The crawl space has an integral role towards a home’s overall value as well as the living space above. Most homeowners in Tullahoma 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.
The Best encapsulated crawl space In Tullahoma 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.
The Three Basic Types of Home Foundations
Installing a crawlspace vapor barrier is not rocket science. It is not physically difficult. Whether installing a quality vapor barrier in a vented crawlspace or doing a complete crawlspace encapsulation, it only takes a little time, a little patience and a willingness to crawl around on your hands and knees for a couple of days.
Where to Buy a Crawlspace Vapor Barrier
There are many places to purchase a crawlspace vapor barrier. An on-line search will provide contact information many retailers. And the products they offer vary from inexpensive clear plastic to woven and coated fabrics much like swimming pool liners. The inexpensive liners can also be purchased from many hardware stores and home centers.
What Vapor Barriers Are Available
The inexpensive vapor barriers will do the job but it's been our experience that they tear easily, don't stay in place, and become brittle and crack after four to five years. But they are inexpensive.
The alternative is to spend a couple times more initially and purchase a product with a twenty five year warranty. The reinforced or woven products require no more time to install than the inexpensive shorter-lived products.
The real question is whether an installer wants to spend a couple of days crawling around in a damp crawlspace every four or five years, or wants to spend a little more initially and have an installation that is maintenance-free and will last for decades. Personally, it makes more sense to me to do it right the first time and be done with it.
Installing the Vapor Barrier
Whether doing a full crawlspace encapsulation or simply installing a vapor barrier in a vented crawl space, the installation of all products have a lot in common.
First, the floor needs to be completely covered, with all seams overlapped 6" to 12" and sealed with tape. While duct tape is a wonderful product with countless uses, it does not do a good job sealing the seams of a vapor barrier. A quality, water-proof vinyl tape designed specifically for sealing the seams is recommended.
Wrapping the Crawlspace Piers
Second, the floor material needs to be sealed around all the foundation supports. Whether steel posts or concrete block piers, it is necessary to prevent the migration of water vapor from around the foundation supports. This is usually done by wrapping the piers - sealing the piers with the vapor barrier 6" to 12" up from the floor. This provides a sealed pier to which the floor material can be sealed to using seam tape.
Wrapping the piers can be a little problematic. No safe, nonflammable, nontoxic construction adhesive is effective with the available materials except for a newly developed, patented proprietary wall and pier liner. The vapor barrier is typically applied to the piers using a combination of tape, mastic, caulk, and mechanical fasteners. The mechanical fasteners require that holes be drilled into the piers using a masonry bit and hammer drill. This adds exponentially to the installation labor.
The patented wall and pier liner can be applied to most any surface using a low VOC and nontoxic construction adhesive. Being low VOC and nontoxic, it is nonflammable and safe to use in the confined area of a crawlspace. It can be safely installed in a fraction of the time. It is the only material of its kind and can be ordered from it manufacturer.
Sealing the Crawlspace Walls
Finally, regardless of whether you're installing a vapor barrier in a vented crawlspace or doing a full encapsulation, it is necessary to seal the floor material to the crawlspace walls. Most experts agree that this is a vital step for a well installed barrier or encapsulation.
If installing a vapor barrier, the floor material should be sealed to the wall 6" to 12" above the outside grade. Like wrapping the piers, most companies recommend the tape-caulk-mechanical fastener combination. The mechanical fasteners should be placed every two to three feet long the perimeter of the crawlspace. If taking this approach, be sure to use a respirator as concrete dust can cause severe respiratory problems.
If doing a full encapsulation, the entire wall, a minimum of three inches down from the sill plate to allow for a pest control inspection, should be sealed. Enough floor material can be purchased to extend up the walls or, the method we've found easiest, the wall is covered and sealed with a wall liner and the floor material is sealed to the wall liner using seam tape. Regardless of which method you use, the vapor barrier must be securely attached and sealed to the wall.
The manufacturer of the pier wrap also makes a patented wall liner that attaches to and seals the wall in one simple step. It reduces installation time by several hours. Like the pier wrap, it is available from the manufacturer.
A Vapor Barrier in Your Crawlspace is a Healthy Addition For Your Family
I recently came across a Consumer Reports article that served as a good reminder to homeowners about some of the home's maintenance issues that are just too important to put off. With today's economy, it is easier to justify holding off on repairing a leaking basement wall crack because it seemingly does not pose an immediate threat, outside of a little inconvenience, of course.
Problems related to the foundation's structural stability or the indoor air quality of the home requires more immediate action; such issues are essentially putting the health and overall safety of the family at risk: not tomorrow, or a year from now, but at this moment.
While bad news for the homeowner, such problems are good for basement waterproofing and foundation repair contractors - the need for their services will always exist. The Consumer Reports article lists a couple of problem issues that the homeowner should be concerned about - the growth of mold and mildew and the formation of cracks in poured foundations. As a business owner who works with the basement waterproofing industry, these are two areas of concern that I am well familiar with.
The growth of mold and mildew can occur inside a home for endless reasons. The most prominent areas are basements and crawl spaces, where excess moisture is a sure bet unless the necessary measures are taken. Concrete walls are prone to the seepage of water vapor - leaking water from cracks in the foundation or the floor adds to the problem. The basement and crawl space provides the ideal environment for trapped moisture to eventually grow into mold spores and mildew.
Concrete cracks in poured foundation walls usually occur as a result of shrinkage or settling around the foundation. Cracks forming as a result of shrinkage in the concrete typically do not pose a structural threat, yet they may cause headaches for the homeowner the second they begin to leak water.
Whether such foundation cracks are structural or not, it is best not to leave them exposed for long, as it relates to the concern of the home's indoor air quality. These cracks, as well as in concrete floors, may provide an opening for soil gases. The infiltration of soil gases, in addition to the growth of mold and mildew can be enough to create an indoor air quality nightmare. The bad air circulating inside the basement and crawl space affects the entire home - 50% of the air circulating throughout the home originates from the home's lowest level.
Concrete cracking is unavoidable. Properly addressing them early on will minimize further problems down the road. Further indoor air quality concerns may also be addressed by implementing the proper waterproofing and sealing techniques throughout the basement and crawl space. There are plenty of qualified contractors throughout the United States and Canada available to service such jobs.
It's reassuring to know that our message is backed up by an objective source such as the Consumer Reports. You view the article at the provided link, http://shopping.yahoo.com/articles/yshoppingarticles/418/5-home-repairs-not-to-ignore/.
You can't put a price on the long-term stability of the home and health of the family.
Crawl Space Masters Specializes In Crawl Space Encapsulation in Tullahoma TN.