Protecting Your Crawlspace to Prevent Water Damage
Though often overlooked, the crawlspace is a very vulnerable area of your home. It’s exposed to the elements, and all of your water pipes run within it. Because crawlspaces aren’t generally seen, the overwhelming majority of them remain raw and exposed. This puts your home in jeopardy. It can be easy to take an “out of sight, out of mind” attitude when it comes to your crawlspace, but you’ll regret it later in the event that a disaster occurs.
It’s better to be safe than sorry. Implementing proper protection within your crawlspace can contain and reduce damage should an incident occur. A little work now can save you tons of time and money in the future. Water damage within your crawlspace can cause extensive damage to the foundation of your home, and proper insulation and waterproofing may ultimately save your entire home.
Common Sources of Crawlspace Water Damage
Though every homeowner will benefit from some preventative care in their crawlspace, homeowners prone to specific circumstances will find this care most beneficial. Depending on the area you live in, crawlspace protection may be absolutely necessary.
Your pipes run under your home, through your crawlspace. They’re exposed to the elements. Usually, this isn’t a major concern, but it is if the elements are harsh. Winter can do serious damage to your pipes. If your pipe are prone to freezing, this can cause them to contract and expand. In some cases, this means exploding pipes that will flood out the bottom of your home. There isn’t much you can do to prevent a pipe explosion due to frozen water – all you can do is insulate and line your crawlspace to protect your home in the event that this should occur.
Crawlspaces and basements react similarly to an excess of moisture. The area below your house isn’t likely to drain well, since it’s dark and doesn’t offer much ventilation. This can create the perfect storm for mold growth and rot. Mold grows quickly, and it’s nearly impossible to stop without early intervention. Wood that stays moist will warp and lose its structural integrity, which can potentially cause your home to sink. Issues like mold and rotting wood can destroy your home from the ground up.
Properties Near Water
If you have a waterfront property, you’re susceptible to wet weather or water damage to an even higher degree. Living close to the water means your crawlspace is most prone to flooding, and it’s likely that the flood waters will stay trapped beneath your home. Wet soil will stay wet, since the sun can’t promote water evaporation beneath your home. Soil that stays wet will give mold a place to flourish with relative ease, and may also encourage fungal growth.
What You Can Do
Waterproofing your crawlspace is a worthwhile investment. The kind of waterproofing you’ll need depends on the risk factors that surround your home. There are inexpensive methods that will work wonderfully for homeowner’s whose crawlspaces are at minimal risk, and more expensive methods for homeowners whose property is located in areas that are very prone to flooding.
In low-risk homes, simple waterproofing and proper insulation is enough. In most cases, a very durable plastic sheeting is fitted and secured to line the interior of the crawlspace. For a layer of added protection, your contractor may recommend installing drains that divert water away from your crawlspace. This reduces the burden on the crawlspace liner, preventing water from accumulating to an unmanageable level.
For higher risk homes, a sump pump may need to be used. If diversion drains or French Drain systems won’t be enough, especially in areas near water or with extreme weather conditions, installing a pump that will remove water as it accumulates will help keep your crawlspace dry. Although these pumps are generally preferred for crawlspaces with concrete floors, they’ll work just as well in areas with bare ground.
Tools like dehumidifiers are often used to keep the air within a crawlspace dry. Since an excess of moisture creates an ideal environment for mold, crawlspaces that get wet should be ventilated properly. This process usually involves a vapor barrier made of polyethylene that’s been fitted securely to the inner area of the crawlspace that will prevent moisture from being absorbed by exposed wood or concrete. Dehumidifiers will remove the moisture from the air, preventing it from settling in the crawlspace.
If Your Crawlspace is Already Damaged
A properly protected crawlspace can usually withstand a maximum of two inches of water. If your crawlspace has no protective measures, or an excessive amount of water has been sitting for a prolonged period, it’s time to do an overhaul. Check for visible signs of damage. This can include black spotting that suggests the growth of mold, or bloated wood that has begun to change shape. In minor cases, simple repairs may be able to alleviate the problem. Worst case scenario, your crawlspace will have to be rebuilt. Preventative care will take you very far, and the longer you neglect the area, the longer you’ve allowed a potentially disastrous time bomb to tick.
Call In an Expert
Waterproofing a crawlspace is a complicated process, and it’s even more complicated if there’s existing damage to contend with. It requires a lot of special materials which need to be measured, cut, and properly fitted. If you intend to go it on your own, you may be missing subtle signs of serious problems and sealing them into your crawlspace, creating a larger issue to contend with in the future.
At Restoration Local, we help homeowners find experienced contractors for all issues related to water damage and waterproofing. With a free estimate, you’ll know what you’re dealing with before you start your project. Don’t risk the safety and security of your home. Properly protecting your crawlspace is a one-time investment that can save you untold amounts of time and money in the future. Leaving your crawlspace in subpar condition is not a risk worth taking. If you have water damage call Restoration Local 24/7 at 1-888-443-3110 for a free estimate!