Everyone wants a healthy home, especially people with crawlspaces. The dangerous vapors released from open earth and debris in your crawlspace can be blocked from entering your living space to create healthier living conditions. Area Wide Waterproofing can help you create a healthy home for you and your family by allowing cleaner controlled air to come from the spaces below.
We are looking to educate our customer, not just make a sale. We make sure that your crawlspace encapsulation is the right solution for you because every crawlspace is different. A sheet of plastic lying on the ground is not enough to keep ground moisture from entering the crawlspace. Standard plastics are not a rated vapor barrier and are seldom installed properly. Often, the plastic was laid on the ground by a previous homeowner and not a licensed professional. High humidity levels from water leaks and ground water are only increased if dirt or gravel floors are present.
Before we start a crawlspace encapsulation, we do a ground up inspection of the existing conditions. We will evaluate the crawlspace for higher than normal humidity levels and determine if a drain tile system is needed. It makes no sense to cover up a water issue without addressing the cause. Additionally, we will look for mechanicals that may be adding humidity to the crawlspace--is there an air conditioning unit with faulty drainage, a leaking plumbing pipe or a bathroom with a leaking shower/bath? We will also look for evidence of rodents that may have burrowed under the foundation and into the crawlspace.
Looking up the walls, we will determine if there are active foundation cracks that may be letting water in by hydrostatic pressure. Are there open vents around the crawlspace letting unconditioned air in from the outside? Looking further up, we will determine if the floor joists are sagging or rotten from the exposure to years of high humidity levels. Is there damaged insulation that needs to be removed? Is there mold growth on the underside of the floor sheathing? All of these issues need to be addressed and remedied before any work begins.
If the project is in a frost prone region like Chicago, we recommend insulating the walls with Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF). The closed cell spray foam is air impermeable and a rated vapor barrier. We will lay out a puncture resistant and UV stable plastic membrane over the dirt/gravel floor and lap the ends about a foot up the perimeter walls (these will be spray foamed to the wall later to seal the top seams). Any overlapped seams or penetrations will be sealed with a manufacturer approved seam tape to seal these areas. Any vents will be closed and sealed off permanently. Then, spray polyurethane foam is sprayed on the concrete or brick walls and into the joist pockets around the rim joists. The area of the rim joist can account for up to 17% of the heating and cooling cost due to air infiltration. It will also make cold floors above the crawl space disappear.
After the encapsulation is complete, it is a good idea to monitor the crawlspace for humidity fluctuations. Sometimes it is necessary to introduce a vent into the crawlspace to regulate humidity and in extreme cases, a dehumidifier may be in order to keep humidity to a minimum.
Houses that are NOT good candidates for crawlspace encapsulation include: houses in a flood plain, houses built on piers, mobile homes with a skirting, enclosed porches without a continuous foundation. A good solution for properties described above is spraying closed cell spray polyurethane foam insulation to the underside of the first floor living space and floor joist. This will seal off any moisture/air infiltration into the living area and be a FEMA approved material in a flood plain.
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