The crawl space under your home houses pipes and ducts, but it can also harbor a variety of problems. Moisture is the main concern in most crawl spaces, but pests, stale air and mold can also turn this hidden area into a nightmare unless you address the problem quickly.

Problem #1: Pests In the Crawl Space

If things beneath the house are going bump in the night, you may have an animal squatting in your crawl space. Raccoons, possums, and stray cats may find your crawl space the perfect home out of the elements. Mice, rats and snakes can also get into your crawl space.

Keeping the perimeter clear of plants and debris allows you to quickly find any holes where pests may get in, so you can repair them promptly. If your crawl space is vented, cover the vents with 1/4-inch hardware cloth to keep the beasties out. If you do suspect an animal has set up a home under your house, call in a professional to remove the pest.

Problem #2: Stale Air in Unvented Spaces

Unvented crawlspaces can become a haven for mold. Usually, the air in the crawl space is kept dry by either a dehumidifier or by the home’s air conditioning unit. If these don’t work properly, or if moisture builds up quicker than the unit can dry it, moisture and mold occurs.

Not only can this cause rot, it affects the air you breathe. Up to 40 percent of the air circulated through your home comes from the crawl space. A regular inspection can help ensure that everything below is staying dry.

Problem #3: Poor Barriers and Insulation

Truly unfinished crawl spaces have a dirt floor, which only increases moisture problems. If the crawl space is also poorly insulated, you have a recipe for condensation and moisture buildup. Dirt floor crawl spaces should be lined with a vapor barrier on the ground. This keeps the ground moisture from coming up and into the crawl space.

Problem #4: Too Much Moisture

If you have water in your crawl space, it’s time for immediate action. A few things you can do to prevent or manage the problem include:

  • Scheduling an inspection.
  • Verifying that the crawl space is properly insulated and has the correct moisture barrier installed.
  • Sealing the crawl space walls to keep outside moisture out.
  • Verifying that the dehumidifier or air conditioner is running in the crawl space properly.
  • Not using your crawl space for storage.
  • If your space is vented, making sure none of the vents are blocked.

If you do suspect a problem in your crawl space, especially from moisture, get it repaired quickly. Waiting can make the problem worse. The wood in your home’s foundation could rot, or you may end up with a major mold problem. Perma-Dry Waterproofing & Drainage, Inc. is a local company that specializes in crawl space repair.