The crawl space has an integral role towards a home’s overall value as well as the living space above. Most homeowners in Cleveland Tennessee 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.
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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.
Crawl Space Insulation and Its Benefits
Crawl spaces are known for their aesthetic presence-- NOT! When you talk about a crawl space you probably touch upon the dirt floor, the mold buildup, the puddles, the stench, oh and you can't forget about the insulation falling from the ceiling or the dusty old vents.
Unfortunately, this environment can cause a whole lot more damage to the rest of your home than you may think.
Crawl spaces and basements have huge problems with moisture. The stack effect is the proper name for the well-known process of warm air rising, which absolutely has a lot to do with moisture.
When the hot and humid air from the outside enters into the crawl space, the air begins to cool and the warm air pushes and exits through the upper levels. When the hot air cools by even one degree, the relative humidity rises by 2.2 percent.
This is why you find condensation and water buildup on other surfaces! Once this moisture begins to build and the humidity rises in the space mold begins to grow. Mold will continue growing and prospering if it has moisture, organic material to eat and a comfortable temperature. You cannot remove mold by wiping it away, but you remove mold by eliminating the source of moisture.
In other words-- close the vents, seal the space and install a sump pump!
As we just learned, air tends to rise within a home. So, when old-school thought encouraged people to install vents, it was unfortunately saying that air would come in through one vent and go out the other vent. This is not the case. Instead, the air comes in through both vents increasing moisture and humidity. In addition, as the crawl spaces conditions worsen due to the vents, the air quality in your home also lessens.
It's been estimated that a third to one half of the air on the first level actually comes from the crawl space, so whatever is growing and prospering beneath your home you can be sure to be breathing in throughout the rest of your home.
In addition, some spaces have fans as well. A fan will only blow the mess around and worsen the problem. Both of these "solutions" also heighten your energy bills and shorten the life of some of your homes heating and cooling appliances. Your air conditioning will be working a whole lot harder to cool and your heating system will be working very hard to keep your home warm. Unfortunately, the vents and fans in your crawl space are a big factor in your energy waste and increase in expenses.
Since crawl spaces have problems with moisture control and mold growth the best solution will close-off air flow from the outside and prevent moisture from entering through the soil, cracks and vents. In addition, the solution must prevent mold growth and include a water drainage system for when leaks occur and water somehow makes its way into the space.
This solution is to install the CleanSpace Crawl Space Encapsulation System, which will enclose the entire crawl space with a vapor barrier that also separates the space from the soil foundation. In addition, you can close-off the vents and include a sump pump drainage system.
No more vents, no more fans equals better air quality and a cleaner environment.
Crawl Space Supports
I've been in the crawl space business for 15 years and I've seen almost every system you could imagine - from spray foams to concrete to thin plastic sheets. Some are better than others, but the only real way to encapsulate the area beneath your home is to install a liner with zero permeability.
What is Zero Perm?
Zero Perm means just that absolutely no water, moisture, radon gas or odors will penetrate through it. Tests have to show 0.000 penetration of Hydrogen gas (the smallest gas molecule) through the membrane. The whole idea of spending the money to encapsulate the crawl space or basement is to STOP water, moisture, radon gas and any unpleasant odors. Liners that are 6, 12 and 20mil thick are NOT Zero Perm and will still let in harmful gasses as well as letting in moisture that will only continue to feed the mold and bugs that try to get in your home.
What Else Should I Look for in a Liner?
If you are going to spend the time & money to install a crawl space liner look for more benefits as well as zero permeability. Look for liners that are
- Energy Star Rated to get a 30% Tax Credit back on your purchase
- R Value of 5 to add insulation & increase your heating/ cooling efficiency
- Reflectivity value of 97% to prevent radiant heat loss
- Class A / Class 1 fire rating
Homeowners all over are finding that improving the homes they have is more cost effective than buying new. Some homeowners like the fact that they can save money by doing the work themselves and some still prefer to have someone else do the installation. Either way, using a Zero Perm, Energy Star Rated encapsulation system is a great way to pre-finish a basement or any area underneath your home.
Crawl Space Masters Specializes In Crawl Space Encapsulation in Cleveland TN.