Crawl Space Encapsulation

When is the last time you explored underneath your home — not in the basement, but in that small space between the ground and first floor? We call that a “crawl space,” since it is hardly tall enough for adults to stand in. Though many homes have one, most folks hardly pay them attention, often leading to dangerous consequences.

If you are like most homeowners, you probably have not thought about your crawl space in months — maybe years. After all, it is easy to forget about an area of your home that you don’t normally encounter in your day-to-day routine. Since crawl spaces are such small, hidden nooks, they often fall out of mind. It is important to make sure you do not neglect them, though.

Ignoring an unkempt crawl space can create serious problems throughout the rest of the house — including structural damage, low energy efficiency and overall poor air quality. That’s why homeowners today seek out crawl space solutions that keep moisture and its resulting problems out of their homes.

In this blog, we walk through the many benefits of crawl space encapsulation and show you how to get the process started.

Why encapsulate?

Benefits of crawl space encapsulation

Out of sight, out of mind — right? Well…not quite. While crawl spaces may seem irrelevant, they affect every part of your home. In fact, more than half of the air in your home — the air you breathe — flows up from underneath it. So, it is important to ensure that the path it travels is as clean and healthy as possible.

  1. A damp crawl space can lead to rot and decay and, eventually, structural damage to your home.
  2. Contrary to many homeowners’ assumptions, the state of your crawl space can affect the rest of your home. In particular, water damage and excessive moisture in the crawl space can threaten the structural integrity of your home — rotting the wood frames and floorings. Dampness also enables mold growth, which can contaminate the air in your home with a musty odor.

  3. Critters like dark moist areas under your home.
  4. The encapsulation process also helps with pest control — the barrier keeps several insects from making their way into your home, including providing a layer of protection from termites. There are even pest-specific barriers installed with the intent to keep bugs out as well as moisture, mold, and the elements.

  5. Up to 50% of your indoor air can come from the crawl space. If there is moisture and mold, that can come with it.
  6. There is a good chance that your crawl space is like most others: dirty, damp and gross. You probably do not mind, since that area seems safely isolated from your living space. However, the debris within can easily permeate up into your home. As air rises from beneath your home, it brings all of the particles with it — contaminating the air with harmful particles and creating an unhealthy environment.

How To Encapsulate a Crawl Space

As we mentioned above, the area under your home is susceptible to excessive moisture, which can lead to a whirlwind of problems for your home. Encapsulating the area helps prevent those problems — protecting your home’s foundation and, ultimately, making your house a healthier place to live. That’s why it is the most popular of all crawl space solutions.

When you say the word encapsulation, what you are doing is more than covering up the walls. Below we explain how to encapsulate a crawl space step-by-step. When you finish reading, you should be ready to tackle the process

  1. Remove all the organic material from the crawl space.
  2. Before you begin an encapsulation, you need to make sure the space is completely empty. That means removing things like boxes, boards and paint cans — anything stored down there. If you rely on the storage space, don’t worry — when you are finished, it will be safer, more comfortable and more accessible.

  3. Basement waterproofing.
  4. Next, you need to double-check that the area is waterproof — and, if it’s not, make the necessary investments to change that. Since crawl space encapsulation is supposed to protect against moisture, it will not be as effective if your space is easily susceptible to water damage. Fortunately, many homes — including those whose owners neglect their crawl spaces — already have basement waterproofing installed. If yours doesn’t, the process is simple to complete.
    As you probably saw on television, Lou recently visited a crawl space encapsulation project with our partners at Perma-Seal. Since the crawl space was not yet waterproofed, a few additional steps were required. First, he installed a 4 inch drain tile around the perimeter of the crawl space, digging along the edge of the footing. Then he installed a new sump pump to relieve that water issue. All of that work will help prevent mold growth and deliver homeowners peace of mind.

  5. Encapsulate the crawl space.
  6. Finally, it’s time to encapsulate the crawl space. The first step is to lay down a soil gas dispersal fabric, which will act as a moisture barrier and help move soil gases toward the perimeter of the crawl space, where drain tile has been installed. It is not only about function, though: the fabric will also add cushioning and support to the crawl space floor, which is great if you are using it for storage.

Next, you want to install a zeal perm liner along the walls and floor. That’s a thick liner that acts as an additional barrier against vapor and natural elements. The liners come in rolls, and you can overlap it throughout the crawl space as you drape it over openings. In the end, all liner should be caulked and sealed to bond it together and seal it up.

Ready to get started?