A crawl space is usually an unfinished, empty, narrow area in a residential building, usually between the first and second floors. The term ‘crawl space’ is also used in the context of the commercial environment, though it’s more often used in residential homes with a low floor area ratio. The term ‘crawl space’ is also known as a veranda, a pit, a greenhouse, a cupboard or a vermicomposting zone. The reason for the name ‘crawl space’ is that usually there is very little actual space in a crawl space; often it’s just a few feet by a few feet. The term ‘crawl space’ is usually applied when it isn’t an actual physical space.
This creates many problems, both structurally and functionally: any site-specific problems such as ventilation, plumbing, electrical systems or heating & air conditioning (HVAC) aren’t present, and in most cases there are no structural features such as an exit or a door. A lot of the time people try to solve these problems by covering it with either non-slip flooring or a vapor barrier. Often times, however, this doesn’t solve the problem – in many cases people will then add additional insulation to kill the excess moisture. This is known as dehumidification. After time, the mildew, mold, mildew and other contaminants that had been accumulating in the crawl space will begin to thrive, and it becomes a health hazard for the residents.
Not all mildew, mold and molds are toxic or even harmful to your health. Many indoor air pollution problems are caused by humidity and black mold – which are actually not toxic, although they do stink! Some mildew, mold and molds are actually beneficial to your health and can actually help to purify and clean the air in your basement without you needing to put down a wall. This is because mold is made up of living organic material and releases spores into the air when conditions are right. Mold spores are known to cause allergies, sinus infections, asthma and other health problems in individuals who are sensitive to them, and can even be deadly in extremely young children.
It’s very important to seal out moisture from your crawl space to prevent the onset of structural damage to your foundation. If your damp walls and floors are allowed to sit, rotting wood in the walls can occur, leading to structural damage that can lead to leaks and more problems. This does not have to happen though! sealing the walls and flooring properly with a water-resistant membrane such as Vinyl Plating Basement Finishes or Applique Basement Finishes will prevent the growth of mold, mildew and rot. You’ll also need to add extra sealing to prevent termites and carpenter ants from getting into your wood framing, and adding a termite repellent to your home can be quite beneficial.
A properly installed slab will provide an additional level of protection to your foundation. However, there are certain circumstances where a slab may be inadequate and you may still need to install a barrier. Often times, basements that receive little to no snow fall will still collect snow during the winter. Even if the snow doesn’t melt through the siding, it can still sit on the slab, creating a moist environment that will eventually require extra sealing and waterproofing. Sealing the slab will help keep out any water that may accumulate on the interior of the slab, but a proper barrier is required around the outside of the foundation.
Finally, a crawl space that is left unheated for too long of a time will start to develop mold and mildew. The absence of proper ventilation creates a perfect growing environment for harmful bacteria and mold. In fact, mold and mildew can actually be harmful to your health if you’re not careful! Preventative measures such as sealing the walls, sealing the floors and installing a dehumidifier will help keep your living space from becoming moldy and damp.