A crawl space in a home is a narrow space within a building between the ground and the ground floor. This space is usually unoccupied and unfinished and can be dark and damp.
These crawl spaces are usually built when it would be too expensive or impractical to build a basement. We take a look at the pros and cons of crawl space encapsulation.
Crawl spaces can let in unwanted issues when they are neglected, so many individuals may entertain the idea of encapsulating this space.
Issues like moisture, humidity, drafts, and summer heat can be let in, and pests, mold, and rot can be let in or fester within this space.
Encapsulating your crawl space can have numerous benefits, like preventing pests and mold from forming, as well as ensuring heat and air conditioning don’t escape your home.
However, the costs associated with encapsulating this space may be a determining factor in this decision, as these costs can be expensive depending on the space. Many pros and cons are associated with this decision.
Let’s investigate the main pros and cons of encapsulating your crawl space.
Pros of Crawl Space Encapsulation
1. Prevent Unwanted Pests
Depending on the season, some pests, such as ants, termites, spiders, or rodents, can work their way into your crawl space.
By sealing your crawl space, these pests will be unable to enter the airtight sealing, preventing them from gaining access to your home.
When your crawl space is encapsulated, you will need to ensure any current colonies are removed from the space.
2. Reduce Moisture
Humidity within a crawlspace can cause mold to breed, as well as mildew and fungal growth. These things can be a major issue for any inhabitants of a home who have allergies or asthma, so preventing them from growing is vital.
By sealing the crawlspace, you can remove the chances of these things from growing and becoming an issue.
When preparing the crawl space to be encapsulated, you will need to clean and prepare the space beforehand, which will ensure the crawl space is free of any health hazards before it is sealed.
Encapsulating your crawl space from humidity will also reduce the likelihood of your house’s foundations forming mold.
3. Add Storage Space
In some homes, additional storage is a priority, particularly if you don’t have an attic or a storeroom. By encapsulating your crawl space, you can create a space that is dry, airtight, and clean.
This area can then be used as a storage space for things like decorations and any other items that need to be stored.
4. Reduce Heating Costs
Because the space is airtight when sealed, you can prevent any warm air from escaping during winter and any air-conditioning from being lost in summer.
When your crawl space is sealed, it forms its insulation which can help maintain the temperature within the home, regardless of the temperature outside.
5. Reduce or Eliminate Unwanted Odors in The Home
If a rodent gets into space and dies, the rotting can cause a foul smell. Other factors, like smells outside the home, can also get into the space and cause these smells to rise into the living space of the home.
When your crawl space is sealed, contractors will first clean the entire area with cleaning products like bleach to remove any stains, dirt, or smells.
If you find that there is still a smell after the encapsulation is done, you will need to contact the contractor, as this indicates the sealing was done improperly.
What Are the Cons of Crawl Space Encapsulation?
1. High Costs Associated
To install encapsulation into your crawl space, you will need to invest approximately $7 500. Cheaper installations can cost $5 000 but depending on the home and the size of the crawl space, the price can reach $30 000.
You will need to determine the size of the crawlspace and the condition of the space before making this decision.
2. Can Affect Future Maintenance
Most crawl spaces are the source of a home’s electrical wires and plumbing pumps. When a crawl space is encapsulated, these wires and pumps are covered by plastic sheeting.
If any electrical or plumbing issues need to be addressed, the sheeting will need to be cut away to access these pumps and wires. Before you encapsulate this space, you may need to address all issues that may exist before the space is sealed.
3. Does Not Prevent Flooding
Smaller amounts of moisture can be kept out of this space. However, if a flood were to occur, this sealing would not keep the water out.
If you live in an area that experiences frequent floods, you will need to install a water drainage system, such as a sump pump or a French drain. These systems will direct water away from a home’s crawl space and foundation.
You will then need to encapsulate this pump to avoid water damage.
4. Encapsulation Can Be Difficult with Gas Appliances
Gas appliances often vent into crawl spaces. You would need to ensure that if you do have any gas appliances in your homes such as dryers, water heaters, or furnaces, they do not vent into this space.
These appliances use combustion to generate heat and emit carbon dioxide emissions. These would need to vent outside of the home to avoid these gasses from building up and entering the living space within the home.
If any appliances use gas to operate in the crawl space, a professional must check to ensure there are no leaks before encapsulating this space.
5. There Are Additional Maintenance Costs Associated with Encapsulation
You will have to do additional maintenance and inspection of the space annually. Depending on the extent of your encapsulation and any additional features you chose, these chores and costs can differ between homes.
These chores can include checking to ensure there aren’t any pest colonies (if there are, you need to identify the gap in the sealing). With gas appliances in the space, you need to check that there aren’t leaks forming.
Crawl Space Encapsulation: This entertaining video will explain everything you need to know about how to fix your wet crawl space!
Depending on the area you live in and the size of your home, encapsulating your crawl space can be both beneficial and unnecessary. Your specific circumstances could make you lean towards either sealing the space or not.
If pests such as spiders, ants, or rodents are something you must deal with often, sealing the space could be important to you.
Homes in warmer, more humid environments may benefit from this encapsulation to avoid humidity from causing rot to set in.
However, the costs and maintenance involved may not be ideal for those who are in tight financial situations or those who do not have a lot of free time on their hands.
If your home is in a dryer environment, you may not see much benefit to sealing this space.
At the end of the day, you would need to look at your circumstances and see what makes the most sense.