Your crawl space is the foundation of your home. Water in your crawl space will weaken the foundation and cause wood beams to rot. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the hardest places in your home to clean up water damage. It’s often a cramped and confined, which makes removing water more difficult. Mold or sewage can make it even less pleasant. We look at how to remove water in a crawl space, plus prevent mold and odors from developing over time.
How to Remove Water In A Crawl Space
Getting rid of water in your crawl space takes the right equipment and a little know-how. If there is only an inch or two of water, you can clean it up on your own. For more water or if the water sat for days or weeks, hiring a water damage restoration company is a safer option.
- Stop The Flow Of Water – If a broken pipe or other plumbing issue is that cause, you need to stop the flow of water before beginning cleanup. In most cases, turning off the water shutoff valve will fix the issue. However, some situations will require repairs as well. If the water is caused by nature, like storm flooding, there is nothing you can do. Skip immediately to step 2.
- Pump or Vacuum Out The Water – Next, remove as much water as possible. Use a submersible pump when possible. Alternatively, use a wet-dry shop-style vacuum. Avoid pouring the water down a drain or into the sewers, as it can cause a sewage backup or re-enter your home. Instead, pour the water away from your home.
- Dry Out the Area – After removing the water, dry the area with high-volume fans and dehumidifiers. Use as many fans as possible to speed drying. Adjust them every few hours for the fastest drying time. This prevents permanent damage to wood beams or the foundation. It also limits the risk of mold.
- Access The Damage – Water can weaken the structure of your home. Check for rotting wood, damaged brick and other issues. Since the crawl space is the foundation of your home, leaving damage unrepair could cause a collapse. Always hire a restoration contractor for structural work.
- Disinfect And Deodorize – Always disinfect and deodorize after water damage in your crawl space, even if the water did not contain sewage. Due to the confined space, it’s easy for mold and musty odors to develop over time. They can even enter your home through the floor.
How Water In Your Crawl Space Causes Problems
From foundation walls to floor beams, your crawl space holds up your home. Once wet, wood can swell, warp or rot. Although unlikely, water damage could cause your home to collapse.
More likely, it will cause your foundation to shift slightly. The risk here is that it could break water or electrical supply lines. This could result in more water damage or even a fire.
Water will also cause mold and odors. The mold will slowly eat away at support beams, but may also spread inside your home. Odors from stagnant water usually start out musty, but can eventually smell like sewage or decaying matter.
How to Inspect For What Caused The Problem
There are four categories of water in your crawl space. You can usually locate the cause of your problem with an inspection.
- Water Leaks – This is any type of leak from a water supply line or drain inside your home.
- Sewage Backups – A backup is the result of a clog in your main sewer line. Sometimes municipal sewers back up as well.
- Groundwater Flooding – Flooding from rain and snowmelt is common when there are cracks or gaps in your foundation.
- Humidity – Although this may sound weird, humidity is a common problem in dirty floor crawl spaces and in areas where there is already high humidity levels.
When inspection for the cause of your problem, were heavy work clothes, rubber gloves, and safety glasses. You’ll also need a wrench, slotted and Philips head screwdrivers, and a flashlight. When crawling around in the crawl space, you can use a heavy canvas tarp to protect you from dirt and debris as well.
Check Inside Your Home
Start by checking inside your home for leaks. Open under-sink cabinets to see if they are wet. Look around toilets and supply line connections. Check all waterline connections to ensure they are right. In addition to bathrooms and kitchens, check your laundry room and utility room as well.
Look Outside Your Home
Then walk the perimeter of your home and look for flooding. Check if the ground is damp or soggy, taking into account recent rainfall or snowmelt. Look for dripping garden faucets or hose connections. Make sure the ground slopes away from your foundation as well, as this can allow water to pool around your home. Clear gutters to ensure water drains away properly.
Survey Your Crawl Space
Use your flashlight to inspect your crawl space from outside first. Look for sewage, standing water, animals, and other hazards. Once you’re sure it looks safe, go inside to look for damage. Check the walls for cracks or gaps that allow flooding. Look at the beams for rot, mold, and condensation, as this is a sign of humidity and water.
Removing Water From a Crawl Space With a Dirt Floor
Most modern crawl spaces will have a concrete floor that was poured during construction. However, dirt floors are common in older homes or as a way to keep construction costs low. Crawl spaces with dirt floors are more prone to water issues since water can seep through the ground at any time.
Removing water from a crawl space with a dirt floor poses an additional challenge because of all that dirt. Not only can it clog pumps and wet-dry vacuums, but it also retains water. Place the hose near the surface of the water to limit the amount of dirt you suck up. This is more labor-intensive but helps prevent clogs.
If sewage backed up into your crawl space, you will also need to remove and replace the dirt. While this may seem unnecessary, the soil may continue to harbor mold, bacteria, and parasites. As the water levels rise during rainy weather, this can lead to mold or health problems.
Help Removing Water In Your Crawl Space
If you need help removing water in your crawl space, let Restoration Local help. We’re the largest network of restoration companies with listings for independent contractors and popular brands like Paul Davis Restoration and Steamatic. Find a local water damage restoration company now or call 1-888-443-3110 to talk with our on-call contractor in your area. Our on-call restoration companies offer 24-hour emergency services, 30-minute response time, and a free estimate.