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.
How To Protect Your Health And Get Rid Of Awful Smells With Crawl Space Encapsulation
The foundation of your house depends on a strong basement. Basement waterproofing prevents water from penetrating into the basement area Waterproofing your basement is mandatory or else it could lead to structural damages and collapsing drywall.
Given below are 5 reasons why basement waterproofing is essential:
" Structural damage: Water seepage is very common problem in basements; especially if you live in wet areas with moist soil. If you do not take proper preventive measures for this problem then it could lead to structural damages to your property. You find seepage mainly in the corners where the wall meets the floor. This process is typically slow and won't show immediate consequences but if ignored then it could cause major damages such as bowed walls and cracked foundation. Basement waterproofing is very important to treat wet basements. Timely preventions can save you from disastrous structural damages.
" Infestations: If you live in an area where there are black molds, then it becomes absolutely essential to waterproof your basement. Damp areas are a breeding ground for waterborne contaminants such as black mold. All kinds of mold can grow between walls and under padding of wet carpets; the worst kinds are the black molds. It is very toxic and can cause death. If basement waterproofing is not done in time them these infestations keep breeding in the wet areas which can cause major health hazards. You may even have to abandon the house if the professionals are not able to take care of the infestations.
" Natural calamities: If you live in an area where there is heavy rainfall or in hurricane areas, basement waterproofing becomes very essential. These areas are prone to flooding; as a result, water is very likely to enter the basement. Rainwater can penetrate through cracks in the wall causing seepage. Also when flood water collects around the foundation walls, water collects in small pockets in the soil next to the foundation and starts forming hydrostatic pressure. Over the time this pressure increases until the water is pushed through the wall. Thus basement waterproofing becomes necessary in such areas.
" Damage to property: Most of us keep a lot of stuff in the basement like furniture, books, equipments, etc. sometimes there are workshops or even wine cellars down in the basement. But if the basement is not waterproofed then water seepage can cause a lot of damage to your property. Wooden furniture rots when it gets damp. Expensive items could be damaged due to dampness. It you plan to use your basement for important purposes then it becomes even more essential to waterproof your basement.
" Sloping and grading: It's important to know if the ground around your house is sloping away from your foundation. The soil outside should meet the walls; if it doesn't then the water can penetrate between the gaps. In this case you have to hire a professional grader to help slope the ground downhill and away from your house. But as preventive measures it is best to waterproof your basement just in case you do not detect the sloping around your house instantly.
Basement waterproofing can be expensive but it's worth the cost to prevent you from irreparable damages in the future.
Basement Finishing Ideas For The Do-It-Yourselfer
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.