How To Stave Off Moisture In Your Crawl Spaces

A crawl space is similar to a basement, but it is vented to the outside air. There are crawl spaces that have full heights like a basement, while some are only about two feet tall or even shorter, requiring you to crawl around on your belly. Some homes have crawl spaces for two main reasons, which are cost and accessibility. They are cost-effective as they negate the need to move the dirt to level a sloping lot for a concrete pad, which can get expensive. It is also convenient when it comes to installing the HVAC unit, piping, and water and sewer distribution around the house.

However, there is a great responsibility that comes with having a crawl space. This is because homes that are built over crawl spaces have the tendency to suffer from moisture-related issues due to the surroundings of the crawl space. Therefore, if your home has a crawl space, it is essential that you ensure it stays dry and free from moisture.

Having a damp crawl space can lead to many health and safety problems at home. These can include the growth of mold and mildew and rotted support beams and floor joists. Aside from that, it can also welcome unwanted pests like snakes, rats, spiders, termites, and more. If your home is built on a crawl space and you want to learn about how to avoid moisture, we’re here to help you. In this post, we are giving you some of the best tips on how to stave off moisture in your crawl spaces.

What Causes Moisture in a Crawl Space?

a full crawl space or basement

There are different sources that could contribute to moisture in the crawl space. Here are some of the most common causes of moisture in crawl space:

  • Condensation

This is the biggest contributor of moisture in a crawl space due to venting. It allows outside air to enter the crawl space and be in contact with the air inside. Usually, the crawl space becomes a breeding ground for mold during the summer months. To combat condensation, the best way is to seal any vents or loose doors to prevent the air outside from getting in. 

  • Water Seepage

When the snow starts to melt or after heavy rainfall, all of the water-saturated in the soil will start to seep up through the ground and come up into the crawl space. To avoid this, you can lay strips of heavy-duty plastic over the ground, which will act as a barrier. This is also known as crawl space encapsulation. 

  • Downspouts and Gutters

Gutters and downspouts are among the biggest causes of a damp crawl space. But this can be prevented easily by ensuring that the gutters are always clean and free from debris. The downspouts, on the other hand, should be directing water away from the foundation properly.

a downspout

  • Pipe Leaks

The plumbing pipes under the crawl space can also be a culprit for moisture. To detect this, you need to keep an eye on your utility bill and ensure that there are no sudden spikes in usage.

What is the Acceptable Level of Moisture in a Crawl Space?

Moisture is a common problem in crawl spaces, and it is something that occurs naturally. However, if your crawl space has excessive moisture, it can be problematic as it may lead to detrimental issues that may impact your health and home structure.

The ideal level of humidity in a crawl space should be 55% on the high end. This can be measured using a hygrometer. You can also tell just by entering the space if the humidity is high or if the air feels wet. It is important to keep the relative humidity at this level as mold can start to grow at 70% relative humidity. Therefore, the lower the humidity in your crawl space, the better.

Tips to Remove Moisture in the Crawl Space

Moisture in a crawl space is a pretty common issue in most houses in different parts of the country. To stave of moisture in your crawl space, here are some of the best tips that you can follow:

  • Check for any damage and needed repairs.

Always inspect your crawl space for any holes or cracks where cockroaches, small critters, and mice could enter. You need to make sure that there is no entry or exit points in your crawl space. Seal holes using foam insulation, wood, or caulking. You also need to check out any leaks that may be sending drips of water into the crawl space. Also, pay attention to the plumbing components and HVAC ducts. It is also better to insulate the plumbing system as it can help stop condensation during cold weather. If there are any issues, you need to fix them as soon as possible. 

  • Put in a crawl space vapor barrier.

Crawl spaces that have exposed dirt floors should be sealed. This is because dirt floors allow dirt moisture to seep into your home, which increases humidity levels. Vapor variers are great when it comes to preventing moisture from entering the crawl space. You can contact your local contractor if you want a vapor barrier to be installed in your crawl space. This may help reduce the moisture levels in your crawl space by 50% and keep it dry for years. 

  • Insulate your crawl space.

When you choose to install a vapor barrier, you also need to insulate your crawl space. You can use rigid panels that are made of expanded polystyrene foam, which most contractors use. It is reliable and does not harbor pests, and mild when wet. Insulation can create a tight seal that will keep the air out while protecting your crawl space from mold growth and moisture.

  • Use a dehumidifier.

During summer or hot months, moisture can also go through the roof and cause additional problems. Therefore, you should not let it build up. To regulate humidity levels in your crawl space, getting a dehumidifier is a good idea. It can collect the excess moisture in the air, condense it, and eject it out as water, leaving your crawl space clean and dry. There are lots of energy-efficient and self-draining crawl space dehumidifiers available today. 

  • Cover the open vents.

When a crawl space is vented, it can become nasty and unhealthy. This is because open vents provide water, outside air, and pests easy access to your home, leading to lots of other problems, such as moisture, flooding, and more. Therefore, you need to make sure that any vents are concealed with airtight covers to avoid these problems.

  • Gutters and downspouts should be placed properly. 

When installing gutters and downspouts, they should face away from your home. Otherwise, water will flow back when it rains, which may cause water damage. Also, always make sure that the gutters are clear and not clogged with leaves and debris. 

  • Remove standing water and wet debris.

If you find any standing water under your crawl space, you need to get rid of it immediately, including any junk or wet debris. Also, if you suspect that the insulation is wet, it is better to replace it once the crawl space is dry.

  • Install a sump pump.

A sump pump can also be installed at the lowest section of the crawl space. This is helpful in case it floods. In the unlikely event that lots of water get in, the sump pump will remove the water before it collects and causes damage to your crawl space and home. 

These are some of the best tips we can give on how to stave off moisture in your crawl spaces. Keeping your crawl space dry and preventing mold growth is very important as the air you breathe inside your home originates there. We hope these tips helped you in learning more about how to keep your crawl spaces moisture-free.