When was the last time you looked under your house to see how your crawl space was doing? Most people who own their own homes don’t want to be in this area. It could be full of bugs, rodents, or spiders, and you never know what you’ll find when you open it up.
With a crawl space, you also have to think about space. Most structures don’t have enough room for you to stand up, so you’ll have to pull yourself along the ground. If your builder covered the ground with rocks or didn’t finish a concrete pad, it can be very hard to move around down there.
If you don’t take care of your crawl space, it can affect the air quality in your home. Up to 50% of the air in your home could come from this area. When you take the time to encapsulate the area, it becomes easier to keep it as clean and dry as possible. That keeps mold and mildew from growing and keeps pests from coming in.
Here are the pros and cons of crawl space encapsulation if you are looking for a way to improve the conditions under your home.
List of Crawl Space Encapsulation’s Pros
1. It makes the crawl space less likely to have problems with moisture.
Humidity is one of the most important things to worry about in a home at all times of the year. When there is too much moisture inside, it makes it possible for mold, mildew, and fungi to grow. Pests are also more likely to come into a home if the humidity is high. Crawl space encapsulation makes it possible to waterproof the space and make sure it has enough air flow so that the high level of moisture can escape. This lowers the risk of health problems developing in the space.
2. This system can be used to control the number of pests.
A crawl space encapsulation system can protect your home from a number of annoying pests. A big benefit of this product is that it adds a layer of protection against a termite infestation. When it’s set up right, it can stop these bugs from getting into your home. This is especially true if you use a pest-specific barrier along with the other things you need to do this job. You can also put in certain things that can help get rid of rodent, wildlife, and insect problems on or near your property.
3. It will cut the overall cost of heating your home.
Even though it costs more to install a crawl space encapsulation system than to just leave it alone, the sealing process will lower your heating and cooling costs over the life of the product. This is because the barriers that a professional contractor puts up to improve the environment will make it so you lose less air through the crawl space.
If you leave the area sealed, it will create its own form of insulation. This will keep the heat from your home from escaping into the colder ground below. During the summer, it will keep the bottom floor of your house at a cooler temperature, which will help to cool down the whole building.
4. You can sometimes do this work by yourself.
If you like to do some home improvement projects on your own, there is a good chance that you can install a crawl space encapsulation system on your own. If you want to improve the quality of the air inside your home, you must use the right materials and put them in the right way. If you don’t follow the rules in your local building codes, you may put yourself at a high risk of getting hurt or cause damage to your home that you didn’t mean to.
You’ll need to make sure that all of the crawl space’s vents are either sealed or taken out. The access door must meet the requirements of the building code in your area. The ground must have a vapor retarder, and in most places, it must be at least 6mm thick polyethylene. Every seam must be taped and joints must overlap by at least six inches.
5. It can help reduce or get rid of smells that bother you at home.
A home’s crawl space is the biggest source of bad smells, other than what you do and whether or not you have pets. Before installing the system, a professional will clean up the area as needed to make sure it lasts as long as possible. Then, they’ll work to seal up this space under your house to keep smells from coming back. This is done to prevent mold, mildew, and pests from growing there in the first place.
If you smell something bad after the system has been set up, it could mean that it wasn’t sealed properly. Because of the need to clean under your house after the service, you may smell cleaners like bleach for the first few days.
6. You can put in a system that heats your floor from below.
Once you have a crawl space that is sealed off, you can install a radiant heating system for the floor above it. Even though there are costs to think about with this benefit, a system like this adds another level of energy efficiency to your home and helps keep the temperature in each room more consistent. Your monthly utility bills could go down a lot as a result of this work.
7. The room can be used to store more things.
When you encapsulate a crawl space, you make it a clean place for your home to live. This means that you can start using this space as extra storage because it is no longer vulnerable to big changes in humidity throughout the year or to pests. If you have a large, easy-to-reach space under your house, the cost of an encapsulation system could be much less than the cost of adding extra storage space somewhere else on your property.
List of the problems with enclosing crawl spaces
1. The cost of crawl space encapsulation is something to think about.
Crawl space encapsulation is expensive and takes a lot of work, but many homes can stay in good shape without it. Home Advisor says that the average homeowner will spend about $5,500 to install this system. Depending on the size of your building and where you live, the total cost of hiring a professional and buying materials can be anywhere from $1,500 to $15,000.
You can sometimes save money by protecting your foundation from water and pests with a single, thin layer of plastic liner. A dehumidifier, a sump pump, vapor barriers, drainage trenches, and custom liners are some of the more advanced options.
2. Your new system may need insulation for the walls of the basement.
If you decide to get an estimate for crawl space encapsulation, your contractor might tell you that foundation wall insulation would help your area. Most of this product is made of spray foam, and it costs between $.50 and $2 per board foot. Prices for batting range from $3 per roll to $300 for a bigger area. During the installation of the system, the professional you hire will cover the foundation walls with rigid R-value foam board, which is required by local building codes.
3. There are extra costs for maintenance to think about.
After you have a crawl space encapsulation system put in, you will have to do more maintenance and inspections every month. Depending on how many features you bought for this upgrade, you may find that the costs to maintain the different levels of protection can be the same as or even higher than what your ongoing costs would be if you didn’t upgrade the crawl space. If you don’t get much rain or moisture where you live, the sealing benefits of this product might not give you the return on your investment that you need.
4. Your HVAC system may need to be updated.
When you’re done enclosing your crawl space, there will be less air movement in the rest of the house. If your HVAC system doesn’t get enough air flow, a furnace or heater that works by burning fuel won’t have enough oxygen to work well. That means you might need to upgrade or replace your current unit to make sure the temperature inside your home stays the same.
This process might also require a full inspection of your duct work to make sure there are no leaks that could hurt the quality of your crawl space upgrade.
5. It’s not a good idea to store things that can catch fire in your crawl space.
Even if your crawl space has a concrete pad for a floor, you shouldn’t store anything that could catch fire there. Things like gasoline, solvents, and chemical cleaners should stay in your garage because they can catch fire easily. If these are the only things you need more space for, the cost of an encapsulation system will no longer be a reasonable expense.
When the work is done right, you can store boxes, emergency supplies, bottled water, and other important things in this space without worrying about pests or mold.
6. You might need to have the dehumidifier serviced often to keep the system running well.
You can save money on a system like this by having a manual dehumidifier instead of an automatic one installed. In the long run, you might have to empty this feature by hand often because you saved money now. If you live in a place with a lot of moisture, you may need to service your new encapsulation system every 72 hours to make sure it works right. If a vent is needed to stop this problem, then many of the good things will be cancelled out because there will still be a way to get past your barrier.
The Bottom Line on the Pros and Cons of Crawl Space Encapsulation
The pros and cons of a crawl space encapsulation system depend on what your property is like. There are times when a barrier is helpful because humidity, bugs, or both make the air inside less healthy to breathe. If you don’t have the barrier in place, bugs and rodents can start to damage your home’s structure.
Because of the costs and the fact that it could make an area too dry, it may be best to talk to a professional contractor in your area to see if this option is right for your home.