Monitoring Your Home’s Crawl Space
It’s not the “sexiest” part of your home, but if your crawl space isn’t performing well you will feel it in every room. What good is a $50,000 home remodeling project if you’re chilly and uncomfortable? “Studies have shown that up to 50% of the air we breathe in our homes comes from the crawl space,” says Neil Kelly Home Performance Manager, Chad Ruhoff. “The condition of your crawl space should be of concern to you and it’s a good idea to seal the boundary between your home and your crawl space,” he says.
What Is a Crawl Space?
The crawl space is the narrow area between the ground and the first floor of your home. Oftentimes, it’s unfinished and has a dirt floor. These gaps between your home and the ground beneath sometimes have access points for electrical, plumbing, and ventilation throughout your home.
Crawl spaces provide ventilation between the inside of your house by allowing air to circulate below the ground floor creating a more enjoyable living area, particularly during colder months.
Crawl Space Maintenance and Monitoring
One of the main things to monitor within your crawl space is moisture levels. When moisture is present in your crawl space it can affect the air quality in your home leading to health and safety risks.
The most common question is whether or not they should be vented. Technical Expert for Portland General Electric, Mark Whitney, says the difficulty in answering that question is that crawl spaces are like snowflakes: No two are the same. “Some are vented, some are not,” he says. “Most times you can insulate the floor, but other times it makes sense to insulate the foundation walls instead.”
To Get Started: Check For Radon
The single most important home remodeling test you need to make before considering how to seal your crawl space is to test for radon. Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that is a large contributor to lung cancer. Neil Kelly’s Home Improvement division can perform this test — affordably and quickly.
Crawl Space Checklist For Home Remodeling
There are a number of issues to address to determine just how your crawl space should be sealed:
- Is there water or moisture in the crawl space?
- Are there ductwork or pipes that run through the crawl space that are leaking?
- Does the crawl space have a dirt floor?
- Is there an appropriate vapor barrier on the ground?
- Are there any foundational cracks that need to be sealed?
Insulating Your Crawl Space
The first step in insulating your crawl space is to have the proper crawl space encapsulation installed. This heavy-duty moisture barrier covers the dirt floor of your crawl space, seals foundation vents, and insulates the foundation walls.
“I would never recommend insulating crawl spaces as a do-it-yourself project” Whitney says. “There are too many variables, and if the job is done incorrectly you could end up with mold or other serious problems.” Besides the obvious health implications, managing your crawl space incorrectly could cost you thousands of dollars of home remodeling repairs down the road.
“I grew up in the 1980’s”, says Chad Ruhoff. “When winter came we would block the vents to keep warm air inside. The problem was that we were creating situations where mold could grow,” he says. “We ended up having to fix a lot of dry rot on those buildings.”
Check Your Home’s Crawl Space Performance For Free
Neil Kelly Home Performance offers a free energy audit that will not only give you a better idea how to best seal your crawl space, but it will also identify other areas of your home where you’re wasting energy. These performance-related home remodeling projects save you money on your utility bills and will make your home a much more comfy place!
Are you ready for your free energy audit? Contact our team today.