Crawl spaces offer homeowners easy access to their houses’ inner workings — such as piping and HVAC systems — to make repairs easy. Despite their functionality, though, crawl spaces are often prone to water issues. It can be scary to find moisture in yours, especially if it doesn’t seem to be draining or appears to have been there for a while.
A wet crawl space can cause costly water damages that affect every floor should mold develop. This guide will walk you through all the information you need to know about the causes of water in your crawl space and what to do about it.
Normal vs. Harmful Amounts of Water in a Crawl Space
Finding water in the crawl space is relatively common. You might find a little in a dirt-floor crawl space after a hard rain or storm, for example, but that’s what the space is designed to do. Large pools of standing water should be cause for concern, however. These waters encourage large overgrowths of molds and other microorganisms that will damage your home and lower its value.
Signs of unnatural amounts of water in your crawl spaces include:
- More than an inch or two that lasts for more than a day
- Water that emits a strong odor of mold and mildew
- Changes in watercolor from clear to greenish or yellowish color
- Water that has a thick viscosity
Understanding the reasons standing water might wind up in a crawl space is the first step toward remediating such problems and avoiding costly — in terms of money and health — issues in the future. Let’s take a look at some of the most common causes of water in crawl spaces that contractors or inspectors identify.
8 Causes of Water in a Crawl Space
The best way to fix water damage in your crawl spaces is to take preventive measures. Here are several ways water can get into your home, plus how you can stop it from causing problems in the short- and long-term.
- Poor grading
Proper grading is vital in protecting your property from leakage. You must ensure there is adequately sloped grading all around your home’s foundation and crawl space, thereby guaranteeing no water is pooling around or entering your home.
You want to achieve a slope of 6 to 8 inches away from the foundation walls, and make it part of your routine to check your grade annually once the ground thaws. You will then be able to do some fixing if the winter washed away or caused any shifts in the structure.
- Downspouts and gutter issues
Dirty or clogged gutters and malfunctioning downspouts are leading causes of crawl space leaks. Routinely ensure your gutters are cleaned to eliminate leaves and debris that cause clogging. Your downspouts should be pointed as far away from your foundation as possible, and should feature a two-foot splash block at the bottom to redirect waterways.
Problems with downspouts require expert assessment, plus development of ideal ways to redirect water away from your home. Buildings that lack downspouts and those with downspouts facing them are prone to issues with standing water.
- Subterranean water issues
Subterranean water problems in your crawl space are caused by underground water sources. The most common is broken city lines. If you are sure this is the cause of water in your crawl space, call the municipality to come onsite and fix any leaking line on their end. Although you are not the cause of the leakages, you will still have to pay for the damages the water caused to your home.
- Problems with foundation walls
Foundation walls can create a dam that causes the water to seep underground. If the water finds an opening — even a tiny crack — it will eventually rest in your crawl space and may erode that entry point to make it worse over time.
- Underground drainage issues
Improperly designed underground drains can be damaged, plugged, or have insufficient slopes. Water leaks will develop with time, and water will slowly find its way into your crawl space.
- Small drainage system capacity
A rainstorm can create too much water for a drainage system to handle. This will result in the formation of large pools of water that will eventually seep deep into the soil — and then into your basement and crawlspace.
- Overwatering flower beds
The presence of water in your crawl space could result from your own direct actions. If you leave a hose running for too long near the side of your foundation, for example, water can pool and slip through your basement and crawl space.
You can quickly resolve this by turning off the water or replacing the sprinkler. If the water that collects has caused erosion, fill in the area using compact soil and ensure you create a slope that enables liquid to divert away from the foundation.
- A broken pipe
A water pipe that has developed leaks or has burst will let water flow where it shouldn’t, including into your crawl space. To prevent such scenarios, have an expert plumber inspect the whole piping system and fix any leaks.
One of the best ways to keep your home safe is to undertake a routine visual inventory of it and identify obvious wet spots and their sources. The quicker you know there’s a problem, the less chances that standing water will have to wreak long-term havoc. To avoid problems in the future, consider crawl space encapsulation.
Why It’s Important to Fix Standing Water Quickly
The truth is that there are several risks associated with standing water, beyond just the unsightly puddle. Many can even have impacts on your family’s health and well-being, so it’s important to keep an eye out for things such as:
- Mold/mildew growth
Water vapor and humidity levels promote the growth of mold, mildew, and other microorganisms.
- Structural damage
Water that enters into your home can cause significant and costly issues to the structural integrity of your house, including warped supports and joists, erosion of and cracking in the foundation, and more.
- Insect infestation
Crawl spaces with excess moisture are ideal shelters for insects like carpenter ants and wildlife that thrives in damp environments.
- Health problems
The elderly, children, and individuals with existing respiratory sensitivities are at higher risk when exposed to the black mold, mildew, fungus, and microorganisms growing in your dump crawl space. Damp ones are also causes of chronic allergies, colds, flus, sore throats, sneezing, and skin irritations.
Notice Water in Your Crawl Space?
Your home’s crawl space comprises several vital parts of its foundation, and a compromised one endangers both your property’s structural integrity as well as your family’s health. A damp, cold crawl space is also a cause of the high cost of energy bills.
If you are a homeowner with crawl space water issues, have a qualified expert come out to assess the problems as soon as possible. Contact LUX Foundation Solutions today to speak with an expert about any water in crawl space questions you might have.