When you step into your crawl space, you expect to see the usual things. Some spider webs, darkness and all the rest, but you would never expect to see what one of our customers saw. As he opened his crawl space hatch, he saw hot steaming water about a foot deep in his crawl space. What prompted this visit to the crawl space was the soaring water bill costs. He assumed that maybe a water pipe was leaking, but he didn’t expect to find a hot water pipe completely burst open, filling his crawl space with hot water.
Of course, the consequences were disastrous. Insulation was ruined, duct work was ruined, and the hot water created a mold creating factory down there. It was a mess that nobody wants to have to deal with and it all could have been avoided.
Now, this example is the extreme, but it is not uncommon to have standing water in the crawl space wreak havoc. Normally, it is a process that happens over time as water slowly accumulates, but regarless of how it gets there, it is important to have a system in place that will move it out of there.
Your crawl space is a really important part of your home. You might not realize this because you probably spend very little time down there. It is dark, damp and even a little creepy, but it houses the most important elements of your home. Your plumbing pipes, air ducts and even the structural integrity of your home depend on the crawl space being in good shape in order for your home to stay healthy. Since this area of the home is so crucial, you should probably be aware of what factors can ruin it.
Animals Can Make Your Crawl Space A Very Unhealthy Place
We go into a lot of crawl spaces and see all sorts of things that can really make for an unhealthy environment, but probably the most common is an animal infestation.
Do you have water in your crawl space? If you so, you may be putting your home at significant risk. Water is the enemy of your home and can lead to conducive conditions that may create mold or even worse, major structural damage. Your home is not designed to have standing water present and it should be a high priority to make sure it doesn’t have to. Here are some simple steps that you can take to make sure that water is not ruining your home:
1) Take a look at your crawl space.
Most water issues in your crawl space can be corrected easily if they are caught in time. A flooded crawl space can do significant damage if left alone, while quick intervention may avoid major costs. Most people never realize that they have standing water in their crawl space until they find a reason to go down there. Why not put it on a calendar to spend 3 minutes opening your crawl hatch and shining a flashlight down there? This simple step alone may save thousands of dollars! We recommend checking your crawl space at least every 6 months, but it becomes especially important during our rainy season. In Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington this is for most of the year, but to make it simple, check in October and February.
With all the rain that we get in the Portland area, is it normal to have water in your crawl space? Our homes are constantly bombarded by rainfall nearly year round, so is it alright if some of that rain accumulates under your house? The answer is a little subtle because it depends on if that accumulated water becomes “standing water” with no way out. Many crawl spaces have moisture, but standing water is a different story.
Some properties naturally slope to a low point drain and when water comes in, it eventually finds its way out. Other properties have drainage systems in place, like a sump pump, that moves the water off of the property. What it really comes down to is “what happens to the water once it gets down there”? In order for a crawl space to stay healthy, it is important that standing water is not creating a conducive condition for mold or worse, moisture may start to affect the structural integrity of the home. If you have a crawl space that collects water runoff, you simply must have a plan in place to divert it. Here are some things to consider:
A crawl space is a dark and creepy place. It is not a place that you generally enjoy visiting, but it plays such a crucial role in the overall health of your home. Think about all the important elements of your home that are housed in your crawl space like air ducts, plumbing, insulation and the structural components of the home and you can see that it is an important area to maintain. And, since this is an area that you probably do not go very often (or ever) you may have significant issues down there that you don’t even know about.
Crawl spaces do not get contaminated and unhealthy overnight, so it takes quite some time to get to the point where major work needs to be done. Usually by the time that we are crawled in, severe contamination has taken place. Probably the most common cause for needing a complete crawl space restoration is when rodents infest the insulation under your home. Since about 40% of the air that you breathe comes from the crawl space, you can imagine that things can get pretty unhealthy when things get out of hand.