How Does My Crawlspace Impact The Air Quality In My Home?
Valor Mold proudly serves the Washington, DC area. We are mold removal, and crawlspace encapsulation experts. Our last article explained why your crawlspace has mold. Continuing on with our series on crawlspaces, this article explores the impact that your crawlspace has on your indoor air quality.
Crawlspaces are very popular for four key reasons.
First, they tend to be cheaper than laying a foundation for a basement slab.
Second, crawlspaces make it much easier to access pipes and other utilities.
Third, if the soil is unstable, it is simpler to install a crawlspace by bringing the house up to or above ground level.
Finally, there are aesthetic reasons. A raised house makes it look bigger.
The purpose of this article is to explain how and why your crawlspace could be contaminating your indoor air.
What Will I See In My Crawlspace?
If you have not visited your crawlspace, take a look. Typically, you will find the following:
- Dirt. Most homeowners have a bare dirt or rock crawlspace.
- Ductwork. Many of your home appliances run out through the crawlspace area. Washers, dryers, and plumbing pipes are often found running along the ceiling of the crawlspace, to be vented or piped to the outdoors or external holding tanks. Ductwork for the home heating and cooling systems are also usually found here.
- Plumbing Pipes. Home plumbing is usually found in your crawlspace, funneled outside to your septic tank or the sewer system. These pipes are usually heavy duty so most homeowners are unconcerned about their safety. However, these pipes still require maintenance and care. Changes in temperature during the warmest and coldest months as water flows through them can cause condensation. Condensation and the increase of moisture in the air leads to mold growth.
- Electrical Wiring. Along the ceiling and walls of the crawlspace you will usually see electrical wiring. Keeping these safe from the gnawing teeth of crawlspace vermin is important.
- Vents. You will also notice various vents along the bottom walls of your house. These vents allow for air movement and ventilation for your crawlspace.
- Insulation. Insulation is important. If you see nothing but bare beams and dirt, this is a concern. Up to 40% of your air comes up from the crawlspace. You can lose up to 45% of your home’s heating and cooling energy through non-insulated crawlspaces. In addition, non-insulated crawlspaces will incur mold growth and attract insects, rodents, and other crawlspace vermin.
- Vapor Barrier. Vapor barriers help maintain the health of your crawlspace and your family. Crawlspaces protected from excess moisture are less likely to develop mold or allow vermin and insects into your home. Vapor barriers protect not only your crawlspace, but your entire home.
- Beams. Beams, heavy wooden or metal support structures, keep your home structurally sound. These beams run vertically and horizontally through your crawlspace structure.
- Drains/Pumps. You may also notice a drain in the floor of your crawlspace. Usually this is a sump pump, a water pump designed to carry any excess water away from the house in the case of a flood. Drains allow excess water to drain away a safe distance from the house, usually 6 feet or more.
- Critters and Other Creepy Crawlers. It’s all too common that a homeowner pokes his head into his crawlspace to discover a happy population of insects, mice, rats, squirrels, or even snakes! Getting these invaders out of your home can be challenging. To be safe, call a pest control company.
What Are The Clues That I Have Problems With My Crawlspace?
While you are taking a look at your crawlspace, give Valor Mold a call if you find any of these problems:
- Standing Water or Water Damage: Water damage can weaken the foundations and walls of your home, and needs to be dealt with quickly.
- Mold. Mold can be hazardous. If you have large areas of mold spreading across your beams, in your insulation, or along the ground it needs to be removed. Left unchecked, mold can severely damage your home and your air quality.
- Ruined Insulation: No insulation lasts forever, though some types of insulation are more long lasting than others. When insulation is falling to pieces or has rodents nesting in it, it’s time to remove the old insulation and replace it.
- High Humidity: Knowing your crawlspace humidity is essential to keeping it clean and safe. Vapor barriers are an important part of a crawlspace because it prevents moisture and high humidity, something that creates a breeding ground for mold and pests. If you have a bare dirt floor, crawlspace encapsulation is important.
Now that you understand what is in your crawlspace and the top four signs the remainder of this article will explain…
The Top Five Ways That Your Crawlspace Impacts Your Home!
Poor Air Quality
Moisture accumulates in your crawlspace because of high humidity, changing temperatures that leads to condensation, rainy weather, and the lack of preemptive solutions, like a vapor barrier. For this reason, it is important that the moisture content of your crawlspace is monitored properly.
If the moisture content of your crawlspace is not monitored, mold and rot will grow in the insulation or on the wooden beams. When the mold grows, it releases mycotoxins that can seep through the floorboards of your home, which in turn can cause sickness.
Even though the mold is growing under your home, you need to take action because 40% of the air in your home seeps up through the crawlspace.
Simply put, if your crawlspace has mold problems, then the indoor air quality of your home will be negatively affected.
High Energy Bills
Properly insulating your crawlspace will save on utility costs because the insulation prevents temperature transfers. This will ensure that your home stays cool when the air conditioner is running and warm if you need to heat your home during the colder months.
Rodents and Insects
Despite the fact that your crawlspace may be surrounded by a thick layer of concrete serving as the foundation, your crawlspace may not be as predator-proof.
There are two key reasons that rodents and insects can affect your home.
First, droppings and feces left behind will affect the air quality inside your home.
Second, certain rodents, like squirrels will get curious and start chewing on any exposed electrical wires, ruin insulation, or rip holes in a vapor barrier.
Moisture accumulation in your crawlspace will not only affect the air quality of your home, it can also seep through the ceiling of the crawlspace and damage your sub-floor. When this occurs, it will begin to warp and eventually need to repaired or replaced.
More than just the subfloor, however, moisture problems can also cause issues for the foundational level of your home. The wooden beams that hold up your home’s structure can be damaged by consistent exposure to high levels of moisture, condensation, or humidity. In some not-so-uncommon cases, crawlspaces have actually flooded, causing significant structural damage that resulted in thousands of dollars of repair work.
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Crawlspace Contaminating Your Indoor Air Summary
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