What is a crawl space?
A crawl space could be described as a miniature basement area, built beneath the house, providing an area of limited height, which raises the structure off the ground. While they are extremely useful areas, through which utility ducting and plumbing can be run, bad design can cause a variety of problems. The main issue that needs to be addressed is the need for satisfactory crawl space waterproofing. As with basements, the possibility of flooding and retention of standing water that has found its way into the space, needs to be solved.
A dry crawl space means a better home environment
The main cause of dampness in the basement or crawl space area, is poor or insufficient waterproofing. The dampness that ensues, will invariably lead to the formation of mold and rot which could in time destroy the wooden floor joists supporting the floor structure of the home. As the air from the crawl space will ultimately make its way upwards into the living areas of the home, health issues are very possible, and should be avoided at all costs.
Where does the damp come from?
As with all basement waterproofing, the ground around the exterior of the house needs to be checked. The soil should be landscaped so that it slopes away from the walls, allowing surface water that may collect after heavy rain, to flow away from the building structure. Similarly, flower and shrub beds should not be placed right next to the walls, as the constant watering of the plantings will allow water to percolate down the walls and into the crawl space or basement area. Another extremely important thing is to check that the downspouts are not discharging rainwater from the roof right next to the walls. If they are, the likelihood of the water finding its way into the crawl space or basement area is greatly increased.
Solutions to the problem
As the basement and crawlspace areas are below ground level, waterproofing them from the exterior can require quite expensive excavations and ground work. One of the more economical ways of reducing this cost is to excavate a simple French drain. The drain basically consists of a suitably graded trench filled with porous materials, which allows ground water collecting around the walls of the house to drain away without entering the building.
The rising water table
Water rising up from natural underground sources may also be finding its way through the foundations, and into the basement and crawl space areas. The level of the water table, as this ground water is known, can be swelled both by heavy rains that may be falling far away, and from a variety of other geographical factors. Should this be the cause of the problem, it may be necessary to adopt an alternative method of removing the water that has collected inside the crawl space or basement. The walls of the crawl space should first be checked for any obvious cracks, and all plumbing running through the space should be checked for leaks.
Sump pumps to the rescue
The method of choice is to install a sump pump system, which will automatically pump out any collected water, discharging it through a hose to an area far away from the house. After installing the sump pump, plastic liners may be introduced to prevent the ingress of further moisture.
Improved ambiance and healthy living conditions
Once the air space of the crawl space area has been properly secured against damp, it will vastly improve the ambiance and health of the living spaces above, leaving a dry and healthy living environment.
Clean, dry crawl spaces will also inhibit the entry and presence of pests, which thrive in damp dark areas. One might consider laying a concrete floor to the crawl space which may have been left with an unfinished dirt floor. This will discourage rodents from burrowing in from the outside.
Finally it may be a good idea to introduce a dehumidifier into the crawl space area to remove excessive moisture already present in the air. It goes without saying that any mold that had accumulated on the walls of the crawl space area, should have been properly removed. Applying a coat of suitable fresh paint, will help to make sure that mold spores will be completely eradicated.
As always, the first thing to do is to call in experienced waterproofing contractors to get expert advice and guidance. Find the most economical and lasting solution by calling us in for a free assessment of your crawl space or basement waterproofing problems. We can help solve them for you!