Taking care of a home is an expensive endeavor. Even when things are working perfectly, you have to make sure the bills get paid on time, keep up with general maintenance, and keep in touch with the folks who may be able to help you if something goes awry.
Home ownership grows more complicated when things start going wrong for seemingly no reason. For example, you can experience a whole new level of stress if your energy bills start rising for no apparent reason at all. Not only will you know that something’s gone amiss in your home, but the care and keeping of your property will be more expensive than it used to be.
Unfortunately, crawl space damage—which can go undetected—can have this kind of impact on the rest of your home. Leaks and cracks in your crawl space can even raise your monthly energy bills. While the reasons behind this differ, it all turns out to be an expensive inconvenience for you.
Crawl Space Damage That Can Cause High Energy Bills
Different kinds of damage can emerge throughout your space, though many for the same reasons. The most common forms of damage to run into will vary but can include:
- Bowing walls
- Sinking floors
- Mold infestations
- Pest infestations
- Window and door frame damage
Note that these types of damage can build on one another. If you don’t make a point of scheduling regular crawl space inspections, then you may find yourself dealing with a leak at the same time as mold infestation and bowing walls. In many cases, cracks and leaks will specifically cause other forms of damage to appear in your crawl space. The sooner that you’re able to respond to unwanted crawl space damage, the better chance you’ll have of preventing significant damage (and higher electrical bills).
Explaining Your Higher Energy Bills
You can’t just write off all your high energy bills. There are some situations, however, where crawl space damage will have a far greater impact on the work your HVAC system has to do than it reasonably should. If you want to determine whether your crawl space has had anything to do with your increasing bills, then you need to determine what forces may have damaged your crawl space.
There’s more than one force that can bring about damage in your crawl space. Some of the most common include:
- Hydrostatic pressure – As moisture encounters the cement and other materials building up your home, it can force those materials to change size on a molecular level. Molecular change puts a lot of stress on your crawl space, especially if it happens at a rapid pace. Before long, you may find yourself dealing with cracks and leaks as hydrostatic pressure doubles down on itself and your home.
- Tree roots – Trees do not work maliciously against your home. Instead, as they move to seek out nutrients, they can cause hollows to open beneath your crawl space. Your space can then sink into those hollows, causing its supports to fall out of place.
- Pests – Groundhogs and rabbits work like tree roots do, opening hollows beneath your crawl space for the space to fall into. Rodents, however, are just as much of a problem. Squirrels, rats, and mice can all make themselves at home in your insulation, where they’ll tear away at your utilities and raise your bills. Finally, you can’t forget about insects. Carpenter ants and termites can both destroy your crawl space’s wooden supports to the point where your walls and floor both start to bow.
- Poor Crawl Space Construction – There’s always a chance that the team that originally built your homemade mistakes during your crawl space’s initial construction. The use of inappropriate materials or poor construction techniques may have destabilized your home long before forces like hydrostatic pressure could have.
Warning Signs to Look Out For
Even though it can be frustrating to have high energy bills in your home, it can be even more frustrating if you don’t know how to look out for signs that the high energy bills are coming from a much more serious problem. There are plenty of warning signs to look out for that can help you identify high energy bill problems:
- General Dampness and Humidity in Home and Crawl Space
- Visible Cracks in Your Crawl Space
- Pest Infestations
- Sudden Energy Bill Fluctuation
- General Cosmetic Damage
These warning signs are all evidence that you have a crawl space damage problem. That crawl space damage problem can certainly end up causing very high energy bills, which means you need to tackle it as soon as possible. The savings you receive from fixing your energy bills can pay for the fix to your crawl space.
Regular Inspections Can Prevent Crawl Space Damage and High Energy Bills
Keep an eye on your crawl space by scheduling regular crawl space inspections. The professionals in your area can inspect your space at least once a year and let you know if your home is at risk of damage.
Most professionals break their crawl space inspections down into three stages. These include:
An Entrance Inspection
Before they’re able to take a closer look at your crawl space proper, professionals will inspect the quality of your crawl space’s entrance. Your entrance needs to be large enough for area professionals to enter without contorting themselves or otherwise putting themselves in danger. Any entrance that isn’t up to code needs to be expanded or repaired for professionals to continue your inspection.
A Cursory Inspection
Provided that professionals can make their way into your crawl space, they’ll take a superficial assessment of your space. This inspection allows professionals to identify any obvious problems with your crawl space, from large mold infestations to standing water.
A Comprehensive Inspection
If there’s nothing obviously wrong with your crawl space, you’re in luck. The damage your home sustained may be minor. If this is the case, then professionals will conduct a more comprehensive inspection of your crawl space. At the same time, they’re looking for damage, they’ll also be assessing your space to better let you know what preventative measures may help keep your electrical bills under control in the future.
Long-Term Solutions: Waterproofing Your Crawl Space
At the end of the day, one of the best ways to prevent bill-raising crawl space damage is to invest in home waterproofing measures. There are many crawl space waterproofing measures that can help you get ahead of unanticipated damage. Some of the most common include:
- Vapor barriers
- Crawl space encapsulation
- Non-commercial dehumidifiers
- Interior drains
- Sump pumps
Professionals will likely recommend you invest in necessary crawl space encapsulation before applying the preventive tools listed above. If you try to install crawl space waterproofing measures before you’ve cleared any unwanted moisture or damage out of your home, you’ll shorten the lifespan of all of your investments.
