Water in the Crawl Space and How to Deal With It
Crawl space water issues are common for homes with this foundation type. They can stem from a variety of causes, such as heavy rain, plumbing leaks, or poor drainage. Ignoring a crawl space water leak, whether it’s a one-time occurrence or a recurring issue, is not an option.
A wet crawl space can develop into severe damage, such as eroding the home’s foundation, rotting wooden structural components, and mold and mildew growth that negatively affects the air quality in the entire house.
Why is There Water in My Crawl Space?
Crawl spaces with dirt floors are susceptible to water damage and moisture issues, especially in areas with high humidity or rainfall. Plumbing systems running through these spaces can result in water leaks from failed pipes or fixtures, or from condensation on pipes.
External sources, such as overflowing gutters, faulty downspouts, or excessive groundwater, can also contribute to water intrusion. In addition, a malfunctioning sump pump in the crawl space can lead to flooding.
How to Deal with Water in Your Crawl Space
When there’s a large amount of water in your crawl space, the first thing you need to do is find the source. Knowing how it’s getting in there will help you deal with it appropriately. Use the following tips to deal with crawl space moisture once and for all.
Water Can Sit For a Long Time Before It’s Noticed
Like the attic, many homeowners rarely give the crawl space a second thought. Only when problems develop in the electrical or plumbing work do people venture down there. Unfortunately, this means that flooding can go unnoticed for months, or even years.
Standing water is a serious issue that can do a lot of damage when given enough time. Wooden joists and beams can rot, and mildew and mold can grow and spread and degrade indoor air quality. Even if you do have a vapor barrier, water can sit on top of the liner for months before it evaporates.
How to Deal with Standing Water
How you deal with standing water in the crawl space will depend on how much there is, but you need to do something because it won’t go away on its own.
In a lot of cases, you will need a pump to remove the excess water. A wet/dry shop vac, industrial fans, and dehumidifiers are also good tools to have in your arsenal. You may not have these laying around, so check in with a crawl space cleaning service to see how they can help.
Once the crawl space is dry, you can start searching for the source of the problem and do repairs as necessary, which may require a plumber or a builder if there is structural damage.
Water that has been standing for a while may have developed into a mold or mildew outbreak that needs to be dealt with.
Dealing with Mold and Mildew
Even a small puddle under the house can lead to high levels of humidity. Mold and mildew don’t need much of an invitation to start an invasion and take over your crawl space.
Another issue with high humidity is that it takes a lot more energy to cool it. Your HVAC system has to work double time to keep your living space comfortable, which is a waste of energy and money. This is in addition to the poorer air quality inside your home.
If that wasn’t enough, rats, mice, and termites will take advantage of the moist environment underneath your feet. Rodents will make the warm, humid crawl space their home and start to breed. Pests need to forage for food, and your pantry cupboard provides the perfect buffet.
Rats and mice will chew through wires and ruin insulation, causing even more damage to your home’s crawl space. They will also attract other animals, like snakes hunting for food. If there’s a steady supply of rodents, snakes are likely to make your backyard or attic their home.
How to Deal with Mold and Mildew
The first thing to do when dealing with mold and mildew in your crawl space is to get rid of the mold. Next, you will need to fix the conditions that allow it to grow. Dehumidifiers will reduce humidity, and a vapor barrier will block the moisture seeping through the soil.
Consider conditioning the space if mold and moisture are severe. Ensuring the crawl space is heated and cooled with the rest of the home will reduce condensation, drafts, humidity, and energy loss from air ducts.
Flooding in the Crawl Space
If your crawl space floods when it rains, it’s likely to keep happening. Whether the flooding is from a plumbing problem, surface water, or groundwater, it’s important to do something about it before it develops into a serious issue. For example, blocked gutters can overflow. If the land near your home slopes towards your house the excess water will pool around the foundation and eventually seep into the crawlspace.
How to Deal With Crawl Space Flooding
Fixing any plumbing issues and ensuring your gutters are cleaned regularly will help prevent crawl space flooding. However, these issues will not affect major drainage issues caused by the lay of the land.
Installing a sump pump in the crawl space will help redistribute water away from the property. Grading the landscape so the yard slopes away from the crawl space will prevent water from building up and running into the crawl space every time it rains.
Water Under Vapor Barrier in Crawl Space
A vapor barrier prevents moisture from penetrating the crawl space. When you see droplets of water underneath the barrier, it means it is doing its job. In most cases, the plastic used will be opaque, so moisture underneath will not be visible anyway.
Water on top of the vapor barrier indicates moisture is entering the area through some other means. Consider having the area inspected by a professional crawl space service in your area.
Water in the crawlspace can be a serious issue for homeowners. Understanding the causes, and signs, and applying appropriate solutions is critical to protecting your home from damage. If you suspect there are drainage problems in your home’s crawl space, get in touch with crawl space professionals near you for expert advice.