Looking for information about a crawl space moisture barrier? If so, you’ve landed on the right page because that’s what we’re going to discuss in this article. We’ll review what causes moisture in a crawl space, why you don’t want moisture in a crawl space, how a crawl space moisture barrier can help, and more.
What is a Crawl Space Moisture Barrier?
A crawl space moisture barrier is typically a layer of heavy-duty polyethylene plastic sheeting placed over the crawl space floor. It’s designed to prevent moisture and humidity from entering the area through the dirt floor. Installing a crawl space moisture barrier can significantly reduce the overall humidity in the crawl space, which is crucial for maintaining a healthy, structurally sound home.
Why You Don’t Want Moisture in Your Crawl Space
Moisture in your home’s crawl space can cause a lot of problems. It can cause damage to your home’s structural integrity and health problems for anyone living in the house. Here are just a few reasons you don’t want moisture in your crawl space:
- Mold growth – Moisture in a crawl space offers the perfect breeding ground for mold. These fungi can release spores that can exacerbate allergies and respiratory issues, especially in people with compromised immune systems. For more information, see Is The Stack Effect Blowing Crawl Space Mold Into Your Home?
- Pest infestation – Moisture in your crawl space can attract pests such as termites, rodents, and insects. These pests can damage your home and risk your family’s health.
- Structural damage – Moisture in the crawl space can weaken the wooden support structures, leading to sagging floors and other issues. This can be expensive to repair and can reduce your home’s value.
- Possibly increased energy bills – Moisture in the crawl space means increased humidity inside your home’s living area. Since humid air is harder to heat and cool, your HVAC unit will need to work harder to maintain a comfortable temperature. This could lead to higher energy bills.
Crawl space moisture is not something to take lightly. If you suspect moisture in your home’s crawl space, it’s essential to take action right away to prevent further damage and keep your family healthy.
To ensure effectiveness, crawl space moisture barriers need to be professionally installed by licensed contractors with experience in crawl space waterproofing. Poorly installed or low-quality moisture barriers can be ineffective and cause more harm than good.
What Causes Moisture in a Crawl Space?
The sources of crawl space moisture are various and include the following:
- Moisture from the dirt floor can seep into the crawl space, particularly when the ground is saturated due to heavy rainfall. A high water table can also be a problem. Poor drainage only exacerbates the issue.
- Leaks from pipes or HVAC systems
- Open vents allow warm, humid air to enter the crawl space and condense on cooler surfaces.
- Through cracks in the foundation wall
Crawl space moisture can have serious consequences. It can cause wood rot and compromise the home’s structural integrity. It can also lead to the development of mold, which, as noted above, can cause health problems for anyone living in the house.
To mitigate the moisture problem in a crawl space, it’s essential to identify and address the root causes promptly. One way to do this is to install a vapor barrier to slow down moisture entering the space from the dirt floor. Fixing any pipe or HVAC leaks should also be a priority to prevent further moisture accumulation.
What Are the Benefits of a Crawl Space Moisture Barrier?
The benefits of a crawl space moisture barrier are numerous and include the following:
- Reduced risk of structural damage – A moisture barrier helps prevent structural damage by protecting the wooden joists and beams from swelling or rotting due to excess moisture. These structural elements can weaken over time, leading to costly repairs or collapse. Installing a crawl space moisture barrier can help avoid this risk, ensuring your home remains safe and stable for years.
- Protection against mold – A crawl space moisture barrier also protects against mold and mildew growth. These damaging fungi can weaken your home’s structural integrity and cause severe health problems if left unchecked. A properly installed moisture barrier can help prevent moisture from accumulating in your crawl space, reducing the risk of mold and mildew growth.
- Improved air quality – One of the most significant benefits of a crawl space moisture barrier is improved air quality. A percentage of air in the crawl space flows into your home’s living area. If crawl space air is full of mold, the air inside your home will also be. A moisture barrier can help prevent this by ensuring a lower humidity level in the crawl space.
- Enhanced home comfort – By preventing moisture from infiltrating your crawl space, you can achieve a more consistent temperature throughout your home, reducing humidity levels and preventing musty odors. This leads to a more comfortable, healthy, and pleasant living environment for you and your family.
- Possibly increased energy efficiency – Humid air is harder to heat and cool. Therefore, your HVAC system has to work harder to maintain a comfortable temperature. A crawl space moisture barrier can help you potentially reduce energy costs and keep your home more comfortable year-round.
Do I Really Need a Crawl Space Moisture Barrier?
It depends. If you live in an arid region with low humidity levels, you may be able to forgo a crawl space moisture barrier altogether. However, if you live in an area with high humidity levels, a crawl space moisture barrier can be essential to your home’s health and structural integrity. Without a moisture barrier, excess moisture can accumulate in your crawl space, leading to a variety of problems, as we’ve noted above.
If you’re unsure whether or not you need a crawl space moisture barrier, consult a professional. A qualified contractor can help you determine whether or not a moisture barrier is necessary for your home. Additionally, they can help you select the best type of moisture barrier for your needs and ensure it’s installed correctly.
What’s the Difference Between a Moisture Barrier and Crawl Space Encapsulation?
A moisture barrier and crawl space encapsulation are two methods that help prevent moisture from entering a crawl space. A crawl space moisture barrier, also known as a vapor barrier, is a sheet of plastic placed on the crawl space floor. It makes it harder for moisture to enter the crawl space through the ground.
Crawl space encapsulation, on the other hand, is a more complex process that involves sealing the vents and covering both the crawl space floor and walls with a vapor-retarding barrier. This completely seals the crawl space, making it much harder for moisture to enter. Often, a dehumidifier is added to ensure the humidity level remains low. An encapsulated crawl space can be used to store things like tools and holiday decorations. One could say that encapsulation provides a more robust solution to crawl space moisture problems.
For more information about crawl space encapsulation, see Is Crawl Space Encapsulation Worth It? YES.
If you’re considering a crawl space moisture barrier for your Chicagoland home, contact The Real Seal today to schedule an evaluation.