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Crawl Space Encapsulation & Repair

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Dirty, damp, and musty are usually the three most common adjectives that people use when describing their crawl space. This is because unless your crawl space is fully encapsulated, you will encounter moisture-related problems in this area. Your crawl space is the area underneath your home that was constructed when your home’s foundation was first built. It usually holds structural support such as floor joists and will sometimes house plumbing lines or HVAC systems. Any moisture in your crawl space acts as a destructive force to the area and the rest of your home. At Foundation Systems of Michigan, we recommend repairing any damage and encapsulating your crawl space to improve the health and safety of your home and family.    


CAUSES OF CRAWL SPACE PROBLEMS

The stack effect refers to the process in which hot air leaves the home through your attic and upper levels. As it does, a vacuum is created below, and new air is pulled upwards through the basement, crawl space, and lower levels.

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Is Crawl Space Repair and Encapsulation the Right Solution for Me? 

If your crawl space contains standing water, mold, or dry rotted floor joists, you may wonder what steps you can take to eradicate it. Your crawl space is a vital part of your home’s structure and is responsible for housing important pipes and in some cases, HVAC systems. When damage occurs, it can result in costly repairs and lower air quality in your home. At FSM, we offer a multi-step solution to encapsulate your crawl space and protect it from moisture and unwelcome pests. 

When pests or water gets into your crawl space, they can wreak havoc on the structural supports and appliances within the area, as well as decrease the health of your home. Things such as elevated humidity and mold and mildew can result in poor indoor air quality. This also can cause your energy bills to increase and the overall environment of your home to deteriorate. When these things happen, the stack effect is likely at play. The stack effect is the upward movement of air from the crawl space through your home. This means that any mold, pest droppings, or humidity are being circulated within the air your family breathes.  

To stop these issues from affecting you and your home, investing in crawl space repairs and encapsulation is the smartest choice. We offer customized solutions for your home such as vent covers, durable vapor barriers, interior drainage systems, drainage matting, dehumidifiers, and more. 

FAQs


 
When homeowners hear about crawl space waterproofing and all it entails, many question the necessity of encapsulation, especially if the area is already closed off. A sump pump and dehumidifier make sense, but how can a vapor barrier protect a crawl space from water damage? Well, the materials your crawl space is made of, wood and concrete, experience rapid deterioration after water exposure. This is because both materials are highly absorbent. 
 
Because of their permeability, even water vapor can get through and invade your crawl space or crawl space. You might think this isn’t really a big deal—after all, water vapor is what the dehumidifier is for, right? However, once that moisture passes through the wood and concrete, there’s a possibility that mold will grow. There are certain types of mold that can survive even when the air isn’t very humid, so it wouldn’t take much for your foundation to start deteriorating. 
 
Vapor barriers completely block all water and water vapor that tries to get into the crawl space. It’s made of a completely inorganic material, so no mold can eat at it and grow. Encapsulation also helps insulate the area and keep temperatures stable which lowers energy bills. And last but not least, encapsulation tidies up the way your basement or crawl space looks. The sleek, white barrier brightens up the space, makes it look bigger than it truly is, and keeps everything clean for years to come. 

Anybody who has experienced summer in Detroit will be able to tell you how terribly humid it gets. It’s especially bad inside basements and crawl spaces during the summer since all the heat and humidity from the outside finds its way inside. With humidity comes mold to your crawl space, which is detrimental to both you and your house. Mold in crawl spaces eats away at your wood, softens it up, and weakens it to the point where the support beams can no longer properly support the floorboards. This leads to more problems down the line, like warped window and door frames, cracked corners, and leaking pipes.

As for how it affects you, mold can irritate the sinuses, lungs, and throat. It triggers allergies and can be dangerous to those with even mild respiratory issues. Long-term exposure to mold can destroy your respiratory organs and leave you with long-term health problems. All in all, you’d be wise to try to lower the humidity in your crawl space by as much as possible. This can be done by installing a dehumidifier in your crawl space so the humidity levels can stay adequate, even for a crawl space.

