Anyone with an exposed crawl space in Fargo, ND, should expect it to get wet or damp at some point in time. So the question is not if, but when. Rather than wait for moisture to take over the crawl space and turn your home into an unlivable place, take this time to learn what causes dampness and ways you can prevent it.
Check the crawl space from time to time, and call your local contractor if you notice something unusual. Only a timely inspection can uncover what the real issues are as far as moisture is concerned.
Is Crawl Space Moisture a Normal Thing?
Yes, it is. After all, this is an area that’s open and closer to the earth than any other part of your home. So it’s going to see a fair amount of water over its lifetime. Water can get in through subterranean seepage, rainstorms that send in floodwater, leaky pipes, condensation, and cracks in the walls.
Yes, it’s important to worry about the water puddles, but you also need to be concerned about moisture. When water evaporates, it can hover around the crawl space air for days, and you may not even notice it’s there. It’s only after a period of time that you’ll realize moisture has been present and attacking the crawl space silently.
Ideally, humidity levels should be around 50%. Anything more than this should be a cause of concern as it can cause secondary damage including mold clusters. Keep testing humidity levels from time to time. To do this, you’ll need a hygrometer. If the humidity is high for several consecutive days, contact your local crawl space waterproofing contractor.
What Makes a Crawl Space Damp?
Outside air is perhaps the #1 cause of crawl space dampness. This air is often moisture-laden and enters the crawl space unfettered. Whenever this air comes into contact with the cool air inside the crawl space, it will condense into water. This is common during summer months.
Faulty gutters and downspouts are other vectors that introduce water into the crawl space and they’re up there with plumbing leaks. Whenever it rains, water can flow through the sides of the clogged gutter or flow back if the extensions are not far out.
Open vents also take a fair share of the blame, and so does saturated soil adjacent to the crawl space that sends in water. Likewise, cracks on the crawl space walls join this rank. Check your walls for cracks, since even the smallest ones can hurt your crawl space.
Best Fixes for a Damp Crawl Space
No matter what caused the dampness, you’ll be happy to know there are solutions to different moisture-related problems.
Encapsulation — Sealing the crawl space with a 20-mil plastic barrier effectively locks out air and water from the outside as well as pests and insects seeking refuge. Your contractor will cover the walls and floor and go around obstacles, leaving a slight space for inspection.
Get a dehumidifier – Humidity is particularly high during summer when precipitation is also high. And then there’s moisture that gets in through leaks or seepage on the walls. All these can make your crawl space damp. A dehumidifier will curtail moisture buildup and prevent condensation.
Repair plumbing leaks — If there’s a water pipe that’s leaking, fix it as soon as possible, then insulate the water pipes. Damp walls and puddles of water should alert you to the possibility of a leak. Small leaks can go undetected for days or even weeks. So keep an eye on the crawl space.
Get a sump pump — As part of your flood prevention strategy, buy and install a sump pump at the lowest section of the crawl space, then connect it with an interior drainage system. It will eject water that seeps through the walls and water that comes out of a burst pipe before it becomes a menace.
Unclog gutters — Clear any leaves or debris that collect on your gutters and water will flow freely to the downspouts, where it’ll be channeled away from the home.
Grade your yard — As long as your yard slopes toward your home, you can expect water to flow back to the perimeter of your home. You can stop the backflow by grading your yard away from your foundation.
Want to keep your crawl space clean, dry, and fresh all year round? Schedule a free crawl space inspection with our professionals in Fargo, ND, and find out how we can help you damp proof it.