Does the air inside your home smell musty? Does your home feel damp? Are you having a problem with pest infestations? If so, you might have a problem in your crawl space. Whether it’s from moisture buildup, foundation issues, or pests, crawl space problems can cause all kinds of headaches for homeowners. But the good news is there are solutions to help get everything back under control. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the common causes of crawl space problems and provide tips on addressing and preventing them so you can keep your home in optimal shape.
Recognizing the Most Common Crawl Space Problems
Crawl spaces are often out of sight and out of mind, but they’re essential to your home’s structural integrity. Unfortunately, crawl spaces are prone to various problems that can compromise the safety and comfort of your living area. One of the most common crawl space problems is moisture, which can lead to mold and mildew growth, as well as wood rot and the deterioration of insulation. Another issue is pests, which can enter through cracks and gaps and cause damage to the joists, beams, support posts, wiring, and insulation. Some pests also carry diseases and allergens. Recognizing these common crawl space problems early on is essential to prevent serious damage to your home and protect your family’s health.
Moisture and Humidity Issues
The accumulation of moisture and humidity in a crawl space can create an ideal environment for mold and mildew growth, which can have serious health implications for those living in the home. Mold spores can cause allergic reactions, respiratory problems, and even contribute to the development of asthma and other chronic health conditions.
Additionally, excess moisture can deteriorate the wooden support structures in the crawl space (joists, beams, etc.), weakening the home’s foundation.
Moisture also attracts pests, such as rodents and termites, adding an additional layer of concern for homeowners—more on this in the next section.
Pests such as rodents, termites, and cockroaches are attracted to crawl spaces as they provide a dark, damp environment ideal for survival. Once they have infested a crawl space, they can quickly spread to other areas of the home, leading to an even bigger problem.
Rodents can gnaw on wiring, insulation, and other materials, causing damage to the home’s foundation and structure. This can lead to costly repairs and even hazardous situations like electrical fires.
Termites are known to cause extensive damage to wooden joists, beams, and support posts, which can compromise the home’s structural integrity. Once in the crawl space, they can spread to other areas of the house, causing significant damage and leading to expensive repairs.
One of the most common causes of structural damage in a crawl space is moisture accumulation. When moisture is present, it can lead to mold growth, wooden beams rotting, and metal structure rusting. As noted above, moisture can also attract termites and other pests, which can also cause damage to the crawl space’s structural components.
Another issue that can cause significant structural damage in a crawl space is the loss of soil support. For example, when the soil under the foundation becomes soggy because of poor drainage, the support posts in the crawl space can settle into the ground and become non-vertical. The entire structure is affected since the support posts hold up the beams and joists. These structural issues in the crawl space can manifest in the rest of the building as wall cracks, doors and windows that no longer open and close correctly because their frames are misaligned, etc.
How to Fix Crawl Space Moisture and Humidity Problems
The best way to address crawl space moisture and humidity issues is to ensure the soil around the foundation remains dry. Here are some ways to help do this:
- Ensure your yard is graded correctly – The ground around the house should slope away from the foundation to prevent saturated soil surrounding the crawl space.
- Use downspout extensions – Downspout extensions should direct water at least 15 feet from the foundation before release.
- Clean gutters regularly – Clogged gutters can cause water to spill over the side of your house and soak the ground around the foundation.
- Install a drain tile system – A drain tile system involves the installation of buried perforated drainage pipes that capture and redirect water away from the foundation. There are two types of drain tile systems: exterior and interior.
In addition to these preventative measures, crawl space encapsulation can provide an added layer of protection against moisture and humidity. Encapsulating a crawl space involves sealing the vents and installing a thick, vapor-retarding barrier on the walls and floors of the crawl space. A dehumidifier can also be installed to remove excess moisture from the air.
How to Remove Rodents and Other Pests from Your Crawl Space
Rodents in your crawl space are a nuisance and a serious health hazard. They can damage insulation, chew through electrical wires, and carry diseases that can harm your family’s health.
So, how do you get rid of these little intruders?
One of the effective ways is to use traps to catch them. You can either use snap traps or live traps. Snap traps are designed to kill rodents instantly, while live traps allow you to catch them without harming them. Once you have caught a mouse or rat, seal all entry points to prevent more rodents from entering your crawl space. Additionally, make sure to clean and disinfect the affected area thoroughly. Removing rodents from your crawl space requires patience and persistence, but with the right technique, you can get rid of them for good. If you’re unsure about how to do this, consult a professional.
For removing termites and other wood-eating pests, it’s essential to seek the assistance of a professional exterminator.
Repairing Structural Issues in Your Crawl Space
If you’re facing structural problems in your crawl space, the chosen repair solution will depend on what exactly caused the problem in the first place. Here are some possible issues and repair solutions:
Possible repair solution for settled crawl space support posts
One possible cause of structural problems in your crawl space could be due to settled support posts. If this is the case, removing and replacing these support posts with new ones might be necessary.
Removing the wooden support posts and installing adjustable screw jacks is another possible solution. If there’s continued settlement, the screw jacks can be adjusted to ensure everything remains level.
Remember that these repair solutions won’t be a permanent fix if the cause of the settled support posts isn’t addressed. For example, if the support posts settled into soggy soil because of poor drainage around the foundation, this will need to be remedied.
Possible repair solution for a deteriorated or broken joist
Another common cause of structural problems in the crawl space can be deteriorated or broken joists. In this case, sistering may be the best solution. Sistering involves attaching additional support joists to the side of a failing joist to reinforce the structure.
Again, identifying the root cause of the joist failure is essential to any lasting repair solution. This is why working with a professional foundation repair contractor who can accurately assess and address the root problem is critical.
If you think there might be a problem in the crawl space under your Chicagoland home, contact The Real Seal today to schedule a crawl space evaluation. If we find a problem, we’ll give you a repair estimate.