The kind of dehumidifier you need for your crawl space is not the same one you have around your home. Those aren’t potent enough to lower the humidity levels in a crawl space. Besides, household dehumidifiers typically need to be emptied manually, which can be troublesome to have to deal with in a small crawl space. The only kind of dehumidifiers that work for crawl spaces are industrial-grade types that foundation repair experts have. These kinds of dehumidifiers are the only ones strong enough to do the job, and they are fully automated, making them the most convenient dehumidifiers ever.

It is incredibly tempting for homeowners to seek out DIY solutions. This is understandable, as basement, crawl space, and foundation repairs are quite costly. After all, if you can do something yourself, why not? Unfortunately, repairs can be rather dangerous, even potentially fatal, especially if one does not have the expertise or take the appropriate safety precautions. In fact, 13 million people in the U.S. alone are injured from home repairs, with 55,000 deaths attributed to DIY repairs gone wrong.

Take foundation repairs for instance. Bowed walls and sunken concrete slabs are incredibly common problems. If one were to try to repair bowed walls on their own, you risk accidentally tearing down your foundation walls or creating cracks and holes for water to enter, which will then result in leaks or flooding. It is also recommended to not work with concrete without the proper knowledge because they are heavy and can be dusty and messy to deal with. This can pave the way for a multitude of health problems or injuries.

DIY repairs in your basement or crawl space are arguably even more dangerous because they are below ground level. Homeowners risk flooding, structural damage, or in the worst-case scenario, collapse. You should not consider repairing even what seems to be the simplest issues on your own because you might accidentally worsen the problem or create a whole other problem. In the end, DIY repairs may end up costing more overall than if you were to hire a professional contractor to do it for you.


 
Recognizing early crawl space problem signs can mean the difference between needing a simple repair job and needing to renovate your entire crawl space. One of the earliest signs of crawl space issues is high levels of humidity throughout your home. Your crawl space plays a very important role in the kind of air that moves around your home due to the stack effect. The stack effect refers to when warm air enters your home through the crawl space and travels up towards the rest of your home. This is because warm, humid air is lighter than cool, dry air. 
 
The reason this is so important is because the air you breathe in your home comes from the crawl space, meaning that whatever is in there is something you breathe. This includes mold, pest droppings, humid air, and animal carcasses. Long-term exposure to polluted air causes a slew of respiratory issues, so if your house is unusually humid or smelly, especially during the summer, you need to check on the condition of your crawl space. A good way to do so would be to check for other problem signs around your home, such as mold growth and high energy bills. Another way to check if the humidity is coming from your crawl space would be to use a moisture meter. 
 
If your home is experiencing increased levels of humidity and you have a crawl space that isn’t waterproofed or sealed, you need to act fast. High humidity problems that stem from your crawl space is just the beginning of your problems. It indicates that your foundation has a serious drainage issue that will affect its structure in due time. Once you’ve determined that your crawl space is the cause of all your humidity problems, get in contact with a foundation repair company as soon as you can. 
 

If you have a basement or crawl space with high levels of humidity, there’s a good chance mold will grow on the wood. Even if you don’t see it, it’s possible it’s growing and developing in such a way that, by the time you notice it’s there, the wood will have to be completely replaced. Wood can sometimes be salvaged despite the fungal growth, but this depends on how fast you’re able to kill the fungus. Learning how to identify when your wood is rotting is the best way to save it. There are two things you need to look out for when trying to identify wood rot: direct signs and indirect signs.

Direct signs of wood rot would be those that you can observe when directly examining the wood or the space it inhabits. Even if there are spores or fungal growth anywhere in the crawl space or basement, even when they aren’t directly on the wood itself, you need to do something since mold spreads so easily between different materials. Wood rot can also be very sneaky in the sense that it can grow on the wood without any discoloration. The best way to test the wood for rot would be to use a screwdriver or a pencil. If the wood shows any signs of softness at all, it is rotting.

