Crawl spaces, also called cellar, crawl spaces, lofts, vaults or cellars, are the space below grade structures designed for storage. Crawl spaces may be part of a building or may just consist of underground galleries that are used for storage purposes. Wet crawl spaces are prone to water damage and must be sealed off from the earth and surrounding soil to protect from structural damage and moisture damage. Moisture can cause mold and mildew growth, damages to the interior wood framing of the building, and cause structural weakening of the building.
Crawl space foundation repair is quite common in eastern Tennessee because wet crawl spaces can cause termite and mold damage to the wood framing of the house. The foundation of the home’s main structure is usually built first then the walls and roof. The soil surrounding the foundation keeps the house standing while the building rests on it. When there are structural issues in one area of the home, such as a wet basement, the other areas will also begin to deteriorate. Wet crawl spaces under homes in eastern Tennessee often have clay soil making it difficult to seal them and make them mold proof. Many homeowners in eastern Tennessee are seeking services for proper crawlspace insulation, foundation repair and other associated structural issues through commercial building owners associations (COAs), in ground oil and gas companies, and through local builders.
Most commercial building owners associations offer a program that offers both in ground oil and gas leases, and commercial waterproofing in case of foundation damage. In addition, most such organizations offer a division dedicated to waterproofing. In many cases, the division is made up of certified waterproofers who perform on site inspections. They also provide a wide variety of services such as waterproofing for foundations, pier foundations, slab foundations, concrete foundations, slab repairs, concrete slab repairs, and more. Some of these service providers may also be licensed or even come licensed through the state to provide additional services.
In line with offering energy efficient building and better foundation repair and maintenance, many owners’ associations are also promoting energy efficient remodels and construction. By remodeling and building homes with materials that are more efficient, the energy costs can be reduced. In some cases this can translate to saving homeowners thousands of dollars on their annual heating and cooling bills.
In some crawl spaces, additional ventilation is needed to ensure that moisture does not collect and build up. It is not uncommon to see walls that have cracks or openings in the crawl-space walls and ceilings. This moisture can collect and trap heat or cool air causing both to rise up into the living space and deplete the existing insulation. Some solutions are installing proper vents at the foundation’s foundation, along with installing efficient windows and doors that allow the fresh air to ventilate the crawl spaces.
A major area of concern when it comes to crawl spaces is the foundation’s structural support system. Cracks, loosening supports, and other issues can all contribute to the potential for damage and failure. In fact, if proper attention isn’t given to the foundation’s integrity, there is a strong chance that the home will ultimately crumble. A qualified, licensed engineer should be utilized to determine the foundation’s health and recommend repair or replacement based on the situation.
It is important to understand that there are two different types of foundations that can be found in crawl spaces: concrete slab and steel slab. A concrete slab is comprised of a thick steel slab on top of the earth. These foundations are commonly made by poured directly onto the soil. The primary difference between a concrete slab and a steel slab is that a concrete slab doesn’t have a vapor barrier and must instead be constructed with an impervious membrane. Steel slab foundations are impervious to moisture and also include a vapor barrier.
If you have crawl spaces, you should take extra measures to ensure the structural integrity of your home. By consulting a qualified engineer and choosing the foundation that best suits your needs, you can prevent costly issues in the future. For more information on slab supports and more information on the foundation options that are available to you, contact a reputable engineer or contractor today. They can help you evaluate your current foundation and discuss the best options available.