What Is Crawl Space Encapsulation?

May 19, 2015 | Crawl Spaces

When I tell people the services we offer at Altra Dry, I almost always get stopped at “crawl space encapsulation”.  Wait a minute, what is that?  Well, let me offer you a short introduction to this amazing process that can not only prevent mold in your home, but also save you on your utility bills as well.

What is crawl space encapsulation?

In just a few short words, it’s a process where your crawl space is sealed completely from the elements outside.  A thick, 20-mil fiber-reinforced plastic barrier is laid on the floor, up the walls, and wrapped around piers.  The crawl space vents are then blocked off, and any other holes are sealed up, creating a waterproof, airtight area.

What are the benefits of crawl space encapsulation?

There are a lot of benefits to crawl space encapsulation, for instance, never having to deal with

  • Dirt
  • Termites
  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Bad Odors

Also, with the addition of a quality dehumidifier, we can guarantee that you’ll never have to worry about mold again! And while the energy savings you get can be pretty significant from just the encapsulation alone, if you opt for spray foam insulation of your band board, you can see a large reduction in your energy costs.  Finally, because the area is clean and waterproof, you can use it for worry-free storage.

What about my crawl space vents?

This is a question we get a lot.  Once upon a time, vents were believe to be necessary to the proper function of your home.  The theory was that the moist air in your crawl space would be replaced by the outside air, keeping your crawl space dry.  Sounds like a good plan.  The only problem is, it doesn’t work.  Crawl space vents can’t displace enough air to accomplish that goal, and most of the moisture still winds up trapped in the crawl space.  A good vapor barrier can help mitigate this problem, but most people don’t have a vapor barrier at all, let alone a properly installed one.

Vapor barrier?

Most crawl spaces have a dirt floor.  Sometimes, they will have a layer of pea gravel over the top of that.  Over top of all of that goes the vapor barrier.  Why?  The bare earth in your crawl space is wet.  It may not look wet, but it is still evaporating a large amount of water every day into your crawl space.  A vapor barrier, in theory, is supposed to stop this migration of moisture from soil to air.  The problem is that many homes don’t have them at all, and they are improperly installed.  A well installed vapor barrier will have seams that overlap a foot, taped tight, and run up the walls.  This will keep that water vapor from intruding into your home.  Unfortunately, many contractors just lay a sheet of cheap plastic down, cutting big gaps around the piers, and leaving a 2 or 3 inch gap around the perimeter of the foundation.  This is almost as bad as not having a vapor barrier at all!  On top of all those problems, the plastic sheeting they use will usually degrade in about 5 years or so, leaving it brittle, and prone to tearing.

So what’s the solution?

Crawl space encapsulation is the solution to all of these problems.  It gets rid of the detrimental air exchange from outside your house, it gives you a permanent vapor barrier that will last for 25+ years, and it will keep out rodents, pests, mold, and other irritants.

To schedule a free estimate today to have one of Altra Dry’s expert crawl space encapsulation specialists take a look at your home, call 765-836-5005.

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