The crawl space has an integral role towards a home’s overall value as well as the living space above. Most homeowners in Falling Water 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 Basement Waterproofing In Falling Water 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.
Basement Finishing Ideas For The Do-It-Yourselfer
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.
5 Reasons Why Basement Waterproofing is Essential
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 Masters Specializes In Crawl Space Encapsulation in Falling Water TN.