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IBA Crew in Crawl space with PVC

Crawl Space Repair & Encapsulation

Normally these areas are empty, but you never know what creepy conditions you’ll find there – mold, pest infestation, wet insulation, and much more.

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Have you noticed your floors sagging and feeling bouncy? Do you detect unpleasant, musty odors but can’t pinpoint the source? Do your floors feel cold in winter? These are just a few crawl space problems that could be plaguing your home. While most homes throughout Minnesota, the Dakotas, Eastern Montana, and Western Wisconsin, or areas such as Burnsville and Rogers have basements, many have a crawl space or a combination of both. It is important to be vigilant when it comes to these and other issues, as your home’s safety and your family’s health could be at stake.  

Be proactive and contact local experts at Innovative Basement Authority for a free inspection and repair quote. We will carefully inspect your crawl space and recommend tailor-fit solutions to repair and protect your home. 


Causes of Crawl Space Problems

While various factors can impact your crawl space and home, the biggest culprit has to do with the way your home was constructed.

The stack effect refers to the airflow pattern in a house from bottom to top, like a chimney. Air enters at the bottom, rises through the structure, and is expelled through the top. It all has to do with air pressure. Air flows from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure. When there is a greater difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures, the more significant this airflow becomes. (Source: Fine Homebuilding

To get a better understanding of the stack effect, it might be beneficial to see it in action. While you can’t see airflow, there is a great demonstration of the stack effect in a YouTube video from the Cold Climate Housing Research Center titled “Your Nothern Home: Stack Effect.”  

More than half the air you are breathing inside your house comes from the crawl space. So, whatever is in your crawl space – such as mold and high humidity – also is in the air circulating throughout the rest of the house and affecting your living environment. 

There are different ways water can enter a crawl space – through the walls, floor, open vents, and plumbing leaks. No matter how it got in, it’s a big problem. Areas of leaking, standing water are very attractive to bugs and other pests who seek shelter and a food source. Water can easily saturate soft fiberglass insulation and lead to mold growth, and wet support systems can fail to do their job and contribute to sagging floors.

If there is high humidity in the crawl space along with water, this is a recipe for disaster. Humidity levels above 50% contribute to mold growth, unpleasant odors, failing support systems, and more.  Crawl spaces commonly have high relative humidity and moisture. These conditions promote mold growth, especially on organic materials like wood and insulation. Moisture in the crawl space also can enter other areas of the home through cracks in walls, floors, and the ceiling, and contribute to mold growth there.

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Is Crawl Space Repair and Encapsulation the Right Solution for Me? 

Areas like Minneapolis, Fargo, and Sioux Falls naturally experience hot and humid summers, chilly winters, and ample precipitation throughout the year. This can mean trouble for your crawl space and the rest of your home. Excess crawl space humidity can lead to mold growth and aggravate or lead to illnesses, and cold air can freeze pipes within the crawl space and drive up your heating bill because of an overworked HVAC system. 

While the weather plays its part, many crawl space problems stem from open crawl space vents. It has been common building practice since the mid-20th century to construct crawl spaces with these features with the intention of better controlling airflow, moisture, and humidity. Along the way, foundation experts found this to be detrimental to homes. 

That is why crawl space repair and encapsulation are essential to home improvement and maintenance. By properly sealing your crawl space from outside nuisances with solutions like vent covers and vapor barriers, you are better protecting your home and family. 

FAQs

Do you notice any of the following signs and symptoms in your home? If so, you’ve got a problem crawl space on your hands. 

  • Interior drywall cracks  
  • Uneven floors or buckled hardwood floors 
  • Foul odors in the home 
  • Poor indoor air quality 
  • Dampness in the living areas 
  • Heightened allergies or asthma symptoms 
  • Mold growth  
  • Wood rot  
  • Higher energy usage and bills  
  • Pest infestations 

While various factors can impact your crawl space and home, the biggest culprit has to do with the way your home was constructed. The practice of building homes with crawl spaces typically has called for having open vents to be code compliant. The idea was to allow better airflow under the house and air drying. However, experience shows this is an outdated practice that is more harmful to homes than it is useful. Open crawl space vents let outside air, water, and pests inside to cause a host of other problems that affect not only the crawl space but the rest of the house. This is because of the stack effect. 

