Crawlspace Encapsulation

Why a Healthy Crawlspace is Key

Did you know that more than half the air that you breathe inside your home originates in your crawlspace? This is due to a building science term called the stack effect. Most people are surprised by that statistic, but it is very true. There have been numerous studies on homes with open/vented dirt crawlspaces across the southern United States. The studies performed have shown six highly common issues in these homes.  The main issues highlighted below can be harmful to your home’s structure, your finances, and possibly your health:

  • High Moisture:

The first issue homes with a vented crawlspace will face is high moisture. The old theory on building vented crawlspaces was to ‘air’ the crawlspace out because builders knew there would be water evaporation from the ground with a dirt floor crawlspace. Classic wisdom was to open the vents in the summer to air the crawlspace out and close in the winter to keep the cold air out. Unfortunately vented dirt crawlspaces simply don’t make sense. In the summer heat, humid air is entering the crawlspace and then condensing from the drop in temperature, which raises the relative humidity, leading to water rot and fungal growth. 

Depending on cold dry air in the winter is also not effective. The ground in your crawlspace is warmer than the air in the winter, which then creates fog, leading again to increased moisture. The cold air brought in will never reach the low humidity level needed to dry the crawlspace. Opening the air vents to let cold dry air in during the winter also leads to cold floors, higher energy bills, increased possibility of frozen pipes and makes an easy access point for rodents and other pests.


  • Fungal Growth & Mold:

The second issue homes face is that high moisture in the crawlspace inevitably leads to fungal and mold growth. Fungal growth and mold spores can wreak havoc on your home, rotting the wood, making it more susceptible to termites and dust mites.

  • Negative Health Effects:

Fungal and mold growth leads to the third issue, as there is a strong association between building moisture and detrimental health effects. Fungal growth, mold, and dust mites are all major contributors to asthma, allergies, irritants, and toxic substances known as mycotoxins.

  • Pests and Rodents:

A moist, dark crawlspace is an open invitation to pests and rodents, making your crawlspace environment even unhealthier. Pests and rodents love a moist, dark crawl space but they can cause havoc on the insulation, air ducts, and wood structures.

  • Measurable Holes / Air Gaps:

It is estimated that at least 33% of the air in your living space is directly from your crawlspace. This estimate can be as high as 56% in some homes. This is because of the fifth and sixth issues commonly found in crawlspaces. There are measurable holes and air gaps between nearly all crawlspaces and living areas.

  • Forced Air from Crawlspace to Living Area:

The holes and gaps between your living area and the crawlspace allow transmission of forced air. This air carries the fungal spores, allergens, dust mites, mycotoxins, etc. from your crawlspace to your living environment. This is why improving the condition of your crawlspace helps improve the quality and cleanliness of the air in your home.


Although encapsulating your crawlspace is the best option to take to make your home healthier and more energy efficient, we realize most homeowners don’t budget for crawlspace repairs. For that very reason, we have created a pricing model that aims to accommodate everyone’s budget.  The four tiers of our pricing model are bronze, silver, gold and platinum. While each tier increases in price, they also yield more energy efficiency as you increase your investment.  It is important to note that several building codes come into play when sealing or encapsulating your crawlspace and whoever installs your crawlspace system – whether it be you or another contractor – should ensure those codes are adhered to. 


PLATINUM PACKAGE

Our platinum package is our top-of-the-line crawlspace solution featuring a fully encapsulated crawlspace. We begin by removing the existing fiberglass batt insulation and vapor barrier (if present), then we rake the crawlspace ground to remove debris and large rocks. If your crawlspace is experiencing groundwater intrusion, then we would next install a drainage solution featuring an interior French drain routed to a sump pump for evacuation.  If a mold remediation or fungal treatment is needed, we then complete that remediation or treatment. This package includes a 16-mil 100% reinforced woven floor liner and an 8-mil 100% reinforced woven pier and wall liner. We wrap all of the walls and piers and air seal them from ground vapor and then install the floor liner and tape all seams.  To insulate the space in this package we mechanically fasten a R-10 Polyisocyanurate closed-cell rigid foam board to the perimeter foundation walls that have an exterior load on them. The idea is to reduce the effect the ambient outdoor air has on the crawlspace instead of just letting that air into the space and then attempting to mitigate the effect with batt insulation between the crawlspace and living space. The band joist that travels around the perimeter of the space is insulated with R-19 batting.  If the space contains and framed out 2×4 or 2×6 walls commonly referred to as pony or knee walls, then those are insulated with R-13 faced batting and finished with a radiant barrier covering. All foundation vents are insulated with the same R-10 foam board and air-sealed with fireblock foam.  All penetrations in foundation walls and band joists, and the air loss point between the foundation and frame are air-sealed with fireblock foam as well. Any changes that need to be made to the crawlspace door so that it will properly seal are made, and it is insulated with the same R-10 foam board. Lastly, we install a crawlspace dehumidifier appropriately sized for your crawlspace with an alert system should the crawlspace fall out of desired setpoint. 

We are happy to price upgrades/downgrades to a thicker/thinner floor or wall liner if you are interested. 