Indirect signs would be those that you can detect away from the rotting wood, usually in your household. The biggest indicator would be a strange smell wafting from the crawl space or basement. Due to the stack effect, the air in your foundation rises toward your home, meaning that the spores and smell of mold will be noticeable throughout the house. Another good way to test for wood rot would be to simply check the humidity levels in your home. Crawl spaces and basements tend to be a lot more humid than the rest of the house, so if the humidity levels in your home are extreme, it goes double for the humidity in your basement.

Often, many people hear about replacing the wood in their crawl space in order to repair it. However, there is a more efficient way of repairing your crawl space while also ensuring that it stays fixed. The MagnaForce™ floor support system can restore sagging floor beams and crawl space structures, despite being surrounded by rotted or water-damaged wooden posts. While it may be small in size, it can support more than 60,000 pounds in just one support jack. The MagnaForce™ is very versatile and is also capable of reviving sunken foundations, even in the smallest of crawl spaces.

Encapsulating your crawl space may be something that you want to invest in. Much of the air that enters your home originates within the crawl space below you. If your crawl space has been continuously exposed to water, it can result in wood rot and host pests and mold, which will ultimately taint the air in your home. The VaporLoc Elite® Advantage prevents this by providing a waterproof and mold-proof layer to your crawl space that makes it more difficult for pests to enter. By improving the air quality in your crawl space, you are improving the air within your home and ensuring the health and safety of its inhabitants.

Insulation within your crawl space is not something that homeowners typically consider; however, it may be beneficial for those who live in Lansing, where winters can be extremely frigid. Because much of the air that enters your home comes from your crawl space, you want to make sure that this air retains as much warmth as possible so that your house is not freezing cold in the winter. This can help to save on energy bill costs in the long run. The EnerLoc® Wall System has strong insulating capabilities. It is also fire-resistant and can dually work to reduce moisture levels in your crawl space.

Why Crawl Space Repair and Encapsulation Are Needed 

When you spot signs of damage in your crawl space, your first thought is maybe what do you do next. Since your crawl space is a part of your home that is hidden and out of view, it’s usually also rarely visited unless something wrong has happened. Here are some reasons why crawl space encapsulation is needed for your home.  

rat

Deters Unwanted Pests 

Nothing creates a more welcoming habitat for pests than a dark and damp environment, which is exactly what a crawl space provides. Things such as open crawl space vents, damp insulation, organic materials, and isolation are all components that make up the perfect home for pests. By encapsulating your crawl space with a vapor barrier, removing any wet insulation, and sealing your open vents, you can help deter unwelcome pests from invading your home. 

dehumidifier in crawl space

Increased Energy Efficiency 

When you have open crawl space vents, you run the risk of losing heating or cooling out of your floors during the winter or summer months. When this happens, your HVAC systems go into overdrive and must work harder to maintain an efficient temperature in your home. When you choose to encapsulate your crawl space, you can save anywhere from 30-50% on your energy bills.  

crawl space encapsulation and stabilization

Enhanced Structural Safety  

If your floor joists become dry rotted or start to sag, you might have a moisture problem in your crawl space. Since floor joists are usually made of wooden beams, they are easily susceptible to the damaging effects of water. They also can be infiltrated with termites which can deteriorate their stability. If this is the case in your crawl space, support joists may need to be installed and then encapsulation solutions can follow.  

Common Crawl Space Repair and Encapsulation Tips & Mistakes 

Since your crawl space is an area that is usually considered out of sight, out of mind, it can be a challenge when damage happens within it. Here are some helpful tips that our experts at Foundation Systems of Michigan recommend when getting your crawl space repaired, as well as some mistakes to avoid. 

