Excess humidity isn’t ever fun to deal with. There’s more that this force can do than make your home uncomfortable to live in. Persistent and high levels of humidity building up in your crawl space can do long-term damage to the structural integrity of your home.
As moisture gathers in your crawl space, it can start to cause the supports you have in place to decay. This includes your concrete, any unprotected wooden supports, and more. If you leave your crawl space humid, you may deal with damage like bowing walls to mold and wood rot.
The good news is that there are ways to combat high humidity. The professionals serving Toledo and Cleveland, Ohio, know the best places to start. You can reach out to them at your leisure to schedule a crawl space inspection and to benefit from a free services quote. Once you get a chance to assess your quote, you can determine what, if any, repairs your crawl space may need to reduce the amount of humidity therein. You can also look over a list of waterproofing measures that may help you better protect not only your crawl space but the rest of your home from water damage.
The Dangers of High Humidity
Most homeowners believe that humidity comes and goes with the seasons. This isn’t always the case. Instead, humidity can build up inside of your crawl space after any manner of rainstorm, snowmelt, or flood. Once that humidity’s in place, it can be difficult to get rid of—and it’s more than just uncomfortable.
If your crawl space is taking on humidity, the whole of your space is at risk for damage. This includes your supports, utilities, and any belongings you have stored away. Porous materials face a particular risk, as they tend to absorb any moisture that comes their way.
The good news is that you can usually track signs of humidity-based crawl space damage. Some of the most common types of damage include but are not limited to:
- Mold and wood rot
- Damaged crawl space supports
- Sagging door and window frames
- Bowing walls
- Cracking concrete
- Leaking concrete
- A sinking foundation or slab
Unfortunately, these conditions don’t tend to reveal how the humidity levels in your crawl space started to rise in the first place. That’s where the professionals in your area come into play. They can assess your home via a crawl space inspection and let you know what kind of damage may be letting unusual amounts of moisture into your home.
Sources of Unwanted Humidity
Humidity has one source when it starts to build up in your home: moisture. Water, however, can get into your crawl space through a variety of means. Professionals will take the damage your crawl space is seeing into account and use it to determine how it is that moisture made its way into your home in the first place.
Some of the most common sources of unwanted crawl space moisture include but are not limited to:
Hydrostatic pressure influences nearly every homeowner’s crawl space. The ways in which it changes the space will vary, however, based on the amount of pressure it exerts against your structural supports.
Hydrostatic pressure builds up outside of your crawl space as it rains or snows. The moisture from these conditions causes the molecules of your crawl space’s supports, whether it’s wood, concrete, or some other material, to change size. As these molecules shrink and grow, they come under a significant amount of stress. Over time, that stress can cause those materials to crack, letting unwanted moisture into your home.
Unfortunately, hydrostatic pressure is a force that tends to propagate itself. The more moisture gets into your home, the more hydrostatic pressure you’re going to have to deal with. This pressure, it’s worth noting, can manifest as humidity, making it especially difficult to get rid of if you don’t have the right materials on hand.
Hydrostatic pressure doesn’t just originate outside of your home. If you don’t make a point of taking care of your pipes, it can start to build up inside of your crawl space as well. Leaking pipes allow just as much humidity into the air as your average rainstorm. If you let a leak go untreated for an extended period of time, that moisture can cause the same cracks and external leaks that excessive amounts of precipitation can.
Not every home in Ohio is built on the most stable soil. Certain clays, for example, tend to expand at a more rapid pace than sand-based soils, meaning that their molecules will shift with greater frequency. Homes on unstable soil tend to see more crawl space damage than others, if only because their underpinning supports have to compensate for the movement of the soil. Over time, that kind of shifting can cause support beams and concrete walls to fall out of place, opening a crawl space up to groundwater, rainwater, and snowmelt. At the end of the day, it’s still moisture that’s getting into your home to raise your humidity levels, but your soil is the reason that it’s there.
The universal thing about all of these forces is that they thrust damage into your crawl space. Cracks, bowing walls, sinking floors, and leaks all make it easier for the humidity levels in your home to rise. If you’re not able to repair this damage within a reasonable amount of time, you’ll find yourself facing self-perpetuating degrees of humidity that not only make your home uncomfortable but also less safe to live in.
