Finding Water Damage in Your Crawl Space

Homeowners often do not realize the potent risks that damp crawl spaces may bring to their homes. A crawl space may be a relatively isolated space hidden below-grade under your house; but water and moisture on the ground tends to percolate into the soil, pooling there for long periods of time. The result?, Water damage and molding.

A crawl space, as the name suggests, usually has just enough space to crawl around. This really delimits the frequency of maintenance and accessibility, in case the area gets hit by water damage. If water damage in this spot goes undetected, mold spores and other pesky elements like dust and bugs can travel through the vent connecting the crawl space to the outside air. This of course poses a potent health risk to you and your loved ones.

Problems of a Water-Damaged Crawl Space

The consequences of a damp crawl space are not apparent on the surface, and that’s why it can be critical to identify this issue early.

  • Higher Energy Bills: If a home has a damp or wet crawl space, the damp air consumes more electricity for heating or cooling. You spend more energy, translating to higher energy bills
  • Mold: Moisture and darkness abound in a crawl space with a bad leak, making it a perfect breeding ground for mold & mildew. The airborne spores of mold eventually make their way through the vents into your main living space. Mold devalues your property
  • Dust Mites & Pests: Dust mites thrive in homes with a dirty crawl space. Insects, termites, spiders, mice, rats, and snakes are uninvited guests that may be hiding in your damp crawl space
  • Weakened structural strength of your property: Wetness in the crawl space may corrode metallic reinforcements, foundations, warp and swell internal wooden components

How to Solve your Crawl Space Water Damage Issues?

The overall crawl space water damage process of controlling water leakage in a crawl space involves setting up a water outlet system that captures and diverts away any penetrating water into gravel-filled channels. The sump pump pit is gravity-fed by these channels. A sump pump is installed that pumps the water out of the crawl space.

For fixing a water-damaged crawl space, the following steps need to be done:

  • Remove the existing Vapor Barrier, if any
  • Dig a Trench around the foundation, typically 8-24 inches away from the foundation
  • Lay a 3 inch perforated pipe in the trench, and cover the pipe using gravel to aid the drainage. Remainder of the trench soil is to be spread evenly around the crawl space
  • Install a ground-protected GFCI Outlet on your own or with professional help in the crawl space. This would be used to power a sump pump
  • Install the Sump Pump, which will automatically activate whenever water collects in the trench. Affix a dehumidifier and sump pump system in the crawl space as additional precautions
  • Install a Discharge Pipe, that routes water from the sump pump to an external discharge location
  • Install New Vapor Barriers or encapsulation systems to create a protective perimeter between the crawl space and the ground
  • Install Ventilation systems to facilitate cross-ventilation within the space
  • Fix a leaky crawl space ASAP. Ideally, during the dry season this task is done very easily
  • Ensure that the grading around the home is proper, to help direct moisture away from your home
  • Install, repair or clean all gutters and downspouts from time to time

Safety First

Whether you choose to fix the water damage in your crawl space on your own, or with professional help, make sure you follow all safety protocols.

Always wear appropriate safety gear to venture into this area.

Water and electricity do not mix; do not attempt to fix electrical systems unless you are adequately qualified to do so.  

Wear a breathing mask to keep your respiratory system protected against the many contaminants lurking in the crawl space.

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I am Vera Watson. Drawing The House is a dream that was conceived when I saw a niche in consumer guide on almost everything in our homes. My main aim is to help you save money by testing the products you need and recommending you the best of them all. I believe in the family as an institution and the first way to make a family happy is providing the best for them.

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