High Energy Bills
A damaged crawl space can bleed money out of your wallet in little to no time at all. If you’ve noticed your energy bills increasing by a significant margin, you’ll want to work with area professionals to determine what specifically has gone wrong with your compromised space. While no two homes are the same, there are still common types of crawl space damage that can plague all homes, new or old.
Leaks and the Influence of Hydrostatic Pressure
Hydrostatic pressure is the force that tends to have the greatest impact on the structural integrity of your crawl space. No matter what other kind of damage you’re dealing with, if any, you can trust this force to make your crawl space problems worse and your energy bills higher.
Hydrostatic pressure builds up inside of spaces that are actively exposed to moisture. It can worsen in the presence of groundwater and snowmelt. This force will cause your crawl space’s structural supports to change size on a molecular level. The stress from multiple changes can cause cracks to develop in everything from wood to concrete. Over time, additional moisture can make its way into your home via these cracks or forms of decay, multiplying the amount of hydrostatic pressure that your space must deal with. This moisture will force your HVAC system to work harder, meaning your energy bills will rise as your crawl space faces structural losses.
Tree Roots, Pests, and Other Forces
Hydrostatic pressure isn’t the only force that works against the structural integrity of your home. Tree roots can create hollows for your crawl space’s supports to sink into. Burrowing animals can do the same. Insects can eat away at unprotected wooden supports until your crawl space no longer supports its own walls or ceiling.
All of this damage tends to let moisture into your home. As that moisture makes its way inside, your HVAC system will have to work harder to compensate for the abrupt changes in temperature. Your energy bills will subsequently rise, even if you don’t notice any other signs of applicable damage. At the end of the day, you can trace most of the problems with your crawl space and energy bills back to moisture, even if there’s some other creature or force at work around your home.
One of the biggest concerns homeowners have about crawl space repairs doesn’t relate to the actual problems in their space. Rather, those concerns involve the cost of repairs. Homeowners looking to get around unexpected repair costs may be tempted to try and fix their crawl spaces, and subsequently their energy bills, without professional guidance. Unfortunately, this can have more downsides than benefits.
Mistakes Made While Repairing Your Crawl Space
Making mistakes is a part of life. However if you make a mistake while trying to repair your crawl space, you may end up spending a lot of money on a project that professionals could’ve handled at a fraction of the cost.
Repair mistakes can also leave you with a sense of ill-found confidence. If you walk away from your crawl space thinking you’ve repaired the damage therein, but you’ve actually made it worse, then you might let your space go without an inspection for an incredible length of time. In the interim, your damage can worsen. Your bills can continue to rise. At the end of the day, you’ll be in a worse place than where you started simply due to your lack of experience.
Losing Money on Do-It-Yourself Efforts
Most of the time, homeowners go into DIY work because they want to save money. Many believe that working with professionals will run them through their repair budget in little to no time at all. In reality, this isn’t the case. Professionals already have the tools and materials they need on hand to complete any repairs that your crawl space needs. You’re paying for their experience and man-hours when they make their way out to your home.
Trying to take on crawl space repair without their help can rapidly get expensive. First, you’ll need to determine what’s gone amiss in your home and how best you can treat the damage. You’ll have to purchase materials and possibly even single-use tools if you want to get your home back in order. If you make a mistake, as mentioned, you may even have to pay to repair the tools and materials you’ve damaged while trying to solve your problems. Instead of going through all this stress, sit down and talk with a professional, instead. You’ll benefit from a free quote and will have the opportunity to discuss any budget limitations you may have.
At the end of the day, you want the work professionals do around your home to lower your energy bills. While it may not seem like crawl space repairs can do that job for you, they can have more of an impact on your home’s livability—and your budget—than you might anticipate.
Preventing Fluctuating Temperatures
Crawl space repairs are going to vary based on the kinds of problems your space is dealing with. However, they all do roughly the same thing: make your crawl space more watertight. This comes in handy if you’re looking to lower your heating bills. Why? Because moisture tends to make your home cooler than it would be otherwise.
Exposure to rainwater and equivalent moisture tends to cause molecules of all kinds to shrink. That shrinkage makes the air inside of your home cooler. In response to sudden drops of temperature related to crawl space leaks or flooding, your HVAC system must work harder to control temperatures throughout your home. If high electric bills are your primary concern, it’s in your best interest to eliminate the forces causing your temperature to fluctuate – and this means any moisture that’s made itself at home in your crawl space.
Protecting Other Home Safety Measures
Professionals do more than just remove unwanted moisture from your crawl space. They can also ensure that any other measures you have in place to control your home’s energy consumption continue to work as they should.
Your insulation, for example, can suffer if it gets exposed to a significant amount of uncontrolled moisture. If you have professionals come in and stop up a crawl space leak you can prevent the decay that might otherwise cause temperatures in your home to fluctuate. At the end of the day, crawl space repair is as much about eliminating damage in your space as it is making life as simple as possible for your HVAC system.
Area Professionals Can Help Lower Your Energy Bills
The good news is that you can reach out for help. The professionals serving Toledo and Cleveland, Ohio, can inspect your home and help you determine if crawl space damage has made life more difficult for your HVAC system and affiliated appliances. They can also help you build a battle plan.