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Crawl Space Moisture - What It Means When a Crawl Space is Damp

Tuesday, December 10th, 2019


If you have a damp crawl space, one of the questions you may be asking yourself is whether it’s a normal condition in your Cleveland, OH, home or an ominous sign of an underlying problem. You might think it’s natural for this space to get moist and damp because the crawl space is right below your living quarters. After all, the ground normally gets wet and dry with changes in weather.

Whatever the cause, your goal should be to keep the crawl space of your Cleveland, OH, home dry all year round.

crawl space moisture problems

Is it normal for the crawl space to be damp?

Yes, it is. Typical of below-grade areas in Cleveland, OH, the crawl space is an area that’s often going to be plagued by moisture problems. The moisture escapes out of the soil by evaporation and accumulates in the crawl space, where it causes constant condensation. Some of the moisture could come from flood waters if you don’t have external waterproofing.

As the vapor rises, it makes its way up through hollow spaces in the wall or condenses on the floor beams and insulation right above the crawl space. In the absence of a vapor barrier, puddles can form on the liner. This is actually the major cause of musty odors and mildew in a home.

Some people may not notice something is wrong because they rarely visit this space. Condensation can be attributed to design flaws. Whatever that is, it really pays to inspect this space and fix the moisture problems it has. Otherwise, you will have to deal with the effects of water damage and mold. None of which is going to be pleasant or cheap to fix.

If you have a crawl space, you should keep the humidity at 55% or below it. Encapsulating the crawl space is one of the best ways to do that. Keeping humidity levels low prevents undesirable effects such as mold growth, mildew, and dust mites from invading your crawl space.

Moisture Levels and Damage

Does your crawl space get damp whenever it rains? If so, you need to fix the water problem by resolving the underlying issue. A quick inspection of this area might help uncover the root cause. It’s a straightforward exercise that takes less than an hour. Your local basement or crawl space contractor will use a hygrometer to measure levels and determine whether you have a moisture problem.

Lowering humidity levels in the crawl space could slash your heating and cooling costs by 25%. How much you’re going to save will depend on the size of your home, existing climate, soil condition, and whether you have ducts in your crawl space.

Being one of the cooler and wetter cities, Cleveland homeowners are going to battle moisture issues perpetually. Nearly half of the indoor air upstairs originates from the crawl space. If your crawl space is damp, you want to make sure that you maintain the humidity levels below 50%. Doing so will prevent both mildew and mold from growing and colonizing that space. Your best bet is to have a dehumidifier installed to keep humidity levels in check.

As we have seen, water gets into the crawl space via a number of ways. It could be a pipe is leaking or water is seeping from the soil surrounding the foundation wall, or high humidity levels. In the case of humidity, warm moisture condenses on the surface of ducts then drips onto the floor.

Though water puddles in the crawl space isn’t a good thing, it won’t damage your home right away. What you should be worried about is the moisture (water vapor) as it causes mold growth, wood rot, energy loss, and pest infestation. Left unchecked, these problems will find their way to the rest of the home. It could be costly to remedy them.

Ways to Keep a Crawl Space Dry

Let’s start with a common solution to crawl space moisture, and that’s installing a reliable sump pump. When adding yours, make sure it has a strong liner, an impervious lid, and a battery backup.

Other measures you can take to keep your crawl space dry all-year-round include:

  • Encapsulate your crawl space with a thick vapor barrier to keep out moisture (highly recommended)
  • Replace wet insulation and clear out debris
  • Remove puddles and moisture source
  • Fix cracks, repairs leaks, and insulate water pipes to prevent condensation
  • Fix downspouts and make sure gutters channel water away from the wall
  • Install a dehumidifier to control moisture and humidity

Are you worried about the damage moisture in your crawl space or basement could do to your home? Contact your trusted local contractor to request a free crawl space inspection and repair estimate. We’re happy to evaluate your crawl space and recommend the best solution to fix your problem.