If you had to choose one area of your home that you’d prefer to avoid, what would it be? For many of us, it’s the crawl space. Even the name, “crawl space,” sounds a bit unappealing.
Unfortunately, there’s good reason to check out the crawl space. Up to 50% of the air in your home – the air you and your friends and family breathe – flows up from there.* If your crawl space isn’t encapsulated, that air can be less than desirable: An untreated crawl space can be a breeding ground for microbial growth and an open door to pests and flooding.
Fortunately, you can address all those concerns – and there’s no need for you to crawl around under the house.
What is crawl space encapsulation?
According to the dictionary, “encapsulation” is the action involved in enclosing something as though it were in a capsule. When it comes to your crawl space, encapsulation involves wrapping a water vapor barrier on the floors and walls, turning the crawl space into a clean, dry capsule. The barrier, often made of heavy-duty polyethylene, keeps ground moisture from seeping into the crawl space. This, in turn, reduces the amount of humid air coming into your living space.
Why does it matter?
Along with creating a more comfortable environment throughout your home, waterproofing the crawl space through encapsulation helps you avoid potentially costly issues: It reduces the risk of mold and lessens the likelihood that termites or other insects and pests will take up residence and damage your home foundation.
In addition, crawl space encapsulation reduces the risk of flooding. The heavy-duty barrier provides a protective layer that keeps water out, even during the heavy downpours we get in this part of the country. With encapsulation, the expensive water damage associated with flooding is less likely.
Improving the air quality, in the crawl space and throughout your home, also helps you maintain the proper humidity, so your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system doesn’t have to work as hard. Less stress on the HVAC helps extend the life of this critical household system and leads to lower utility bills.
Who handles crawl space encapsulations?
As you might guess, this particular home improvement project isn’t your basic DIY on the weekend chore. It’s also not a one-person job. To be most effective, a crawl space encapsulation should be handled by professionals.
The basic process of encapsulating a crawl space involves:
Assessing and cleaning the crawl space. The clean-up is important: While the barrier installed is strong and sturdy, rocks and sharp debris could damage it and are best removed before installation.
Measuring and cutting the barrier material to fit the room. This is where the old, “measure twice, cut once,” rule comes in handy: The material needs to allow for proper overlap and sealing.
Encapsulating the crawl space. Typically, the barrier material is installed on the foundation walls and ceiling first, and then the floor. Particular attention must be paid to the floor joists.
Maintaining proper humidity. Once the crawl space is fully encapsulated, it’s important to maintain the proper level of humidity in the room. Crawl space dehumidifiers can be installed to keep the humidity level at a healthy 45-50%.
Crawl Space Encapsulation Services
Crawl Space Encapsulation Santa Cruz professionals are trained and experienced in crawl space encapsulation. Contact us today to find out how our team can help you protect your home investment – from the crawl space on up!
Crawl Space Encapsulation Vs Vapor Barrier
The difference between a vapor barrier and encapsulation in a crawl space comes down to thickness and a sealed interior.
The purpose of a vapor barrier is to reduce ground water from evaporating in your crawl space. To counteract that a thin sheet usually 4 to 6 millimeters thick covers the floor. The vapor barrier is not a sealed system and typically stops just short of the interior walls.
Because of this some water can still bypass the vapor barrier and enter the crawl space. A more comprehensive and expensive approach would be to get your crawl space encapsulated to better guarantee no more moisture.
Once the crawl space has been prepped and all the water removed, a thicker plastic lining is installed and all vents, holes and cracks where air can enter is completely sealed. This thicker plastic is usually 12 to 20 millimeters thick. It also has a polyester-cored reinforcement which is more durable than the vapor barrier. Most importantly though all the seams are sealed and the liner is fasted to the floor and all the way up the walls and columns. This completes the encapsulation.
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