Professional Oakland Crawl Space Encapsulation

Did you know that as much as 50% of your household air flows up through the crawl spaces underneath your flooring. That means several things for both air temperature and quality if the crawl space is not encapsulated.

First, it means the ambient air temperature has direct access to your home, compromising the hard work your forced air system is doing to maintain your thermostat settings. Second, any dirt, debris, pest waste, mold spores, or other micro-particles have direct access to the air you breathe in your home.

This is why it is so important to encapsulate crawl spaces, which minimizes the potential for all of the above. Protecting the crawl spaces underneath your first floors is one of the most important home repairs or improvements you can make.

Contact us here at Attic Solutions office to schedule a free inspection of your crawl space(s), and we’ll let you know if they lack a proper vapor barrier or encapsulation.

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    Encapsulate Crawl Spaces & Improve Indoor Air Quality

    Your crawl space is a hollow space between the dirt ground and the home's first floor materials, and is typically between one-foot and three-feet high. It elevates the home in an attempt to protect it from direct ground contact (and water accumulation), and crawl spaces also offer a hidey-hole to disguise some of the home’s internal workings such as plumbing, electrical, and HVAC equipment.

    However, that same “hollowness” and direct contact with the ground is why Oakland crawl space encapsulation is so important.

    The process is similar to the one contractors or landscapers use when lining the interior of a pool, pond, or in-ground water feature to prevent leaks. Only, in this case, we cover the floors, walls and (often) the ceiling with a heavy-duty, polyethylene sheeting. The sheets are attached to the surfaces using a special tape.

    Once the crawl space is completely encapsulated, we recommend testing the humidity levels both underneath and inside the home. If they go above recommended humidity levels for a home (30% to 60% - for an average humidity level of 55%), we also recommend installing a dehumidifier. Your licensed insulation professional and vapor barrier installer will help you select the best dehumidifier for your crawl space based on its square footage and the average moisture level or potential for moisture in the microclimate where your home is located.

    Why Encapsulate the Crawl Space?

    Encapsulating a crawl space means that a professional contractor installs a vapor barrier between the ground, the outside air space, and the interior of your home.

    Did you know that concrete foundations are porous?

    Concrete is so tough that many people do not realize it is also porous (contains small openings). These pores allow moisture to seep up and through into your home. All kinds of particulate matter (moisture, dust, mold/mildew spores, fungus, pest dander or waste products, etc.) can travel right along with those moisture droplets and inside the home space.

    The vapor barrier function is enhanced with the addition of a dehumidifier. Together, a professionally installed vapor barrier and dehumidification system keep the air in the crawl space as clean and dry as possible. Once it is installed, you or your insulation contractor should inspect the crawlspace barrier at least once per year to ensure it is intact, all of the margins are sealed securely, and that there are no holes, tears, or perforations that would compromise its performance.

    There are multiple benefits to creating a vapor barrier

    The most valuable benefits of creating a crawl space vapor barrier are:

    1. Improved Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). The EPA states, “...a growing body of scientific evidence has indicated that the air within homes and other buildings can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities. Improving your home’s IAQ means your household has access to cleaner, healthier air. This is especially important for those with severe allergies or who are prone to respiratory illnesses.
    2. Energy Savings. By controlling the interior air quality and temperature, you simultaneously reduce the amount of energy required to heat and cool your home, particularly during the peak seasons. This leads to energy conservation and energy savings, making a notable difference in utility bills each month.
    3. Minimization of damp, rot, soft or separating floors. Years of accumulated moisture seeping from the crawl space to your underfloors and up wooden structural components leads to damp, rot, and soft or separating floors. Once it’s clean, dry and protected (and assuming your home is sufficiently sealed and insulated), these become non-issues.
    4. A less inviting space for pests. Pests love to harbor in safe spaces, like your crawl space and attic spaces. Cleaning and encapsulating the attic makes it harder for pests to get in and eliminates potential nooks and crannies. It also prevents wood-loving pests, like termites, from gaining access to structural components underneath your home.A more comfortable interior temperature since there is no draft or excess moisture moving into your home from the crawl space
    5. Mold, mildew, and fungal prevention. That same damp and rot we spoke about above creates the ideal environment for mold, mildew, and fungus to take hold and bloom. These colonies are not only bad for your home’s structural components, the spores released by mold/mildew can cause allergies and more serious respiratory issues, and spread the mold or fungal colonies throughout your home.
    6. No more window condensation. Window condensation is a red flag, a sure sign that a home has moisture problems. While single-pane or outdated windows may be an issue, condensation means there is a humidity control problem. Encapsulating the crawl space with a high-quality moisture barrier makes a marked difference in interior humidity and temperature control. This should significantly reduce or eliminate condensation on your windows. You should also speak to an HVAC contractor about a whole-home dehumidifying system.
    7. Protect the structural elements. Repairing and replacing a building’s structural components is an expensive project. Your home’s wooden structures, including roof and flooring joists, as well as the interior wall supports and drywall materials are vulnerable to moisture, rot, mold, fungus, and pest damage. The potential for all of those issues are alleviated with the combination of vapor barriers, adequate insulation, and air sealing.

    Crawl Space Vapor Barriers Are an HVAC’s Best Friend

    Your HVAC works hard to maintain the thermostat setting. If your house is damp and cold (or hot) as a result of the airflow from unprotected crawl spaces, it’s working overtime to make up the difference. In addition to higher repair costs due to excess wear and tear, your HVAC will need to be replaced more often.

    If you’ve purchased an older home, there is almost no point in updating your HVAC system if you haven’t addressed the crawl space. A crawl space that has no vapor barrier or moisture control system in place is working against your HVAC system.

    This is why we advocate a three-step system when you’re ready to update your heating/cooling system:

    1. Encapsulate the crawl space (and add dehumidification system if it makes sense)
    2. Update or replace attic insulation
    3. Seal air leaks

    Once those steps are accomplished, you will be ready to reap the benefits of your new HVAC installation.

    Your Home is a Good Candidate for Crawl Space Encapsulation If…

    Here are some signs or red flags indicating your crawl space would benefit from a clean up and the addition of a vapor barrier.

    Your home has mold and mildew issues or has a damp, musty smell (Click Here to learn more about how to detect mold and mildew in your home)

    • High humidity levels in your home
    • High heating and cooling costs
    • Increases in energy spending that doesn’t correlate with rate hikes
    • Damp insulation
    • Damp or spongy walls and/or ceilings
    • Soft or separating floor
    • Window condensation
    • Insect or pest issues

    If you notice any of the following, contact a licensed insulation contractor and schedule a thorough inspection to determine if your crawl spaces are a culprit.

    Ready to Get Started? Call Us Today!

    Get Your Quote Today

    The team at Attic Solutions has years of experience providing Oakland crawl space encapsulation services, cleaning, and insulation replacement.

    Contact us to schedule a free inspection and estimate, or to schedule an appointment. We’ll get your home’s crawl space into shape before the next peak hot or cold seasons.

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