What is a Crawl Space Vapor Barrier?

What is a Crawl Space Vapor Barrier?

February 9, 2022 Lamunyon Mold No Comments

If your home is over a dirt floor crawl space, ground water seepage and water vapor emission from the dirt floor are probably among the most common moisture issues plaguing your crawl space. Keeping moisture out of your crawl space can seem like a constant and an endless battle. For Kansas homeowners, there are steps you can take to keep your crawl space dry and healthy. Installing a vapor barrier over the dirt floor of your crawl space can be an effective start to addressing the dampness and serve as a long-term solution.

Installing a Crawl Space Vapor Barrier in a Kansas Home

Unfortunately, crawl spaces often have dirt floors and are especially vulnerable to moisture issues. Water vapors rises naturally from the exposed soil and become trapped within the crawl space. Over time, the water vapors will soak into the porous building materials nearby (wood floor joists, subflooring and insulation) and begin to cause mold growth, weigh down the insulation, cause wood rot and cause structural concerns.

Crawl space vapor barriers are long-lasting membranes installed over the dirt floor to contain the water vapors emitted from the soil and prevents the moisture from entering the crawl space. The membrane is achieved using a layer of thick plastic. This plastic barrier is design to mitigate the migration of gaseous water vapor up through the soil into the crawl space. This is not a solution for standing water or water intrusion. To address water intrusion or standing water from seepage, it is best to combine a vapor barrier with a waterproofing system install by a crawl space waterproofing professional. This will allow you the maximum moisture protection for your crawl space, protecting it from both liquid water and water vapor before it enters your building.

Signs of Crawl Space Moisture Issues

Kansas homeowners should schedule routine crawl space checks – minimally once during the fall and once during the spring. It is also recommended to conduct additional checks during periods of heavy rainfall. When it comes to crawl space moisture, early detection and correction can go a long way in preventing major damage and mold.

Standing Water – If you notice standing water in your crawl space, you have a water intrusion issue – weather it is ground water seepage or water penetration at your foundation walls. Excessive standing water should be dealt with as soon as possible to avoid water damage and mold growth.

Efflorescence – Efflorescence is a crystalline coating on masonry, stucco, or concrete surfaces that is commonly mistaken for mold. It is caused by salt deposits as a result of water exposure. If you notice efflorescence on your foundation walls is a sign of crawl space water seepage that is leaving mineral deposits behind.

Musty Odors – Water damage and extensive mold contamination can both present a musty stench. If you detect musty odors that you suspect could be caused by an underlying problem in your crawl space, you should consult a local mold inspector in Kansas. Mold testing and air quality testing for mold may be required to assess the full scope of the problem if odors are permeating into the living spaces above.

Insect & Pest Infestations – Insects are drawn to the damp atmosphere, as well as the abundance of food. Mold development, wood rot, and other dead stuff present in your crawl area provide food for insects.

Problems Caused by Crawl Space Moisture

If you discover moisture issues in your crawl space, you must fix them immediately. Moisture that is not treated will wreak havoc on your crawl space and cause serious issues such as the following:

Crawl Space Mold – A crawl spaces can be the ideal breeding ground for mold if homeowners are not careful. In a damp enough crawl space, mold can develop, thrive and spread. If the mold development in the crawl space is ignored, and the water problem is not treated, the mold will quickly become a widespread contamination that will require professional crawl space mold remediation.

Water Damage – Time is a homeowner’s worst enemy when it comes to moisture. With enough time, even the most seemingly minor issues like high humidity can develop into a major problem. Moisture buildup from water vapors, humidity and water intrusion can cause serious water damage and leave behind structural damage.

Wood Rot – Water vapors absorbed into the building components in your crawl area will erode the structural integrity of the materials over time. Wood decay destroys a home’s structural integrity and attracts insects to feed on the rotting material, leaving you with an unsafe and insect-infested residence.

Non-Functioning Insulation – Water logged insulation will begin to fall. Low hanging or fallen insulation cannot perform as intended and will no longer effectively insulate your crawl space. Crawl space moisture can force insulation to drop, leaving it useless for its intended purpose.

Addressing Crawl Space Moisture

If you are battling against crawl space moisture issues, installing a vapor barrier over your dirt floor might be a good place to start. To learn more about crawl space vapor barriers, contact Lamunyon’s local team to learn more about the crawl space vapor barrier installation process. If you suspect that underlying moisture issues have left you with mold in your crawl space, schedule an assessment today with one of our local mold inspectors.