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Crew installing crawl space encapsulation

Crawl Space Repair & Encapsulation

Have you ever looked under your house? Do you know where to look and what to look for? It could affect your health and safety and your family’s well-being.

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Your crawl space is the snug place in between your home and the soil beneath it. It’s typically used for the storage of the veins of your home, like air ducts and piping. When moisture creeps into this space through crawl space vents and gets trapped in the dark, muggy space, you may run into issues that affect your day-to-day life. Cold floors, higher electric bills, worsening allergy symptoms, and even tripping hazards on drooping, sagging floors are just some ways that a festering crawl space can affect your life. Learn how Ohio Basement Systems can restore your home with warrantied crawl space repair and encapsulation.  


Causes of Crawl Space Damage

Your crawl space can become damaged in a number of ways. Here are a few of the common causes behind these problems.

A major flaw with a crawl space is how it is constructed in the first place. Builders first begin by digging a hole in the earth large enough to accommodate your foundation, including the crawl space. The foundation walls are then built, followed by the flooring system, and the rest of the house. Unlike basements that have concrete floors, crawl spaces typically have uncovered dirt floors. Along with multiple entry points – foundation wall cracks, rim joists, and vents – this exposure to the elements leaves the crawl space open to outside air, moisture, pests, and other nuisances that can infiltrate and affect your home.

Part of the crawl space construction process involves placing vents in the crawl space foundation walls. Crawl spaces have been built this way for many years with the intention of increasing airflow and decreasing the chance for mold and mildew growth. However, foundation specialists have found the opposite to be true. Open vents allow unconditioned outside air into the crawl space, as well as moisture, water, and pests. All these nuisances create a recipe for disaster, as mold grows and thrives in dark, moist areas like crawl spaces. Pests also are drawn to the area for the same reasons. Infestations of mold and pests not only create an unhealthy crawl space, but they affect the health of the rest of your home.

Crawl space construction and open vents also lend themselves to another common cause of crawl space issues – the stack effect. The stack effect involves the natural flow of warm air from bottom to top. Whether hot or cold air enters your crawl space through the vents or wall cracks, the air will become warm enough to rise throughout the rest of your home. This means that anything in your crawl space such as mold growth, mold spores, unpleasant odors, pest waste, dust, and other toxins is also in the air circulating in your home. This can aggravate existing health issues or potentially cause them in otherwise healthy individuals, as well as increase your energy bills.

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Is Crawl Space Repair and Encapsulation the Right Solution for Me? 

Greater Cleveland and the rest of Northern Ohio including Akron-Canton, Mansfield, and Youngstown is a basement-heavy part of the U.S. If you are an Ohioan who owns a crawl space or even a combination basement-crawl space, year-round precipitation via rain and snow does no favors to your home. You may not even know that mold, mildew, rot, and pests have invaded your crawl space until it’s too late.  

You have a lot to consider as a homeowner—and your crawl space may seem like the least of your worries. At Ohio Basement Systems, we’re here to be your guide in all things crawl space and to find the right solution tailor-fit to your home. Our suite of durable encapsulation solutions including vapor barriers, drainage systems, and moisture control tactics all work together to create an inhabitable space for mold and pests. Setting up an appointment with us only takes a minute—get started now! 

FAQs

If you have recently moved into a home with an exposed crawl space, or you are ready to consider encapsulating the crawl space of your current family home, we urge you to contact a crawl space specialist.

The Dangers of DIY

DIY repairs are something that many homeowners dabble in, and while we agree that it is good to have basic DIY skills, we also believe that DIY should end where structural issues begin. Because there is a high likelihood of structural problems in a damp, wet, or unhealthy crawl space, we urge our clients to avoid DIY encapsulation.

If you simply waterproof and seal a crawl space that is being affected by things like foundation damage, all you will be doing is covering up the signs of deterioration. This will lead to the issues being far more advanced when they are discovered. Worse still, you could end up creating an incubator of sorts, trapping water and pests into your crawl space. This could actually cause more damage than was previously at work.

The Benefits of Professional Services

A professional service offers many benefits, but the most obvious is its ability to safely and effectively tackle structural issues. Foundation damage, in particular, is quite dangerous when it comes to DIY repairs. This is because of the way in which it destabilizes many other parts of a structure. If you try to go it alone, you run the risk of causing damage or injury.

Furthermore, these tools are specialist in nature. Most homeowners will not have them to hand. By the time you rent all the necessary equipment and buy the required products, you could well end up paying more for a lower quality result if you try DIY. An expert will have all these tools already and can guarantee a certain standard of results. Finally, professional services offer permanent solutions. This is something you cannot guarantee if you try to undertake repair and encapsulation alone.  

Dealing with an exposed crawl space can take a number of forms.Preventing damage is ideal, but when it has already taken root, there are repair methods available.

