Complete Guide: Pros & Cons of Crawl Space Encapsulation

May 17, 2022

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Are you a property owner wondering about the pros and cons of crawl space encapsulation? This is a fair subject to consider. One the one hand, preventative maintenance helps avoid foundation damage. On the other hand, you don’t want to pay for services your property doesn’t necessarily need!

To help you make the right decision about your home or commercial structure, note some vital information about crawl spaces. You can then discuss your options for crawl space encapsulation and waterproofing with a foundation repair contractor near you. In turn, you can rest assured that your structure is in good condition from top to bottom!

A home needing crawl space encapsulation

What Are the Pros and Cons of Crawl Space Encapsulation?

First consider the benefits of crawl space waterproofing in general. Next, you might note the difference between vapor barriers and encapsulation, and other protective measures. Then you can discuss the right option for your property’s pier and beam foundation and resultant crawl space!

Why should a property owner waterproof a crawl space?

As a crawl space is somewhat open and exposed to the elements, it can trap excess moisture under your structure. In turn, you might note some pros and cons of waterproofing that space in general:

  • Excess moisture in a crawl space attracts pests including bothersome insects and rodents. These can then make their way into your structure. These pests are harmful to your family and pets and can mean thousands of dollars in property damage. Carpenter ants, termites, and rats are especially damaging to wood framing, wiring, and other building materials around your property.
  • That trapped moisture increases the risk of mold and mildew growth around the structure. Consequently, you might soon notice mold around walls and a home’s subflooring. Also, mildew might begin to spread underneath carpeting and area rugs.
  • A property’s open crawl space can also trap cold and hot air throughout the year. In turn, your property’s interior spaces might be too cold or hot, which then spikes your utility costs. Your HVAC system also suffers added wear and tear from cycling on and off more often.
  • Using a crawl space for storage without needed waterproofing risks damage to items in that space. On the other hand, a waterproofed crawl space means added storage for items around your property.

The downside to waterproofing a crawl space is that your chosen method usually needs maintenance over the years. For example, you might need to mend tears in an encapsulation covering or replace worn dehumidifier parts.

What is a crawl space encapsulation versus other protective measures?

First note the difference between crawl space encapsulation, a vapor barrier, and other such waterproofing measures. Encapsulation, as the word implies, covers virtually every surface of a crawl space with thick, waterproof sheeting. This sheeting then creates a capsule or seal around the entire crawl space.

In some cases, a contractor might also add insulation to a structure’s underside and the crawl space walls before the sheeting. He or she might also seal vents and similar openings, to reduce airflow into the space.

Full scale crawl space encapsulation.

A vapor barrier is like encapsulation, but not as complete. While encapsulation covers a crawl space ground, walls, and the structure’s underside, a vapor barrier covers the ground only. This barrier blocks vapors and dew along the ground before they reach the structure’s underside. A vapor barrier also prevents airborne moisture from settling into the ground and creating added dampness.

A waterproofing contractor might also offer other methods for protecting that crawl space. For example, a dehumidifier removes excess moisture in the air. Also, a French drain directs moisture in the soil away from a structure. These are excellent for protecting a structure against damage.

Why choose crawl space encapsulation versus other waterproofing measures?

Any waterproofing measure is better than not protecting a structure’s crawl space! However, you might note some advantages offered by encapsulation versus other solutions:

  • Encapsulation offers the most protection against excess, trapped moisture in a crawl space. In turn, it’s especially useful in tropical areas or those with high humidity levels.
  • Full-scale encapsulation ensures a clean, dry space. Consequently, it’s easier to access a structure’s underside or use the crawl space for storage.
  • Adding an encapsulation barrier along a structure’s underside helps protect against mold, wood rot, and other damage.
  • The added insulation provided by encapsulation means improved energy-efficiency inside a structure.
  • Since encapsulation offers the most protection against water damage, it might even increase a structure’s value overall.
  • Lastly, encapsulation can improve the appearance of a crawl space. Plastic sheeting is typically less unsightly than bare walls and a dirt floor!

Is It Worth It to Encapsulate a Crawl Space?

Property owners don’t often think of their structure’s crawl space, so it’s easy to dismiss the value of encapsulation. However, you might note why this work is worth its cost in terms of financial returns on that investment.

  • Added insulation from crawl space encapsulation often means decreased energy costs. Also, since your HVAC system won’t cycle on as often, you might save money on their repair and replacement costs.
  • Blocking moisture from entering a structure through the crawl space means less risk of mold and mildew growth. In turn, you’ll save the cost of mold cleanup and repair. Additionally, you won’t need to remove mildew from underneath carpeting or replace rugs as often.
  • Trapped moisture in a crawl space often attracts pests, as said, looking for a water source. Consequently, encapsulation can save you the cost of extermination and other pest control services!
  • Additionally, note that various insects and rodents aren’t just bothersome but damaging to a structure! Rats can chew through electrical wires and insulation. Termites and carpenter ants also chew through wood framing and drywall. Keeping pests away from your home can then mean avoiding these costly repairs.
  • Wood framing absorbing that moisture might then rot and crack. Keeping framing dry avoids repair and replacement costs.
  • Moisture making its way into your home also risks damage to items in the vicinity including large appliances! Avoid rusted furnaces, washers, dryers, and other items by encapsulating that crawl space.
  • Above all, consider that your property might lose value once mold, mildew, and other issues set in. Consequently, you could end up losing equity rather than building it over the years.