GOLD PACKAGE

Our gold package is the next step down from our Platinum package, it differs from our top-of-the-line package primarily from an insulation standpoint.  The Gold and Silver packages are considered sealed crawlspaces, but they are not encapsulated.  We begin by removing the existing fiberglass batt insulation (if needed) and vapor barrier (if present), then we rake the crawlspace ground to remove debris and large rocks. If your crawlspace is experiencing groundwater intrusion, then we would next install a drainage solution featuring an interior French drain routed to a sump pump for evacuation.  If a mold remediation or fungal treatment is needed, we then complete that remediation or treatment. This package includes a 16-mil 100% reinforced woven floor liner and an 8-mil 100% reinforced woven pier and wall liner. We wrap all of the walls and piers and air seal them from ground vapor and then install the floor liner and tape all seams.  To insulate the space in this package we replace the fiberglass batting we removed in the first step.  It is worth noting that this may not be necessary if we didn’t remove the existing batting during the first step. If you don’t have a fungal issue, then we can utilize your existing fiberglass insulation. This method of insulating the crawlspace is less effective than the foam board used in the platinum package because it allows the ambient outdoor air to affect the space and then attempts to mitigate it prior to it reaching the living space. All foundation vents are covered with R-10 foam board and air-sealed with fireblock foam.  All penetrations in foundation walls and band joists, and the air loss point between the foundation and frame are air-sealed with fireblock foam as well. Any changes that need to be made to the crawlspace door so that it will properly seal are made. Lastly, we install a crawlspace dehumidifier appropriately sized for your crawlspace with an alert system should the crawlspace fall out of desired setpoint. 

We are happy to price upgrades/downgrades to a thicker/thinner floor or wall liner if you are interested. 


SILVER PACKAGE

Our silver package is our most basic “sealed” crawlspace. It differs from the Gold package primarily in terms of the vapor barrier. We begin by removing the existing fiberglass batt insulation (if needed) and vapor barrier (if present), then we rake the crawlspace ground to remove debris and large rocks. If your crawlspace is experiencing groundwater intrusion, then we would next install a drainage solution featuring an interior French drain routed to a sump pump for evacuation.  If a mold remediation or fungal treatment is needed, we then complete that remediation or treatment.  This package features the most basic vapor barrier option allowed by code—either a 6 mil or 10 mil visqueen installed wall to wall to cover 100% of the crawlspace ground. All overlaps are staked with landscaping stakes to prevent the barrier from bunching up and pulling away from the walls. We also install stakes around the perimeter of the space, but we do not tape any of the seams together. To insulate the space in this package we replace the fiberglass batting we removed in the first step.  It is worth noting that this may not be necessary if we didn’t remove the existing batting during the first step. If you don’t have a fungal issue, then we can utilize your existing fiberglass insulation. This method of insulating the crawlspace is less effective than the foam board used in the platinum package because it allows the ambient outdoor air to affect the space and then attempts to mitigate it prior to it reaching the living space. All foundation vents are covered with R-10 foam board and air-sealed with fireblock foam.  All penetrations in foundation walls and band joists, and the air loss point between the foundation and frame are air-sealed with fireblock foam as well. Any changes that need to be made to the crawlspace door so that it will properly seal are made. Lastly, we install a crawlspace dehumidifier appropriately sized for your crawlspace with an alert system should the crawlspace fall out of desired setpoint. We are happy to price upgrades/downgrades to a thicker/thinner floor or wall liner if you are interested. 


BRONZE PACKAGE

Our bronze package is not considered a sealed crawlspace and thus does not include a crawlspace dehumidifier. View this package as merely a tune up of your existing crawlspace. From a line-item perspective this package varies from client to client depending on your crawlspace’s needs; however, the end result is the same for every client. If your crawlspace has a groundwater intrusion issue, we will install a drainage solution featuring an interior French drain routed to a sump pump for evacuation. If your crawlspace contains fungal growth, we will remediate it if you wish. Lastly, we will make sure at a minimum you have a confluent 6 mil vapor barrier installed and that the space is completely insulated with fiberglass batting.

We are happy to price upgrades/downgrades to a thicker/thinner floor or wall liner if you are interested. 


Potential Components of All Packages

  • Sump Pump and French Drain Solutions

Some crawlspace experience chronic groundwater intrusions issues and despite how well it is sealed or encapsulated this groundwater could still potentially wreak havoc on your crawlspace if it isn’t properly mitigated. Crawlspaces that were constructed significantly below exterior grade are especially prone to groundwater issues, but it can happen to any crawlspace. If a high enough volume of water is present around the exterior foundation walls that groundwater can find its way under your foundation’s footer and into your crawlspace. To resolve this issue, we wither have to have an exterior solution installed to prevent the groundwater from ever affecting the space or we have to capture it and evacuate it from the crawlspace side. If an exterior solution will work, then it is always the best option, but it isn’t always possible depending on exterior grade and conditions. If we have to mitigate a groundwater issue from the crawlspace side, then we dig a trench at the perimeter walls and install corrugated piping surrounded by drainage aggregate (normally gravel) and route that piping to a sump basin installed at the natural low point. We install a sump pump within the basin adequately sized to deal with the expected volume of water.  We then install discharge piping which will extend through a foundation wall and either: 1) into a gutter downspout that is routed away from the foundation or 2) into a drainage pipe that is routed away from the foundation.

  • Lighting Solutions

Our lighting solutions have become increasingly popular with our clients looking to make their crawlspace a healthier space. We install LED string lights with fixtures spaced every 10 feet and have them wired to a switch located at your crawlspace access point. If you regularly have your HVAC system maintained or have regular pest inspections your service technicians will love you for it. We also greatly appreciate them when we come back to do your annual inspection on your crawlspace system and service your dehumidifier.

  • Mold Remediation & Fungal Treatment Solutions

Visit our Mold Remediation Page

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