Encapsulating a crawl space is a common way to deal with moisture or flooding. It is also an easy way to quickly get control of the air quality in the home and lockout rodents and insects. When you’re thinking about “green-ovating” your home, or simply getting control of the moisture or humidity, when you have a crawl space, you must encapsulate.
Encapsulation does a great deal for the crawlspace and for the home above.
What the process is and what it does
The practice of encapsulating or “sealing off” a crawlspace is done to lock out moisture and cut off the connection between moisture, water and the joists of a home. By running a vapor barrier down the walls of a crawl space to completely cover the floor, you essential separate the outside from the inside of the home.
This vapor barrier will be the flexible membrane between the walls and floor and the rest of the home. A properly designed vapor barrier will limit the transfer of moisture through it while regulating the speed at which air will naturally pass through. This helps to limit and control the amount of moisture that will find its way into the air space and completely segregate liquid water and direct it to a sump location.
5 helpful tips when having a Vapor Barrier installed in your crawlspace:
1.) Not all vapor barriers are made for this task – careful. There are many products out in the world that claim to be able to fully encapsulate a crawl space. Make sure that your vapor barrier has a low “perm” rate and that it is at least 14mil thick. If you’re planning to use the space for storage make sure that a flexible sub-flooring product is also placed on top of the vapor barrier to protect it.
2.) Cover the walls too – all too often contractors forget to also encapsulate the walls of the crawl space when installing a vapor barrier. This can still allow water and moisture into the basement and therefore render the whole project useless. Take care to make sure it’s installed properly.
3.) Don’t use sprays. – Sealants and sprays aren’t designed to be applied on the interior of the basement. They are good in many circumstances as the “first line of defense” but as the last, they can’t hold the pressure and moisture trapped in a wall.
4.) Install a sump and a dehumidifier – to totally control the moisture level in the crawl space it’s imperative that you have a sump pump and a dehumidifier installed. Moisture will still exist, although not to dangerous levels, but a sump will remove any liquid water your encapsulation traps, and the dehumidifier will deal with any residual moisture that naturally collects in the space.
Crawlspace Vapor Barrier Mythbusters
Crawl spaces are proven to be one of the most convenient floor setups because they can provide sufficient space for air conditioning, ventilation and heating systems, but vapor can really destroy your crawl space, and this is where a crawl space vapor barrier can help you.
Too much moisture under your home can be a real headache as this can affect the structure of your home. Mold and mildew not only destroy your crawl space but they can spread to your wooden flooring and carpet too. By installing a crawl space vapor barrier, you are leaving no room for mold and mildew to survive under your home. This way, you can maintain the strength and aesthetics of your home for several years.
A disappointing fact that I have observed is that many homeowners often underestimate the importance of installing moisture controllers and by the time they realize the importance, it will be too late. Termites and molds would have eaten up a good part of their crawl space. Second scenario is even worse: homeowners who find out that their home structure is under serious threat will install a vapor barrier, without ever considering its quality. Apart from wasting a significant amount of money, you will be left with no results because such insulations won't work well more than a few years and in some cases, only a couple of months.
If you do not miss the nitty-gritty of a professional installation, you can lead a healthy life in your home for several decades.
· Measurement: Before buying the barrier, you need to measure the length, width and height of your crawl space. This will give you an estimate on how much barrier sheet you need. It's always a good idea to buy some extra so that you won't run short on materials even if you wasted some sheet.
· Energy Efficiency: There are two benefits in buying energy efficient liner sheet. They will help you to save a good amount on energy bills, which will provide you excellent comfort in your home and the second advantage is the tax benefits. I have noticed that some store owners stress on the cheaper price and mislead their buyers on the long-term benefits of energy efficient sheets. You will be using them for several years and an energy efficient insulation will cut down your energy bills significantly all these years.
· Product Quality: Ideally, sheets with 60mil thickness provide you the best protection. Your sheet should provide you a minimum warranty of 20 years and it should be antimicrobial, rodent proof and termite proof. If you can't see these certifications on the sheets, you most likely are going to face a huge loss.
These are some of the important things to be considered when you are on the lookout for a crawl space vapor barrier. Needless to say, maintaining your home is the best idea compared to buying a new one because you can significantly improve the living quality of your home for a much lower cost. By installing energy efficient barriers with tax benefits, you are also fulfilling your social responsibility of conserving energy.
Crawl Space Encapsulation Systems DIY
In recent years, the idea of indoor air quality control has become a bigger concern to the basement waterproofing industry. When I began working with the industry over 20 years ago, the idea of basement waterproofing was exclusive to the controlling of and prevention of water seepage and flooding. With homeowners becoming more aware of radon gas infiltration, moisture and mildew, and other soil gases, waterproofers have the perfect opportunity to better serve their customers by addressing such needs.
Musty smells, moisture and radon gas - all common problems in a basement and/or crawl space, are solvable by enacting some of the most basic waterproofing techniques. Improving indoor air quality, beginning from the basement and/or crawl space will impact the air quality of the entire home. Over 50 percent of the air that circulates through the home's living space originates from the basement and or crawl space. When the air quality of the basement or crawl space is poor, chances are, the entire home's air quality is poor or soon will be.
One of the first measures a contractor can do to address such concerns is by applying a sodium based silicate spray onto the basement's walls and floors. Such a spray typically reacts with the concrete's free lime, resulting in the formation of an expanded crystalline structure beneath the surface. The application of a deep-penetrating concrete sealer stops water vapor and radon gas from permeating the porous surfaces. This allows the concrete to become dense, increasing its resistance to various vapors and gases. Such sealants usually can be applied with a low-pressure hand sprayer.
When applying the right sodium based silicate spray, some of the additional advantages may include the reduction of spalling from freeze and thaw cycles; improving a concrete structure's resistance to most soils, acids, oils and salts; and protecting against efflorescence and leaching - specific results will vary pending the type of spray that is applied.
It is recommended to clean the concrete surface prior to application. Any dirt, oil or foreign substances may hinder the effectiveness of the spray. After such a spray is applied, the surface should be flushed with water before drying.
The prevention of moisture and soil gases permeating through concrete surfaces goes a long way in reducing the growth of mold and eliminating the musty smell that often plagues a basement and/or crawl space. Waterproofing contractors have always been called to address immediate water problems for the short-term; with indoor air quality control, contractors can now offer a viable long-term service that provides their customers with the ultimate peace of mind.