If your home has a crawlspace, you’ve probably considered encapsulation – especially during the recent rainy seasons, when humidity and moisture are more likely to cause problems.
Is it worth it?
It’s a fair question. Encapsulation can be a great way to prevent against moisture issues and it comes with a host of related benefits – but it’s not necessarily the only solution for crawlspace problems.
Let’s take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of crawlspace encapsulation so that you can be better positioned to make the call that’s right for the safety and comfort of your home.
Just to make sure everyone’s on the same page, we’re starting from the very beginning with square one: the definition of a crawlspace, and what it means for your crawlspace to be encapsulated.
A crawlspace is a hollow area underneath homes without a slab foundation or basement. It’s typically about two or three feet high (which is why it’s called a crawlspace – it’s only accessible by via crawling).
Crawlspace encapsulation is the process of completely sealing the crawlspace in a reinforcement liner. This is done to reduce the amount of moisture in the crawlspace (which inevitably works its way into the rest of the home).
It often involves additional work, too, such as insulating any ventilation and perhaps installing a dehumidifier or sump pump to regulate the area.
So, what are the pros of crawlspace encapsulation? Or, in other words: why should you do it?
Reduce humidity in the crawlspace. Traditional vented crawlspaces just aren’t very effective. They’re built in the hope that air outside will pass through and remove humidity from the crawlspace, but there are two major problems: a) the vents often don’t allow much air to flow through the space, and b) even when they do, the air outside is often just as humid as the air in the crawlspace.
Encapsulation is a major improvement – it blocks any moisture from entering the crawlspace in the first place. This is important because humidity in the crawlspace is inevitably passed up through the rest of the home via what’s known as the stack effect.
Protect your floors. With reduced humidity come a host of benefits. One of the more notable: protected floors. The water vapor from crawlspaces passes up through the rest of the home, often negatively impacting floors and leading to mold buildup and even rot. Encapsulation can keep your floors safe.
Improve indoor air quality. Again, the air beneath your house always makes its way into your home (some folks estimate that 50 to 60% of indoor air originates from the crawlspace). Encapsulating the space enables much better control over the air.
Save on energy. Due to reduced humidity in the home, owners with encapsulated crawlspaces often save on energy bills, especially during the summer months.
While there are certainly many benefits to crawl space encapsulation, there are also a few drawbacks.
Crawlspace encapsulation isn’t cheap. The cost of the materials and labor is typically higher than for other alternative crawlspace humidity control options.
Crawlspace encapsulation requires additional systems. You’ll likely require a dehumidifier to regulate the moisture in the area, and you may also require a sump pump or French drainage system if there’s a likelihood of flooding or standing water.
The cost of crawlspace encapsulation depends on a wide range of factors – square footage, the current state of the crawlspace, additional systems needs – but typically, the service falls within a range of $3,000 to $10,000.
As a final consideration to weight against our initial question, it’s worth looking at a few alternatives to crawlspace encapsulation. These include:
Traditional vents. Honestly, these probably aren’t a good call, especially if you’ve noticed moisture or humidity issues.
Vapor barrier. This is a half-way solution – instead of sealing every surface in the crawlspace, a vapor barrier only seals the ground, leaving the vents open. This can help with moisture issues and in some cases may be an acceptable solution. Its main benefit is that it’s a bit cheaper than a full-on encapsulation.
Hopefully, the information presented here has been helpful as you’ve considered whether or not to encapsulate your crawlspace.
Still not sure what to do? Or ready to move ahead with one of the options mentioned here? Get in touch with us.
At Mission Home Services, we’re dedicated to the safety and protection of your home. Our teams are experts in foundation issues like crawlspace repair.
If you’re weighing the benefits of encapsulating your crawlspace, let’s talk. We can help you identify the best solution for your home with a free consultation.
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