperature and humidity-controlled space and greatly increase their lifespan.
By encapsulation your crawl space, you can improve your air quality, deter pests, vermin and wood destroying insects, save on your energy bills, extend the life of your home systems, avoid mold and fungus issues, get rid f musty smells and create a more comfortable and healthier living environment for your family.
What to Consider Before Encapsulation
Crawl spaces with water issues should be fully waterproofed before any encapsulation takes place. If you have a furnace or other mechanical, you may need a vent to the outside, and certain pest infestations need to be completely eradicated before encapsulation can occur. For all of these reasons, it is best to have the pros do the encapsulation.