What Is Crawl Space Encapsulation and Do You Need It?

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If your house is built over a crawl space, you probably prefer not to think about what’s going on down there. Crawl spaces tend to be dank, dirty spaces with lots of creepy crawlies and pests. But what if we told you there’s a way you can not only make your crawl space a clean, dry area, but also improve your home’s air quality in the process?

Crawl space encapsulation can help you eliminate moisture, pests, mold, and mildew from underneath your home. Read on to learn more about how this works and why you need it.

What Is Crawl Space Encapsulation?

If your house is built over a crawl space, it may be affecting your home more than you realize. As much as 50 percent of the air in your home can come from your crawl space. So if that crawl space is filled with black mold spores and mildew, your family’s health could be at risk.

Crawl space encapsulation keeps moisture out of that space under your house and improves the air down there. This usually involves covering the area in plastic that’s sealed at all seams and installing a dehumidifier in the crawl space to keep moisture levels low.

How It Works

The first step in encapsulating your crawl space is cleaning the area out. This may involve some pest removal, depending on your situation, or it may mean sweeping the space out and removing any debris that may be lurking down there. Then you attach the moisture barrier as evenly as possible to the floor joists and foundation walls using a double-sided seal tape.

Once the moisture barrier is in place and fully sealed, you’ll need to install a dehumidifier to remove any moisture that does seep in. You can buy designated crawl space dehumidifiers that are designed to stand up to rugged, humid conditions. You may also want to get a remote humidity monitor that will allow you to keep track of conditions in your crawl space without you having to crawl under the house.

Benefits of Creating a Vapor Barrier

As we mentioned, one of the primary benefits of crawl space encapsulation is that you can improve the air quality in your home. Mold and mildew can pose serious health hazards. Just as you wouldn’t allow a leaky sink to continue running in your home, you shouldn’t allow moisture to build up in your crawl space.

Vapor barriers can also help deter insects, rodents, and other pests that might try to make your crawl space their home. Having an encapsulated crawl space makes that environment much less hospitable for wood-destroying creatures, which can save your home from damage.

Sealing vs. Full Encapsulation

You may hear the terms “crawl space encapsulation” and “crawl space sealing” used interchangeably. But there is a difference between the two; crawl space sealing is not as thorough as encapsulation. It involves only lining the floor and eight inches of the foundation walls of your crawl space, which can leave a large vulnerable area at the top of your crawl space.

Crawl space encapsulation lines the entire inside of your crawl space, completely, as the name suggests, encapsulating it. Some companies may even add insulation to walls and access doors to make sure your space uses energy as efficiently as possible. This can help make your home more comfortable since it eliminates heat loss through your crawl space.

Who Should Encapsulate

It’s not a bad idea for anyone whose home has a crawl space to encapsulate it. The pest prevention alone makes it worth it, and the increased energy efficiency will pay for the cost of the installation over a few years.

But crawl space encapsulations are especially important for people who live in humid areas near large bodies of water or at sea level. The earth around your home may naturally contain more moisture, and more air humidity will make it easier for mold and mildew to grow in dark, contained places like a crawl space.

If you’ve noticed signs of mold or mildew in your home, or if you have someone with sensitive allergies living in the house, it’s crucial that you get your crawl space encapsulated. Protecting your family’s health is more than worth the price. 

Can You DIY?

You may be wondering if crawl space encapsulation is as simple as just taping some plastic to the walls, can you do it yourself? You certainly can DIY a crawl space encapsulation, but it’s not something we’d recommend. The job isn’t a fun one, and it’s worth paying the professionals to handle it.

DIYing a crawl space encapsulation means crawling around under your house for a few days, pulling out all the debris and cleaning up the area. Then you have to figure out how to lay down plastic in the areas you’re crawling on top of. And crawl space dehumidifiers will likely require a pump and/or drain line, which means plumbing work you may not want to handle on your own.

Things to Consider 

Before you encapsulate your crawl space, there are a few things you’ll need to take into account. If you have any standing water issues in your crawl space, you’ll need to get those resolved first. Dehumidifiers and plastic can only do so much.

You should also talk to your pest control company before you encapsulate. Some companies require a certain level of access to crawl spaces that encapsulation may prevent. Call and ask what their policy is if you aren’t sure.

Get Your Crawl Space Encapsulated 

Crawl space encapsulation can be a great way to improve air quality in your home, improve your energy efficiency, and prevent damage to your home.

The layer of plastic and a dehumidifier can help prevent moisture from building up in the enclosed space and keep mold and mildew from growing. It can also deter insects that might do damage to your home’s structure, making it more than worth the cost.

If you’d like to get your crawl space encapsulated, check out the rest of our site at Armored Basement Waterproofing. Not only can we help you with your crawl space encapsulation, we can also do basement waterproofing and foundation crack repair. Contact us today to get started making your home’s foundation sturdier.