If you have a crawl space in your home, there are a few things you need to know about it to make sure it’s safe for you and your family. A crawl space (often called a cellar) is an uninviting, unused, unfinished, narrow area inside an apartment, house or other structure, usually between the second floor and the ground. Most homeowners choose to have a crawl space installed when their property is being built. If your property already has a subsoil basement, most likely you will also have a crawl space. You may think it’s not important, but it can be a major health hazard.
The primary reason to get a crawl space sealed is to prevent mildew and moisture from getting inside your home. If there’s any moisture at all in your crawl space, it can cause your walls and wood framing to rot and become vulnerable to water damage and mold/mildew. Your walls and floors can also trap heat and cold air, contributing to mould and mildew growth. Any time there is excess moisture or heat in your home, you are inviting mould and mildew into it.
Even if your crawl space does not have any visible or detectable moisture, it is still advisable to have a professional test it to check for moisture. Remember: moisture kills! So while you’re looking to seal your crawl space, you should also consider sealing surrounding areas such as around vents, radiators, plumbing and outside air vents and exhausts. A professional can find any leaks and seal them using high-quality silicone caulking.
While it may seem like a good idea to keep your crawl space dry by opening the windows and doors every time a slight moisture level appears, this isn’t always an effective solution. When you seal your crawl space, you prevent moisture from getting inside. However, it is equally important that you let outside air in when needed. Excess humidity and warm air present a very attractive growing environment for mildew and mold, which are some of the most hazardous types of indoor air pollutants.
In order to protect your home from mildew and mold, sealing and encapsulating your crawl space will provide ongoing protection. It will reduce moisture by up to 40%! It will also keep your heating and cooling costs down, which is especially important during the winter months when those two elements can be very expensive. If you already have a vapor barrier on the interior of your home but want to seal the perimeter, you can easily apply one to your crawl space. This will stop moisture from entering your crawl space and is a great option for people who live in hot, humid climates.
Sealing your crawl space will also protect your wood flooring from damage due to dampness and water damage. The floor must be sealed with an encapsulation product between the soil and the baseboard to ensure full protection. Wood floors are at a higher risk of moisture damage due to their porous nature, so it is critical that you seal them. Not only will this help to protect your floor, it will also protect your home in the long run, reducing the amount of structural damage that occurs due to dampness and water damage. The cost of protecting your crawl space will be far lower than the structural damage that it may cause to your home.