The stack effect refers to the airflow pattern in a house from bottom to top, like a chimney. Air enters at the bottom, rises through the structure, and is expelled through the top. It all has to do with air pressure. Air flows from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure. When there is a greater difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures, the more significant this airflow becomes. (Source: Fine Homebuilding

To get a better understanding of the stack effect, it might be beneficial to see it in action. While you can’t see airflow, there is a great demonstration of the stack effect in a YouTube video from the Cold Climate Housing Research Center titled “Your Nothern Home: Stack Effect.”  

More than half the air you are breathing inside your house comes from the crawl space. So, whatever is in your crawl space – such as mold and high humidity – also is in the air circulating throughout the rest of the house and affecting your living environment. 

Here are a few major issues that result from open crawl space vents and the stack effect: 

  • Water Intrusion 
    There are different ways water can enter a crawl space – through the walls, floor, open vents, and plumbing leaks. No matter how it got in, it’s a big problem. Areas of leaking, standing water are very attractive to bugs and other pests who seek shelter and a food source. Water can easily saturate soft fiberglass insulation and lead to mold growth, and wet support systems can fail to do their job and contribute to sagging floors. 
     
  • High Humidity 
    If there is high humidity in the crawl space along with water, this is a recipe for disaster. Humidity levels above 50% contribute to mold growth, unpleasant odors, failing support systems and more.   
     
    Crawl spaces commonly have high relative humidity and moisture. These conditions promote mold growth, especially on organic materials like wood and insulation. Moisture in the crawl space also can enter other areas of the home through cracks in walls, floors, and the ceiling, and contribute to mold growth there. (Source: EPA
     
  • Sagging Floors 
    Other related problems that go hand in hand with water and humidity are failing support systems and sagging floors. When hot, humid air is vented into the crawl space during warmer months, this can cause wood to rot. Metal supports also can rust and corrode. Coupled with the presence of water, this also can lead to sagging, soft, buckling floors above, and affect hardwood floors. 
     
  • Energy Loss 
    You could be wasting a good deal of money trying to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. This is because of your vented crawl space. When hot and humid air is vented inside, you’ll be running your air conditioner nonstop to stay cool and potentially overtaxing the unit. Similarly, cooler wintertime air vented inside makes your furnace struggle to keep up in maintaining a warmer environment. Floors may feel cold because of the cooler air from the crawl space underneath. 

There are so many ways you, your family, and your home will benefit from conquering your crawl space problems. Crawl space repair will help you avoid unnecessary repairs, create a healthier living space, and save money on your utility bills. And once you’ve encapsulated your crawl space with a vapor barrier, you’ve gained valuable storage space in your home. 

Here’s a look at some of the major advantages of crawl space repair: 

  • Better Health and Quality of Life 
    Everyone deserves a safe and healthy place to call home. By ridding your crawl space of any unhealthy conditions through proper waterproofing, dehumidification, encapsulation, and insulation, you are keeping mold, allergens, and sickness at bay. The air quality of your home will be greatly improved, and so will the well-being and happiness of your family. 
     
  • Protected Safety and Structural Integrity 
    Failing support systems and sagging floors are not safe and could result in significant structural damage and safety hazards. By shoring up the supports in your home, you will have a more stable living environment for your family. 
     
  • More Functional Space 
    A nasty crawl space is not somewhere anyone wants to go into or even think about storing anything. But when you rid your crawl space of leaking water and mold and it has quality encapsulation and insulation measures to protect it, you can use this as an extra storage space!  
     
