The crawl space under your house protects the structure from flooding and provides access to wiring and plumbing fixtures. It can be easy to forget about crawl space maintenance since the area is too small to stand up in and mostly out of sight. However, if you neglect a crawl space, the lower regions of your home will be vulnerable to damage from moisture as well as pests. Take heed of the following guidelines if you want to keep your crawl space in good condition and avoid costly repairs.
Once you move into a home with a crawl space, inspect the structure annually to make that major issues do not develop, such as months of standing water that causes mold growth, horrible odors and rot. If you know what to look for and do not mind crawling underneath your home, you can conduct the inspection yourself.
When you inspect your crawl space, wear protective clothing such as a jump suit along with a hat, gloves, knee pads, safety glasses and a face mask. You should check for signs of mold and fungal growths on sub-flooring, floor joists and insulation. Examine any insulation and pipes as well for signs of mold.
If you plan on selling your home or are concerned that you crawl space does not meet municipal regulations, hire a certified inspector. An inspector can also make sure the sump pump in your crawl space is working properly and diverts water away from your home after rain. They will also check for loose wiring in the space and damaged junction boxes that house electrical connections.
Waterproofing and Ventilation
In order to prevent humid conditions in a crawl space, you can invest in waterproofing or add more ventilation. Humid, poorly ventilated crawl spaces are vulnerable to pests such as termites that can cause severe damage to your home.
For DIY waterproofing, remove rocks and debris from the soil in a crawl space, then cover the space with a waterproof barrier such as polyethylene sheeting weighed down with bricks.
A crawl space should also have cross ventilation so air can move freely. If you have a door to your crawl space from within your home, make sure that it does not have any cracks or openings when closed and that it has weather stripping.
You may be tempted to store materials next to your home, like lawnmowers, firewood and recycling bins. However, these items block ventilation to crawl spaces. Firewood, mulch and bins of old paper next to your home can be breeding grounds for pests. In addition, do not plant flowers or shrubs near crawl space vents and hatch doors.
If there is rotted wood and exposed dirt in your crawl space, your house is vulnerable to termites, ants and other insects that can enter via cracks and holes in sub-flooring and other areas. Other critters that infest crawl spaces include rodents, snakes, spiders and bees. During the winter, the small animals will take refuge in your crawl space if they find openings.
Even if the pests do not cause serious structural damage, you certainly do not want them on your property. You can place mothballs and ammonia-soaked rags in the corners of the crawl space to repel pests like squirrels, possums and raccoons.
However, the best way to deal with insects and small mammals is to hire a licensed pest control specialist. Licensed professionals have access to pesticides and equipment not available to consumers to quickly eradicate your crawl space of pests.
After you take care of pest problems, you should hire a contractor to seal every crack, hole or gap that leads into your home from your crawl space to help prevent future infestations.
For more information, contact a local crawl space repair company, like Perma-Dry Waterproofing & Drainage, Inc.