What is crawlspace encapsulation and how can it benefit my living space?
According to Ask the Builder, “Unless you live in the Atacama Desert, the ground under and around your home contains moisture. This liquid water wants to evaporate and get back up to the atmosphere. If you could see water vapor, you’d see a constant flow of this vapor floating up into the air. When it’s warm, the flow rate is faster.
This water vapor, when mixed with wood, is not a good thing. If enough water vapor collects in a crawl space before getting back to the outside atmosphere, it can condense and turn to liquid water again. This water fuels mold growth and fungi growth you might call wood rot.
Once plastics were gaining traction in the 1960’s, thin sheets of vapor barrier were available. While not perfect, they did a magnificent job of blocking the movement of water vapor. Cross laminated vapor barriers that meet or exceed the ASTM E 1745 are some of the best products out there to block water vapor.”
An entire industry has evolved in the past fifteen years that specializes in encapsulating crawl spaces so the water vapor stays is the soil. When done correctly, encapsulation is an excellent way to arrest the movement of water vapor from the soil up into your home.
Crawl space problems include mold, pests, and musty air. Eventually, the problems that begin in the crawl space extend to the home’s living space. Often, homeowners will find critters in the home, and mold and musty air compromise the home’s indoor air quality, too.
According to Energy Vanguard “One of the biggest advances in building science over the past decade is the research that proves definitively that vented crawl spaces are bad. If you’ve ever been in one, you know it’s true. They’re damp. They’re dark. Critters have easy access to them. The batt insulation falls down. The air smells musty & moldy. And the crawl space communicates with the house so that bad air (and the occasional critter) gets into the living space above.”
GW Encapsulation Process
New home building projects in humid regions now include encapsulating the unfinished space, and foregoing the use of any vents at all. Existing homes can also benefit from the practice.
Here’s how encapsulation works in existing homes. GW Exterminating will: Of course every encapsulation starts with an inspection to determine the feasibility or benefit derived from installing the GW Encapsulation technique.
We install a vapor barrier to cover the ground, leaving no exposed areas.
Install a drainage system if necessary to route standing water or moisture seeping through the ground away from the space.
GW seals the vapor barrier tightly, ensuring that no seam can allow moisture to pass through it.
Seal the vents closed, so that no outside air can enter the space.
Finally, GW will choose the most appropriate method for conditioning the space, using either ductwork to deliver conditioned air via the HVAC system, a dehumidifier, or an exhaust fan.
How does encapsulation help?
Advanced Energy, the leader in efficient solutions for these spaces, has conducted research that shows encapsulation is the best method for moisture control in humid climates. With a closed vent, the space stayed dry and humidity levels stayed low, most often below 60 percent relative humidity. When the space featured a closed vent and a vapor barrier, relative humidity was even lower, or 50 percent. On the other hand, a vented space maintained a relative humidity level consistently above 80 percent.
The technician should check the integrity of the vapor barrier and its seal, as well as the vent. If the space features a drainage system, the technician should test it to ensure it operates well. Finally, he or she should also inspect the exhaust fan, dehumidifier, or ductwork and HVAC system to promote optimal conditioning of the space.
If you are interested in getting started or if you need more information, contact us. We are glad to help you.