Out of sight, out of mind as the adage goes. How many of us spend quality time in our crawl spaces. That's a huge no from me. Creepy crawlies live in the dark recesses of the crawl. Nope. Nope. And, nope!
However, you should have someone like Mejaro Inspection Services (if it's not going to be you), check the nether regions of your home for water intrusion. Why should you worry about water in the crawl? After all, you don't spend any time down there. Read on for the top 3 reasons you need to be aware of any moisture in the crawl space, and how water is getting into the seemingly impenetrable area.
Numero Uno - Mold
If you live in Indiana, or anywhere it rains and stays damp for a prolonged period of the year, you will encounter mold. No matter what you attempt to do to prevent this invasive fungus, it can be a pain to get rid of.
Mold thrives on moisture and loves to gobble up organic materials. And, what exactly makes up a home? You got it, organic materials. Wood, paper, dead insects. Blech.
Once it's growing under the house, it makes its way into the living area above. You don't want to breathe in the mold because it can lead to asthma and other respiratory issues. Potential buyers don't want to purchase a house with possible mold for the same reason.
Numero Dos - Structural Integrity
Remember those days of old when we had water balloon fights? And, do you remember filling the balloon too full of water while your little brother was holding the balloon? What happened? Yup. It popped! When the ground around the house becomes too saturated, it puts pressure on the foundation. Now, it's probably unlikely the foundation will pop like an overfull water balloon, but it will begin to bow and crack. If not addressed promptly, this could lead to costly foundation repairs.
Standing water in the crawl space makes the ground beneath the footings weak causing the foundation to settle. A while back, some builders believed it was smart to insulate the crawl space. If you are one of the unlucky winners of an insulated crawlspace, you could be looking at moisture seepage into your house. The water crawls up the fiberglass insulation right into the floorboards, on up to the walls. Talk about creepy crawlies!
Numero Tres - High Energy Bills
Moist air requires more energy to heat and cool, increasing your monthly bill. If this doesn't worry you, I'm not sure what will.
How did that water get into the crawl space in the first place? Negative landscape grading or overflowing gutters allow water to pool around the foundation, eventually making its way into the crawl space. Significant plumbing leaks can lead to water intrusion in the crawl as well.
How do you keep a cool, dry cave-like crawl? Make sure the landscaping is graded at a slope of about 5 inches, 5 feet out. Yeah, that makes my head hurt, too. (This is why I write and am not in the calculations biz.) Basically, the ground at the base of the house should be 5 inches higher than the ground 5 feet away from the house. This will give water a path away from the house and you a path away from exorbitant repair bills.
Adding a sump pump, or making sure the one already there is working properly, will save you moolah. If your current pump is not working, have it serviced/replaced by a reputable plumbing company.
Clean out gutters and downspouts to prevent a Niagra Falls-like situation. Adding an
to the gutter will direct water away from the foundation.
Check for plumbing leaks on the reg. Small leaks can lead to larger leaks, resulting in major repairs.
Sealing your crawlspace prevents groundwater from seeping into the crawl space, isolates the house from the earth, and keeps outside air leaks from entering. Make sure the vapor barrier is thick, at least 20 mils, to prevent tearing or punctures. This is not something you may wish to pursue on your own, so contact a trusted company to encapsulate the underside of your home.
Note: This blog is written by me, Megan, I am not a home inspector, but I live with one. All opinions about crawl spaces are solely my opinions. Our inspectors do not harbor the same phobias as I when it comes to the body-filled crawl spaces in homes. Yes, I listen to too many Crime Junkie podcasts.