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Water In Your Crawl Space? When You Should Worry & How To Fix It

Sam Smith Foundation Repair Consultant

crawl space

If you are wondering about the water in your crawl space. Whether you should worry about it and how you can fix it, you have come to the right place. This Regional Foundation Repair guide answers all your questions, including:

  • What Are The Causes Of Water In A Crawl Space?
  • What Are The Problems Caused By A Wet Crawl Space?
  • How Do You Prevent Water In Your Crawl Space?
  • How Can A Wet Crawl Space Be Fixed?
  • How Much Does It Cost To Fix A Wet Crawl Space?
  • How Can You Save Money When Fixing A Damp Crawl Space?

For a quick price quote on your crawl space and foundation repair issues, give us your project details in the form and one of our technicians will be in touch with you within no time. Read on to find out water in your crawl space and the measures you can take to resolve the issue.

What Problems Are Caused By A Wet Crawl Space?

Despite being a remote area of your home, the crawl space plays an important role in its overall stability, safety, and comfort. Letting water accumulate in this area not only threatens the structural integrity of your house but also poses significant health and safety risks to you and your family.

If you have not checked your crawl space recently for moisture, it is time you head down there and give it a quick inspection. You might find the answer to some of the issues that have been plaguing your home.

A wet crawl space is not just an inconvenience that you can learn to cope with, but something that should be addressed quickly to prevent further costly damage.

Below are some of the problems you will experience as a result of a wet crawl space.

Increased Energy Bills

A wet crawl space will increase the internal humidity of your home since the only escape route for the water will be evaporating into your floors and walls. Damp walls and floors will disrupt the internal temperature of your home by making it colder or hotter than it should be. Your HVAC system will therefore need to work double-time to keep your home comfortable. As a result, you will end up spending more on your energy bills.

Mold, Mildew and Pest Infestation

Mold and mildew grow in cool, dark, and damp spaces. Since most crawl spaces are naturally cold and dark, the presence of moisture makes them the perfect environment for them to thrive. Mold produces spores that could cause serious respiratory health problems like Aspergillosis to you and your family members. It can also escalate pre-existing conditions like asthma and make them life-threatening.

Mold and mildew also attract disease-carrying pests such as roaches and slugs by providing them with food and breeding ground. These creatures will also attract other pests like rats, mice, and snakes, which will pose a safety threat for you and your family members.

Mold growth will also cause wood rot and decomposition of other organic building materials, compromising the structural integrity of your house.

Dampness and Unwanted Odors

Another effect of moisture in your walls and floors is general dampness and unwanted odors.

The dampness will spread to your furniture and other household items and make them susceptible to rot. Combined with the musty odors of mold and mildew, your home will have uncomfortable stuffiness that will reduce your level of comfort.

The dampness will also affect the textiles in your home by making them a breeding ground for bacteria and other unwanted organisms. These will not just affect the quality of air in your home, but will also pose significant health risks to your and your family members.

What Causes Water In A Crawl Space?

Prevention is always better than a cure, and the first step to preventing a problem is knowing what causes it. Here are the five most common ways through which water and moisture find their way into your crawl space.

Moisture From the Ground

The dirt floor of a crawl space is a significant entry point for unwanted moisture. When rainwater soaks up the soil around the house, some of it will seep up through the floor of your crawl space, especially if it is the lowest point around.

During the hot season, the soil on the floor of your crawl space will lose moisture through evaporation, forming droplets on the roof and walls of your crawl space. These will accumulate with time, and the result could be a puddle of water on your crawl space floor.

Missing Or Malfunctioning Gutters and Downspouts

Gutters and downspouts are critical parts of your home’s drainage system that helps not just in the harvesting of water but also in the protection of the home’s foundation. They prevent water from flowing off the edge of your roof and pooling around the perimeter of your house.