Structural Repairs

Structural repairs will always take precedence when there is a professional involved. In fact, they should always take precedence over waterproofing measures and cosmetic repairs. That’s because if they are not completed before these processes, the issue could recur or grow in severity and scope. This will make the situation more dangerous and could increase repair costs overall.

Structural repairs cover a broad number of processes including foundation repair, concrete lifting, joist repair and replacement, and wall reinforcement. The nature of structural repairs required in each home will vary depending on a number of factors. This is why we recommend that you call in a professional as soon as possible.

Waterproofing and Encapsulation

If there are no structural repairs needed or the structural concerns have all been resolved, a professional will most likely suggest crawl space waterproofing or encapsulation. This will include covering exposed vents and crawl space access doors but goes much further and has many tangible benefits for your whole home.

Like structural repairs, encapsulation varies from home to home and is tailored to the confines of a specific situation. Generally speaking, however, structural repairs include drainage assessment and improvement, insulation, and the installation of a vapor barrier, as well as the covering of vents and doors. This will improve energy efficiency, reduce humidity, and even allow you to use your crawl space for storage. 

If a recent foray into your crawl space has uncovered dampness or flooding, it is natural to be worried. There are a number of issues that can lead to standing water in your crawl space, but the most common (other than open vents) are:

Internal Leaks

One way in which a lot of moisture can make its way into a crawl space is via internal leaks in the plumbing system that runs through a property and its attached appliances. For example, small leaks caused by weak joints between pipes or pipes and appliances can produce a surprising amount of water in any crawl space. A more dramatic example, however, is a bursting pipe.

Plumbing leaks can be caused by a number of factors, but they are fairly easy to spot. Plumbing floods and burst pipes are the most serious issues, and the easiest to spot. You can recognize smaller leaks, however, by sudden changes in water pressure, small fluctuations in temperature, stains around impacted pipes and appliances, and a visible leak.

Structural Damage

Structural damage is a slightly more insidious and worrying cause of dampness and water in a crawl space. The most likely cause of large amounts of water in a crawl space (when open vents and internal leaks have been ruled out) is foundation damage. Any kind of cracking or damage in a foundation will allow a surprising amount of groundwater to seep up into a property.

The most likely foundation issue at work in these cases is settlement. Generally caused by expansive soils, settlement sees sections of a foundation breaking away and sinking into the ground. When rainfall saturates the soil, this will let water seep into the crawl space quite quickly. Another possible cause is subsidence.
 

The crawl space is an incredibly important space for your home. Let’s take a closer look into the crawl space and why it is so crucial to protect it down below.  

  • Height of Crawl Space   

 The average crawl space ceiling can measure anywhere between one to three feet high. As its name implies, this is just large enough for an adult to crawl around safely. Of course, this does not mean anyone can simply crawl into it. It is unsafe for anyone but certified crawl space experts to enter. This is largely due to all the important systems installed inside this tight space.  

Not only that, but an inexperienced homeowner might find themselves trapped in this tight space without anyone to help them out. This is why it is absolutely essential to leave the repairs to the crawl space experts. You can trust that these experts will know how to repair anything in your crawl space without damaging anything else within it.  

  • Crawl Space Function   

The main purpose of the crawl space is to store your home’s vital systems inside it. This includes your HVAC system, your insulation, your electrical wiring, your plumbing, your floor’s support beams, and much more. Many of these systems should not be wet whatsoever, which can be a problem when moisture inevitably does flow into this space. The crawl space needs to be completely dry or you risk these systems breaking down and causing even more problems all around your house.  

Protecting your crawl space from any outside damage is of utmost importance. Ohio Basement Systems has plenty of powerful solutions built just for this purpose. You do not have to worry about either your crawl space or the rest of your house facing any of these pressing issues ever again. By investing in a solution that constantly works to protect your home, you will only end up saving more money in the long run as well.  

To put it simply, flood vents are like old-fashioned crawl space vents, but they serve a different purpose and are often designed to be closed until they are needed these days. With that said, there are times when crawl space vents can be converted into flood vents. 

Ventilation 

In the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, it was very common for properties that had crawl spaces to have vents installed as a matter of practice. These vents were open to the air at all times and were designed to increase internal airflow. This was thought to prevent issues with dampness and humidity in the property. These vents would allow water to pass through them in the event of flooding, which is why they are partially effective in the event of a storm surge. 

Flood vents, by contrast, are not designed to ventilate a crawl space. Their only purpose is to give way to water when there is a serious flood. We now know that exterior crawl space ventilation is more likely to cause damage to a property, and can be the root cause of issues with dampness, humidity, and condensation in a home. 

Pressure Relief and Equalization 

Flood vents are also precisely designed and placed to give the best possible effect. This may seem like a very small difference, but it is important. When a storm surge roars through any area, the margin between endurance and catastrophe can be incredibly slim. This is why FEMA has very specific requirements for the size and placement of flood vents; they know what works best. 