Longevity of Crawl Space Encapsulation

As with any home improvement project, quality materials and professional installation affect how long your crawl space encapsulation lasts. Many contractors offer a 15-to-20-year warranty on their work and materials. However, you might note some factors that can affect crawl space encapsulation durability.

First, consider that outside flooding can damage crawl space encapsulation materials and installation. Second, remember that encapsulation can protect against only so much moisture! In turn, it’s vital that you protect the encapsulation from damage due to excess soil moisture. For instance, install a French drain or sump pump where needed, to direct moisture away from your structure.

Also, remember that professional installation is likely to last longer than a DIY waterproofing project. Professionals use higher grade equipment, to ensure a secure installation. Additionally, a contractor knows where and how to attach encapsulating materials, for a secure fit.

A crawl space needing encapsulation and waterproofing.

Does an Encapsulated Crawlspace Add Value to a Home?

A realtor or property appraiser can note whether crawl space encapsulation will add to your home’s value. However, consider the risks of not waterproofing your home’s crawl space and pier and beam foundation. Without proper waterproofing, you run the risk of moisture damage, mold, and pest infestation.

Also, without waterproofing, damp air might make its way to a structure’s interior. In turn, energy costs might spike, and you might notice musty smells and other unpleasant odors. That dampness can even risk standing water in rooms with concrete floors. All these issues can mean long-term damage to a structure, which lowers its overall values.

Above all, note that homebuyers usually prefer “turnkey” houses, meaning those where they can simply turn the key! Unfinished projects can often turn off potential buyers who don’t appreciate having to perform maintenance tasks after moving in. Consequently, crawl space encapsulation can often make your property more appealing to a wider range of buyers when you decide to sell.

Signs That You Need Crawl Space Encapsulation

Homeowners should never rely on a DIY crawl space inspection to decide if their property needs encapsulation. A professional inspection can spot signs of damage and needed waterproofing underneath your home. However, you might also note some indicators of foundation damage and needed repairs and encapsulation, including:

  • Mold growth along walls, or mildew underneath carpeting and area rugs.
  • A cold, clammy feeling in the home.
  • Increased utility costs as well as appliances cycling on more often than usual.
  • Dampness especially in rooms with concrete floors.
  • Breathing issues especially for those with asthma or allergies.
  • Insect infestations inside or underneath the home.
  • Creaking subfloors or other signs of damaged flooring under foot.

Also, consider your property’s age and surrounding soil conditions. While not all foundations weaken over time, older piers and beams are more likely to show signs of water damage. Additionally, moisture in the soil increases the risk of trapped humidity in a crawl space. If your property suffers from improper grading, it’s more likely to need encapsulation and other protective measures.

Avoiding Foundation Danages

Encapsulation is an excellent choice for avoiding foundation damage along a structure’s piers and beams. However, it’s not the only choice for keeping a foundation in good condition. Check out some added suggestions for protecting a structure’s foundation from damage over the years:

  • Have a foundation repair contractor or landscaping engineer check your property for excess moisture and if it’s graded properly. In turn, you might install a French drain and correct the soil’s grade. These simple steps help direct moisture away from a property’s foundation.
  • Ensure underground sprinklers, pools, and other such features are always in good condition and without leaks. A leaking sprinkler or pool can allow soil to flood near a foundation, risking water damage.
  • In the same way, always keep gutters clean and clog-free! Clogged gutters let rainwater wash over to a home’s foundation rather than directing it to a nearby street.
  • Never add significant weight to a structure without checking its foundation first. Stone floors, a sunroom, and other additions can put too much weight on piers and beams. In turn, they might crack or sink, risking costly secondary damage over time.
  • Avoid DIY repairs when possible. A professional ensures high-quality fixes with durable materials designed to last. Consequently, those repairs will protect your foundation from damage more so than DIY fixes.

Buying a Home with Foundation Repairs: Should You Do it?

If you’re in the market for a new home, you might wonder if you should consider one with foundation repair. Also, it’s good to think seriously about a home with foundation damage needing repairs! First, consider that many foundation repair methods last for decades. Second, note if you’re willing to invest in those repairs for a new home.

For example, if a previous homeowner invested in underpinning or leveling, those repairs should last for several years if not indefinitely. Those past repairs don’t necessarily indicate a weak foundation that will continue to suffer damage over time.

Additionally, make note of any preventative maintenance done by former homeowners. This includes crawl space encapsulation and other waterproofing methods! These simple steps can protect a foundation over the years.

Above all, talk to a foundation repair contractor and your real estate agent about any prospective purchase. He or she can advise on that property’s overall condition and past repairs. Also, they can note if current damage might affect the property’s condition overall. In turn, you can make an educated decision about any prospective property you might purchase.

Bowling Green Foundation Repair & Waterproofing is happy to bring this information about the pros and cons of crawl space encapsulation to you. We hope you found it helpful and informative! If your property needs expert fixes, call our Bowling Green foundation repair contractors. We offer FREE inspections and reliable repairs that last. To get your property started, call us today!

 

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