Ignoring Your Crawl Space Could Lead to Big Problems

 In Home Maintenance, Mold

Okay, let’s just admit something right off the bat: crawl spaces are kind of creepy. They’re dark, and cramped and sometimes smell a little weird. We get it.

So we don’t blame you for not wanting to go in there and look around. But checking up on your crawl space at regular intervals is kind of like getting a colonoscopy: it’s unpleasant but it just might uncover an undetected issue. You never know what could be lurking within. But unlike a colonoscopy — which most people over 50 endure every few years — you need to poke around your crawl space a few times a year to make sure everything’s okay.

What is a crawl space, anyway?

Although it can be a great place to tuck plumbing and wiring out of the way and maybe an HVAC unit, a crawl space — usually just a few feet high — functions as a way to lift a home up off the ground and is an alternative to a basement or concrete slab.

You’ll usually find a crawl space under a house in areas that are prone to a lot of rain or in are more coastal areas with sandy soil, as the pressure from excessive water could eventually find its way through cracks into a full basement. If you’re building a new home, you’ll find that one of the major benefits of installing a crawl space rather than a full basement is the price, since the latter is almost triple the price.

So, what could go wrong?

Crawl space issues usually start out small and grow, as they fester undetected.

“The homeowner really has to do due diligence,” says contractor Joe Visciano, who’s been building custom homes in Monmouth County, NJ for 20 years. For homes with crawl spaces, Visciano suggests you pay even more attention to the threat of moisture. “If you have a crawl space, chances are it’s because you’re near the water,” he says. “It’s probably going to get moist in there at some point.”

Some of the biggest issues that homeowners experience with crawl spaces stem from undetected flooding and leaking, which can go on for months — sometimes even years — and cause undue damage to the home. Usually, the leak repair is fairly simple but the damage caused by the flooding could be costly and time consuming to remediate. Damage could include:

  • Damaged structural wood: When wood is subjected to moisture over time, it could be support mold or rot and lead to sagging floors, jamming doors and cracks in drywall.
  • Ruined fiberglass insulation: Loose, cottony fiberglass would love nothing more than to soak up your leak, causing it to lose its insular value.
  • Rodents and pests: Critters would love nothing more that to move into your moist crawl space, reproduce like crazy and then die, all of which lead to some very foul odors wafting up into your home.
  • Mold: If left undetected, trapped moisture could also lead to the formation of mold. If you suspect that there’s mold in your crawl space, Stock Environmental Consulting — with over 20 years of experience — can provide testing, inspections and assessments of the issue. Schedule your appointment at (732) 383-5190.

Other than venturing into your crawl space a few times a year for an inspection, homeowners can also prevent moisture-related issues by installing:

  • Floor drains
  • Sump pump
  • Flood alarms
  • Dehumidifier

Crawl spaces can really be filed under “out of sight, out of mind.” But despite their inherent yuckiness, homeowners really do need to monitor theirs on a regular basis.

“I’m 6’4” and I hate to go into my crawl space,” says Wayne Stock, owner of Stock Environmental in Tinton Falls, NJ. “But I know only too well what could happen if I ignored it.”


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