When the gutters become blocked or start leaking, rainwater will overflow and end up splashing on the soil near your house. If the downspouts malfunction or were not installed properly, the rainwater collected by your gutters shall end up near your wall. After soaking up the surrounding soil, hydrostatic pressure will push the water through the foundation and into your home’s crawl space.

Plumbing Leaks

The water supply pipes and sewer lines of most homes pass through their crawl spaces. Leakages in these areas are difficult to spot and will lead to the accumulation of standing water in your crawlspace, not to mention the significant wastages of water.

Even if the leaking water pipe is not in your crawl space, water always flows down and will find itself in the lowest part of your home. You should, therefore, keep an eye out for broken pipes as these could be slowly flooding your crawlspace. You can use your water meter to monitor your usage and detect any anomalies before they cause too much damage.

Improper Grading of Landscape

The ground surrounding your house should always slope away, or else groundwater will be trapped against your foundation, where it will find its way into your home’s crawl space. If the trapped water is deep enough, your crawl space vents could turn into spouts that let water in.

It is good practice to have a slope that extends at least 6-8 inches away from your house. Check the slope, especially after heavy rains, and add more fill soil to keep water away from your foundation wall.

Cracks On The Foundation Wall

When a house settles or shifts due to changes in the underlying soils, cracks will develop on the foundation walls. Moisture from the surrounding area will then force its way through the cracks and into your crawl space. In the process, the cracks will expand and further reduce the ability of your foundation wall to withstand water, making an already bad situation worse.

How To Prevent Water In Your Crawl Space

A wet crawl space is not an issue that will just go away by itself. In fact, the problem only gets worse with time. Now that we know the various causes of water in the crawl space, here are some preventative measures you can take to keep your crawl space dry.

Install a Vapor Barrier

Vapor barriers are a means of preventing water from getting into your crawl space through the ground and foundation walls. Also known as vapor diffusion retarders, vapor barriers are made of polyethylene plastic that covers the floor and walls of your crawlspace to prevent water from seeping in from external sources.

Before installing a vapor barrier, you should first clean up all the water that may have collected in your crawl space. Perform a thorough cleanup of the area to get rid of mold, mildew, and other materials that may have formed due to moisture build-up.

You should also ensure that fixtures such as your gutters and downspouts are functioning properly, as your vapor barrier may not be effective in preventing torrents of water from getting in.

Crawl Space Encapsulation

Crawl space encapsulation involves sealing the walls and foundation of the crawl space to prevent the entry and exit of air, moisture, or heat. Just like with a vapor barrier, sheets of overlapping polyethylene can be used to make the crawl space airtight.

The exterior of the foundation wall should also be covered with plastic sheeting especially in areas susceptible to flooding and lots of surface water.

Encapsulation ensures that no moisture, air, or heat will find its way into your living space. The insulation also prevents warmth from seeping out of your home into the crawl space, leading to significant energy conservations. It also prevents any poisonous gases and odors from getting into your home, making for a safer and more comfortable living space.

Landscape Grading

For purposes of keeping your crawl space moisture-free, the grade of your landscape should always slope away from your house. The first 4 -6 feet of soil from your foundation are most crucial to direct any drainage away from your foundation. For these first feet, you should avoid using topsoil as it provides little to no moisture resistance due to its high porosity. Instead, use clean fill dirt that is more compact as it will prevent water from seeping into your crawl space.

A french drain is also another landscape feature you can utilize to keep your crawl space moisture-free. It is a trench that will collect excess water from around your home and dump it somewhere far and safe, especially if your area is prone to heavy rains and flooding.

french drain can keep your crawl space moisture-free

You should also avoid planting flower beds near the foundation. This is because they have exposed surfaces of porous soil that will allow easy water infiltration. Since the flower bed requires watering, having it near your foundation will mean that the area will be constantly wet, increasing the chances of water seeping into your crawl space.

Repairing or Sealing Ventilation Vents

Ideally, air vents should keep the crawl space dry by allowing warm air to enter and carry any moisture out of the area. Unfortunately, most homes have poor crawl space ventilation, allowing the entry of moisture-laden air without providing any means of escape.