Controlling Your Crawl Space’s Humidity
There are a few different ways to control the humidity in your crawl space. The best way to get started, however, is to repair any damage that’s come through your crawl space. This damage can take many forms: bowing walls, damaged I-beams, and so on. As such, the repairs you’re going to want to invest in are going to be highly individualized.
That’s not necessarily a problem, though. The professional contractors serving Toledo and Cleveland, Ohio, know that each home suffers from unique, humidity-related conditions. You can sit down with an area professional to discuss what kind of damage your crawl space has sustained and what you need to do to fix it. As soon as you’ve patched up any cracks or leaks in your crawl space, you should be able to rest a little easier knowing that less moisture is getting into your home.
Note that you cannot install crawl space waterproofing measures or any measures designed to lower the humidity in your home without first investing in repairs. If you try to do so, you’ll shorten the lifespan of any protective materials you bring into your home.
Installing A Crawl Space Dehumidifier
While you’ll want to repair any damage that’s crept into your space, you’ll also need to get your humidity levels back down to a reasonable level. One of the best ways to do this is to install a non-commercial dehumidifier. Non-commercial dehumidifiers are more powerful than their traditional counterparts. With that in mind, they require specific care after their installation.
The installation process, handled by professionals from top to bottom, usually involves the following steps:
Placing the Dehumidifier
You can’t just throw a dehumidifier into your crawl space and expect it to work. Instead, professionals need to determine where your new non-commercial dehumidifier can do its best work. In most cases, your dehumidifier will be installed in one of the following arrangements:
- U-shaped: Place your dehumidifier over the entrance to your crawl space. This way the dehumidifier won’t be damaged by any future flooding. Similarly, the ducts reaching out of the dehumidifier can reach the entirety of the space.
- Rectangular: If there aren’t any large supports in your crawl space, you can place a dehumidifier at either end and use ducting to circulate the push and pull of air.
- Divided: Ductwork can extend your dehumidifier’s exhaust in between the divisions of your crawl space. The dehumidifier itself can be placed in the crawl space’s most convenient but water-free location.
Installing a Ducting Kit
Most professionals will recommend installing a ducting kit in addition to your non-commercial dehumidifier. These kits make it easier for a dehumidifier to remove humidity from your space. If you don’t want to invest in one of these kits, talk to the professionals in your area about sealing off any vents to your crawl space. This way you can keep the flow of moisture in and out of your crawl space to a minimum.
Keeping an Eye on Your Home’s Humidity
Once professionals set up a dehumidifier in your crawl space, it’s up to you to make sure it’s working as it should. This means checking it on a regular basis to ensure your humidity levels remain consistent. These levels should stay between 50 and 60 percent on average. If you notice your dehumidifier struggling to keep up with the needs of your crawl space, get in touch with area professionals as soon as possible.
Maintaining a Crawl Space Dehumidifier
As hinted at toward the end of the installation process, managing a crawl space dehumidifier involves some work on a homeowner’s end. If you want your crawl space dehumidifier to work effectively post-installation, there are some steps you’ll need to take. These include but are not limited to:
- Cleaning your dehumidifier on a regular basis
- Watch your dehumidifier’s humidistat
- Inspect your filters
- Check your coils
Non-commercial dehumidifiers differ from traditional dehumidifiers in a variety of ways. If you’re looking to control the humidity in your crawl space, you’re going to need a tool that does more than make your home comfortable to live in.
Traditional Dehumidifiers Versus Waterproofing Dehumidifiers
Dehumidifiers in general serve a similar purpose: They remove unwanted moisture from the air inside of your home. They transform that gaseous moisture into liquid, making it easier for you to manually remove from your property. However, traditional dehumidifiers aren’t meant to deal with a significant amount of humidity on a regular basis. Instead, they’re meant to ensure the upper levels of your home remain comfortable and healthy.
Comparatively, non-commercial dehumidifiers are heavy-duty. These dehumidifiers run larger than their all-house peers because they are designed to withstand a battering from the elements as well as from any excess moisture that may try to make its way into your home. Traditional dehumidifiers can’t keep up with non-commercial brands, especially not when it comes to protecting your crawl space from damage.
