The crawl space has an integral role towards a home’s overall value as well as the living space above. Most homeowners in Downtown Knoxville don’t think twice about their crawl space unless they have to make repairs to plumbing, heating ducts or house wiring. While often thought of as no more than a storage area, it also has a tremendous impact on the overall indoor air quality of the entire home.
The Best Crawl Space Encapsulation In Downtown TN
By default, the air quality of a crawl space is typically poor. Mold, mildew, radon gas and poor energy efficiency all create several problems. The air that circulates within it eventually makes its way up through the living space. Scientific studies show that up to 50% of living space air originates from the lowest level of the home. With homeowners more concerned about their home’s indoor air quality, the encapsulating of crawl spaces has become a popular solution for such problems.
A damp crawl space creates a safe harbor for harmful molds, in addition to dust mites, termites and other bugs that can infest the home. The presence of excessive moisture will also create a serious problem with the probability for the wooden structure of a home to deteriorate. Crawl space vents pose a further problem. While believed to be a solution to moisture problems, they, unfortunately, make the problem worse. As it turns out, the vents allow cold air and moisture in, which rises into the living area and therefore decreases the heating efficiency of the entire home.
Another all-too-common problem associated with crawl spaces is radon gas. Though it cannot be seen, smelled or tasted, radon is a radioactive gas that can contribute to poor health, including cancer. Radon gas makes its way through the earth, into the crawl space and the home’s living space. According to the U.S.E.P.A., radon gas is the number one leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.
Ignoring these various conditions is not recommended for both long-term health and energy usage. Fully encapsulating a crawl space – by both sealing and insulating – is a fully efficient measure in addressing such problems. It makes sense to maintain and improve the lower level area in order to maximize healthy living conditions and home resale value.
While there are several systems for encapsulating, a zero perm liner system that also insulates and reflects heat provides the most benefits. With a proper floor and wall liner, the area will not only be well insulated but will seal out moisture, bug infestation, and radon gas. Other components to look for in a system include a radon gas-dispersing drain fabric, a radon gas ventilation pipe, and a ceiling heat shield.
A complete system with all of the above components will allow any soil gasses – including radon gas – that naturally occur under the liner system, to wick through the drain fabric and escape out through the ventilation pipe. While improved indoor air quality is the primary benefit of a sealed and insulated crawl space, the homeowner will also appreciate a bright, clean, and dry storage area; the ridding of musty smells; less energy usage; and tax credits. Contractors encapsulating crawl spaces will have more to offer to their clients when they can assure the peace of mind with improved indoor air quality.
A Closed, Sealed Crawlspace - What a Really Bad Idea
Crawl spaces are inherently dirty smelly places that can contain all types of unwanted odors from mold & mildew to urine & feces. Some areas of the country can even have soil underneath the home with odorless, harmful gases like radon gas. I'm a big believer that the best long-term solution to solve these problems is to encapsulate the air underneath the home with a liner system. It is a inherently impossible to keep rodents, bugs and mold out of the area underneath the home since the soil is exposed - but it is relatively simple to create a barrier between the home and crawl space the keep out all these unwanted nuisances.
I had a very nice lady write me the other day telling me about this house she had just purchased that formerly had many cats living in the crawl space and they left behind the smell of a giant litter box underneath her home. The odors were coming up through the wooden floor and creating a very fowl smell in the house. She told me she tried all different solutions: spreading baking soda, spraying an enzyme treatment originally intended for carpets & laying down new top soil - needless to say none worked. I wrote her back, apologized for her wasted time and suggested that she treat her crawl space like a wild beast that you can't defeat, only contain. She took my advise, installed a crawl space encapsulation system and the smells immediately went away.
Encapsulation systems are rated by permeability - 0.000 is the best, normal plastic is 0.01 and wood is 0.2. To stop all smells, moisture and gases look for an encapsulation liner system with a 0.000 permeability rating. A zero perm liner will also completely weatherize the crawl space and save on energy bills since the outside air won't be able to leak into the home.
Thin Liners Don't Encapsulate the Crawl Space
I can't tell you how many times I've received a call or been sent an email from a homeowner telling me how they went to Home Depot, bought a liner system as thin as a trash bag, spent an entire weekend installing it then didn't solve their problem. Cheap store bought liners are typically 6-12 mil, 0.01 permeability and even new they don't stop gases like Radon - they are also easily chewed through by bugs and rodents leaving the crawl space a year later leaking air like a sieve.
What to Look for
40 - 60 mil thickness, 0.000 permeability and antimicrobial so mildew can't grow on the liner. Encapsulation systems don't need a contractor to install (although trust me they won't tell you that). Look for the Energy Star Rated logo.
Crawl Space Dig Out: How to Turn Your Crawl Space Into a Basement
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.
Crawl Space Masters Specializes In Crawl Space Encapsulation in Downtown TN.