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Encapsulating Your Crawl Space with a Vapor Barrier and How This Helps Your Home

Monday, December 23rd, 2019


If your crawl space is exposed to outside elements, you have a plethora of potential repair solutions available to you. One of these solutions is a vapor barrier. Vapor barriers are used during the encapsulation process and are able to completely seal the crawl space and prevent water and vapor intrusion.

What are vapor barriers exactly, though, and how do they keep your crawl space safe? Furthermore, how do you know when it’s time to install a vapor barrier along with other available waterproofing solutions?

Is Your Crawl Space Leaking?

Before you start exploring the waterproofing and other solutions you have available to you, you need to determine whether or not your crawl space is actually leaking. The precipitation levels in Columbus, OH, after all, vary. As a result, your crawl space may be fine after a light year but swimming after another.

If you suspect your crawl space may be leaking, keep an eye out for the following:

  • Cold or cool crawl spaces – An increased level of dampness in your crawl space will make the space seem cooler than it normally is. This is because water makes it more difficult for you to temperature control your home. That said, it can be difficult to determine when the cold in your crawl space is dampness-oriented or just a part of the space itself. That’s why it’s best to leave a thermometer in your crawl space year-round and to track any changes in temperature.
  • Water damage – If you’ve stored any belongings in your crawl space, you can use their condition to determine whether or not you have a leak. If any paper belongings have started to curl or wooden objects have an odd smell, your belongings may have been exposed to precipitation.
  • Smells – Speaking of smells, long-term exposure to standing water or dampness will leave your crawl space smelling vile. That smell will eventually make its way into your home and may, at first, not seem to have a source. If you can’t make your home smell nice no matter what you try, head down to your crawl space. You may have a substantial leak on your hands.
  • Stuck doors – Water and dampness can warp any exposed wooden structures in your crawl space. As a result, the door to the space may get stuck when you try to open it. If you’re having a difficult time getting into your crawl space, talk to a local contractor, as the wood may not be salvageable.
  • Mold – Finally, keep an eye out for mold clusters in your crawl space. Mold loves dark and damp spaces, as it is able to grow most effectively when exposed to these environments. If you notice mold clusters in your crawl space, you’re going to need to treat them as soon as possible. After you’ve removed them from your basement, talk to a contractor to see what waterproofing solutions will serve your crawl space best. 

Vapor Barriers: Air-Tight Waterproofing Solutions

Among the various waterproofing solutions available to you – including French drains, dehumidifiers and sump pumps – there is the vapor barrier. Vapor barriers are essential to the encapsulation process. They are typically made of a thick white plastic-like material, but they come in various forms depending on the type you purchase.

Vapor barriers cannot be permeated by many types of gases. As a result, they can more effectively keep dampness out of your crawl space, as moisture particles will be unable to breach them. Similarly, groundwater that’s gathered as a result of the rain will not be able to get to your belongings, as it will be redirected by the physical barrier between your crawl space and the things you’ve stored.

Vapor barriers like the one installed by our experts will permanently isolate your crawl space from the earth to properly seal it from outside air, water and pests. You also can stack vapor barriers with other waterproofing solutions to extend their life cycles.

Waterproofing Your Crawl Space

What does the process of waterproofing your crawl space look like, though, and how does a vapor barrier come into play?

In general, waterproofing your crawl space via the encapsulation process involves the following steps:

  1. Remove any water or dampness – Clear your crawl space of any standing water or dampness before getting started.
  2. Find the leak – Follow the water in your crawl space back to the origin of the leak. If you cannot find the origin, you may have a leak in your foundation. If this is the case, talk to your contractor about the ways you can waterproof your foundation before moving forward.
  3. Plug the leak – To keep water from reaching your crawl space during the encapsulation process, be sure to plug the leak you’ve found.
  4. Dispose of old insulation – If your crawl space was previously insulated, remove the damaged and old insulation to preserve the health of your home.
  5. Place your vapor barrier – Install the vapor barrier, cutting appropriate holes for any exposed pipes, electrical circuits or wooden beams.
  6. Consider additional waterproofing solutions – Talk to your contractor to see if you can install a dehumidifier or drain to help extend the life of your vapor barrier.

Columbus’ precipitation levels may vary, but your faith in your crawl space doesn’t have to. When you install a vapor barrier, you make a commitment to protect your belongings and to keep your home as healthy as possible. 

Reach out to your local crawl space experts at Ohio Basement Authority today to schedule a free crawl space inspection and repair estimate.

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