BILLS BASEMENT BLOG - Dealing with Crawl Spaces
Friday, May 18th, 2012 by Bill Heady
Here at Midwest Basement Systems we deal with a lot of crawlspaces, some much worse than others. And some that are just nasty. What happens in the crawlspace definitely has a huge effect on the living conditions on the upper floors.
I like to think of a crawlspace as a really short basement, in a way thats exactly what it is. And thats how it needs to be treated. Most utilities run through the crawlspace (drainlines, waterlines, ect), most crawlspaces contain the heating and cooling ductwork, and we've even seen furnaces that are installed in the crawlspace.
Because crawlspaces are often difficult to get into, most of the time dirty and nasty and just all around unpleasent to have to deal with, they seldom get the attention they deserve. Plumbing leaks often go unnoticed (read; unrepaired), flooding goes unnoticed, even the occasional deceased rodent (we see this more often then you might think).
The best way to deal with a crawlspace is to completely encapselate and seal it from the ground below. Again, think of it as a short basement. A basement has a concrete floor, not just exposed dirt. A basement has windows, not just open vent holes allowing the outside temperature and humidity to move in and out as it pleases. A basement has HVAC equiptment to control the climate inside the house.
Obviously, it just isn't practical to pour a concrete floor in a crawlspace. Nor would it make sense to install windows. But the space does need to be sealed off from the dirt and the outside air. Crawlspace encapselation is the only way to achieve this.
I know some of you are saying "but you have to have vents in a crawlspace". This is conventional thinking that building science has been proven to be wrong. You will never be able to control the climate and humidity inside if you continue to allow the outside in. Those of you with kids who like to leave the front door open in the winter, know what I'm talking about. No matter how hard you try or how much you pay the power company, you just can't heat the front yard in January. In fact most who say that vents are nessecary don't actually have a convincing reason, other than thats the ways it's always been done.
A crawlspace MUST be treated as part of the house. It's a space that needs to be controlled just like any other part of your house.