The cost to repair a wet crawl space can often be very minimal compared to the cost to fix poor quality, costly crawl space repairs. A wet crawl space exists during the hot part of the year. This is especially true for older homes with crawl spaces that have not been remodeled. Unfortunately, an unusually warm summer can make even an unvented crawl space worse than usual since the central air conditioning unit is having to work even harder and longer to keep the proper temperature levels that can also increase condensation within the crawl space.
It’s usually best to check the insulation levels before you do any actual digging. If there is no insulation in place then you will need to install it. There are two types of insulation to choose from. One type is rigid insulation and the other type is moisture vapor barrier or MVR. These two barriers will prevent heat loss or penetration from the ground into the home and also reduce humidity.
You should also check the sub-floor for damage. Most homes that have a crawl space are first built with sub-floor insulation. However, if your home was remodeled, you will most likely need to install MVR first. You can also use a vapor barrier on the walls, ceiling and floors to reduce humidity and electrical corrosion. It’s always best to seal all joints to prevent water penetration.
If the walls and the ceiling have no insulation, then you need to install a fiberglass batt. It’s important to note that fiberglass batt installation is more expensive than traditional lumber framing because it is not pre-bunded and must be installed by a professional. The good thing about fiberglass insulation is that it is extremely durable. The material is also fireproof and waterproof and won’t rot like other materials.
If your home has had water entry into the crawl space, you must also have a dehumidifier to control the moisture. There are two types of dehumidifiers available. An evaporative humidistat dehumidifies the air in a crawl space through evaporation. The conventional air dehumidifier sucks in the surrounding air and dumps the water into the dehumidifier tank. Most crawl spaces will have a ventilation system to move excess humidity outside of the home. For more severe cases, there are also industrial strength dehumidifiers that are used to eliminate high humidity in the crawl space.
Another way to control the humidity is with a sump pump. If your crawl space has no drainage, you should install a sump pump and place it in the hole. A sump pump removes water from the building and redistributes it throughout the home. You should consider installing a vapor barrier over the sump pump to protect any wood surfaces that could be damaged by excess moisture.
Now that you understand the basics of moisture control, you can fix problems with mildew growth and mold if you have existing conditions. To do this, you will need to purchase a dehumidifier and a sump pump or vapor barrier. Relative humidity meters are available for affordable prices. These meters will give you your relative humidity level in the area. Low levels indicate mold or mildew growth, while high levels indicate the absence of such growth.
You should install a dehumidifier that matches your crawl space floor plan. For example, if your crawl space floor plans include lots of wood panels, you would want a more heavy duty dehumidifier. Also, keep in mind that the dehumidifier must run at full power when the relative humidity reaches around 60% and it should shut down as soon as the relative humidity drops below 40%. By using these simple methods, you can easily control the moisture in your crawl space without making drastic improvements.