Is Your Crawl Space Ready for Winter?

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Winter brings a time of celebrating the holidays, taking sleigh rides through the snow, and cuddling up in front of the fireplace. While snow is a rejoiced winter staple, it can spell major issues for homeowners with unvented crawl spaces.

Your crawl space is an important part of your home and when exposed to wet wintry conditions, can result in chiller indoor temperatures and sky-high electricity bills.

Don’t let a poor crawl space put a damper on your holiday spirit. Keep reading to find out how you can get your crawl space ready for winter.

What is a Crawl Space? 

A crawl space is a small opening underneath the home. It’s usually one to three feet high, hence the name. A crawl space is similar to a basement but it is exposed to outside air and the elements. 

Homes have a crawl space for two reasons: cost-effectiveness and convenience. 

To explain, crawl spaces are built on homes that do not have a basement or not build on a slab— this type of construction is less expensive. 

Crawl spaces are also convenient. Why? It provides an area to install HVAC and piping, and it provides sewer distribution throughout the house. Crawl spaces make home repairs easier.

Although crawl spaces offer convenience, they can pose issues if not properly taken care of. See, crawl spaces are prone to high levels of moisture and humidity — this is due in part to the crawl space’s exposure to wet weather conditions. 

During wet winter months, water easily enters this space. If the crawl space isn’t properly sealed or ventilated, excess moisture sets in and does serious damage.

With high levels of moisture, crawl spaces can cause the following problems:

  • Mold and mildew
  • Wood rot and structural damage
  • Decreased insulation
  • Increased heating and cooling costs
  • Musty odors
  • Insect infestations
  • Poor indoor air quality 

These are only a few risks that come with a poorly maintained crawl space. 

Why Do You Need to Winterize Your Crawl Space?

Like previously mentioned, excessive moisture can cause some problems with your home’s structural integrity. However, why is it crucial to seal your crawl space before winter? 

Damaged Insulation

Insulation is a material used to fill small gaps and places in your home — like a crawl space. The purpose of insulation is to reduce heat loss or gain. In other words, it’s what keeps your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. For insulation to do its job, it needs to remain dry and moisture-free — this is impossible if you have an uncovered or humid crawl space. 

Once water and moisture get into the crawl space, it eats away at the insulation. Poor insulation means a chillier home in the winter and freezing cold floors. 

This also means that homeowners will have to turn their furnaces all the way up which drives heating bills through the roof. 

Poor Air Quality

Unsealed crawl spaces could even make your family sick. How? When moisture from outside comes through the vents and mingles with the heat from the furnace it produces humid air. Humid air is the perfect breeding area for mold.  

This moldy air seeps into homes whenever homeowners turn on the furnace. Exposure to airborne mold spores could be problematic for young children, the elderly, and those with a compromised immune system. 

Pests Thrive in Warm Moist Environments

Just like you, bugs want a warm place to hide away from the blistering cold — your crawl space is the perfect spot. Insects like roaches, spiders, and termites all make a home in your unvented crawl space.

If you don’t want a few crawling critters joining you for Christmas dinner, it’s best to cover your crawl space ASAP! 

How to Winterize Your Crawl Space

If you’re wondering how you can make your crawl space safe for the winter, wonder no more. Here are a few simple ways to winterize your crawl space.

Get a Vapor Barrier

Crawl space vapor barriers prevent ground moisture evaporation from entering the space. It is made to restrict airflow. The less airflow means less moisture enters the crawl space. Also, this barrier helps keeps living areas and floors warm in the winter.

An added bonus to crawl space vapor barriers is that they reduce the risk gases like radon in the home

Seal Vents

Another way to winterize your crawl space is to seal the vents. This process is also known as crawl space encapsulation. During this process, professional inspectors will seal vents using a foam spray and attach a foam board to the crawlspace door. Also, walls and floors are lined with thermal sheets — to keep outdoor air from seeping in. 

Get a Dehumidifier

For an added level of protection against moisture, you can also install a dehumidifier. A dehumidifier keeps relative humidity levels at 50 to 60 percent. Another awesome thing about dehumidifiers for crawls spaces is that they’re energy-efficient.

Triple Check Waterproofing and Sump Pumps

It’s essential that you repair any waterproofing issues before winter’s first snowfall. Also, if you have a sump pump, take the time to ensure that it’s working properly. Sump pumps and waterproofing should be checked at least once a year.

Repair Rain Gutters and Downspouts

Another reason for crawl space moisture during the winter is the lack of or improper installation of rain gutters. As snow accumulates and melts, it’s important to make sure unwanted water isn’t entering the crawl space. Contact a professional to inspect your rain gutters and assess their effectiveness.

Does Your Crawl Space Need a Little Love?

The benefits of winterizing your crawl space are obvious. You stay warmer in the winter, save money on electricity bills, and keep your family healthy. 

If you’re unsure of the condition of your crawl space, don’t hesitate to seek help from a professional. Don’t be caught off guard, protect your crawl space as soon as possible. 

Our inspectors are trained to secure your crawl space from wet winter conditions. In the Baltimore, MD or Arlington, VA area? Contact us today!