Monday, January 31st, 2011 by Katherine
In the crawl space repair business, weâve been calling vented crawl spaces a âhousing epidemicâ for well over a decade. And this is by no means an exaggeration. The money that is lost in crawl spaces because of the vents and a bare concrete or dirt wall is enormous. Go ahead and do a quick self diagnosis of your crawl space right now.
Symptoms of a vented crawl space in need of your attention include any or all of the following:
â¢ Sagging or uneven floors where the crawl space and first floor meet.
â¢ High heating bills in the winter
â¢ High cooling bills in the summer
â¢ Infestations of pests, including termites, carpenter ants, and mice
â¢ Rotting crawl space wood
â¢ Symptoms of respiratory discomfort of the homeâs inhabitants, including coughing, runny noses, sore throats, skin and eye irritation, and other ailments that seem to go away once leaving the building for a few hours.
â¢ Crawl Space Mold
If you have a vented crawl space, you probably have at least some of these problems. If you donât have any problems yet, you most likely will within the next few years. Simply put: crawl space vents donât work. If they did, would crawlspaces be rotting all over the country?
The Making of a Moldy Crawl Space
It all starts with your vents. Hereâs the scoop: In damp, foggy, or rainy weather, youâre trying to dry your basement with wet air. In the winter, youâre letting cold air into your crawl space- where it not only washes through your crawl space but also comes in contact with furnaces, water heaters, hot water pipes, heating ducts, and other utilities. Cold air plus warm utilities? Whoâs paying for that?
The most insidious damage, however, comes in the summer. Hot air- even humid hot air- rises. (Did you know that wet air is actually lighter than dry air? This is why we have clouds and rain falls from the sky.) In a home, it rises upwards, leaving through the attic and upper levels. Guess where it enters from?
So vented crawl spaces pull humid summer air into the home and send it upwards, where the air conditioner has to work extra hard to cool it (humid air is more expensive to cool than dry air). And as hot, humid summer air flows into the earth-cooled subterranean crawlspace, its temperature drops. As air cools, its relative humidity rises by 2.2 degrees for every degree it cools. So if the air has 70% relative humidity, even a drop in temperature of 15 degrees is going to mean that condensation will form on everything in the crawlspace.
Condensation is the start of a lot of problems encountered in the crawl space. As it forms on wooden structures, the moisture encourages termites and carpenter ants (which are much smaller than the openings in crawl space vents) who thrive on wet wood. Damp moldy wood also introduces other pests and unwanted health hazards, including mold, dry rot, brown rot, mildew, beetles, crickets, silverfishâ¦
Good Medicine for Rotten Crawl Spaces
So what can you do? Seal those nasty crawl space vents. Install a moisture barrier on the walls- even if theyâre concrete- to keep moisture from seeping through and being trapped in the crawl space. Install a dehumidifier in the space to dry out the wet wood and to keep away any future humidity. The results? A healthier home, lower energy bills, and a crawl space that will not rot and need repairs again in a few years: a very âgreenâ way to lower the energy consumption of your house.
Are you ready for a better home? Call or e-mail Clean Crawl Space of California today for a free, no-obligation estimate on crawl space encapsulation and repair in your home. They have a great reputation in the local community and serve locally in areas like San Francisco, Oakland, Salinas in California.