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
For many homeowners, the first thought in their mind when they consider installing a crawl space waterproofing system is, "But I don't go down there! Why on earth would I do that?"
Good question! And there's a great answer. While you probably don't think about your crawl space, and you may have never even seen your crawl space, it's part of your home. What happens to it has surprising effects the rest of your house.
Water can enter into your crawl space in three different ways: through the earth (or concrete) around your home, from a plumbing leak, or through the air entering your crawl space vents. Whether this moisture enters as humidity or as an all-out leak, a wet crawl space means a headache for you. Moisture collects in anything organic - including wood floorboards, support beams, and some types of crawl space insulation. As the wood swells and warps with moisture, there are nasty results: mold, rot, mildew, bacteria, and dust mites.
What you have beneath your house is no longer a crawl space. It's a habitat. The area is filled with humidity, mold spores, and dust mites. All too soon, mice, rats, snakes, and vermin will take up residence- living and dying in the dark, wet area beneath your home. And there's nothing more attractive to a termite colony looking for a new place to live than all that damp, rotting wood!
Ignore the monster lurking below while you can, but remember that even before your rotting floor and support beams are significantly damaged, you're already being affected. Warm air in your home exits the home through your upper levels, and crawl space air is sucked up into your home. As it's pulled up, nothing is stopping the humidity, mold spores, dust mite waste, and odors coming up with it. In the summer, your air conditioners will be working overtime to remove this humidity. During the winter months, cold air vented into the home hammer away at anything it can reach- including the water heater, hot water pipes, and heating ducts.
In a vented crawl space, insulation is a Catch-22. If you don't have crawl space insulation, then there's no line of defense keeping humid summer air and cold winter air away from your floorboards. If you do have crawl space insulation, then moisture and mold can saturate the material, weighing it down and causing it to collapse on to the floor. If it's wet or lying on the ground, what can it do for your home?
The first step to solving a crawl space moisture problem is to remove any standing water issues. Left in your home, it will add humidity to the home, encourage mold and mildew, and bring pests into the room while it stagnates. It simply has to go.
If your crawl space has pooling water at any time, a reliable cast-iron crawl space sump pump is the best option. Water can be directed to the sump pump via a drainage swale, or in some cases, a modern French drain system.
Humidity pours into your house through the crawl space vents, and the damp earth and cement around your home will soak up water like a sponge, releasing water vapor into the area. Cut this problem off at the source by sealing off all crawl space vents and installing a crawl space vapor barrier. Avoid cheap solutions- the kind of product you're looking for should be strong and durable- at least 20 mil thick. A quality crawl space vapor barrier will allow access for you and service workers without tearing your line of defense. Crawl space vapor barriers should also be flexible and resistant to punctures and tears, and a bed of gravel should be laid underneath to allow water to pass underneath.
The Three Basic Types of Home Foundations
Most new home owners consider converting the basement into another living space such as a playroom for the kids or a bar for entertaining guests, but never get around to actually bringing their basement finishing ideas to fruition.
This is mainly because the basement is a space that's not immediately accessible or visible to guests, and that is why basement finishing ideas are always placed in the backburner and are looked into only after the major rooms in the house have been taken care of.
However, renovating a basement space doesn't have to be additional expense, especially if the home owner plans to turn it into a useful space. A home office, for instance, would be perfect for the basement. You can draw up basement finishing ideas together with an interior designer on how to maximize the available space and make it conducive for working.
It's also ideal for home office use because it's detached from the noise and the activity that goes on in the rest of the house. Whatever you plan to do with your basement, though, you have to keep in mind some important basement finishing ideas that will save you lots of time, money, and effort.
When working on basement space, or any area to be renovated, for that matter, try to plan your renovation backwards. That is, before you start sketching and asking your interior decorator to look for this and that furniture, draw up a budget that you know you would feel good about.
You can't possibly relish using your newly renovated basement when your basement finishing ideas will cost you an arm and a leg. This is why you need to determine your budget first prior to starting work on anything.
Once you have your budget, you can sit down with your contractor and designer to discuss what you want to get out of the renovation. Let them know what elements you want in that space and let them tell you if it's feasible or not. For instance, adding a toilet and bath is a fantastic basement finishing idea, but it can make a big dent on your budget.
Keep in mind that the things or fixtures you add should be necessary, not just added on a whim. Another practical baseent finishing idea is to create storage spaces. Remember that if you are to use the basement for some other purpose, then you are going to be displacing all the stuff that has been sitting in your basement through the years.
Where would you transfer them? The answer is, in most cases they'll still have to be kept in the basement, so the only great solution would be to construct some ingeniously designed storage spaces. Cabinets and overhead shelves are a must.
Next, go over the basement's electrical wiring, waterproofing, and plumbing. Don't attempt to do these yourself as they can only be handed by experts in the field. Make sure that the team you are getting is dependable and not just some fly-by-night moonlighter. Check their references or ask your friends and relatives to recommend names.
Discuss your basement finishing ideas with the contractor to know if your current heating or cooling setup is adequate to include the basement. If not, you may have to install a cooler or a heater exclusively for your basement space.
Once you have your basement finishing ideas [http://www.homeimprovementbliss.com/basement/basement-waterproofing-a-practical-way-to-save-on-basement-repairs-49] pat down, make sure the place is safe for everyone. Make provisions for fire escapes and see to it that all the doors and door locks are working.