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.
Crawl Space Vapor Barrier Basics
Crawl spaces are proven to be one of the most convenient floor setups because they can provide sufficient space for air conditioning, ventilation and heating systems, but vapor can really destroy your crawl space, and this is where a crawl space vapor barrier can help you.
Too much moisture under your home can be a real headache as this can affect the structure of your home. Mold and mildew not only destroy your crawl space but they can spread to your wooden flooring and carpet too. By installing a crawl space vapor barrier, you are leaving no room for mold and mildew to survive under your home. This way, you can maintain the strength and aesthetics of your home for several years.
A disappointing fact that I have observed is that many homeowners often underestimate the importance of installing moisture controllers and by the time they realize the importance, it will be too late. Termites and molds would have eaten up a good part of their crawl space. Second scenario is even worse: homeowners who find out that their home structure is under serious threat will install a vapor barrier, without ever considering its quality. Apart from wasting a significant amount of money, you will be left with no results because such insulations won't work well more than a few years and in some cases, only a couple of months.
If you do not miss the nitty-gritty of a professional installation, you can lead a healthy life in your home for several decades.
· Measurement: Before buying the barrier, you need to measure the length, width and height of your crawl space. This will give you an estimate on how much barrier sheet you need. It's always a good idea to buy some extra so that you won't run short on materials even if you wasted some sheet.
· Energy Efficiency: There are two benefits in buying energy efficient liner sheet. They will help you to save a good amount on energy bills, which will provide you excellent comfort in your home and the second advantage is the tax benefits. I have noticed that some store owners stress on the cheaper price and mislead their buyers on the long-term benefits of energy efficient sheets. You will be using them for several years and an energy efficient insulation will cut down your energy bills significantly all these years.
· Product Quality: Ideally, sheets with 60mil thickness provide you the best protection. Your sheet should provide you a minimum warranty of 20 years and it should be antimicrobial, rodent proof and termite proof. If you can't see these certifications on the sheets, you most likely are going to face a huge loss.
These are some of the important things to be considered when you are on the lookout for a crawl space vapor barrier. Needless to say, maintaining your home is the best idea compared to buying a new one because you can significantly improve the living quality of your home for a much lower cost. By installing energy efficient barriers with tax benefits, you are also fulfilling your social responsibility of conserving energy.
Crawlspace Vapor Barrier Mythbusters
Many homeowners try to cut costs and increase their home's comfort level by installing a crawl space vapor barrier. This will instantly make your home healthier for you and your family, and prevent moisture damage, mold, mildew, foul smells and odors.
Most homeowners tend to look at their crawl space as separate space from their home, but in reality, the two are one. Water vapors that surface from the ground are continuously entering, creating undesirable conditions for you, your family, and your home.
The purpose of a crawl space vapor barrier is to stop moisture and wetness from entering and affecting the floor and walls of your basement. Moisture tends to flow from warmer to colder spaces.
Many homeowners don't realize the importance of the proper installation, in order to keep moisture and water vapors from getting in the walls and floor of your basement-- condensation can lead to expensive structural damage. Also, if you can help control the moisture and dampness, you can greatly reduce the amount of energy required to cool and heat your home.
When considering the installation of a vapor barrier, take into consideration two spaces in your home; the crawl space and the attic. Humidity tends to build in the walls of both these areas causing mold, mildew and dry rot. This can cause severe health issues for adults and children, especially for those with asthma, breathing difficulties, and allergies. In addition, it can cause severe structural damage to your home.
Some homeowners think that because they insulate the floor joists there is no need to do any additional work, but these items do not serve the same purpose!
Tips for Installation
One of the most popular do-it-yourself vapor barrier products is polyethylene, or plastic sheeting. This plastic sheeting comes in various thicknesses; 4mm, 6mm and 10mm.
With today's technology, this product is made from a high quality material, resistant to rips and punctures. Always check the soil so there aren't any objects or materials that may damage the lining. The slightest puncture, rip or tear could compromise the entire system.
Always, make sure the space is dry before you begin any repairs. To remove the moisture, you may need a dehumidifier.
Overlap the barrier a minimum of 12 inches on the side walls. Be sure it is tight. Use furring strips and masonry nails to firmly secure the lining then caulk along the joints.
Seal all the seams with a heavy duty tape. However, it is recommended not to use tapes that are not specially designed for sealing vapor barriers. When working in the basement you will be forced to contend with pipes, make the proper cuts and seal securely with tape.
The completion of your crawl space vapor barrier will be the best investment you can make in your home.