crawl space insulation

Clean and Dry: Why You Should Consider Installing a Moisture Barrier in Your Crawl Space

Ever ventured into the dark recess under your home and found wet spots or creatures? If so, you know crawl space insulation is important.

Never had that experience? Let’s make sure you never meet a rodent or water leak when examining pipes, or storing boxes in the crawl space.

The crawl space is the area underneath the floor of your home. There isn’t much height, usually enough room to crawl. Most people consider it extra storage space, but it’s more than that.

The area is part of your house structure. It allows air to circulate through the home. It provides access to pipes, electrical systems, and ductwork for maintenance or repair.

A clean, insulated crawl space is essential for an efficient home. Let’s take a look at the benefits of proper crawl space insulation.

Improve Your Home’s Structural Integrity

It’s important to insulate the crawl space to keep the home structure sound. If moisture builds up inside the crawl space it could spread into the walls.

A lot of water could warp your floors. Mold and mildew grow in damp areas. Groundwater can damage a crawl space.

Vapor barriers and insulation maintain the structural integrity of your home. It protects it from air pollutants, rodents, and termites.

When a structure is sound you can use the area under it for storage. That’s another benefit.

Gain More Storage Space in Your Home

Why rent space at a local warehouse when you can keep possessions close at hand for free? If your crawl space is gross, wet or home to rodents you can’t use it as free storage space.

Invest in a professional crawl space clean up to remove debris and old insulation. If the area is clean and easy to access you can store seasonal items, tools, toys, and more. 

Crawl space storage eliminates clutter inside your home. You also save the cost and travel time spent on an off-site mini-warehouse unit. Clean and update your crawl space for convenient storage at home.

Crawl Space Insulation Removes Moisture

You don’t want to store anything in a dark, wet space. The main focus of an update to a crawl space is the elimination of water.

Water gathers under your home due to natural groundwater, rainwater, and condensation. All water threatens the home.

As mentioned earlier, a wet foundation is at risk. Moisture also causes rust on your duct work. Clean up and insulation takes care of most water issues.

There are two types of crawl spaces: ventilated and unventilated. Each situation requires a certain kind of insulation. Ventilated spaces help to eliminated moisture.

Unventilated spaces shouldn’t insulate the subfloor between floor joists. In both cases, a vapor barrier over the dirt floor adds protection from groundwater.

The main thing is to identify the source of the moisture problem. If it’s due to poor ventilation, add the plastic vapor barrier on the floor. When water leaks through the foundation get professional help to repair it.

After repairing the foundation cracks, take preventative measures. A French drain around the home’s perimeter can move water away from the foundation.

Crawl spaces are in the exact place water runoff is common: underneath the home. Dirt floors add to the problem. Moisture and mold favor the wet dirt.

Moisture buildup can attract termites. They love eating damp wood. Termites cause damage at an alarming rate.

That’s another reason a vapor barrier is vital to ending moisture build up in the basement.

Reduce Rodent Invasions

Do you know who likes dark humid places? Raccoons, squirrels, snakes, chipmunks, rabbits, and possums. Critters like living under your home.

Old boxes and piles of junk appeal to rodents. A crawl space is a place to have babies, store food, and shelter.

That cute chipmunk isn’t so cute when he gnaws through your electrical wires or ductwork. Do you want squirrels in your walls?

When rodents live in your crawl space they leave their scent. The smell attracts other creatures. If you don’t want generations of rats living under your home, insulate your crawl space.

Insulation removes the things rodents like. Don’t forget to block entrance areas. Cover ventilation openings with wire that keeps animals out, but lets air flow.

Proper insulation recognizes risks and eliminates situations that attract rodents and other pests.

Improve Energy Efficiency

In older homes, the crawl spaces aren’t heated unless a homeowner updated it. Most have a dirt or gravel floor. These conditions can make it harder to heat your house in an efficient manner.

If your crawl space doesn’t stop cold air from getting into your home, your heating system works harder.

Insulation keeps the cold air in the crawl space. You’ll need insulation under the floor. Insulate any ductwork or pipes that enter the house from the crawl space.  This prevents cold air leaks, plus the pipes won’t freeze in cold weather.

Think of crawl space insulation as an extension of your whole house insulation. If you ignore it, you’ll lose heat and cool air through the floor. Your HVAC system must then work harder to keep your home comfortable.

The right insulation reduces the amount of heat lost through the floor. It helps you control the temperature in your home. It also reduces your energy costs.

Call the Experts for Professional Insulation

Crawl space insulation protects your home from mold, mildew, termites, and rodents. It’s a smart way to make your home energy-efficient and comfortable. 

Call the experts at Attic Solutions. Let the pros remove and dispose of old insulation. We’ll clean your crawl space and protect it with proper insulation.

After installation, it’s important to maintain the area under your home. We offer a checkup service and routine maintenance.