  • Enhanced Energy Efficiency 
    A crawl space that is sealed from outside elements and properly insulated does not require as much energy usage. When you have these essential projects completed, you could reduce your home energy costs by 20 percent. Homes also can benefit from crawl space winterization
     
  • Improved Home value 
    Your home is going to be on the real estate market at some point, whether that’s soon or many years away. Is it ready and has it retained its value? A home’s resale value can depend on a variety of factors, including the condition of areas like crawl spaces. Homebuyers generally expect houses to be free of problems like moldy crawl spaces and sagging floors, so why not fix these issues before they hurt your chance to sell the house? You could sell as-is, but you’re still going to have to complete a seller’s disclosure form. Some items on this list you’ll have to address include any past and current issues like mold and damage from wood-destroying pests. Plus, things like foundation issues can reduce your home’s resale value by 10 to 30 percent, and homebuyers could have problems getting a mortgage. 

Now that you’ve learned more about crawl space problems and why it’s important to address them, are you ready to take back your home with needed repairs?  

Before preparing your plan of attack, you first need to think about who will be doing these repairs. You have a wealth of resources at your fingertips, and you’re probably thinking about how you can save some money by fixing it yourself.  

However, crawl space repair is serious work and not something you can tackle in a weekend, no matter how handy you are.  A lot can happen during the DIY process, and we have seen many problems that can result from fast fixes. Especially concerning real estate transactions, quick fixes can raise red flags. You’ll then have to spend more time and money to have those issues repaired. It’s best to leave these projects to professional contractors so the problems will be fixed correctly the first time around. 

It can be intimidating having to hire a contractor, and you’ve probably heard from others about their less than stellar experiences with shady contractors and shoddy work. But don’t let these troublesome tales completely turn you off to contractors.  

Do your research and learn as much as you can about a company. Read reviews, ask for references, and make sure to inquire about contractor essentials like licenses, certifications, insurance, written estimates and contracts, and other important documents. 

It’s important for you to feel comfortable with who you bring in your home. Sure, there might be a few bad apples out there, but there also are a lot of co

Some people have come to think that late start times, messes, and unfinished projects are the norm when it comes to dealing with contractors. But these are unacceptable circumstances you should never have to deal with. Let us prove to you that we are not like other companies. From your initial contact with us to the inspection, and all the way through the completion of the repair work, we will be right there with you every step of the way. 

It all starts when you reach out to us. We will schedule a time for you to meet with one of our certified field inspectors for a free inspection and estimate. During this professional consultation, the inspector will do a complete assessment of your crawl space. He will discuss his findings with you, your goals with a repair project, your budget, and payment and financing options. The inspector will then put together an estimate that includes a plan for repair with solutions tailored to your specific crawl space needs. Take your time to review this estimate and follow-up with your inspector if you have any questions or concerns. 

When you’re ready to proceed with the recommended work and sign a contract with your inspector, we’ll schedule that work with one of our expert crews. The crew will take great care in installing top-quality products to fix and protect your home. The job is not complete until you are totally satisfied with the work, so don’t hesitate to speak up if something happens or is not living up to expectations. We also want to make sure our work and the solutions we install continue to work in protecting your home as they should, which is why we offer service and maintenance opportunities. 

We care about your home and your safety, which is why we only use the very best solutions to protect your dwelling and your family. The products we use are manufactured here in the United States, they carry longtime warranties, and they are tested and proven to effectively work in keeping your crawl space clean, dry, safe, and healthy. All these solutions also are designed to work together, as well as with our other waterproofing and foundation repair systems, to give you the most bang for your buck and prevent any further problems. 

Here are different ways we address crawl space issues and their repairs: 

  • Waterproofing 
    I’ve you’ve got leaking and standing water in your crawl space, we will find the source and work to eliminate it. Our CrawlDrain™ perimeter drainage system is placed in the topmost part of the crawl space floor to catch seeping water from the walls and floor. This water is then directed to drain into a sump pump system to be pumped out of the crawl space and away from your home’s foundation. We offer a variety of SafeDri™ sump pumps to meet your waterproofing needs, including the SafeDri™ Crawl Space Sump Pump designed to work alongside our crawl space encapsulation material. Additionally, we can place a FreezeGuard™ on the exterior sump pump discharge line to help prevent flooding from frozen or blocked pipes. 
     