Helpful Tips  

  • Even though your crawl space is an area you may rarely visit, it’s important to routinely have checked for any damage or signs of moisture. Even certain telltale signs around your home may give way that damage has happened. Sagging and uneven floors, mold, condensation forming on windows, and more can lead you to problems happening underneath your home.  
  • If you do suspect your crawl space has moisture or damage, it is important to call the experts at Foundation Systems of Michigan for an inspection. Since the area is usually small and compact, it’s best to have professionals who know what to look for and who are experts at moving through the area. We have vast knowledge in inspecting, diagnosing, and repairing crawl space problems with our trusted solutions.  
  • Standing water in your crawl space can be a scary thought and you may wonder how it got there in the first place. Usually, it is from a plumbing leak, groundwater, or a flood. Although we suggest calling in the experts for help, if you are able to and feel comfortable enough, try to remove as much standing water as possible. This way, although repairs and encapsulation solutions need to be installed, our team will be able to spot the source of the water. 

Mistakes to Avoid  

  • If you want to fully protect your home from water-related damage, you must ensure that all the proper encapsulation solutions are installed. Just installing a sump pump or interior drainage system is not enough to fully combat water or mildew and mold growth. You also need a vapor barrier, dehumidifier, and crawl space vent covers to ensure your home is fully waterproof. 
  • Since crawl spaces are such a delicate area of your home, it’s best that you don’t attempt any DIY repairs. Any mishaps, faulty products, or wrong moves could end up in more damage to your home and safety hazards. It is important to have the proper solutions and expert help to ensure your crawl space is repaired the right way.  
  • Although installing a sump pump is a great way of combatting floods, groundwater, or a plumbing leak, if you lose power, your sump pump stops working. This is due to your primary pump being hooked up to your home’s electricity, and when it fails, so does its purpose. Having a battery-powered backup sump pump can save you all the headache and water damage if a power outage happens at your home. It will turn on as soon as the primary turns off and will work to direct any excess water away from your home.  

Find your service area

Alpena

Alpena

Contact DryMich today for your basement waterproofing, crawl space, foundation repair, and water management in Alpena!

Jackson

Jackson

Contact DryMich today for your basement waterproofing, crawl space, foundation repair, and water management in Jackson!

Newberry

Newberry

Contact DryMich today for your basement waterproofing, crawl space, foundation repair, and water management in Newberry!

Detroit

Detroit

Detroit’s humid climate spells trouble for homeowners due to soil expansion and shrinkage. This can cause old and new houses alike to suffer from many foundation problems, such as settling, leaking, wall cracks, and warped window frames.

Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids is a city that’s no stranger to humidity, which is why many of its homeowners suffer from foundation problems. Concrete settling, mold, bowing walls, and flooded basements can all be linked to soil.

Kalamazoo

Kalamazoo

The constant presence of rain in Kalamazoo can alter the structural integrity of basements, crawl spaces, and foundations, with leakage and damage soon to follow. FSM provides various solutions, making structural problems and water damage a thing of the past.

Lansing

Lansing

Year-round rain can interfere with your home in Lansing, resulting in damages that are problematic and dangerous. FSM offers numerous solutions to homeowners, so you can live comfortably and safely.

Saginaw

Saginaw

Saginaw, MI, often faces plenty of moisture issues from heavy rains and snows. How can FSM protect your home from moisture damage?

Sault Ste. Marie-St. Ignace

Sault Ste. Marie-St. Ignace

Like most parts of Michigan, Sault Ste. Marie sees a consistent amount of rainfall throughout the entire year. Foundation and crawl space problems, as well as basement flooding, are all problems caused by water and soil.

Toledo

Toledo

Given how hot and humid Toledo’s summers are and how rainy it gets during the fall, chances are, you’re struggling with some sort of basement or foundation issue. The conditions of the lower part of your home have a profound effect on the entire structure.

Traverse City

Traverse City

Since most of the houses in Traverse City are 19 years older than the United States’ average, it’s safe to say that many homeowners in this region are experiencing issues with their old, weathered structures.

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