Visit  Attic Solutions for a free estimate. Let us know if you have other concerns. We’re happy to answer any and all questions.

attic vents

Do You Need to Cover Your Attic Vents in the Winter?

Worried about those attic vents?

Did you know that approximately 2% of building fires happen in the attic? That’s about 200 residential fires that happen each year because of a problem in the attic. Other significant problems in your attic may include black mold, mildew, or pests.

The best way to stay away from these problems is to understand the purpose of your attic and how to maintain it. In the sections below, we’ll dispel the myths of when closing the attic vents is warranted along with other common attic misconceptions. Read on.

Attic Vents 101

Why does your attic have vents anyway? Most people know that attics help your house release excess heat during summer months. The attic acts as an intermediate layer. It bars the heat of your sun-drenched roof from the rest of your home.

The vents allow the super-heated air to flow out. Then, cooler air from outside sneaks in to replace it. In that way, it keeps your house cooler and your heating bills down.

It only seems logical that closing those same vents during the winter would help keep the warm air inside. That would, of course, reduce your heating bills and keep your home at a cozy temperature.

But there’s more to this puzzle, as you’ll discover in the sections below.

Is More Attic Ventilation Better?

Just as you would size a furnace or air conditioner for your home, you also size your attic. You want a precise amount of ventilation to keep your home properly heated and cooled. If you have too much or too little, you’ll end up with energy inefficiency and moisture problems.

The same can be said of roof ventilation. Just as with space, too much or too little space will cause major problems.

Roof vents create additional access points for moisture to seep in and leaks to occur. Some vents are necessary. But if you needlessly increase your roof penetrations, you run greater risks:

  • Moisture damage
  • Higher cooling bills
  • Blowouts during strong winds
  • Sparks entering and causing a fire

So, how do you know how much ventilation you need? Without exception, speak to a professional contractor or architect. In general, homes need a ratio of 1:300.

For every 300 square feet of ceiling, you want 1 square foot of ventilation in your attic. Other factors to include are resistance and interference from things like grates, which impede air flow. That means that your entire vent opening doesn’t count as ventilated space.

Are Vents Only for Warm Climates?

Your roof ventilation can increase your energy efficiency during the summer. We discussed that earlier. What we didn’t mention was insulation, sun exposure, and shingle type are exponentially more important factors.

If they determine the dollars you save, your vents determine the cents.

Even if you own an old home that doesn’t have roof vents, installing vents may not be your best option. There are other, lower-risk, cost-effective ways to decrease your homes cooling bills.

But are air vents necessary in cold climates? Yes, they’re paramount, even if they require you to occasionally get rid of attic pests.

You see, the colder your climate, the higher the chance your home will benefit from ventilation. The colder it gets, the more you’ll have to contend with condensation. And condensation can be a home destroyer.

If your attic already has ventilation, it doesn’t have the high-rated rigid insulation you need for a closed attic. This insulation prevents condensation from seeping into your roof sheathing. It can cause mold, mildew, and even roof seepage.

Take into consideration how dew forms on the grass in the morning when cool, moist air hits warm sunlight. The warm air from your ceiling causes the same effect.

Over time, this condensation can cost tens of thousands of dollars in damage. Worse yet, black mold can have severe health consequences. That includes everything from allergies to pulmonary hemorrhages. It’s well worth it to keep those vents open and keep moisture out during the winter.

Doesn’t Warm Air Release Through Attic Vents in the Winter?

This is a common misconception. Because heat rises, people believe that ventilating your attic during the winter must mean you are letting hot air out. Which, in theory, would lead to higher energy bills, right?

But…

The loss of gain of heat in your attic is only marginally affected by your vents. We mentioned this earlier. Your insulation is hands down the determining factor in how well your attic retains heat. If you want to save money on your winter heating bills, replace your insulation with a newer, heavy duty option.

But be sure to check with an expert to make sure it’s the right kind. Getting the wrong kind on insulation can create as many problems as it fixes.

In general, your furnace should not be heating your attic. Whether you keep your vents open or closed will have a negligible effect on your power bill, but it’s sure to affect condensation.

Rooftop air vents are meant to be kept open year-round. They take little to no maintenance, but that doesn’t mean you should never check on them.

In order to keep your family safe, routinely check your entire home to make sure it’s in good running condition. Use a maintenance checklist to ensure you don’t forget anything. This winter, start in the attic and make sure your vents are open.

Then, check your furnace to make certain it’s functioning and/or your chimney to make sure it’s clear of debris. Then check the seals of all your doors and windows.

If you’ve done that and you’d still like to save money on your electricity bill, install heavy duty curtains. They can add an additional layer to the barrier keeping you warm.

What’s Next?

Now that you know what to look for with your attic vents, you know not to touch anything. That’s great news. It means less work for you and more time to enjoy your favorite show. So, snuggle up and stay warm.

If you found this material helpful, come peruse our library full of articles on attics and renovations.

So long and good luck!