When purchasing a home, it’s important to understand the purpose of your crawl space and how it can impact the health of your home. If you find yourself asking, “Should I ventilate my crawl space?” then keep reading! There are many benefits to ventilating your crawl space—doing so can save you lots of time, money, and distress.
What is a Crawl Space?
A crawl space is a small space under the first floor of your home; it’s usually only a few feet tall and is meant for accessing plumbing and wiring.
Potential Crawl Space Problems
Most crawl spaces are enclosed with concrete or block, but problems start to arise when the space also contains porous materials like wood and soil. The presence of these two elements creates a perfect opportunity for moisture to become trapped in the crawl space. This can lead to an infestation of fungi, molds, mildews, and pests because these nuisances thrive in moist conditions. Furthermore, insects like termites and carpenter ants can build colonies that cause additional wood damage.
Moisture buildup in a crawl space happens when one of the following with one of the following three situations occur: a plumbing leak, water seepage from the surround soil (usually after heavy rain), or condensation. Humidty condenses on cold surfaces, like ducts, and drips onto the crawl space floor. The dark, warm conditions make for a perfect habitat for mold and mildew to grow. These organisms 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!
How Do I Ventilate My Crawl Space?
Ventilating your crawl space can seem like a hefty task, but it’s worth it! There are a couple of ways you can go about ventilating your crawl space.
- Transfer a small supply of heated air from the HVAC system into the crawl space
- Use an exhaust fan to move air from the crawl space 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 a vapor barrier in order to control soil moisture.
Crawl Space Encapsulation
Even in dry climates, sealing a crawl space can lead to energy savings. If you have a bare crawl space and want to cut energy use, sealing your crawl space is a great place to start.
The most common vapor barrier material is polyethylene sheeting. The most popular crawl space vapor barrier is the reinforced polyethylene plastic sheeting because of its durability and extended service life and your best value.
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