Why high crawl space moisture costs you money
Crawl space moisture, bugs and Mold
High moisture in a crawl space is the dominating factor when it comes to odor, structure rot, wood boring insects and Mold problems. Large companies have been formed to treat these very specific issues because of the demand to remedy the problem. Unfortunately, these companies have only been treating the symptoms and not the real problem. This stems from the homeowner asking for a specific fix or treatment. For example, if a home has a Mold problem then a Mold company would be called out to treat the Mold. If the home has a termite problem then a pest control company would be called out. Each time your home is treated for these two issues your home is sprayed with chemicals designed to kill something. Because your crawl space is some place you don’t want to be, does not mean your not exposed to the air from it. If you already have the condition then you really have no choice, but if you fix the problem (the moisture) then you will not be saddled with the cost to fix the Mold or the termite issue. Even better than that your family will not be exposed to the chemicals.
Leaky pipe?…..Maybe not.
The ground in a crawl space that is 4′ below grade stays at or around 55 – 60° F (this is an average) most all the time. When the temperatures get into the 80′s or 90′s outside, and the home has open crawl space vents the crawl space will have condensation problems. Condensation happens most often when warm humid air comes in contact with cooler surfaces like cold water supply lines and air conditioned duct work. The warmer the air the more moisture it can hold, this is why summers are humid and winters are dry. For the humid air to condensate on a cool surface it must come in contact with a surface that is cooler than the waters dew point. When this happens the humidity or water vapor turns to liquid water and begins to drip or saturate the surface. When this happens to A/C duct work the risk of developing rust is increased, and the rust holes will allow heat/cool air loss into the crawl space and out the foundation vents. This means higher energy costs for you.
The temperature of the air in the crawl space can make all of the surfaces cool enough to condensate. It is not just a problem with water lines and A/C duct work. When water begins to condensate on the wood structure the home runs the risk of Dry Rot, Mold/mildew/fungus growth, wood boring insect infestation and joist splitting due to high moisture in the wood and freezing temperatures. This is a perfect example of why you need to fix the “problem” and not fix the symptom. In this case fixing the symptom might be to grab some old rags and go into the crawl space and wipe down all the joists to dry them off. I know what your thinking; why would anyone do that, the water is just going to come back again? Well, it is no different that buying bug bombs and letting them off in the crawl space or spraying for Mold without stopping the source of the problem, the moisture. Another example is if a professional roofer told you to wait until your roof started leaking before you replace it I think that most of us would not hire that roofer. The same applies here, why wait until there is damage before you pay to fix it. That concept only doubles or triples the cost.
High moisture in the crawl space also causes the crawl space insulation in the floor joist to fall out. Fiberglass insulation is notorious for falling, drooping and sagging from the crawl space ceiling. The fiberglass insulation becomes useless if it is not inside the joist cavity properly or it is wet. The reason this happens is because the fiberglass insulation uses tiny pockets to trap air in order to slow the collide of warm and cold temperatures. When the insulation is installed in a high humidity environment, like a crawl space, it will trap the air as well as the moisture. This has two problems; first the moisture adds a key ingredient to the successful growth of Mold/mildew and fungus. Second, the moisture causes the insulation to become heavy and then gravity plays it’s part and down it comes. Pulling out the old droopy insulation and replacing it with new dry insulation is simply another case of wiping down the wet joists with a rag and not fixing the problem.