Crawl Spaces in Tennessee have been always around, but they became increasingly popular when homeowners started to recognize the improved convenience they have. Compared to the conventional floor setups and concrete floors, crawlspaces granted easy access to the plumbing setup and air ducts, and repairing them became effortless. Moreover, crawlspaces were also used as a storage facility. However, like any good thing in the world, crawlspaces also have its fair share of problems: trapped moisture, vermin, termites, and carpenter ants; invasion of wildlife and accumulation of foul gases to name a few.
crawl space mold Tennessee
I’ve been doing crawl space encapsulation in Tennessee for more than two decades now. A good number of correspondences I have addressed were always concerning the foul smell and bad odors that are generated from crawlspaces. It’s imperative to recognize the root causes behind such foul odors and we need to work on strategies that will eliminate the root causes. Crawlspace encapsulation is relatively a new technique which will help you to protect your crawl space, and the health of your family. However, you need to know how to choose the right encapsulation system for your home.
By encapsulating your crawl space, you no longer have to worry about rodents or other wild animals invading your crawl space, moisture accumulation, termites and foul smell that was haunting you for long. A Do-It-Yourself encapsulation kit will undisputedly help you to protect your home from unwanted disasters.
Crawlspace Vapor Barrier Mythbusters
1) Lower your energy costs: A crawl space encapsulation insulates the walls of your crawl space and conditions the air under your home. This results in a 10% to 20% annual savings on your power bill. Encapsulation is one of the few home repairs that pay for itself!
2) Increased home comfort: By conditioning the air in your crawl space your floors will not be cold in the wintertime. This is especially nice for hardwood floors and tile bathrooms. It also keeps your home from feeling humid and stuffy in the summertime.
3) No more musty odors: A crawl space encapsulation eliminates moisture under your home. This means no musty odors being pumped into your home through the air conditioning unit.
4) Increase the air quality of your home: By eliminating moisture under the house, you are no longer getting humid unconditioned air into your home. Encapsulation promotes air circulation throughout the home.. If your air conditioner is located under the house, it is no longer pumping mold spores throughout the home.
5) Air Conditioner lasts longer: Another way encapsulation saves you money is by improving the longevity of your heating and cooling equipment. Humidity increases the load on your air conditioner and causes trunk lines and air ducts to rust.
6) Minimize Repairs: Crawl space encapsulation eliminates moisture under your home. This moisture is the source of many problems from insulation damage, mold and mildew outbreaks, structural damage, and equipment damage from rust.
7) Eliminate insect infestations: By reducing moisture you eliminate a key ingredient that insects such as termites need to survive. No longer will your crawl space be a conducive condition to harbor ugly creepy crawlies in your home.
8) Extra storage space: Most people do not store much in the crawl space because it gets damp, rusts and damages about everything. An encapsulated crawl space becomes a moisture free environment that is perfect for storing anything and everything. Adding 1000 sq ft to 2000 sq ft of storage space always helps.
9) Increase the value of your home: An encapsulation system greatly increases the value of your home. It also makes your home easier to sell. Your home has no moisture issues for the home inspector to find and you have proof of energy efficiency and the lower energy bills your home produces.
10) Tax incentives and rebates: The federal government offers tax rebates for insulation products that improve the energy consumption of you home. Local power companies sometimes offer rebates on your power bill to improve the energy efficiency of your home.
Basement Finishing Ideas For The Do-It-Yourselfer
If you get three general contractors together and the topic of discussion turns crawlspaces and moisture control, you will probably hear six opinions. Even the experts seem to have different and often conflicting opinions about what tack is the best to take.
There has been much research on crawlspace encapsulation during the past decade. The US Environmental Protection Agency, the US Department of Energy, the ZEBRAlliance at Oak Ridge National Laboratories, and a non-profit research organization called Advanced Energy have all done excellent and groundbreaking research in the area of crawlspace encapsulation. Their research findings were instrumental in the last revision of the International Building Code. They all agree in a few, very important areas.
When considering your home, think of it as a single system. Your HVAC system, insulation, windows, attic, living space, and crawl space all work together. All of these building components need to be optimized and balanced to achieve maximum comfort, performance and energy efficiency. Your crawlspace is an important part of this system.
Your house is like a giant chimney. By natural convection, air is drawn in through crawlspace vents and air leaks. Because warm air rises, the outside air is drawn through the living space (along with mold spores, odors, and moisture) and exhausted through the attic. In the summer, your crawlspace is naturally cooler than the ambient outside temperature. So when the warm, humid outside air reaches the cooler crawlspace surface areas, the moisture condenses on framing, plumbing, wiring, insulation and especially HVAC ductwork and "sweats", just like an iced tea glass sweats on your kitchen table in the summer. In the southeast it is not unheard of for crawlspace humidity to approach 100% and actually rain inside the crawlspace.
The moisture in your crawlspace creates an ideal environment for wood destroying organisms, mold, and mildew. It can saturate and destroy the effectiveness of your insulation and promote wood rot. And because of the chimney effect, the humid crawlspace air, full of mold and mildew spores, eventually finds its way into your living space creating an unhealthy environment and causing your air conditioning to work overtime to dehumidify the air. Just a vapor barrier might help a bit, but most of the moisture is coming from outside, not your dirt, crawlspace floor.
So, the alternative to a vented crawlspace is an encapsulated (sealed) crawlspace. Crawlspace encapsulation involves sealing all outside vents, installing a high-performance vapor retarder on all exposed wall and floor surfaces at or below grade, insulating the walls and rim joist, and conditioning the air.
The prevailing research claims that by insulating the walls and rim joist, it is unnecessary to insulate the floor. However, if the existing floor insulation is in good condition, leave it in place. We generally recommend a rigid foam board insulation that is fire-retardant, low VOC, and offers an R-13 value or greater. It cuts easily and can be used for sealing existing crawlspace vents too. The sill plate should be caulked and paper-faced fiberglass insulation is used to insulate the rim joist.
The building codes in most areas require the air in an encapsulated crawlspace to be conditioned. That generally means adding a dehumidifier or using the existing HVAC system to condition the air. The EPA and the Department of Energy recommend using the existing HVAC system at a rate of one cubic foot per minute of conditioned air per fifty square feet of crawlspace area. A qualified HVAC contractor can add one or two 4" or 6" vents to a system for a nominal cost. The vents are usually equipped with a butterfly valve that can be adjusted to get the desired air flow.
We prefer using this method since the installation of the vents is generally less expensive than a crawlspace dehumidifier. And since running a dehumidifier is about the same as running a small refrigerator, the cost of conditioning the air with an HVAC system is generally less than running a dehumidifier. Remember that you're not trying to heat and cool your crawlspace; you're just adding a small amount of conditioned air. A relative humidity target of 60% or lower is a good place to start.
When comparing high performance vapor barriers, look at puncture and tear resistance. Other than being absolutely water tight, a high performance vapor barrier should also be flexible, fire resistant, low VOC, and lightweight. There is a world of difference between the 6 mil vapor barrier material sold in most hardware stores and a high performance specialty product. Most reputable suppliers will provide samples.
In addition to dramatically increasing indoor air quality and protecting the structure of your home, several research studies from Advanced Energy indicate that crawlspace encapsulation can actually lower energy usage. These studies were done in several parts of the country with varying climates.
If you crawl space is in need of repair, Crawl Space Masters can help!
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