In the end, the purpose of a flood vent is to equalize the pressure inside and outside of your property to prevent the flooding and storm surge from causing your property to shift, crack, or even experience localized collapse. This is why flood vents come in many different forms. They need to be functional for whichever home they are being installed in.

Why Crawl Space Repair and Encapsulation Are Needed

bugs in crawl space

Makes Your Crawl Space Less Welcoming to Pests

Encapsulation isn’t a cure-all for pests already invading your crawl space. But after the exterminators leave, call the experts at Ohio Basement Systems. Crawl space encapsulation creates a clean, dry, and sterile environment that pests have no business in. It also seals off your craw space completely so that it’s harder for common pests like roaches, rats, carpenter ants, termites, and even snakes to penetrate.  

Dehumidifier in crawl space

Cleans Up the Air Quality in Your Home

Did you know that about 50% of the air you breathe comes from your crawl space? When mold, mildew, and toxins from pest waste seethe in your crawl space, it can have adverse effects on your health as you breathe it all in. According to the Mayo Clinic, “A mold allergy can cause coughing, itchy eyes and other symptoms that make you miserable. In some people, a mold allergy is linked to asthma and exposure causes restricted breathing and other airway symptoms.”  

Crawl Space after encapsulation

Strengthening Your Home’s Structural Integrity

When mold spores run wild in your crawl space, they eat away at the vital support system, your floor joists, or support beams. Using a pencil, crawl space experts can test the health of the wood in your crawl space. In extreme cases, a pencil can easily puncture the soft, water-damaged supports beneath your home. This is a major safety issue for you and your family. Our experts can repair the weakened joists and seal off your crawl space for moisture and mold control.  

Common Crawl space Repair and Encapsulation Tips & Mistakes 

Mistakes to Avoid

  • Waiting for Too Long. If these issues are left to thrive in your crawl space, you may end up with major structural issues as mold and mildew can weaken the structural supports within your crawl space. This uninviting space can also damage the mechanical innards of your home by growing mold on air ducts or pipes, or even having critters chew at them. Additionally, the stack effect causes the air in your crawl space to rise into your living space—leaving you to breathe in the toxins brewing in the crawl space.  
  • Going Into Your Crawl Space Alone. If you suspect issues in your crawl space, it’s best to call in a professional to inspect it for you instead of going in there alone. Critters, dangerous mold spores, and even structural hazards may be waiting in there for you. Our team of professionals has the safety equipment and the experience to take this unsettling task off your hands. Plus, we will inspect your home completely for free.  
  • Picking and Choosing Encapsulation Solutions. A full crawl space encapsulation is made up of multiple solutions working together to create a clean and functional space. While installing just a dehumidifier or just a sump pump may help out a little bit, the effect of these solutions is amplified by protecting them with vapor barriers, and professional-grade crawl space vent covers.  

Helpful Tips

  • Check for Other Issues Around the Home. If you’re noticing crawl space problem signs like sagging or bouncy floors, higher energy bills, pests, and more, it’s likely that you’re dealing with other issues like concrete cracks, or basement leakage (if you have a combination home). Since many of these issues stem from the same outside causes, damage is being inflicted to your home in more ways than one. When our experts at Ohio Basement Systems inspect your home, we look at it from a holistic perspective so we can target the root cause and fix your home for good.  
  • Choose Professional Repairs Instead of DIY. Many in-store crawl space solutions like spray foam or dehumidifiers on their own may subside certain issues, but they won’t create the wholly dry and clean space you need. Spray foam in some cases can protect mold if the rest of your crawl space isn’t protected. Additionally, if your crawl space floods due to a broken or exposed vent, it can completely damage your dehumidifier.  
  • Go With A Local Repair Company. At Ohio Basement Systems, we have the expertise in the local terrain and weather patterns that equips us to best deal with the common issues you’re facing. We’ve seen it all, and can more precisely diagnose your issues. Though we’re experts in the most common crawl space issues, we still understand that all homes are unique and will require custom solutions.  

Proudly Serving Northern Ohio

Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland, Ohio

From lake effect snow to summer rain, the weather in Cleveland is likely wreaking havoc on your home’s basement or foundation. Our waterproofing experts can help.

Youngstown, Ohio

Youngstown, Ohio

Poorly drained silty and clay soils in Youngstown and surrounding areas can mean trouble for your home. We can find the one-of-a-kind solution that fits your home.

Akron-Canton Metro Area

Akron-Canton Metro Area

Akron-Canton homeowners endure snowfall and melt cycles several times throughout the year. It’s not only a headache—it can cause water damage and structural problems.

Mansfield, OH

Mansfield, OH

Mansfield is home to a diverse number of soils vulnerable to poor drainage. This can cause structural issues to your property down the line—is your home protected?

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    SERVING CLEVELAND, YOUNGSTOWN & NORTHERN OHIO

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