We get asked all the time about crawlspace and basement waterproofing systems. Maybe you saw a waterproofing project on TV or heard an advertisement on the radio and it piqued your interest. So, what does waterproofing actually mean, how much does it cost and is waterproofing a good idea in the Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington area?
What Is Crawl Space Waterproofing?
Crawl Space waterproofing (also called “Crawl Space Encapsulation”) has some variations, but a typical system consists of trenching and drainage to allow moisture to be collected into a sump pump and discharged out of the space. Next, a dimpled plastic matting is installed over the soil to allow for drainage and helps to insulate as well. Once the matting is installed, a thick vapor barrier (usually 20 mil) is used to cover the entire space with all the seams sealed. This is a very simplified explanation, but I think you get the idea. It keeps the crawl very dry and clean and looks great.
How Much Does A Crawl Space Waterproofing Project Cost?
Although a completed waterproofing job looks fantastic, it is quite expensive. On average, these jobs typically cost upwards of $10,000 (for approximately a 1000 square foot crawlspace). That is a lot of money to spend on an area of your home you won’t be spending much time in, so the question becomes “is it worth it?”. This is what we have wrestled with over the past few years. As a company that offers full service crawlspace restorations and drainage systems, we discuss waterproofing and encapsulation with our customer often. If you have the budget and are willing to spend the money, a crawlspace encapsulation is a superior system to any other options out there. If you are like the rest of us and work on a tighter budget, you may consider some other functional, less expensive options.
What Is A Crawl Space Vapor Barrier?
Let’s start with your basic building code. Just about anywhere you go, the building code will include having the exposed soil in your crawlspace covered with a 6 mil plastic vapor barrier. This is to stop moisture from working its way up into your structure. Homes without moisture barriers of any kind, will eventually have issues with mold and possibly wood rot if any moisture is present underneath the home. A moisture barrier is also effective in curtailing radon gas and other vapors coming from your soil. So, having a vapor barrier is very important.
Some homes do not have vapor barriers in their crawl space because the home was built before it became code, the original vapor barrier had to be removed do to animals or rodents contaminating it, or many other reasons. Regardless, it should be installed.
Comparing The Cost Of Waterproofing To A Vapor Barrier?
Now that you know the difference between a typical vapor barrier and a full waterproofing or encapsulation system, let me tell you the difference in cost. To do this, I will give you a real example. We went to a home that needed a drainage system and the original vapor barrier had been contaminated by rodents. The first contractor that came out left a bid for trenching, sump pump and a full encapsulation of the crawlspace. The bid was for $14,000. We inspected the crawlspace next and proposed the same trenching and sump pump, but instead of encapsulating the crawlspace, we proposed a standard 6 mil black vapor barrier. Our bid came in just under $5000 with a 5 year warranty.
For us, what it comes down to is “what would I do if it was my home?”. That is the principal we try to operate by and when it comes to the questions of a vapor barrier versus an encapsulation, I can definitively say that I would do the vapor barrier option. Anyway, I hope that this is helpful if you are deciding on this topic. If we can be of any more help to you, I would encourage you to call New Leaf Crawl Space Solutions today?