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Crawlspace Encapsulation – Charlotte NC


What Is An Encapsulated Crawlspace?

If you have a humid, musty smelling crawlspace you’ve probably thought of installing a  system to control the moisture, musty odor or even possibly mold growing on your wooden structural members of your home’s foundation. Crawlspace encapsulation is the procedure of sealing your crawlspace to prevent moisture, insects, mold and odors.

Since up to 40% of household air can flow up from your crawl space, it’s important to keep the crawl space as clean and dry as possible. 

As air escapes from your living area through your attic, air is drawn from your crawlspace and basement areas – this is know as the “stack effect

Stack Effect

Encapsulation is one way to take care of the problem by completely sealing your crawl space.

Adding a crawl space vapor barrier and dehumidifier is widely accepted as the best way to improve indoor air quality and make energy improvements inside your home.

Encapsulating is a popular way to control moisture in the crawl space by completely enclosing the crawl space area with polyethlyene plastic to cover the ground, and crawlspace walls, sealing vents and adding a dehumidifier.


Crawl Space Vapor Barrier To Control Moisture


Crawlspace Vapor Barrier – Let’s assume you’ve identified the source of crawl space water and taken care of that problem, now lets tackle controlling the moisture in the crawl space area.

The ground in your crawl space contains water, organic materials, soil gases and living organisms like bacteria, mold, and insects.

In the encapsulation process, to contain the water vapor coming from the ground, we cover the entire crawlspace floor with a plastic liner, usually a reinforced polyethylene plastic sheet, of varying thicknesses, similar to a swimming pool liner. These vapor barrier thicknesses range from 6 mil to 20 mil, with 6 mil being the bare minimum and 20 mil being the most heavy duty and puncture-resistant. Poly stocked at the local hardware store is often thinner, non-reinforced, and could be made out of recycled or “regrind” poly. Regrind poly may contain impurities such as dirt or moisture. While thinner plastic or regrind may be OK for short-term use, only reinforced virgin poly should be used for long-term applications like crawlspace vapor barriers. Properly installed virgin reinforced poly should last 20 years or more in a crawlspace.

taping vapor barrier jointAnother consideration for which thickness of crawlspace vapor barrier to purchase is the intended use of the crawl space area. If you plan on using the crawl space for storage you will want to purchase a thicker vapor barrier, at minimum 10 mil. The thinner material will not hold up with foot traffic, stones and other sharp objects that may puncture the barrier an provide an opportunity for moisture and gases from the ground to escape into the crawlspace.

Properly installing the vapor barrier is arguably the most important part of the process.

Start with the foundation walls, ensure you cover all of the cement. Once the walls are done, you can hit the floor surface. You’ll want overlap over any seams (several inches) to truly encapsulate the entire space. Any seams must be overlapped and sealed, usually with double-sided seal tape or adhesive caulk. No gaps to allow moisture to escape into the crawlspace area.

The vapor barrier is installed on the crawlspace foundation walls up within 6″ of the sill plate and mechanically fastened, butyl taped or caulked to seal the vapor barrier to the wall. It is important to not cover the sill plate as it needs to be visible for pest control inspections for termite activity. The same procedure is used for piers, pipes, or any item that perforates the vapor barrier. 

Crawl Space Dehumidification – Let’s Us A Dehumidifier

Crawlspace dehumidifiers are one of the best options for keeping humidity and moisture under control in your crawlspace, but there are a few drawbacks to installing one in your crawl space area.

How To Choose the Right Size Dehumidifier

Your first step for determining the correct size charlotte area crawl space dehumidifier is to get the approximate square footage of the area. Crawlspace dehumiifiers are classified by the number of pints of water they can collect and they come in roughly three categories depending on the size.

Small Dehumidifiers

 These usually hold about a full pint of water and can fill at a half pint per day. These are best for RV’s or small rooms.

30 Pint Dehumidifiers

Any area up to 2,000 square feet, with a moderate level of humidity, will be suited to a model that collects 30 pints of water per day. In a basement, however, you might want to go for a slightly larger dehumidifier as they typically tend to be damper even though the floor space might be the same.

50 Pint Dehumidifiers

A 40 or 50-pint dehumidifier also works up to sizes of 2,000 square feet but these are more powerful and better at dealing with damper homes. So if you know your home is very humid, then it is worth investing in a 40 or 50-pint model to make sure this is tackled. The 50-pint model would be recommended for 2,000 square feet where there is visible mold or other noticeable signs of moisture.

70 Pint Dehumidifiers

These are the best dehumidifiers for your basement or crawl space if it is extremely damp or over more than 2,000 square foot in size. While these may be more expensive, it is worth getting the right size dehumidifier to make sure your damp problem is dealt with.

Dehumidifier with drainage pumpSome additonal considerations to consider when purchasing your dehumidifer:

   – energy consumption is a factor to consider due to the fact they can consume large amounts of energy. Be sure to check how much energy will be used – bigger may just not be better if your utility spikes up.

  – the by-product of the dehumidifier is water generation as it pulls moisture out of the crawl space environment. Some dehumidifiers have a catch-pan for the water discharge which in this case would be totally inadequate. CCSS provides a discharge system for your dehumidifier installation that pipes the water out of the crawlspace into the home’s drainage system either by gravity or pump.

If the entire encapsulation process seems complicated, rest assured that we at CCSS take care of everything, giving you the facts and recommendations – pros and cons. That way you make the decision on what fits best into your budget and timetable.

Vent and Opening Sealing

sealed crawlspace ventTo complete the encapsulation of the crawlspace all vents and openings need to be air sealed. Vents are usually covered with insulation foam board and taped. Any utility openings like plumbing lines, electrical or HVAC need to be sealed usually with caulk or insulating spray foam. The crawlspace entrance will usually need to be insulated and able to provide a good, tight seal.





Enjoy the Benefits!

When your encapsulation project is complete you’ll have a humidity controlled environment free from mold and mildew. Your floors will be cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Your HVAC equipment will last longer. You’ll save on energy bills. You’ll reduce opportunities for mold or pests to enter your home. There’s a lot to love about an encapsulated crawl space installed by CCSS. 

Need more information on crawl space encapsulation? Feel free to give us a call and we’d be happy to answer any of your questions. Better yet, just fill out the form below and we’ll inspect your crawlspace free of charge.