Some years back, homes in Cincinnati, OH, built by carpenters and contractors didn’t have as many requirements and codes as there are now. Crawl space vents were part of home construction. Nobody seemed to question its logic. As long as your home had it, you were in good with local home inspectors.
The thinking was that crawl space vents allowed air to flow in and out freely, and in so doing, kept it dry. What happened was entirely different. Moist air from the outside coming into the crawl space via vents accumulated, condensed, and triggered various problems.
It’s only recently that people have started questioning the need for vents. Their concern isn’t out of curiosity. New findings show that these openings elevate moisture levels in the crawl space.
The Downside of Venting the Crawl Space
A lot of the crawl space problems point back to one thing — unchecked moisture that gets in 24/7. Whether it’s vapor or water droplets, moisture has the potential to damage the crawl space. And the effects will reverberate in your home.
Your #1 concern should be structural damage. Moisture buildup, especially in summer, causes wood rot and corrosion. Moisture will weaken your wooden joists and ruin your soft insulation material, rendering it ineffective. Add all this up, and you will have a crawl space that won’t serve the purpose for which it was built fully.
And then there’s the repair work. Replacing damaged wood and insulation costs money. You will also have to hire a professional contractor to carry out repairs. If you’re not careful or prepared, you could wind up with a serious headache of trying to salvage your crawl space.
Pests like rats and mice love dark and damp spaces. Your crawl space may be the next place they’ll thrive after their nests. Inside, they’ll find water to quench their thirst, food, and a lot of breeding space. Best of all, no comes down there to bother them.
Let’s not even get started on mold and what it can do to your Cincinnati, OH, home. As well as eating wood, mold can trigger respiratory problems. Its spores can float into the living space above and cause allergies, itchy eyes and skin, and chronic coughs. For people with asthma, their bouts will turn from bad to worse.
If your crawl space is vented, it’s highly likely that the floors are exposed too. Radon can enter your home through openings in the foundation like cracks. Any crawl space with exposed dirt becomes a conduit for this odorless but deadly gas. From there, it diffuses into your home through the floorboard. With time, the effects of radon will become clear.
Lastly, by venting the crawl space, you’re trading comfort with cold. Outside air changes the conditions inside the home. Your floor and walls will feel colder than usual. Staying indoors will be the last thing you want. And you will have to heat your home.
Because cold air and moisture interfere with internal conditions in your home, you may have to heat up your home for longer. Heating costs money. At the end of the month, you will find yourself paying more for electricity.
What Should You Do with a Vented Crawl Space?
Here’s the answer: Seal it. Building scientists believe sealing the vents and encapsulating the crawl space with a plastic vapor barrier can reverse moisture issues. Once sealed, the crawl space should be partially conditioned to tame internal moisture and lower its energy use. Talk to your local contractor if you have vents and find out how they’ll seal up your crawl space and condition it.
Whether you like them or not, vents will remain a key part of your crawl space. Sealing them and encapsulating the crawl space will ensure this space remains dry and healthy for many years. Get in touch with Ohio Basement Authority for a free crawl space repair inspection and quote and learn how our experts will protect your crawl space as well as the rest of your home.