Since crawl spaces are dark and humid, they are suitable for mold and mildew growth. This can result in bad smells that can permeate through your home to your living areas. When a homeowner notices this problem, it’s best to address it right away and remove the underlying issues as well as the odor itself.
For the most part, odors are caused by mildew and mold within the crawl space, so by making sure that the foundation stays healthily dry, you can prevent this problem from occurring. Also, bad odors can come from dead pests in the crawl space. Keeping these unwanted guests away from your home is also a potential solution to the problem.
What’s the Stack Effect?
The air in your home always circulates and moves. The movement is caused by the difference in temperature. Hotter air is less dense than the cold—so it floats through your home and out through the top. As the warmer air moves up it creates a pressure difference. The pressure allows cold air to accumulate in the lower parts of the property. As it heats up there, it moves up and continues the cycle. The mold spores will move up with the air and thus spread all over the home.
Humid and smelly air that comes from the crawl space isn’t just a nuisance, it’s also a health issue. That air is usually contaminated with whatever is culminating in the crawl space. For the most part, that will be the mold spores that may end up causing respiratory problems, as well as headaches and eye irritation.
Other spores and toxins may be present in the air as well. Even if there are small amounts of toxins, extended exposure can cause serious health problems.
How to Deal with the Smell
There are a few things you could do to remove the smells coming from your crawl space. Most of them revolve around reducing humidity levels that cause the odor in the first place.
A good thing about these solutions is that they also resolve other problems related to the humidity of the crawl space. In the long run, keeping the crawl space dry will also keep the home structurally sound and increase the longevity of the wooden construction. It’s especially important in areas like Toledo, OH where there’s a lot of humidity in the air during the rainy season.
- Encapsulating a Crawl Space
The first thing you can do to eliminate odors is to have your crawl space encapsulated using a vapor barrier. The vapor barrier is easily installed by attaching to the walls and the floor of the crawl space. With encapsulation, you can be at ease knowing that your crawl space is clean and dry, and most importantly, preventing mold. A vapor barrier will also keep the pests away. Since a dead rodent in your crawl space can stink up the whole place, this is a great additional benefit.
- A Drainage System
A drainage system is essential for keeping the crawl space dry and therefore your ally in the battle against the unpleasant smell. It’s used to remove the water from the crawl space through a series of drains. Landscape grading or pumps are used to move the water away from the house where it can’t cause damage.
- A Sump Pump
The water that gets into your crawl space is collected in a sump pit. The pit will be located in the lowest part of the home and therefore water will naturally flow toward it. A sump pump has a floating switch that activates when the sump pit fills with enough water. The pump will then move the water through a series of pipes and eject it outside the home, where it can cause damage to the property. It’s also useful for the pit to be large enough to accommodate a backup pump since it may be needed during the blackouts when there’s no power for the main pump.
The last part of the waterproofing system you can install and prevent odors from contaminating your home is a dehumidifier. This appliance is used to keep the crawl space dry and clean and to keep the humidity levels under control. Since mold thrives only in damp spaces, it won’t grow in your dry crawl space. All the water that the dehumidifier collects is drawn to the drainage system and then removed from the house. This appliance is especially useful during the rainy and humid months of the year. If the crawl space is encapsulated, it will work even better and provide the best results.
When you notice bad smells coming from the crawl space, it’s best to call an expert on foundations and schedule a free inspection to find the cause of the problems. This will allow you to choose the best solution for the problem while making your home safer and more structurally sound.