If you’re wondering what a crawl space really is, here’s a definition that you’ll most likely agree with. A crawl space is a blank, unoccupied, often unlivable space in an older building, usually below the first floor and above the ground. The term ‘crawl space’ is sometimes used interchangeably with ‘underground complex’, but the former term is more often used in professional architectural and structural contexts. The term ‘crawl space’ is usually reserved for such uninviting areas, such as basements, attics, storage facilities, car garages and workshops. They are generally small, poorly ventilated and poorly insulated; it’s not uncommon for many people to spend significant time below their level of the house.
A crawl space can contain a variety of conditions, from wet and humid to dry and cold – even when the outside air temperatures are comfortable, it can be hard to escape moisture or humidity. A dehumidifier will help reduce the dampness of a space, but it won’t necessarily solve the problem all by itself. A dehumidifier will simply drain away excess moisture from the air in order to make the area much more comfortable for you to live in. A dehumidifier is especially useful for older properties, where wood rot and mildew can often lead to serious problems for residents.
A vapor barrier system is a simple and effective method of reducing moisture in crawlspaces. A vapor barrier system consists of a series of plastic sheets that form an airtight seal around the perimeter of the space. The plastic sheeting also serves to dampen the vibrations caused by passing outside air. If your crawlspace is adequately insulated then the plastic will completely block any transfer of heat energy into the structure. However, the plastic does not have the same insulation properties as, for instance, fiberglass insulation. A properly insulated crawlspace encapsulation membrane (also known as an anti-crawl liner) will have gaps in it which allow some transfer of thermal energy.
Another method for reducing moisture in a crawl space comes in the form of floor heating. Heat rises, so heating your floor directly above the foundation makes the most sense. Professional trenching services can usually install this type of system fairly easily and at a fair price. You can also install a direct vent fan in your crawl space, although if you have children you should be sure to install one that exhausts the home’s air as well. The most effective ventilation systems will combine the two.
One more option for reducing moisture in a crawl space has to do with filling the space with concrete. When concrete is poured directly into a crawl space, you create a waterproof barrier which mops up moisture before it has a chance to move into the other spaces of the space. This is a great choice for basement remodels because it eliminates the problem of wet carpets. If you already have a concrete floor, you may still want to install a prefabricated flooring product. Prefabricated floors come in a variety of styles and sizes and are a great solution for remodeling spaces that don’t have a lot of space.
Finally, there are some final options for insulating a basement that are worth considering. For low budget projects, insulation can be installed directly to the walls and floors of your crawl space. Electrical wiring can also be installed between the walls and the ceiling (you’ll need a qualified electrician to do this, so don’t try it yourself unless you’re a pro). Finally, there are a variety of space heating options for your crawl space that will make a big difference in how comfortable you and your family are during the colder months. Radiant tube systems use heated tubing throughout the space to bring in heat from the home, and ground source heat pumps can take cold air out of the space and send it back outside.