Most of the time when we are involved in moisture control in crawl spaces it is because we are doing a Wood destroying insect report. Issues can arise during our inspection related to moisture, that can create issues for the closing. In this article I am not going to go too far in depth about all the nuances in crawl space moisture control. I just want to hit on the most common issue we run into and how it is typically handled.
While doing an inspection for a real estate transaction a Pest Control Company must report on elevated moisture levels in the crawl space. Moisture levels of 20% or higher as determined by a moisture meter are considered conducive to termites and must be corrected in order for the sale to occur. The corrections can range from simply opening the vents and clearing debris from the crawl space to the installation of french drains to redirect standing water away from the foundation. In most cases High moisture is related to poor ventalation or poor drainage on the property. There are other schools of thought that believe the crawl space should be completely sealed up with an encapsilation system but this is rarely neccessary. I am not saying encapsilation is a bad thing but I have run into issues with encapsilated crawl spaces creating an even worse moisture problem due to condensation from AC systems. Usually there are a few common sense and low cost alternatives to help get your crawl space moisture levels where they should be.
- Take a walk around the home and pay close attention to where water goes when it rains. Many times a simple addition of splash blocks or extensions to gutter down spouts can work wonders. They key here is to allow water to flow away from the home.
- Now look at the crawl space vents, are they blocked by shrubs or other debris? If so clear the area around the vent to make sure air can enter and exit the crawl space. Are the vents at or below ground level? If so this must be fixed. Half moons should be installed in this area.
- Take a look in the crawl space, one of the fastest ways to spot an obvious moisture condition in the crawl space is to see the insulation that is installed onto the floor system falling down. This is usually caused by moisture vaporating up into the insulation and weighing it down. Also of course check for standing water. If you see either of these conditions in your crawl space you should call a professional immediatley.