A moisture barrier is used when installing floors or walls in areas prone to dampness or excess moisture, such as basements, ceilings, or crawl spaces. There is a reason why you should be concerned about ground moisture in your home. Ground moisture can lead to problems that can be costly to your wallet and your health. Things like mold are born from moisture in the ground. This is probably the most well-known reason why moisture is dangerous, but there are many other factors that play into this too. Discover the reasons why being concerned with ground moisture is important to keeping your home safe and what safeguards you can use to protect your property.
The Effects of Ground Moisture
Problems start to arise when the ground consists of porous materials like wood and soil. The presence of these two elements creates a perfect opportunity for moisture to become trapped in your infrastructure. This can lead to an infestation of fungi, molds, mildews, and pests. Termites and carpenter ants are known to build colonies that cause additional wood damage to infrastructure with excess moisture.
These nuisances can then spread throughout the entire home causing significant damage. Things like black mold not only affect your house, but also the health of those living inside!
Common Causes of Ground Moisture
Common problems can be caused by the following factors:
Incompetent Drainage Systems
A lack of proper drainage has the potential to leave some of the ground in your home constantly retaining moisture.
Heavy Rain and Snow
Excessive rain and/or snow can cause flooding that can moisten the ground in your crawlspace and damage your foundation.
Extended Dry Periods
During long dry periods in the weather, soil shrinks and contracts. This causes the foundation to become uneven and absorb moisture at a much faster rate once it has an opportunity to do so.
Earthquakes can expand existing cracks in the foundation. These cracks can lead to water leakage.
Faulty pipes can leak into the ground, which can transfer the ground moisture to your infrastructure.
Solutions for Ground Moisture
Ventilating your crawlspace can be an intense task to accomplish, but it will be all worth it in the end. There are a few ways you can ventilate your crawlspace.
- Transfer a small supply of heated air from the HVAC system into the crawlspace
- Use an exhaust fan to move air from the crawlspace to the outside
- Install an air intake or dehumidifier system
No matter which one of these methods you choose, you’re going to need to cover the floor with vapor retardant plastic sheeting in order to control ground moisture.
For those whose homes are vulnerable to humid climates, crawlspace encapsulation is a much better option. A sealed, or closed, crawl space is surrounded by a vapor barrier to block moisture.
Even in dry climates, sealing a crawlspace can lead to energy savings. If you have a bare crawlspace and want to cut energy use, sealing your crawlspace is a great way to achieve this.
The most common vapor barrier material is polyethylene sheeting. The most popular crawl space vapor barrier is the reinforced polyethylene plastic sheeting, due to its durability and extended service life, and best value.
A waterproofing system isn’t complete without proper drainage. From the ground surface to the foundation, drainage is essential to a dry crawl space and the overall performance of your waterproofing system.
At the ground surface level, you want to collect water from the roof in gutters and send it at least 10 feet away from the foundation wall and compact fill soils before placing footings or slabs on them. It’s also important to compact backfill next to footings and foundation walls.
Another approach to waterproofing is installing a sub-grade drainage system with a 6 mil plastic sheet, perforated drain pipe, and clean well-graded gravel. In addition installing drain boards like Delta Drain and Enka Drain create air space next to the concrete foundation to allow the water or condensation to trickle down to the foundation drains, and reduce intermittent hydrostatic pressure.
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