Should You Invest in Crawlspace Encapsulation?
Crawlspaces are a common occurrence in homes. If you have a crawlspace, keep in mind that it is more than just a place to store your holiday decorations. The crawlspace is the portion of the foundation that supports the entire structure. That is why it is important to keep the crawlspace in good health. If excess moisture is allowed to collect in the crawlspace, it can cause mold growth and may also lead to wood rot or rust formation, weakening the supporting structures in your crawlspace. That is why it is important to protect your crawlspace with crawlspace encapsulation with a vapor barrier (a kind of plastic or foil sheeting designed to keep moisture out).
The main question is, is crawlspace encapsulation really worth the cost?
Both having your crawlspace encapsulated with a vapor barrier and sealing off crawlspace vents will work in different ways to keep moisture out. While it may be more expensive, crawlspace encapsulation is the more effective of the two options.
Vapor Barrier Encapsulation Vs. Crawlspace Sealing
The most common method used to seal a crawlspace without the installation of a vapor barrier is simply to close the vents and have them sealed shut. One might also physically remove the vents and patch and seal the area where they were. Normally, this option is not very expensive. Other options to seal the crawlspace without vapor barriers include vapor retardant paint. This can be applied to the crawlspace interior rather affordably. However, vapor retardant paint is not nearly as effective as an actual vapor barrier. In addition, if the paint becomes damaged in any way, its ability to resist moisture seepage is compromised.
Closed crawlspaces offer a lot of advantages to open crawlspaces. They do not allow humid air to enter the crawlspace, they are more resistant to insect and pest infestations, and they save on heating and cooling costs for your home.
However, when it comes to whether or not merely sealing off your crawlspace is as good as installing a vapor barrier, the answer is no. While sealing your crawlspace reduces moisture entry, sealed crawlspaces still allow moisture to seep into them through the walls. This is because the walls and floor of crawlspaces are made of porous material. Water can seep through this porous concrete and end up inside your crawlspace. Vapor retardant paint reduces this occurrence, but will not eliminate it as well as a crawlspace vapor barrier. If you want to maximize the results of a closed crawlspace, you should invest in a dehumidifier as well, since this will help remove some of the moisture that seeps into the home. The effects will likely not be as effective as total crawlspace encapsulation, but they may be improved by a dehumidifier.
Why Have a Vapor Barrier Installed?
There are a few drawbacks when considering whether or not to install a vapor barrier in your crawlspace. One drawback is the cost. Vapor barrier installation costs vary, depending on the condition of the crawlspace (preparatory work may need to be completed beforehand) and the size of your crawlspace. Another disadvantage is that vapor barriers are not a do-it-yourself job. In order to ensure that your vapor barrier works correctly have it installed by a professional.
Despite these downfalls, there are several advantages to installing a vapor barrier in your crawlspace. Some of these advantages include:
- Increased Energy Efficiency: Vapor barriers can act as a sort of insulation for your crawlspace, helping to regulate temperatures and lowering heating and cooling costs in your home and reduce your energy bill up to 20%.
- Improved Air Quality: Because vapor barriers keep moisture out, they reduce the chances of mold growth in your home. This will keep mold spores from circulating through the air in your crawlspace to the rest of your home, improving the overall air quality.
- Eliminated Condensation: Because vapor barriers are highly effective at preventing moisture seepage through the porous concrete that makes up your crawlspace walls, they can greatly reduce humidity levels in your crawlspace. This keeps condensation from forming on pipes in the crawlspace.
- Keeps Floor Temperatures Constant: Not only does increased energy efficiency in the crawlspace lead to lower energy bills, but it can also help to keep the above floors warmer during the cold months.
- Increase Home Value: Encapsulating your crawlspace will also improve the value of your home since it reduces moisture issues such as wood rot and mold in your crawlspace. This is a plus if you would ever need to consider selling your home.
While there are some drawbacks to investing in crawlspace encapsulation, they are far outweighed by the benefits. If you have a damp or moldy crawlspace, call SERVPRO today. We can clean your crawlspace and install a vapor barrier to keep moisture out.