  • Encapsulation 
    Along with keeping water out, it’s important to seal your crawl space from other outside nuisances like humid or cold air and pests. The first step in doing that is to cut off a major entry point. We’ll put durable, airtight vent covers over the crawl space vents. 
     
    Next, we’ll place thick drainage matting on the crawl space floor to help direct water to the perimeter drainage system and enhance the strength of the encapsulation material. Then, CrawlSeal™ is used to cover the floor and crawl space walls. This thick and durable 20-mil liner completely isolates the home from the earth. It also acts as a moisture and vapor barrier. It is waterproof and has been treated to resist mold and mildew. CrawlSeal™ is bright white, so it lightens up the crawl space, and it is tough enough to crawl on. 
     
  • Insulation 
    Typical soft, fluffy insulation can easily fall off crawl space walls and harbor mold, but our rigid ExTremeBloc™ panels are the better alternative. These panels are moisture resistant, and an integrated termiticide is added to deter termites below grade. CrawlSeal™ also helps insulate the crawl space, and spray foam can be added to rim joists to seal gaps around the perimeter of your foundation. These insulation methods help prevent wood rot and enable termite treatments. 
     
  • Dehumidification 
    When sealing off the crawl space, it is important to condition the air so it does not become stagnant. Our powerful, energy-efficient dehumidifier works to effectively clean and filter the air, control moisture and humidity, reduce odors, and help prevent mold and mildew. The unit’s low profile makes it ideal for even the tightest crawl spaces. It also self-drains and can be directed into the perimeter drainage or sump pump system, so there are no buckets or reservoirs you must empty.  
     
  • Structural Supports 
    Support systems can easily fail if they are exposed to prolonged water intrusion and humidity. But our galvanized steel IntelliJacks™ are more sturdy and reliable supports that can stabilize and help lift sagging floors and floor joists back to level. They are designed to help stop settling but can be adjusted if any settlement occurs. 
     
  • Access Points 
    Typically, crawl space doors and access wells are concrete, wood, or metal that can easily rust and rot as they are exposed to the outside elements. But we can install more durable plastic access wells and doors that are safe, sturdy, and airtight. 

Why are Crawl Space Repair and Encapsulation Needed?

Your home and family can benefit from crawl space repair and encapsulation with quality solutions in so many ways. Here are just a few reasons why your home may need our crawl space services: 

sagging floors in crawl space graphic

Structural Instability

Once water has leaked into or flooded your crawl space and humidity sets in, these two ingredients can attack your home’s support system housed in the crawl space. Whether they are floor joists, girders, or other support beams, they can greatly weaken and lead to sagging, uneven floors above. Wooden supports will rot and those made of metal will rust and corrode. These issues also can cause warped and damaged flooring. 

the stack effect

Poor Air Quality

Almost half of the air in your home comes from your crawl space. Because of the stack effect – the natural flow of air in a home from bottom to top – anything in your crawl space such as mold spores, pest droppings, and the odors they create is in the air circulating throughout your home. Not only does this diminish your home’s air quality, but it can mean significant health impacts. This can worsen or even cause respiratory issues in anyone breathing in these hazards. 

bugs in crawl space

Pest Infestations

Bugs and other pests are drawn to areas that are dark, moist, isolated, and have organic material to feed on. This includes your crawl space. Not only can their droppings contaminate your home’s air, but pests can cause other damage in your crawl space. Termites in areas like Southern Minnesota and South Dakota can feed off your wooden floor joists and supports, and small animals can make a nest of your insulation and knock ductwork out of place. Bugs also could make their way up into your main living space when they’re not satisfied with the crawl space. 

