Crawl Space Encapsulation
We spend 90% of our time indoors, so it’s important to ensure that the crawl space is clean and free of spores, viruses, and other contaminants.
Tired of that funky, unidentifiable smell wafting from your floors? The scratching sounds of uninvited four-legged guests from below? The sense that no matter what you do, you just can’t seem to heat or cool your home to your preferred temperature? At Odyssey Contracting, we’re dedicated to helping families protect their homes and properties from mold and mildew. Our crawl space encapsulation service seals your crawl space completely to keep water, moisture, critters, and weather conditions outside. This way, you don’t have to worry about the dangers of things like mold and mildew. All of our projects are inspected to ensure their quality and duration. We take pride in our work and want to ensure that you are satisfied. Crawl space encapsulation is a straightforward way to repair crawl space damages and prevent them from reoccurring.
What is a Crawl Space?
A crawl space is the area beneath the home that is similar to a basement. Th main function is to give easy access to all of the structural, electrical, and plumbing components of your home without the need for removing interior flooring. In addition, a crawl space raises the structural framing members (floor joists) far enough off the ground that they do not wick water, which causes rot. They’re also a convenient and affordable way to aesthetically hide these things from view.
Unlike a basement, the crawl space is directly exposed to the ground and all its elements. These spaces tend to be only a few feet high and are often neglected by homeowners because it’s a tough space to inspect. Because crawl spaces vent to the outside, moisture and humidity can be a huge problem in a crawl space, no matter the season. You may have been told that installing a small dehumidifier would reduce the moisture content enough to prevent mold growth and other common issues. Simply put, that is just not true. The crawl space should be considered high priority when it comes to maintenance and repairs.
What is Crawl Space Encapsulation?
Crawl space encapsulation is a process where a heavy-duty polyethylene barrier is applied to all exposed surfaces in the crawl space. That means that all walls, floors, entry ways, air ducts, and structures are fully sealed from external air. When applying the barrier, it is important to overlap the plastic by at least 6 to 12 inches and secure it with a heavy-duty vapor barrier tape. This is to prevent water from travelling and escaping the containment of encapsulation.
The common duct’ tape will not work and shouldn’t be used during the encapsulation process. If you’ve had this service done in the past where duct’ tape was used, it may be time to find a different contractor. In most cases, contractors use a tape that is 6mm thick. Though it meets code, it isn’t the strongest option of tape that there is. At Odyssey Contracting, we use a 10mm tape, to help guarantee the security and longevity of the barriers. The investment of encapsulating your crawl space is minuscule in comparison to the costs of mold removal, structural repairs and mitigation by not encapsulating.
Common Crawl Space Problems
North Carolina crawl spaces are highly susceptible to a number of problems, that cause damage to both the inside and outside of the home. Encapsulating your crawl space is a quick and straightforward way to deal with and prevent many of these issues. A damp, non-insulated crawl space provides the ideal environment for:
- Wood rot
- High humidity levels
- Water damage
- Increased energy costs
Your home isn’t only home to you.
They can cause serious and costly damage to the structure of your home over time. Not only do these problems pose a risk to your property, but they also put your health at risk, too.
“Do I Need to Encapsulate My Crawl Space?”
Simply put- yes. If you find that your home is dealing with at least of the problems listed above, chances are there’s more to it than what meets the eye. Encapsulation is the most efficient way to deal with these problems, rather than trying to remedy each one individually, which would turn out to be way more costly.
Crawl Space Air Quality
Your home gets up to 50% of its air from the crawl space. This often causes musty odors, allergies, asthma, and high humidity levels. North Carolina crawl spaces are no stranger to humid summers and sometimes frigid winter days. Combined, these weather conditions work to continuously drain your utility bill, as well as causing moisture damage.
When the air ducts are poorly sealed and being exposed to mold, mold spores are pushed all throughout the home through the ventilation system. It can take weeks before noticing mold poisoning and tend to be written off as “seasonal allergies”. If you randomly experience headaches, coughing, or rashes, it can be due to the un-conditioned air in your crawl space. Your home’s air quality can be drastically improved by encapsulating the space and installing the proper dehumidifier.
Crawl Space Inspection: What We Look For
The inspection process typically begins at the entry-point, establishing whether or not the crawl space is safe for the professional to go in. Next is the superficial phase, which is when the inspector establishes the location of any exposed electrical wiring, protruding nails, and other construction material that could be considered dangerous. Lastly, the assessment phase. Once they have entered the crawl space, they can begin conducting a thorough inspection to check for mold, bug and rodent infestations, wood rot, and any other relevant information.
