The scariest place in a home can be the crawl space. You open that latch hidden in the closet and you are overwhelmed by the odor, wetness, debris and quickly close it an forget all about it. If you are daring and venture into the great unknown you will have found dampness and perhaps even some standing water, construction debris the builders left behind, mold on the Joists and flooring underlayment. In some extreme cases the sill plate that runs the entire perimeter of the crawl space has rotten and is causing settling issues like doors and windows that wont close.
What if I told you it doesn’t have to be this way? What if I told you that you can add hundreds of usable square feet to your home and eliminate the moldy smell that dramatically improves the air quality in your home. I’m talking about Crawl Space Encapsulation.
Let me tell you a little story. I had a client who was at her wits end. He co-worker were complaining that her clothes smelled like mold. How embarrassing! Extra washing, laundry deodorizer, new clothes… nothing helped. When we sat down in her house to discuss the problem I asked here where the HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) unit was. She said the crawl space. When I opened that hatch the smell was overpowering. We then went into her closet and noticed an air vent right below her clothes. We conducted a little experiment. We turned on the HVAC system and took a good whiff of the air coming through the vent. Sure enough, it was moldy. The HVAC system was picking up the moldy air in the crawl space and depositing it right onto her clothes. Now we knew the problem, we needed a solution. Move the HVAC system into the attic for tens of thousands of dollars? Not a good option. If we went with crawlspace encapsulation we can solve the moldy smell issue and make the dungeon that was her crawl space into usable square footage.
We started by installing a perimeter drain tile system, a new sump pit, sump pump and battery backup. That solved the standing water issue. Now for the smell. After clearing away debris and leveling the floor, we laid a cushioning board on the entire crawl space floor. This is perfect for making the crawl space usable as you can easily navigate the space on your knees comfortably. We then installed an insulated foil-backed material up the walls and into the joist bay. Finally, the floor was covered by a 10mm fiber reinforced material that was double taped at all seams and penetrations creating a true encapsulation.
This had a dramatic effect on the moldy smell in the client’s clothes. When the HVAC ducts were vacuumed and cleaned, the mold smell was eliminated, much to the relief of her co-workers. This also added several hundred feet of usable storage area. We enlarged the opening to the crawl space for easier entry and exit and today the client uses it regularly.