The crawl space has an integral role towards a home’s overall value as well as the living space above. Most homeowners in Oak Ridge 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 crawl space moisture control In Oak Ridge 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.
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Outlined below are the most common 4 methods I have seen used in installing a vapor barrier. If you talk to different builders, you usually will end up with many different methods of installing a vapor barrier in a crawlspace. Here are the most common:
1. Pea Gravel on top of plastic vapor barrier - This has to be the all time dumbest thing I have ever seen, and yet it is probably one of the most common. I have had builders tell me that the plastic on the ground KEEPS ground water and moisture from coming up from the ground. Now if there is no moisture or water in the soil, this might be possible; but if that was the case there would be no need for the barrier in the first place. So here is the basic idea - ground floor (bottom) - plastic (middle) - 4" pea gravel fill (top). Once the crawl foundation is built, builders install a 4 - 6 mil plastic on the ground and dump about 4" - 6" of pea gravel on top of the plastic. Eventually, what always happens is that water comes in from the walls and the ground floor and ends up on top of the plastic. So what you end up with is a swimming pool liner that holds water in the gravel for prolonged periods of time. Nearly all the water and moisture in the gravel back fill has to evaporate into the structure. Another example of building practices and science turning a blind eye to crawlspaces for decades.
2. Vapor barrier on top of ground floor - By far the most common practice for installing a vapor barrier. A 6 mil polyethylene vapor barrier is placed over any ground floor. Here is the idea - ground floor (bottom) - plastic (top). The ground floor could be river rock, pea gravel, dirt floor, sand, etc. The seams are typically overlapped 6" - 12" and almost never taped. While this will temporarily stop some moisture evaporation, it does not seal out moisture from the internal perimeter wall where most water penetration occurs. Also moisture can come up from the seams, and the plastic is not durable enough to crawl on. It nearly always ends up with many punctures and holes in it.
3. Vapor barrier on bottom of floor joists - This is rarely seen, and usually only home owners attempt this. This is probably the method that accounts for more wood rot than any other method. If you are even thinking of doing this, quit thinking and call a professional to fix your crawlspace. Most crawlspaces are vented and the cooler surfaces such as duct work, pipes, and the floor will condensate in the summer. The plastic will trap the condensation up against the floor structure and mold and wood rot will occur. Good intentions do not always produce good results.
4. Vapor barrier fastened to sill plate - There is a new industry in crawlspace repair that encapsulates crawl spaces. The process of encapsulation is to install a heavy think plastic liner on the floor and up the foundation walls. The plastic liner is fastened and sealed to the foundation wall and all the overlapped seams are taped. Every potential gap or seam in the liner is meticulously sealed to prevent any moisture from evaporating. Then the vents are sealed in the encapsulation system to prevent hot humid air from entering in the summer. There is another system being sold and installed out there being represented as an encapsulation system, but is far from it.
This "other" system is a 6 mil plastic that is ran up the foundation walls and stapled to the sill plate. None of the overlapped seams are taped. It is basically a glorified vapor barrier on top of the ground floor being ran up the walls and stapled to the wood. They seal the vents without properly sealing the moisture from the ground floor or foundation walls. The problem with fastening plastic to the sill plate is that moisture will "wick" up the foundation wall, and moisture will absorb into the sill plate and floor joists. They are giving free access to all the moisture under the liner to rot the sill plates and floor joists. Not to mention that all the moisture will evaporate up through all of the seams that aren't taped and the plastic liner is only 6 mil and eventually will puncture and tear. Be very careful in the contractor you choose to properly encapsulate your crawlspace.
Crawlspace Vapor Barrier Mythbusters
Nobody loves to pay more! Are you stuck with paying prohibitive energy bills during the colder seasons? If your answer to the above question is yes, then you need to really consider giving your house a dose of crawl space insulation. This will definitely save you some amount in energy bills and give you a load of other varied benefits. For the optimal heat maintenance, consider insulating more than just the walls of your house. The attic, crawl space and basement of your house will benefit you more if they were insulated and checked.
It's known that the such spaces especially contain foundational vents and gaps that let the wiring and the pipes and ducts in. If these are not sealed accordingly, they could lead to air leaks and insulation problems. These spaces can let in unconditioned air from the outside leading to health problems and problematic house heating. You need your rooms to stay cooler and have lesser of health problems, don't you?
So what are the benefits of the insulation?
· More Comfort
This is the major reason that you should be thinking of insulating your house's crawl space, if you have not yet done so. Insulating your house ensures comfortable internal temperatures both in the summer and winter seasons. If you are preserving things in your crawl space, having a space vapor barrier installed and enforcing it with the space encapsulation might make the temperature standard.
· It Also Saves Energy
A house with correctly installed space insulation, space vapor barrier and similar encapsulation keeps the inside air separate from the outside air. This can save you from costly energy bills at the end of the month. Un-insulated crawl spaces can become increasingly drafty and let large amounts of outside air inside the house. Un-insulated spaces also allow the air inside the house to escape out. This can lead to high costs of constantly trying to standardize the air in your house.
· Moisture Control
When coupled with space vapor barrier, crawl space insulation controls the moisture level in your crawl space. This improves the effectiveness of air sealing and leads to general energy efficiency. Uncontrolled moisture levels in the crawl space leads to the growth of mold and the peeling of paint from the inside walls of your house. This can make you waste money on unforeseeable repair and maintenance costs.
Choosing the Right Insulation Service Providers
By having the right space insulation installed in your house you stand to reap a lot of benefits. It is however recommended that you use space insulation experts to get the best services.
The best space insulation companies will do a thorough inspection of your house to identify all the spaces that need insulation. They may also recommend that you add space encapsulation and space vapor barrier for the most optimal results. After all, you do need a home where you can live in comfort.
Give yourself the home that you will love always!
Though process may sound expensive and unattainable, it is important to keep the benefits that you stand to reap from the crawl space insulation in mind. You should also let the contractor know of your budget allocations well ahead of time. And don't forget to appreciate the great house that you will have after all is done!
Crawl Space Masters Specializes In Crawl Space Encapsulation in Oak Ridge TN.