SMART CRAWL SPACE DEBATE: Which is better?

Smart Crawl Space Debate

Many people don't have basements but have crawl spaces.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air pollution is among the top five health risks for individuals breathing the air that permeates from the crawl space into their living area. Knowing that up to 50% of the air in your home can come from below grade, it is important to ensure this area is dry and safe.

What Is a Crawl Space Sump Pump? 

A sump pump is a device in your crawl space that helps prevent it from flooding. It has a basin and a pump that sucks the water through a tube and away from the house. Even a small amount of water can cause expensive damage, so it's important to keep your crawl space and foundations dry.

It can also keep groundwater from building up underneath your crawlspace, damaging the foundations. 

THE CRAWL SPACE ARGUMENT:
VENTED VS. ENCAPSULATED 

Old thinking -

Old building science advocated crawl space ventilation was the solution to relieve humidity and moisture in homes. This involves installing numerous vented openings to allow circulation through the crawl space.

These vents typically have a fitted covering, usually a wooden, metal or mesh covering, and are sometimes installed to try to prevent infestations from rodents and animals, but cannot prevent small animals and insects, such as spiders, fleas and carpenter ants.

Although it was thought crawl space ventilation would allow a constant supply of fresh air circulating through the crawl space, homeowners found that vents actually bring unwanted moisture into your home and produce unwanted consequences, according to a study done for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by Advanced Energy, a nonprofit energy consulting firm.

Consider this: During the winter, frigid air fills your crawlspace, making the floor above cold. It also cools your hot water pipes, water heater, furnace and heating ducts. This causes your utilities to work harder in order to keep you warm –wasting energy.

During the summer, hot, humid air enters the crawl space and the earth cools it naturally. This humidity causes condensation on your pipes, wood and cool surfaces, and when a crawl space has high moisture levels, it is likely to have high mold counts. This mold can travel up to the living space, which could lead to respiratory problems, such as asthma.

Building professionals say that up to 50 percent of the air you breathe on the first floor of your home is air that came directly from your crawl space. Therefore, whatever is in your crawl space air is in your house, and you are breathing it.

Not only do vented crawl spaces invite moisture and toxic smells into your home, vented crawl spaces have demonstrated 15 percent to 18 percent more energy consumption for heating and cooling, according to a study conducted by the Building America Solution Center.

Additionally, allowing moist air in your crawl space can cause damage to your home's structural integrity since moist wood is more likely to rot, putting your home's footing at risk.

Today, crawl space science looks a lot different. To protect your crawl space, a closed or "encapsulated" crawl space is now preferred to an open, or vented crawl space.

Encapsulated crawl spaces are consistently better at controlling moisture that enters from the damp earth or from warm humid air that would otherwise intrude from the outdoors.

Encapsulated crawl spaces also maintain significantly lower levels of relative humidity (RH), or the amount of water vapor present in air.

When excessive moisture is eliminated or reduced, your crawl space is less susceptible to wood decay and your home will remain structurally sound. 

Do I Need a Basement Defender in My Crawl Space? 

 You can spend anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 on a crawl space encapsulation, yet still your pump dies, and you flood, ruining the whole job if moisture penetrates the membrane. You also need to get all that getting standing water out.

If there's one place you want your sump tested daily it's in your crawl space. Can you or do you ever go down there regularly ?

Not only will Basement Defender test your crawl space's sump pumps everyday, it will also monitor your crawl space's temperature and humidity. So if a pipe breaks or gets frozen you will be sent an alert before a problem arises. Spending that kind of money, then not testing your pumps everyday is just rolling the dice waiting for a disaster to happen. 

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