Your home’s crawl space is a dark and dirty place that can attract all sorts of pests and creepy crawlies. It also tends to be very damp and can cause microbial growth and structural problems—especially in Virginia.
You might wonder if you should encapsulate your crawl space and what value you’ll get from it if you do. Read on to learn more about crawl space encapsulation pros and cons—and whether or not this service is right for your home.
What Is Crawl Space Encapsulation?
Before we dive into the pros and cons, it’s essential to understand exactly what encapsulation entails. The intent is to take your damp, humid crawl space and turn it into a dry area.
Water and dampness can cause wood rot and pest infestations. It can also turn into a breeding ground for mold, which will pollute and contaminate your home’s indoor air.
Encapsulation uses a reinforced moisture barrier over the dirt floor to completely seal it off from the outside air and the inside of your home. A dehumidifier is often added to further reduce the humidity to acceptable levels.
There are several advantages to encapsulating your crawl space:
- Reduced humidity levels—The main benefit of encapsulation is that it lowers humidity levels and prevents a wide variety of other problems from forming.
- Prevents pest infestations—Areas like Richmond, VA, tend to suffer from oppressive humidity during the summer. Rodents, termites, skunks, and other pests find a humid and easily accessible crawl space to be the perfect living and breeding environment.
- Reduced energy costs—Humidity from your crawl space can seep into your home and cause indoor humidity levels to rise exponentially. This causes your HVAC system to have to work harder and use more electricity to improve comfort levels.
- Reduced or eliminated offensive odors—A moldy and damp crawl space tends to smell pretty bad. Those odors will start entering your home and will linger for long periods of time.
- Increased storage space—Once your crawl space is dry and encapsulated, it offers a perfect storage area.
While there are many benefits to encapsulation, there are also a few cons you should be aware of, such as:
- Initial cost—An initial upfront investment can range into thousands of dollars. While this might seem off-putting, consider the long-term health costs to all those who live under your roof.
- Maintenance costs—It’s strongly advised to schedule an inspection and maintenance once a year to ensure everything is in good working order. For example, if you installed a dehumidifier, it’s essential to perform regular maintenance to ensure a long lifespan.
- HVAC upgrade potential—Encapsulating your crawl space tends to hinder air movement throughout your house. This may limit the amount of oxygen in the air and cause older combustion-based furnaces to cease working correctly.
At this point, you’ll need to upgrade your HVAC system. If you’re on a budget, you can always opt for a Ductless Mini Split, which will allow you to install it to heat or cool a single room.
What Does Encapsulation Cost?
The overall cost of encapsulation depends on several factors:
How big is your crawl space? The larger the area, the greater the cost. This is due to labor and material costs, as encapsulation materials are priced by square feet.
Do you need drainage or sump pumps? If groundwater tends to seep up into your crawlspace, you’ll need additional hardware to combat this problem.
Do you need a humidifier? Humidifiers are the best way to reduce humidity levels in your crawl space. However, they can cost several hundred to several thousand dollars.
Vapor Barrier vs. Encapsulation
A vapor barrier helps reduce the amount of groundwater evaporating into your crawl space. The contractor will lay down a four-to-six mm thick sheet of material on the ground. However, it stops at the walls and does nothing to create a moisture seal.
Encapsulation, on the other hand, helps seal your entire crawl space from moisture entering inside.
Crawl Space Encapsulation in VA
While there are crawl space encapsulation pros and cons, the long-lasting benefits of encapsulating your crawl space far outweigh the initial upfront cost. Cleaner air, improved HVAC efficiency, and a more comfortable indoor environment are just some of the many benefits you’ll enjoy by reducing the humidity of your crawl space through encapsulation.
Contact the local experts at Carroll Heating and Plumbing for more information on our encapsulation services.