Crawl Space Water Damage
Out of sight, out of mind can apply to a myriad of things in life, including crawl space water damage under your home. Well, that is until a heavy rain floods the space or you begin to notice a dank smell emanating into the family room on a regular basis. Whatever may be causing the problem at the time, your crawl space likely had not crossed your mind before.
Crawl Space vs Basements?
Crawl spaces are built under homes for various reasons, but the main ones include their cost being less than a full basement; ability to access the pipes and other utilities rather than tearing out the living room floor when pipe bursts; location and aesthetics. In northern geographic regions, the freeze/thaw cycle each year can eventually erode or break a slab foundation, whereas, in warmer regions, the topsoil may be too unstable to support a slab foundation.
Fully finishing a crawl space’s walls and floor with concrete is the best choice. This prevents animals from tunneling from underground, potentially into your home, and blocking out mold and odors while keeping high energy costs at bay. However, very few barriers are infallible, and common symptoms of crawl space moisture issues, include musty odors and high humidity in house; condensation on air conditioning ductwork and/or equipment, insulation, water pipes or truss plates; hardwood floors buckling; and insect infestations. Though they can arise any time of the year, these symptoms are most often noticed during the humid spring and summer seasons.
Common Moisture Problems of a Crawl Space
Moisture can enter a crawl space from multiple sources, with these being the most common:
• Surface water flooding – Saturated or ground in the midst of a drought can’t always absorb heavy rains and/or melting snow quickly, leading to a rise in the water table and causing the lower floors, including crawl spaces, to flood.
• Improper slope or grading of property – Whether it was graded the wrong direction when the home was built or erosion has changed the grade over time, the slope of ground surrounding your home should cause water to flow away from the home.
• Gutters and downspouts – Nobody likes climbing on a ladder several times a year and digging out leaves, small branches and who knows what else from the gutters and downspouts, but leaving them plugged will only cause more headaches. Rain will then run off the edges of your roof, landing on the ground around your home’s perimeter. Also, the same issue will arise if the gutters and downspouts are improperly installed or are defective.
• Window wells – Windows and small vents on exterior walls are often built into crawl spaces and should be designed to prevent water from entering the area. Otherwise, the defective window wells can act as a drain, directly funneling any water pooled outside into the crawl space.
• Cracked walls and/or foundation – Regular inspections of your home’s walls and foundation can tip you off to small cracks before they become a big problem.
• Broken water lines and/or water heater – As the main entry point into the home for water used every day, broken water lines will affect more than a hot shower at the end of the day. Worn out plumbing, frozen pipes or a puncture due to construction can cause broken water lines and subsequent leaks into places the water should not be. If the water heater breaks, it can cause serious flooding problems in your home.
• Sewer backups – Heavy rains can inundate a sewer system, forcing sewage back up through the drains. In addition to potential property damage, health issues can arise from sewer backups into your home.
Flooded Crawl Space
While it may be tempting to start cleaning up a flooded crawl space by yourself – because of YouTube – doing so can create more issues and headaches. Asbestos in pipe or HVAC duct insulation may have been damaged or deteriorated over time, opening the door to particles either floating in the air or on the ground, ripe for disturbance. Add in possible mold contamination, rodent droppings, sewage spills and the health risks to yourself and anyone else who may be helping you outweigh saving a few bucks. Crawl space water damage should be left to the professionals.
Crawl Space Mold
When it comes time for cleanup, a water damage restoration company will begin by evaluating the history of water entry into the crawl space. Did the moisture and water come all at once and overpower the otherwise trusty sump pump or was it a gradual issue? They will also check the ventilation of the area and if possible, enclose and seal the space to prevent moisture from reoccuring inside. Another area professionals pay close attention to is the visibility – or often, invisibility to our naked eyes – of mold.
Professional Cleanup and Restoration Process
During the process, all wet materials and personal belongings will be removed from the space before using sump pumps to remove any standing water along with negative air movers to pull remaining moisture back outside. They will inspect the vapor barrier that can be damaged with flooding and may require replacement. This barrier is a thick plastic liner placed over the bare ground to keep moisture in the ground. Then, a final step in the cleanup process, once everything is dry, is to spray the area with an anti-microbial spray to prevent further mold growth and contamination.
Water Extraction Experts Provides Crawl Space Cleanup
Water Extraction Experts is prepared to address any water damage and mold issues 24 hours, seven days a week, for all water removal, flooded or damp crawl space water damage, water restoration, mold remediation, and water leak needs, including water extraction and structural drying.