Common Crawl Space Repair and Encapsulation Tips & Mistakes 

During our time in the foundation and crawl space repair industry, we’ve heard and seen a thing or two when it comes to mistakes to avoid and helpful tips to consider during the repair process. These are just a few: 

Tips to Consider: 

  • Follow and Trust Your Senses: Damage in your crawl space can show itself in various ways including unpleasant odors and cold floors. You might be noticing strange, strong odors and can’t place them, or feel very cold floors under your feet during the winter. Pay attention to these signs as problems within your home and make sure you have them inspected by trusted local professionals. 
  • Maintain Your Gutters and Downspouts: While the solutions we provide are installed inside your crawl space, it is important to maintain exterior systems like your gutters and downspouts. They are your first line of defense in keeping water away from your crawl space, so it is important to regularly check them and clean them if needed. Also, make sure the downspouts and any extensions are pointed away from the house for proper drainage. 
  • Contact Crawl Space Professionals for Assistance: It can be challenging to differentiate between crawl space problems and other issues in your home, as many of them overlap. But our expert team at Innovative Basement Authority takes the guesswork out of the process. We have years of experience in inspecting and diagnosing crawl space problems, as well as recommending and installing only the best repair and encapsulation solutions. 

Mistakes to Avoid: 

  • Going into Your Crawl Space: Paying attention to different problems like sagging floors and awful smells is important in detecting and repairing your crawl space. It may seem counterintuitive, but we do not advise you to go into your crawl space to check for damage. This area is often a tight squeeze for people to navigate, and it can be full of dangers like mold and pests. Many home essentials like plumbing pipes, ductwork, and HVAC equipment are often housed in the crawl space and could inadvertently be damaged.  
  • Not Addressing Crawl Space Problems: It can be tempting to put off issues you’re noticing and place repairs on the back burner. But these problems will not solve themselves, and they will only get worse with time. Excessive moisture can lead to mold growth, wood rot, and potential floor failure.  
  • Applying DIY Solutions: Just as we do not recommend you go into your crawl space to investigate problems, we also advise against installing repairs on your own. Precise installation can be difficult, and you would need the right repairs to begin with. Many big box stores offer temporary solutions at best, which means repeated purchases and installation.  

Find your service area

Bismarck, ND

Bismarck, ND

Extreme weather is common in Bismarck. Cracks and leaks are familiar results, but they should be addressed right away. Trust Innovative Basement Authority.

Fargo, ND

Fargo, ND

Fargo’s hot, humid summers and freezing winters put stress on a home’s foundation. These extreme elements need constant monitoring when it comes to the health of your home.

Grand Forks Metro Area

Grand Forks Metro Area

Snowy winters and hot, humid summers are all too common for Grand Forks homeowners. These conditions, plus the area's soil, put your home at risk.

Saint Cloud, MN

Saint Cloud, MN

Water damage and foundation issues can happen in Saint Cloud homes, especially after heavy rains and snowmelt. Innovative Basement Authority will help your home weather the storm and stay permanently dry with our trusted repair solutions.

Sioux Falls, SD

Sioux Falls, SD

The soil around your Sioux Falls home could play a big role in why you’re having foundation problems. The clay soil expands and shrinks, causing major problems.

Duluth-Superior Metro Area

Duluth-Superior Metro Area

Located in the heart of Minnesota’s Land of 10,000 Lakes, your Duluth-Superior home is likely to experience foundation problems. Find a permanent solution for your home.

Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis, MN

Heavy winter snow and summer rain in Minneapolis can lead to basement water intrusion and foundation damage. Innovative Basement Authority will ensure your home can weather the storm with our trusted repair solutions.

Rochester

Rochester

The red soils so commonly associated with the Midwest cause structural failure. Helical piers, concrete lifting, and other solutions can protect homes from damage.

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    Innovative Basement Authority Service Map

    We service Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Eastern Montana for basement waterproofing and crawl space repair.

    Fargo, ND

    1330 41st St. N
    Fargo, ND 58102

    Minneapolis, MN

    6265 Carmen Ave.
    Inver Grove Heights, MN 55076

    Rush City, MN

    1325 S Frandsen Ave
    Rush City, MN 55069

    Sioux Falls, SD

    101 S. Reid Street, Suite 307
    Sioux Falls, SD 57103