5 Ways to Know if Your Crawl Space Needs a Vapor Barrier

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    Crawl spaces are usually utility zones that few ever enter unless there’s work to do. Sometimes homeowners never see theirs at all, with only workers accessing it to handle issues such as plumbing or wiring. This means crawl spaces are often out of sight until water issues have gone too far – a fact that makes crawl space conditioning a prudent move.

    Crawl space conditioning prevents outside air from becoming an indoor problem by covering the ground of a crawl space and adjusting HVAC systems to boost the dehumidifying benefits. Moisture will then find it much harder to accumulate, which dramatically reduces the possibility of several water-related issues.

    Your crawl space may be at the bottom of your home and list of priorities, but it’s essential to understand how important that space is to the overall air quality – and sometimes the structural integrity – of your entire property. This guide will explain the benefits of adding a crawl space vapor barrier and point out the danger signs that you may need one today.

    What Are The Benefits of a Crawl Space Vapor Barrier?

    Moisture can enter a property in ways many homeowners don’t expect. The experts know this and can make crawl space encapsulation a swift and painless process while sharing important knowledge on how vulnerable any home can be. Get smarter and safer by understanding the following:

    1. Homes Are Porous by Nature

    Securely closed doors and windows aren’t enough to prevent moisture from entering your property when the home itself is built with porous materials such as concrete, wood, and insulation. Your air conditioning unit will also be drawing air from your crawl space and distributing it – and any excess moisture it contains – around the home.

    2. Experts Make Adding a Barrier a Breeze

    The addition of a crawl space vapor barrier is a low-impact job if done soon enough. Pros will clear the area, measure the space, and decide which barrier thickness will work best. They will also provide homeowners with further insight into maintaining the crawl space and general foundation.

    3. Controlling Water Controls Fire

    A dry crawl space protects any electrical components within it or nearby. Humidity negatively affects electrical switches and wires and can cause electrical shorts or power surges, both of which are fire hazards. Vapor can also rust and erode switches and cables, leaving them dangerously exposed.

    Appreciating that every home’s crawl space could benefit significantly from a vapor barrier is the first step toward protective action. The next is when homeowners exercise their power to be proactive by paying close attention to the often-overlooked signs that their crawl space is becoming a liability.

    a view of someones crawl space under their house

    5 Signs Your Crawl Space Could Benefit From a Vapor Barrier

    The “out of sight, out of mind” risk that crawl spaces run means problems may be growing right under your feet. There are ways to spot crawl space issues that don’t require wriggling into tight spots. Homeowners should be looking, listening, and even smelling around the property for potential signs of trouble.

    1. Rising Utility Bills

    Homeowners always notice a spike in their energy expenses, but it not always obvious to link it to a water-impacted crawl space. An overly moist crawl space will result in rising humidity on your property, which your air conditioning and cooling systems will have to work overtime to compensate for. Be alert for spikes in your home’s temperature when there’s no external reason for that extra warmth.

    2. Musty or Moldy Aromas You Can’t Place

    Excess water – even in the minuscule form of vapor droplets – can quickly lead to mildew and mold in your crawl space. Add to this the rising humidity interacting with the dampness or water in your crawl space, and it’s a recipe for stale, musty smells drifting up from the basement and into your home. Bad smells can have several causes, so homeowners should learn how to tackle this issue.

    3. Insects and Mice Have Moved In

    Damp and humid conditions are favored by pests such as termites that can wreak havoc on a home’s foundation. Rodents are also attracted to moisture or water in the crawl space, especially if it’s dark, has loose materials cladding, or is used to store food. (Mouse-proofing a crawl space is a huge plus.) 

    4. Visible Standing Water and Other Signs of Harm

    Water in the crawl space means a vapor barrier is sorely needed. Water rusts metal and rots wood when given enough time, making it essential to look at beams, joints, and hardware such as HVAC units and fuse boxes that may be in or near a crawl space. Homeowners may also notice wallpaper or paint peeling from walls or an increase in allergy-like symptoms.

    5. Elevated Radon Levels

    Radon is a radioactive gas caused by the decay of uranium deposits in soil. It is odorless, invisible, and enters crawl spaces by rising from the earth as a natural process. Adding a crawl space vapor barrier helps prevent the intrusion of radon into the crawl space and thus into the property above it.

    A quality crawl space barrier can last up to 10 years before needing to be replaced. This means homeowners have two choices: a potentially decade-long period of peace of mind or the possibility of increased risk to people, property, and possessions.

    What Are Some Common Dangers of an Unconditioned Crawl Space?

    Water is a threat to property and everything in it. This threat is real, no matter where water takes hold, but it’s hazardous when the water is in the crawl space. What goes on at the lower levels decides the health, well-being, and safety of the residents above.

    • Mold and mildew do more than look or smell bad. They can be serious health hazards and must be removed and prevented.
    • Crawl spaces are often used as extra storage space by homeowners. This isn’t a bad idea so long as a vapor barrier is in place. Without one, it’s an invitation to rodents and other pests, plus even more items for vapor to latch onto and destroy.
    • Radon levels in exterior environments where they can disperse more effectively are usually harmless, but this gas gets trapped inside homes. Even small amounts of radon in indoor air are known to cause cancer.
    • A crawl space can be ground zero for issues that can threaten the entire foundation if left unattended and unprotected.

    One call to qualified foundation maintenance and repair services can reduce or eliminate all of the above from your list of household concerns. Deciding to install a crawl space vapor barrier comes with the extra benefits of the professionals taking a close look at your property’s lower levels and spotting any other potential hazards that may be forming.

    Contact the Experts With Any Questions

    Your crawl space should contribute to the health and safety of your home and not be a potential disaster waiting to happen. The LUX Foundation Solutions team helps homeowners be proactive against the harmful effects of water vapor by providing first-class crawl space encapsulation and many other property-protecting solutions. 

    Our honest and reputable staff uses the latest techniques and technologies to deliver the highest quality construction work. Contact Lux Foundation Solutions today for a free estimate and speak to an expert if you have questions about crawl space vapor barriers.