Crawl Space Dehumidifiers as Waterproofing Measures
While crawl space dehumidifiers do a lot of work to eliminate unwanted moisture from your crawl space, they’re not a catch-all waterproofing measure. They require a lot of maintenance on your part if you want them to work as effectively as possible. This means monitoring your humidity levels and scheduling regular inspections to prevent unwanted damage or wear.
You may also want to pair your dehumidifier with a vapor barrier, sump pump, or interior drain if you want it to work more effectively. When paired with other home waterproofing measures, dehumidifiers live longer and tend to protect your sensitive crawl space more effectively.
Non-commercial dehumidifiers can do a lot for your crawl space. They do have their limits, however, even when it comes to controlling the amount of humidity or moisture in your crawl space.
A Dehumidifier’s Work in Your Crawl Space
Dehumidifiers work to pull unwanted moisture from the air in your crawl space. They tend to make your home more comfortable to live in while also protecting your crawl space’s sensitive supports from damage. They can even lower your energy bills by making life easier for your HVAC system.
However, dehumidifiers are not anti-flooding measures. Instead, these machines are meant to deal with humidity. While they can help clean up your home after a flood, they’re not going to keep your home from suffering if a natural disaster strikes. That said, they can keep your crawl space from taking on the kind of damage that makes it more susceptible to damage, but only if they’re properly maintained.
Other Waterproofing Solutions
If you’ve been dealing with standing water or flooding in addition to high levels of crawl space humidity, you’ll want to consider installing additional home waterproofing measures in your crawl space. The waterproofing measures that suit you best will vary based on the kinds of conditions you’re working with. Some of the most common solutions professionals like to install in crawl spaces include:
- A vapor barrier
- Full space encapsulation
- Waterproof insulation
- A sump pump
- An interior drain
- Exterior drainage tiles
- Vent covers
- Window well liners
Note that you always have the option to stack these waterproofing measures with a dehumidifier or with one another. Talk with the professionals in your area about which measures might suit your needs best and which ones tend to work well with one another. If you pair the right measures, you can lower the humidity levels in your crawl space while also preventing severe flooding.
Trying to lower the humidity levels in your crawl space is a challenge. If you’re the crafty sort, you may be tempted to try and take on this work without professional help, even if it involves installing a dehumidifier. While this goal is admirable, it often doesn’t turn out the way most homeowners want it to. Instead of saving you money and sparing you the hassle of having folks in your home, you may see your DIY efforts do just the opposite.
DIY and Your Budget
If you’re looking to lower the levels of humidity in your crawl space, you need to repair the damage therein and invest in adequate home waterproofing measures. This is a super straightforward process when you work with a professional contractor in your area, as they can equip you with a catalog of potential repairs and waterproofing solutions.
Doing this work on your own requires a significant amount of independent research. More than that, it can get pretty costly pretty fast, especially if the damage letting moisture—and subsequently humidity—into your crawl space is severe. Even trying to install a non-commercial dehumidifier without professional help can see you run through your repair budget in little to no time at all.
DIY and Accidental Damage to Your Crawl Space
DIY comes with a lot of practical risks as well as financial ones. As you’re trying to repair your crawl space, you may find yourself contending with damage that you don’t know how to repair. YouTube videos can only get you so far, meaning that there’s a pretty good chance that you may make a mistake while you’re on the job.
These mistakes can have serious consequences over time. If you don’t notice a mistake you’ve made, you may walk away from your repairs thinking that your humidity problems are long over. In reality, your home may see an even sharper jump in humidity than it already has, leading to significant structural damage over time. Professionals, comparatively, have years of experience lowering humidity levels in crawl space across Ohio. You can trust them to do good work in your home while staying within your budget.
Toledo and Cleveland, OH, Professionals Can Install Dehumidifiers in Your Crawl Space
Are you having problems with high humidity in your crawl space? Get in touch with the professionals in your area. Toledo and Cleveland, Ohio, contractors can inspect your crawl space and let you know what kind of damage let unwanted moisture into your home in the first place. You can then look over a free quote detailing what kind of repairs your crawl space may benefit from. With any damage cleared away and a non-commercial dehumidifier installed in your home, you can rest easy knowing that your crawl space shouldn’t fall victim to similar damage in the future.