Insects, Dead Animals, Odors
These three things are often noticed in homes that do not have a sealed crawl space environment. Typically, all that is needed in accordance with local building codes is to have 1 or more vents on the crawl space. Over time, this proves to be ineffective at keeping the home energy efficient, and the crawl space dry and healthy.
Crawl Space Moisture
Moisture is able to freely enter a crawl space which hasn’t been sealed off properly. When this happens, the water will come in contact with wooden materials, including floor joists and support beams. Over time, this will cause the wood to warp, rot, and deteriorate. This can endanger the structural integrity of a home, and the rotting wood is very attractive to unwanted bugs, including termites, roaches, and mosquitoes.
Additionally, this dark, moisture-filled area can be an attractive hide-out or home for other types of critters, including: snakes, spiders, rats, mice, skunks, and raccoons. These animals go through their entire life cycle below the home, and when they die, their bodies are left to rot. Needles to say, the odors are going to eventually creep up and into the home.
Crawl Space Mold
Also, an un-sealed crawl space can lead to the formation of dangerous mold. Mold is a dark green or black fungus which needs three things to survive, which are moisture, excessive humidity levels, and organic materials to feed off of. Once it starts growing, it releases spores into the air.
These spores eventually get into the air in the living quarters of the home. Once breathed in, they can cause many different serious health problems, including the following: respiratory problems, skin rashes, allergies, headaches, severe fatigue, asthma attacks, eye irritation, and cold/flu-like symptoms. This mold will also make a home smell very musty, similar to dirty and sweaty gym socks.
Preventing or Getting Rid of the Problem
To prevent or put a stop to the problem, the crawl space is going to need to be sealed off from the outside world. This process is known as encapsulation. Most contractors will make use of some or all of the following products during the process: vapor barriers, floor liners, sump pumps, drainage systems, insulation, vents and vent doors, and insulation.
All of these materials will be able to seal the space off so that unwanted critters can’t get inside, as well as moisture or excessive humidity.