Why you should encapsulate your crawl space

For Georgia homeowners, crawl space encapsulation offers a strategic investment that enhances the health, comfort, and energy efficiency of your property. It goes beyond routine maintenance, functioning as a long-term improvement that can also increase your home's value. Notably, encapsulation significantly impacts indoor air quality (IAQ), a crucial factor in Georgia's often humid climate. Crawl spaces are prone to moisture buildup, fostering mold growth and contributing to air quality concerns. Encapsulation addresses this issue by sealing the space and installing a vapor barrier, effectively preventing moisture intrusion. This proactive approach leads to demonstrably improved IAQ, reducing allergens and irritants that can trigger allergies, asthma, and other respiratory problems.

About Crawl Spaces

What is a crawl space?

A crawl space is a shallow foundation area beneath a house, typically between 1 and 3 feet high. It allows for easy access to plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems while creating a buffer zone between the living space and the ground. Although not ideal, crawl spaces can be vented to the outside air. They can also be encapsulated with a vapor barrier to control moisture and improve energy efficiency.

Crawl spaces are often damp for the following reasons:

  1. Crawl spaces are below grade, meaning they are surrounded by Earth below and on multiple sides of the perimeter. Soil holds moisture and that moisture works its way up into the crawl space.
  2. As temperature within crawl spaces decreases, RH does the inverse and increases. 
  3. With vented crawl spaces, moisture laden air is able to come in during the hot summer months. The moisture in the air condenses on building materials in the crawl space and can remain damp and wet for long periods of time.
  4. Water flowing around the perimeter of the home from rainfall, clogged gutters, etc.

Crawl Space Problems

Crawl Space Mold growth

Moisture buildup within a crawl space in the form of high relative humidity can lead to the growth of mold and mildew, which can be harmful to your health.

Structural damage

With high relative humidity in your crawlspace, wood structures can become weakened over time as they soak up moisture and experience wood rot.

Pest infestations

Insects and rodents in Georgia can thrive in areas which are moist and dark. Certain pests can cause damage to your property while also spreading diseases throughout your home as they move throughout.

Poor Indoor Air Quality

A crawl space that is not properly sealed can allow dust, dirt, and other pollutants to enter your home. This can trigger health problems such as allergies and asthma. In addition, a moist crawl space can contribute to foul smells in the crawl space that can enter into the home.

Reduced Energy Efficiency

A crawl space that is not properly sealed can potentially cause your HVAC system to work harder, resulting in higher energy costs.

Advantages of Crawl Space Encapsulation

Added Storage Space

By sealing the crawl space, items can be stored in the crawl space without the risk of being exposed to excessive moisture, which otherwise could lead to damage. A good sized crawl space may be a perfect location to store seasonal decorations or other items not used often.

Home durability

Encapsulating the crawl space prevents damage from moisture buildup, making the home more durable. By eliminating excessive moisture in the crawl space, you can prevent the need for costly structural repairs later down the road.

Appealing to Buyers 

In the future, you may decide to sell your Georgia home. With a proper encapsulation of your crawl space, your home can become much more appealing to a potential buyer as they won't have to worry about moisture issues in the home.

As mentioned already, crawl space encapsulation is a valuable investment that can improve the health, comfort, energy efficiency, and durability of your home. Out of all its benefits, the main focus for consideration of crawl space encapsulation should be on how it affects the home’s IAQ. There is no reasonable price anyone can put on healthy air to breathe. Beyond other reasons or benefits, this alone makes crawl space encapsulation fully worth it.

What is involved in Crawl Space Encapsulation?

Crawl space encapsulation is a multi-step process designed to create a clean, dry, and energy-efficient environment under your home. Here's a breakdown of the typical steps involved:

  1. Inspection and Cleaning: A thorough inspection of the crawl space is crucial to identify any existing moisture problems, mold growth, or structural concerns. The crawl space will also be thoroughly cleaned to remove debris and prepare the area for encapsulation.
  2. Moisture Control: Addressing any existing moisture sources is essential. This might involve repairing leaky pipes, improving drainage around the foundation, or installing a sump pump to remove excess groundwater.
  3. Vapor Barrier Installation: A high-quality vapor barrier, typically made of heavy-duty polyethylene, is installed on the crawl space floor and potentially even the walls. This barrier acts as a moisture barrier, preventing ground moisture from evaporating and entering your living space.
  4. Insulation (Optional): Once the crawl space is sealed, insulation can be added to the walls and floor to improve energy efficiency and regulate temperatures in your home. Spray foam insulation is a popular choice due to its air sealing and moisture control properties, but other insulation options like fiberglass batts might also be suitable depending on the situation.
  5. Dehumidification (Optional): In some cases, a dehumidifier might be recommended to further control moisture levels within the encapsulated crawl space. This can be particularly important for homes in humid climates like Georgia.
  6. Sealing and Access: All seams, penetrations, and access points in the vapor barrier are carefully sealed to ensure a complete moisture barrier. New crawl space access doors might be installed for future maintenance needs.

By following these steps, crawl space encapsulation can significantly improve the overall health and comfort of your home while also reducing energy bills and potentially increasing your property value.

If you are a Georgia homeowner and have any questions about encapsulation of your crawl space, please reach out to us via our contact form. We'd love to help!

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