You most likely are aware if your home has a crawl space underneath the floor. However, you might not be fully aware of what exists inside the crawl space.
Who likes the idea of slithering around in the dirt and potentially coming face-to-face with rodents, insects or more anyway? It might downright terrify some people. But the crawl space is an integral part of your home’s structure, and ignoring issues in the crawl space can trigger larger issues throughout the house. Moisture management is one of the biggest problems seen in homes with a crawl space. Standing water or moisture present in the air provides a fertile ground for mould and mildew to grow and fosters termites, insects and other insects. In extreme cases, it can cause the structure to decay, which would require major architectural repairs.
What is a Crawl Space Anyway?
A crawlspace is a narrow passage between the underside of the floor and the ground. This space acts as a buffer zone between the ground and the house. It provides enough elevation for a person to crawl around, hence the name. The space is not enough for a person to stand upright and can be narrow depending on the property. The minimum height required is 18 inches but can be taller up to three feet.
This article identifies some of the most common crawl space problems and how to identify them immediately.
High humidity in the atmosphere, flooding, rain, condensation from pipes, and snow can increase moisture content in the air. The wood joists and beams absorb the moisture and provide fertile ground for mould to grow and can eventually weaken the structure of the house. The problem is escalated if the landscaping is poor or the drainage is inadequate. Sometimes, groundwater can also increase the soil’s moisture content which can affect the structure of the crawl space.
Leakages in Plumbing
Plumbing problems can affect insulation, flooring and anything else in the crawl space. If the plumbing is damaged or a pipe is sealed improperly, the consequent leakage is going to increase the moisture content in your crawl space as water trickles down. There are instances where homeowners did not know for years about the leakage, which led to widespread damage. Not to forget the consistent smell of sewage in your house.
Mould thrives in dark and dingy spaces with high moisture content. Crawl spaces are a haven for mould growth. If you start seeing spores on wooden joists, it is likely that you have a mould infestation in your crawl space. If untreated, they could make things worse. Besides affecting the structure, airborne spores can have detrimental effects on your health. Moulds are known to cause severe respiratory problems such as allergies and asthma.
When the ground shifts, a raised foundation doesn’t serve the same purpose as a slab. But a damaged beam or footer in the crawl space can lead to sloping floors, cracks in the walls or overall structural damage. It could corrode your pipes, fittings, valves, or other metal parts if water gets in. If not corrected soon, it could snowball out of control.
Lack of insulation in your crawl space means that heat or air conditioning escapes through the crawl space. This can significantly affect your electric bills. Crawl space insulation installation usually solves this problem. Wet or mouldy insulation is, again, ineffective. Proper installation of insulation in your crawl space helps you save energy, ensures the appliances are not stressed and can even be beneficial in the event of a cold snap.
Pests are never welcome, and no one likes unwelcome visitors in their homes. However, pests and rodents love the warm and humid conditions of the crawl space. Termites, rodents, carpenter ants, beetles, stray animal mites are some of the most common pests that live in the crawl space. Once they get it, they’ll be able to get water through condensation and other sources. It would help if you looked out for a few signs of pest infestation, such as droppings and pin-sized holes in wood supports.
Sloping or sagging floors are signs of major issues that need to be rectified as soon as possible. Even in an old house, sagging or sloping floors should not be taken for granted. There are several reasons why your floors could be sagging, most of them indicating a damaged crawl space. Some of the common causes are failing support beams, foundational problems, termite or dry rot damage, water or moisture damage, drainage issues, etc.
If you notice any problems or suspect issues with your crawl space, get in touch with a specialist and have it looked at pronto. Avoiding or delaying it will cause bigger problems in the future.