Common Crawl Space Waterproofing Problems & Solutions

By:    |   Published June 29, 2023
Exterior waterproofing around a home’s foundation and crawl space area.

Basements have a lot of nooks and crannies, but the biggest space to watch out for is your crawl space. This large, open area is a magnet for moisture and pests due to its size and how infrequently it’s accessed. Many homeowners run into crawl space waterproofing issues because their home wasn’t properly waterproofed in the past.

If you’re tired of mold growth or other moisture-related problems, read on to learn about the most common issues with crawl space waterproofing and how to keep moisture out once and for all.

Common Crawl Space Waterproofing Issues

Spray Foam Moisture Collection

Many homeowners turn to spray foam insulation to help waterproof areas of their home. It’s a relatively quick solution that can be less costly than alternatives. It’s also very thorough, with the potential for big effects on your home’s energy efficiency.

However, when it comes to moisture control, spray foam insulation can lead to a major issue. If it’s applied to an entire sub-floor, water leaks can invade the area and become trapped. Like any area of your home, standing water will wreak havoc until it’s removed. Unfortunately, water trapped in foam insulated areas of your home aren’t always easy to identify or access!

You’ll ultimately experience issues with mold growth and possibly wood rot. You may not even realize what’s happening until the damage is so far along that the repairs would be thousands of dollars!

Fiberglass Saturation

Another common insulation solution for homes is fiberglass. The lightweight material is exceptional at insulating areas of your home, sparing you heat loss and big energy bills. However, like foam insulation, fiberglass isn’t safe for your crawl space.

The design of fiberglass gives it the ability to absorb moisture. If high humidity or moisture levels invade your crawl space, mold is inevitable. The mold can grow on damp fiberglass and easily move to other surfaces around it.

One other issue of fiberglass is that, when placed in the sub-floor, the extra weight from absorbing water can displace it. If it begins to sink, the spaces can fill with more moisture. Even worse, these gaps are ideal hiding places for insects and other invasive pests!

Open Vents

More air is always a good thing, right? No! In a crawl space, increased air flow can just allow moisture in that won’t have a good way to get out.

Vents in a crawl space should be covered completely. Leaving them open or uncovered will encourage moisture invasion, leading to the typical issues of mold or pests. A crawl space, uniquely, should be closed off as well as possible.

Drainage Issues

A roof draining water in a rain storm

Is your crawl space well-protected from moisture? If your house has poor drainage, it may not matter! Even great waterproofing can be undermined by extremely poor drainage.

Groundwater and rainwater pooling against the side of your home can lead to cracks and damage that lets water in. Once it gets into your crawl space, it can be difficult to remove, especially if you haven’t taken steps to waterproofing the interior.

This drainage will continue to let water seep in until it’s corrected. The longer you wait to fix it, the more damage you’ll have to repair when you finally do. It’s best to approach the problem head on as soon as you recognize the risk.

Waterproofing Your Crawl Space

These common crawl space waterproofing issues can be avoided! The most effective way to keep moisture out of your crawl space is through encapsulation, which can be simplified to a three-step process:

#1 Crawl Space Encapsulation

The first step of waterproofing your crawl space is to actually seal the entire area. A waterproofing expert will use a polyethylene barrier to line the crawl space, typically covering most or every surface. The floors and walls are always sealed, and in many cases, the ceiling will be too.

The more surfaces that are covered, the more protection your crawl space will have from invading moisture.

#2 Installation of a Sump Pump

The best way to protect your home from moisture damage is to expect the best, but plan for the worst. Areas at risk of flooding or homes that experience heavy rainfall and drainage issues are typically at risk for taking on water. A sump pump helps eject water from your crawl space if it finds its way in.

We recommend a sump pump that has a battery back-up. In many cases, flooding is associated with storms, which commonly knock out power for homes or entire blocks. If your sump pump requires your home to have power, it won’t protect you when you need it most. Back-up batteries will allow your sump pump to pull water from your home while you or your power company work on reestablishing power.

#3 Don’t Forget a Dehumidifier

Moisture in the air in your home is inevitable. Even if less humid areas of the world, the humidity that does exist will typically find its way to your basement and crawl space. A dehumidifier will help regulate the moisture and prevent a build-up in the crawl space.

While moisture in the air doesn’t seem like an issue, it surprises many homeowners how quickly a little humidity can lead to issues in their basements! Without a dehumidifier, your encapsulation could trap moisture inside as well as it keeps it out.

Why Is It Important to Waterproof Your Crawl Space?

Your crawl space isn’t somewhere you often think about – we get it. But the tips above for protecting it from moisture are important for taking care of your home. After all, that crawl space is part of your house too! And when it has problems, they can impact your whole property in significant ways. Here are some of the reasons it’s critical to waterproof your crawl space:

  1. Moisture Control: A damp or wet crawl space can lead to the growth of mold and mildew, which can pose serious health risks, especially for individuals with respiratory issues. Moisture in the crawl space can also lead to wood rot, which can threaten the structural integrity of your home.
  2. Pest Prevention: Many types of pests, including insects and rodents, are attracted to damp environments. By keeping your crawl space dry, you can help deter these pests from settling in your home.
  3. Energy Efficiency: When a crawl space is wet, it can make the whole house more humid, forcing your air conditioning system to work harder. In contrast, a dry and insulated crawl space helps to keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, which can lower your energy bills.
  4. Preventing Damage to Household Items: If you use your crawl space for storage, any moisture can damage the items you keep there. Waterproofing helps protect your belongings from moisture damage.
  5. Preventing Odors: A damp crawl space can lead to musty, unpleasant odors that can permeate your home. Keeping it dry helps prevent these odors.
  6. Improving Home Value: A dry, well-maintained crawl space is a selling point if you ever decide to sell your house. On the other hand, a wet crawl space that’s caused damage to your home’s structure could significantly reduce your home’s value.

Schedule Your FREE 20-Point Inspection

The best way to keep your crawl space dry is with professional waterproofing. EverDry Toledo can help with a FREE 20-point basement inspection! We’ll help you find out if your home is at risk for water damage and which solutions will best serve you.

Contact us online to schedule an appointment or give us a call at (419) 469-5833 and schedule your inspection today!

Stay connected with EverDry Toledo on Social Media to learn more basement tips and tricks!

Facebook | Twitter | Houzz | Instagram