Most everyone knows that maintaining and improving the exterior of your home as well as the interior of the home is essential to increase the longevity of the structure, increase the value and look aesthetically pleasing.
What most people do not know or want to know is that maintaining your substructure is equally important. It is safe to say that most homeowners do not ever go underneath their house and the few that do only do so if there is a problem such as plumbing leaks, buckled floors or sagging of the subfloors. Even more than often, at that point it is too late and drastic and expensive measures need to be taken.
•Leaking plumbing lines - Sometimes plumbing lines leak over time or slowly disconnect due to a poor glue job or people such as HVAC, Cable, Pest Control, Contractors etc. bumping into those lines and not paying attention to them. Other times if the crawlspace is not well insulated plumbing lines can burst in extremely low temperatures, so there are many possibilities.
•Sweating, torn or disconnected duct work - There are many scenarios here so we will just mention a few. For one, sometimes duct work gets disconnected by either human error, an animal or just due to the age of the duct work. Two, rodents sometimes chew through the duct work to get inside it to either find shelter, warmth or look for a food source. Three during the hot summer months, hot air circulating through the crawlspace, will hit the much cooler duct work, at that point it will be condensation elevating moisture level in the crawlspace.
•Subterranean termites and damage thereof - For structures that do not have termite protection, especially in the south, have a strong possibility of hidden wood destroying organism activity and damage thereof. Termites will easily access the wooden substructures of homes if there is no chemical barrier or bait stations in place. Often, once homeowners are aware that they have them it is too late, and the damage has been done. Of course, they are treatable, but why take the risk! Also, it is important to know that homeowner's insurance does not cover termite damage!
•Rodents nesting in batt roll insulation - If you ever have peeked into your crawlspace, you may have noticed a lot of hanging or fallen insulation on the ground - well sometimes this is because of moisture, but other times this is because of rodents ripping it down or climbing into it to seek shelter and build a nest to keep warm. That also comes with a bad smell usually because rodents will drop their waste and urinate inside the insulation or the crawlspace ground giving it that pungent odor that also penetrates the interior of the home.
•Construction debris - Most every home will have some sort of debris in their crawlspace. This happens usually during the building process of the home or during a renovation. Not a huge problem, but it can cause injuries to professionals who may have to access your crawlspace. Wood debris in direct contact with the ground can also serve as a food source for termites, so it is important to remove it!
•Mold - This is probably the most important one, because half the air we breathe inside our home comes from the crawlspace, because homes a built to breathe and all that nasty air underneath your crawlspace is circulating through the home. Mold occurs when there are ongoing high moisture levels and can cause severe problems inside your home if left untreated. A lot of people think they know how to treat mold and do not really take it all that serious, but it is and should be taken care of by professionals. If you do not treat the mold the right way, it will not go away. It is important to know that mold under 28% wood moisture content is deemed inactive, however anything over 28% is active. Usually at 20% moisture content, conducive conditions for potential mold growth present themselves. At that point it is essential to come up with a game plan to lower the moisture levels. Good thing is most of the time bold can be prevented!
Why does my crawlspace have high moisture content? - This is something we tell all our customers:
In the hot summer months when humidity is at its highest, hot humid air flows through your crawlspace and where does it go? Well - hot air rises and where does it collect? - inside your subfloor insulation, your subfloor joists, and the actual subfloor. Meanwhile on the interior, cool air is pushing down and at that point cold and hot air meet at the subfloor level and condensation begins. So, all that condensation is again being collected in your substructure. Contributing factors that could also aid in elevated moisture levels are - sweating duct work due to hot air hitting the cool ducts, leaking plumbing lines, exposed crawlspace soil which is generally cool and will condense if hot air hits it, and fans - do not ever put fans inside a crawlspace - it will only move the hot air around more and increase moisture content!!!
•Fix leaks in duct work and plumbing lines
•Remove subfloor insulation.
•Install a vapor barrier (thicker plastic barrier covering the soil)
•Encapsulate your crawlspace.
•Exclude/seal all cracks and openings in your foundation to prevent rodents from gaining access into your crawlspace.
Important Notice: DO NOT EVER LET CONTRACTORS OR SPRAY FOAM INSUALTION COMPANIES SELL YOU ON THE IDEA THAT APPLYING SPRAY FOAM TO YOUR SUBFLOOR IS ESSENTIAL AND EFFICIENT. Does it help insulate - Yes, BUT - it comes with a lot of problems, especially in the future. For one, it holds moisture, just like batt roll insulation and if you happen to have closed cell insulation installed problems such as plumbing leaks or termites will not be noticeable until there is a major problem. It is important to know that most every Termite Control Company will not issue you a termite damage repair guarantee if you have spray foam insulation covering your subfloor or in other cases if you have a Termite Bond, and you install spray foam insulation without the termite companies' knowledge, they will cancel that bond immediately. Reason is that termite inspectors cannot make a visual inspection of your subfloor because it is covered by spray foam and should termites be active inside that insulation, they would not be able to identify that problem and fix it. Therefore, insurance companies will not put coverage on homes with spray foam insulation in substructures. Closed cell insulation is easily penetrated by termites and they will use that insulation for their gallery system. Spray foam insulation also holds water, so if a plumbing leak occurs around a toilet, shower or sink and water runs down into the spray foam, it will not drain causing the subfloor to rot away over time.
Vent Replacements - should you be unhappy with the current vents you have in your foundation, due to them either being broke, missing, or outdated, we can help by installing new flood approved vents.
Crawlspace door replacements - Most original crawlspace doors are either bent, rusted out (if they are made of metal), rotted out (if they are made of wood), broken, or missing completely. We can install new weatherproof vinyl crawlspace doors that are aesthetically pleasing, durable, and affordable.
Vapor Barriers - A lot of crawlspace homes have old, dirty/dusty, torn low mil liners that basically are just collecting more dust and not serving their general purpose. Other crawlspaces do not have any plastic covering the ground therefore the soil is damp and moldy. We have high mil grade liners that will stand the test of time and do what they are supposed to do - Prevent Vapors/Condensation. Those liners will be anchored into your soil underneath your home, seam taped and attached to the bottom of the foundation and crawlspace support piers.
Encapsulations - This is the most efficient and effective way to keep your crawlspace dry! Let us completely seal your substructure by installing a high-grade liner and a dehumidifier. Basically, we will again anchor a heavy and durable liner on the crawlspace floor and seam tape it together. Then we will wrap your support piers and attached it to the ground liner. A wall curtain will be installed all the way around your entire foundation wall with a 4-inch gap left from the top of the foundation wall to the liner to allow termite technicians to inspect the top of the foundation walls. All crawlspace cross ventilation openings will be sealed with foam boards and spray foam. A dehumidifier will be installed to suck out the moisture in the air and keep the environment dry in your substructure. You will receive a weather station so you can monitor the conditions in your crawlspace and usually with an encapsulation you should ideally be at 55% humidity.
Mold Treatments - Most homes have some sort of topical fungal growth of molds in their substructures whether on sub floor joists or the actual sub floor. Let our team remove these molds by treating your crawlspace with a fungicide and deodorizer afterwards to give your crawlspace a cleaner look and smell. Even if these molds are inactive because moisture levels are below the active threshold, you should still consider getting those removed as small particles will still float around on the interior of your home and after all - Mold is Mold!
•Cleaner safer air circulating through your home - no more mold spores or allergens floating around your home
•Savings on your energy bill - usually people report saving anywhere between $85-$125 per month on their energy bill!
•Extra protection from termites/mold/fungi, because you are eliminating favorable conditions for an environment that those problems can thrive in.
•Prolonging the structural integrity and health of your overall structure.