The Importance of Crawl Space Encapsulation
There have been numerous studies on homes with open vent/dirt crawlspaces across the southern United States. The studies performed have shown six highly common issues in these homes with open vent/dirt crawlspaces. The main issues listed below can be harmful to your homes structure, your finances and possibly your health.
High moisture is the first issue the home will have and be the main factor causing the following issues. The old theory on building vented crawlspaces was to ‘air’ the crawlspace out because builders knew there would be water evaporation from the ground with a dirt floor crawlspace. Often times you would hear people say to open the vents in the summer to air them out and close in the winter to keep the cold air out. Unfortunately vented dirt crawlspaces simply don’t make sense. In the summer hot, humid air is entering the crawlspace and dropping in temperature, which in turn is raising the relative humidity in the air as it drops. The lower temperature will produce moisture, leading to water rot and fungal growth. So what about that cold dry air in the winter? It is true that winter air has much lower humidity in it and can dry things out. That is why we get chapped lips and dry skin in the winter. Depending on that dry air to dry out your homes crawlspace doesn’t work for several reasons; first the ground in your crawlspace will basically stay the same temperature, still creating moisture and evaporation. Second if your crawlspace has an HVAC system and air ducts the cold air brought in will never reach the low humidity level needed to dry the crawlspace. Third, even if you did want to open the air vents to let cold dry air in during the winter it will lead to cold floors, extremely high energy bills, increased possibility to frozen pipes and an open invitation to those cold mice seeking a warm home.
Fungal Growth and Mold
The second issue your home faces is that as moisture begins in the crawlspace fungal growth and mold are inevitable. Fungal growth and mold spores can play havoc on your home, rotting the wood, making it susceptible to termites and dust mites.
The fungal and mold growth brings in the third issue you will face, there is a strong association between building moisture and detrimental health effects. Fungal growth, mold, and dust mites are all major causes to asthma, allergens, irritants, and toxic substances known as mycotoxins.
Pests and Rodents
Fourth, the moist dark crawlspace has brought in pest and rodents making your crawlspace environment even unhealthier. Pests and rodents love a moist, dark crawl space and that can cause havoc on the insulation, air ducts, and wood structures.
Measurable Holes/Air Gaps
Home owners definitely don’t feel as though they live in their crawlspace, very few actually see their crawlspace and very few worry much about it. It is estimated at the least 33% of the air in your living space is directly from your crawlspace. This estimate has been as high as 56% in some homes. This is because of the fifth and sixth issues commonly found in crawlspaces. There are measurable holes and air gaps between nearly all crawlspaces and living areas.
Forced Air from Crawl Space to Living Area
In these holes and air gaps there is transmission of forced air from your crawlspace. This air is caring the fungal spores, allergens, dust mites, mycotoxins, etc. from your crawlspace to you living environment. So that is why, if you live in your home, you live in your crawlspace.