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Understanding The Difference Between Crawlspace Encapsulation vs. Crawlspace Vapor Barrier Installation
Crawlspaces, those small, narrow areas built into homes to provide access for maintenance and installations, often go unnoticed.
However, homeowners are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of properly maintaining these areas, thanks to their critical role in the overall health and efficiency of a home.
Two standard methods of protecting crawlspaces, often confused, are crawlspace encapsulation and crawlspace vapor barrier installation.
Let’s delve into these procedures to understand their differences and uses.
What is Crawlspace Vapor Barrier Installation?
Crawlspace vapor barrier installation is a preventive measure to reduce the amount of moisture that enters the crawlspace from the ground.
The process involves laying down a thin layer of plastic, typically 6 to 20 mil thick, across the crawlspace floor.
The primary purpose of the vapor barrier is to create a physical barrier that keeps ground moisture from evaporating into the crawlspace.
It’s worth noting that a vapor barrier installation typically does not involve sealing off the entire crawlspace or conditioning the space; hence, it is a less comprehensive approach compared to encapsulation.
A properly installed vapor barrier can help prevent some moisture-related problems, such as mold growth and wood rot.
It is a cost-effective solution for homeowners who want to mitigate moisture issues but don’t have serious water intrusion problems.
What is Crawlspace Encapsulation?
Crawlspace Encapsulation Nashville is a more thorough and comprehensive approach to crawlspace moisture control.
It not only addresses ground moisture but also helps to prevent moisture from infiltrating the crawlspace from other sources such as outside air.
The encapsulation process involves covering the entire crawlspace — floors, walls, and sometimes even the ceiling — with a heavy-duty polyethylene barrier.
Seams and junctions are sealed using special tapes and sealants.
The vents are closed to stop the inflow of outside air, and a door or access panel is built for entry and exit.
Often, in encapsulation, a dehumidifier is installed to regulate humidity levels, creating a conditioned space that is part of the home’s living environment. In some cases, insulation may also be added to the crawlspace walls for energy efficiency.
Crawlspace encapsulation offers a more long-term solution to moisture problems.
By creating an entirely closed, conditioned space, encapsulation can prevent a broader range of issues, such as pest infestations, high energy bills, poor indoor air quality, and structural damage.
However, this process is more labor-intensive and expensive than installing a simple vapor barrier.
The Difference in a Nutshell
To summarize, the primary difference between crawlspace encapsulation and a vapor barrier installation lies in the scope and effectiveness of the procedures.
While both methods are designed to control moisture in the crawlspace, a vapor barrier only covers the ground and partially reduces moisture evaporation.
On the other hand, encapsulation involves sealing the entire crawlspace and conditioning the area, offering a more comprehensive solution to humidity, temperature, and overall indoor air quality issues.
Choosing between encapsulation and vapor barrier installation depends on the specific needs and conditions of your home.
Factors to consider include the severity of moisture problems, the local climate, and the budget for home improvements.
It’s always wise to consult with a professional crawlspace contractor who can inspect your home and provide recommendations based on your unique situation.
Ensuring your crawlspace is appropriately protected and maintained is crucial for a healthy, efficient home.
Whether you opt for a vapor barrier or full encapsulation, addressing crawlspace issues can result in improved air quality, reduced energy bills, and an increase in your property’s value.
We Have Been Cleaning Up Nashville Crawl Spaces Since 1975
We have the most thorough and economical solution for crawl space mold removal. For moisture control, crawl space encapsulation, black mold removal, vapor barrier, radon, crawlspace water management and drainage, or fungus removal you can count on the crawlspace mold removal specialists.
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Work with a Second Generation Family Owned Nashville Crawlspace Company That’s Been Around Since 1975 and Will Continue To Be Around In The Future.
Greg Lewis, the owner and founder of Crawlspace Makeovers, started in his late father’s (Ken Lewis) janitorial business back in 1975 during high school. He worked for him during the summer seasons during college, and then went on to work for him full time after graduating. After graduating college (UTC), Greg moved on to work a few years for the Boy Scouts of America.
Greg and his father bought the Sears Carpet Cleaning franchise servicing the Nashville area in 1987, and successfully operated it until 1999 when they sold the company. It was while operating the carpet cleaning franchise, which utilized gasoline-powered super sucker trucks, that they began to learn about and service the extraction of water in water damaged homes and businesses. This led them to other related services in the industry such as mold remediation, and then on into managing indoor air quality by adding on an air duct cleaning division.
Since most air ducts in the Nashville and surrounding areas are in the crawlspace, which is usually a mess, a crawlspace renovation division was created.
Answers to Your Questions
Subfloor Insulation: To Replace or Not Replace
Most of our Crawlspace Makeover projects will not include replacing subfloor insulation when it is removed for mold remediation purposes. There are several reasons for this. We have found it can create more problems than it purports to solve. In the Southeast, our climate is warm and humid most of the year. The only time subfloor insulation would be of any benefit would be in the winter, and even then, only a few days would make a noticeable difference in the temperature of the floor. The rest of the year, the insulation acts like a sponge to trap the humidity in the crawlspace. This creates several problems.
Why not just treat the mold with bleach?
Sodium Hypochlorite, or bleach, is registered to be used as a fungicide only on hard surfaces, such as stainless steel or tile, not wood or drywall. Bleach also has some inherent problems as a fungicide:
Why is mold growing in my crawl space?
- Gutter and downspout extensions (a concrete splash block does not count). Here are the numbers: for every 1500 square feet of roof and inch of rain, 1000 gallons of water are channeled off of the roof. If the gutters do not catch the water, or the downspout extensions do not carry the water at least 6 to 10 feet away, all of that rain can make its way into the crawlspace
- The drainage of the yard can slope toward the house and allow rain water to run into the crawlspace
- Condensation on the ductwork, as described here, can contribute to high humidity and water puddles in the crawlspace
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