The crawl space has an integral role towards a home’s overall value as well as the living space above. Most homeowners in North Shore Chattanooga 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 Repair In North Shore 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.
Improving a Home's Indoor Air Quality by Crawl Space Encapsulation
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 lock out 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 crawlspace 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.
5.) Look for the right contractor - many of the contractors who specialize in this repair are also in the basement waterproofing business. These contractors, over other general contractors, are preferred because they'll have access to more robust and dependable solutions. They also have the proper training and experience to pull the project off with little effort on your part.
Encapsulating a crawl space will limit moisture and humidity in your cellar and help lower your energy costs. Limiting moisture will help to ensure that any insulation in your floor boards will be working at their peak while keeping the cost of running any air conditioning units to a bare minimum.
Crawl Space Insulation and Its Benefits
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.
Crawl Space Masters Specializes In Crawl Space Encapsulation in North Shore TN.