Crawl spaces were a marvel of modern architecture in the 1940s. Initially constructed in more southern regions, by the 1950s’ the requirement for building crawl spaces started to include plastic sheeting to cover the ground to avoid drainage or moisture problems. Eventually, with contemporary HVAC, plumbing & electrical systems integrated into houses, crawl spaces became an essential part of the ventilation system. This called for better sealing of the crawl space from external elements to dehumidify, and thus the concept of encapsulation was born.
So, before you decide to encapsulate your crawlspace, there are few considerations to account for:
1. Is the Space Sealable?
The crawl space needs plastic sheets or tarps to act as a moisture barrier and seal against entry of outside air. This is to ensure the dehumidifier unit can condition the air to a lower humidity level. If your crawl space has gaps of any sort, or a lattice patterned exterior, then you might need to insulate using professional services.
2. Honey, where are the drains?
Crawl spaces are where the basement level would begin, so it’s evident that the foundation is hot and humid in the confined space and prone to some form of surface runoff in rainy weather. Building drains into the crawl space even after insulation ensures damp protection. After all, the crawl space houses much of the plumbing systems, and they can leak too. Ensure properly installed drains that only allow the waste out and nothing in.
3. Yes, fiberglass is a bad fad.
If (a) you want to use fiberglass as an insulation barrier in the crawl space, and (b) you don’t want to encapsulate and condition the crawl space, then (c) you are headed for disaster. True, fiberglass is a light and versatile material, but it can soak up moisture and start sagging. When the organic adhesive moistens up too, they all create excellent breeding conditions for mold. So, avoid fiberglass if you want to insulate & encapsulate.
4. DIY hire a professional!
This is an easy one, and you can do it yourself. Just get hold of a phone, look up well-reviewed professionals in your locality, and set up a meet. Insulation and encapsulation require expertise and equipment to install right. Otherwise, by your dabbling, you increase the cost of repairs and wasted efforts.
5. Did the cat drag in a corpse?
Always schedule a safety inspection to ensure the crawl space does not have any leaks of a liquid or gaseous nature, as this can be potentially hazardous. Methane from gas pipes, carbon monoxide from low oxygen combustion, or butane from leaky camping stoves can be fatal. Butane is a dense flammable gas with a pungent scent, so be on the ‘smell-out’ for it during an inspection. Rotten wood and dead rodents also have strong odors, so be vigilant.
6. The crawl space looks like an X-files!
Invasion by mold and mildew can become an issue with poorly maintained encapsulations. This cotton candy from hell presents an even deadlier hazard with no scent; mold produces carbon dioxide. If the infestation is too advanced, don’t go into the crawl space without protective gear and oxygen masks. If you see dead rodents and insect infestations down there as well, DONT Mulder down there! Be like Agent Scully; believe in what you see and call in the exterminators!
If you’ve already had an encapsulation at your Lakewood property in Colorado and haven’t checked down there in a while, maybe it’s time you scheduled an inspection with us. We at Aqua Dry Restoration deal in restoring crawl spaces, and we have quite the experience in the area. We can provide you with free estimates, and you can count on us for more than just restoring your crawl space. We’ll get the creepy crawlers and cotton candy out too!