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6 Crawl Space Hazards & How to Fix Them

woman holding nose due to smell

A crawl space is an odd room - not quite a basement but definitely different from slab-on construction, the concept has become increasingly less popular as the downsides of crawl spaces become more well known.

In this post, we detail six of the most common and pressing crawl space hazards and our best recommendations for how to address them.

1. Radon Exposure

Radon gas is a naturally occurring by-product of decaying radioactive matter, such as uranium, in the environment. Radon is colourless, odourless and tasteless, making its presence in worrisome quantities very challenging to detect!

In fact, the only reliable method for detecting radon gas in or around your home is to install a radon detector. You can also do a test, either by hiring a professional or by using a kit at home.

Radon gas exposure is now the second leading cause of lung cancer in Canada and is the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.

Radon that is present in the soil and surrounding air can enter your home through any available fissure, crack or crevice. If you have radon in any significant quantity in your soil, it is quite likely to enter your home, where the air pressure is more favorable to this lightweight gas.

Crawl spaces that lack proper insulation and are not sealed offer ready access to radon gas. We recommend sealing, insulating and encapsulating your crawl space to prevent radon from entering your home.

2. Humidity, Water Seepage and Leaks

One common error many builders made in past decades was to ventilate crawl spaces. Unfortunately, ventilation in an open-air space such as a crawl space will only draw in more of the same humid, warm air that will cause rot, structural decay and chilly floors above.

Instead of ventilation, what works is dehumidification along with crawl space insulation and encapsulation. This will draw the humidity and moisture out of the air inside your crawl space, keeping the environment cool and dry.

Adding a vapour barrier is also a smart choice to protect against moisture seepage and water leaks from runoff and storms.

If you are experiencing significant moisture issues, you may want to consider adding a sump pump backup system to keep your sump running even during power outages. For crawl spaces that lack a sump system, adding a crawl space drain and a sump can protect your crawl space and home from water leaks and flooding.

3. Mould and Mildew

There is no doubt that older, unfinished crawl spaces are magnets for mould and mildew. Fungal spores are attracted to any dark, damp spots where they can colonize, reproduce and spread.

Dehumidification, insulation and encapsulation can effectively remove humidity from your crawl space, preventing fungal spores from taking root and multiplying.

For older, poorly maintained crawl spaces with existing degraded insulation, it will be necessary to thoroughly clean out your crawl space, remove old insulation, potentially treat the space for pests and then proceed to seal and reinsulate the space against mould and mildew.

4. Perpetual Energy Loss

There is no doubt that crawl spaces are a common culprit for perpetual costly energy losses. This can be especially true during the lengthy cold season here in Canada, when heating bills are skyrocketing and yet your floors still feel inexplicably cold beneath your feet.

This is because all that warm air is escaping down into your crawl space, where it just creates troublesome humidity that leads to condensation and, eventually, mould, mildew and the arrival of pests.

There are two important repairs you need to make to stop the ceaseless energy loss.

The first is to seal all the joists and joints connecting your home and crawl space (this will also help reduce the amount of radon gas that enters your home through the crawl space). The second is to insulate your crawl space so that there will not be such a noticeable seasonal temperature difference above and under your floors.

5. Stinky Air

Many homeowners call us initially complaining about a mysterious foul-smelling air inside their home. Try as they might, they can’t seem to locate the source of the odour. This is because it is coming from underneath their home in the crawl space.

When your crawl space is not well-maintained or insulated, and it is accumulating humidity and moisture, this can then lead to rotting wood, stinking mould and mildew and an influx of creepy unwelcome visitors such as small rodents and animals.

With unsealed joints and joists, the air naturally drifts upwards into your home. Every time you try to apply air fresheners, the smelly air returns again as soon as they wear off.

Sealing, insulating and encapsulating your crawl space is often the best way to terminate foul-smelling indoor air that has not been remedied through any other means.

6. Pests

Finally, the topic no one enjoys talking about – what happens when you have an unprotected, untended crawl space that is rich in moisture with lots of wonderful dark hiding spots? You might as well hang out a welcome sign to invite pests to move in!

The good news here is, when you decide to repair, insulate and encapsulate your crawl space, cleaning out the space is part of the job - so you don’t have to do it yourself! Many of our customers who have been dreading an encounter with their crawl space’s inhabitants are relieved to know they won’t ever have to do so – we handle it all for you.

Get in Touch

Do you need help managing a poorly maintained crawl space? Our affordable, effective, turnkey crawl space solutions are designed with you in mind!

Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.

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