Temperature regulation plays an important role in determining the effectiveness of your crawl space ventilation system. Without proper temperature regulation, warmer air from outside will meet the cooler air from the inside and promote condensation of water vapor. This is why your ventilation should work hand in hand with your HVAC system to keep the temperatures in check.

Where it is impossible to achieve proper ventilation, it is better to seal off the vents completely to prevent them from carrying and dumping moisture into your crawl space.

How Can A Wet Crawl Space Be Fixed?

Where prevention is not possible or where there is already water in your crawl space, you should find ways of removing the water and keeping your crawl space dry once again. Below are some ways you can resolve a crawl space water problem.

Using A Sump Pump

A sump is a pit constructed on the surface of the basement floor to collect water and make it easier for it to be pumped out. It has moisture and pressure valves that sense changes in moisture levels in your crawl space. When the moisture reaches a certain level, the sump pump is activated to push the water out of the crawl space to a drainage area.

A sump pump is especially useful in areas prone to flooding or ones with a naturally high water table. The dumping place for your pump should be somewhere where the water won’t find its way back to your foundation.

sump pump

Installing a Dehumidifier

In some cases, especially in hot weather, even with a vapor barrier installed, moisture will still find its way into your crawl space by condensation. If you want to keep your crawl space completely dry, you should consider installing a crawl space dehumidifier.

A dehumidifier keeps the place dry by drawing in moist air, trapping and collecting the moisture, and pumping out the cold, dry air back into your crawl space.

A dehumidifier is most suitable for crawl spaces free from standing water, where the only problem is moisture in the air and tiny water droplets on surfaces. For spaces with puddles of water, a sump pump will do the job better.

Installing Ventilation Fans

Ventilation fans will improve the effectiveness of your dehumidifier by promoting airflow in your crawl space. The fans increase the speed of the air, preventing water vapor from settling on surfaces.

The air carries all the moisture from the air and dumps it in the dehumidifier, keeping your crawl space dry and safe from water damage. Therefore, for the best result, your ventilation fans and dehumidifiers should run simultaneously.

How Much Does It Cost To Fix A Wet Crawl Space?

The average price of fixing a crawl space ranges from $1500-$15,000, depending on the size of the area, the extent of damage, and the method of repair.

In most cases, the first step of repairing the crawl space will be cleaning and removing water. The cost of cleaning can be as low as $200 but can also rise as high as $4,000 where mold, pests, and rodents are involved.

Where a sump pump installation is the method of choice, the costs will range from $1,500 to $4,000. The price depends on the type of sump pump bought, the accessibility of your crawl space, and how much your contractor will charge for the installation.

For a dehumidifier, you should expect the costs to range from $1300 – $2,800. For crawl space waterproofing, encapsulation, and the installation of a water barrier, your crawl space repair costs will average at $4,000.

How To Save Money When Fixing A Damp Crawl Space?

There are several ways you can save money when you’re removing moisture from your crawl space. Let’s pe into a few of the key ways to limit the expenses associated with fixing a damp crawl space.

Prevention Is Cheaper Than Repair

Preventing moisture from damaging your crawl space is the best way of saving money when fixing a damp crawl space.

Methods like proper grading of the area around your house, repairing gutters and downspouts, and installing a waterproofing system will be way cheaper than having to repair structural damages to your foundation due to moisture problems.

Choose the Right Contractor

Your contractor will also determine how much you end up spending on your crawl space repair. If done right, your repair method should solve the root of the problem to prevent it from recurring in the future. A long-lasting solution will be cheaper in the long run compared to where you have to repeat the same cheap fix over and over again.

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Sam Smith Foundation Repair Consultant
SHORT BIO: Hey, I'm Sam Smith. I'm one of our service techs here at Regional Foundation Repair. I'm here to help you learn more about your home's foundation. I've been doing this for a while, so I have a few insider tips and tricks to share!

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