Thursday, May 18th, 2017 by Niles Erickson
A Crawlspace in Poor Condition
As home improvement professionals and foundation repair experts, we've seen a lot of crawlspaces over the years throughout New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts, and for the most part they all seem to have the same issues in common.
Overall, most crawlspaces are overlooked and neglected, often looking like this;
Add drooping fiberglass insulation to this scenario, and you've got a very uninviting space.
While the crawlspace tends to be a rarely used area, it's importance should not be overlooked. From improving energy efficiency to preventing mold and mildew, there are several important reasons to focus on a crawlspaces condition. Let's take a look at what steps should be taken in order to correctly encapsulate your crawlspace and why this is important for increasing its overall efficiency.
While insulating a crawlspace is always a good idea, it's important to make sure it is installed correctly. The two main purposes of insulation in the crawlspace are;
With that in mind, it's good practice to insulate the perimeter walls of your crawlspace with insulation foam boards. Also, make sure the access point into the space is kept air-tight and insulated. In some cases, insulation between the floor joists can help keep your floors warm as well, but is not always required. Keep in mind fiberglass insulation can collect water and allow for mold or mildew to grow, so if used make sure the crawlspace has humidity control. If there are air holes of any kind leading from the crawlspace up into the living space, these should also be plugged up to prevent any drafts. A well insulated crawlspace is an efficient crawlspace, and if done correctly will help any homeowner save money.
Correctly insulating your crawlspace is especially important in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, where the winters are cold and the summers can be hot and humid.
Erickson Foundation Supportworks offers a few insulation panel types for crawlspaces in NH and MA. SilverGlo Wall insulation boards are manufactured to resist heat conduction, which improves its overall R value. SilverGlo also boasts a radiant barrier, allowing it to reflect heat back into the crawlspace before it escapes, which means saving energy. There is also TerraBlock, which is a foam board for insulating the floor. TerraBlock provides a vapor barrier on both sides, and is ideal for crawlspaces with slabs or soil floors.
As mentioned, crawlspaces aren't exactly a regularly visited space. However, from time to time you will find you need to get in there for repairs or storage. Or perhaps a contractor needs to access your crawlspace to make some repairs or improvements. When it is time to enter the crawlspace, it's best to ensure the access point is easy to reach. You also want to make sure the crawlspace itself is clean, making it easy to maneuver around to reach any plumbing or electrical points.
As shown in the picture above, laying thin plastic down on the soil, or even a slab, is not very effective, and for several reasons. The plastic itself will be prone to tearing or ripping, as standard plastic wrap is only 6 mil. It also will not be effective as a vapor barrier, allowing moisture to access the crawlspace through either holes and tears or via the exposed seams and edges.
Erickson Foundation Supportworks offers a great alternative to a simple plastic covering, with the CleanSpace encapsulation system. Should the floor of the crawlspace first receive the TerraBlock floor insulation boards, there is CleanSpace Light. This Light version works in conjunction with TerraBlock and is 10 mil in thickness. The heavier liner, CleanSpace, is 20 mil, offers a 20 year warranty, and is puncture resistant. Both liner systems boast antimicrobial protection, and are ideal for blocking out unwanted moisture and mildew creating microbials. It's not just about creating a clean surface, but also about creating a vapor barrier.
Crawlspace Humidity Control
Once insulation and a crawlspace encapsulation system are in place, it's time to decide whether a dehumidifier system is also needed, because where there is humidity there is most likely mold and mildew. Keeping humidity down drastically reduces the chances for mold or mildew to grow. And what's not often considered by homeowners with crawlspaces, what's down below is really up above too. So if your crawlspace is full of mold or allergens, there is a good chance these particles are also reaching your breathable air in your home as well.
With this in mind, a dehumidifier is an ideal solution for homeowners with crawlspaces. An efficient system will keep humidity down while also not having to draw much energy, preventing the build up of mold and mildew while not requiring too much electricty to do so.
Erickson Foundation Supportworks has the solution with the SaniDry Air System. The SaniDry eliminates damp, musty odors in your crawlspace, by drying and filtering the air. The high performance dehumidifier is powerful and effective, requiring just 6.75 amps for draw. The system can also be controlled with an automatic sensor, which means the system will not be running around the clock, only switching on when the air needs to be refiltered. There are two models to choose from, and no space too big or too small for them to get the job done.
Lastly, if your crawlspace has sagging beams or failing posts and columns, check out the solution for these issues here.
Need to make some improvements to your crawlspace? Erickson Foundation Supportworks can help, starting with offering a free inspection and quote for homes in New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts. We'll provide a no pressure consultation with more information regarding our crawlspace encapsulation and dehumidifier products. Allow us to help you fix your crawlspace situation.