Though most problems in a crawl space can be identified by the naked eye, others need to be measured with special tools and gadgets. They help us to determine exactly what challenges that your crawl space has developed.
The main tools include:
- Laser pointer: Used to determine if the ground is leveled
- Hygrometer: Measure the humidity levels
- Moisture meter: Measure the amount of water and moisture in the wood
- Infrared laser: Measure extreme temperature changes and locate inefficiencies
Encapsulating the Crawl Space
When sealing the crawl space, we start the work from the ground up (literally). We first want to remove any water or puddles that may be on the ground. The water can be due to rain or plumbing failures, lack of gutters, and a high water table. Installing a sump-pump along with a draining system is the most efficient way to remove groundwater or flooding of the crawl space.
Crawl Space Floors and Ceilings
The floor joists are the structures above the crawl space, which are also the base of your home’s flooring. Floor joists that are exposed to non-conditioned crawl space are absorbing moisture from the air, eventually leading it to soften and rot. Rotting wood promotes mold growth and compromises the integrity of your floors joists. Encapsulation is especially vital in spaces that do not have any flooring (typically a cement slab). Any water that builds up around your home will eventually be soaked up by the ground below, and lead to excess water in the crawl space. To eliminate that, the ground is lined with the barrier and covers all exposed dirt, so you crawl space never sees dirt or water again.
Crawl Space Access Doors
Some North Carolina crawl spaces lead underneath a porch area. These spaces have their own ventilation systems and cannot be encapsulated. Rather than leaving an open wall, a custom access door is installed, insulated and sealed to close off that space but still provide access to it.
Any doors leading from the crawl space to the outside of the home need to be properly sealed and gaps have to be insulated. Weather stripping is applied to prevent any outside air from entering the space through the door.
Crawl Space Walls and Structures
The walls will get a fire-retardant insulated board, to currently match what is in the space. They’re then insulated and covered with the vapor barrier and secured with the heavy-duty barrier tape.
Crawl Space Dehumidifiers
Humidity levels are controlled from within the crawlspace using a mechanical dehumidifier that is designed for this kind of environment. Traditional dehumidifiers will not work for a crawl space and will only cause more damage in the long run. Also, this type of dehumidifier cannot be repaired, once they break, they are no longer useable. Improper ventilation allows for excessive build-up of relative humidity. This leads to condensation in the space and provides conditions conducive to mold growth. We install dehumidifiers that will reduce the humidity levels to under 6% and can be repaired as needed.
Crawl Space Encapsulation Costs
The cost depends on a number of variables:
- The size of the crawl space
- If there’s a need for mold remediation
- Water mitigation
- The grade of the crawl space ground (pitch)
- The ground material (rocky soil is more labor intensive to level)
- Damaged insulation
- Wood rot
- If a sump pump necessary
- Rodent or insect infestation
- Dehumidifier size and type
- French drain may have to be installed
- The accessibility of the crawl space
- And many other factors that have to be taken into consideration
The average cost for encapsulation in a 2,000 sq ft home is between $7,500 – $9,500. Although the initial cost isn’t exactly small, it can save you hundreds of dollars in the long run by lowering power bills, avoiding structural repairs, and minimizing water damage and pest-caused wood deterioration. The size and condition of the crawl space will determine how much you’ll wind up spending. Due to the many variables associated with pricing, it isn’t possible to give an accurate price, even if photos and a sketch are provided. To ensure an accurate price, and to install the proper products based on your home’s needs, we must send on of our specialists to perform a thorough inspection and provide you with accurate pricing.
Is Crawl Space Encapsulation Covered by Insurance?
Crawl space encapsulation isn’t covered under your homeowners insurance policy because it’s considered an upgrade. If you already have a crawl space that is encapsulated and damage occurs to it that is related to a sudden and catastrophic event, the replacement of your encapsulation will be covered. Damage caused by ground water is also not covered, because it’s deemed a maintenance item. Water damage is only covered if it is a burst pipe. When we say sudden and catastrophic, we’re saying that the damage occurred during one single event and not overtime. Your insurance may cover mold remediation and water mitigation costs. In addition, water damage or mold growth that has been ongoing for any length of time is not covered under your homeowners insurance will consider this to be a maintenance issue that should’ve been taken care of prior. You insurance will only cover sudden and catastrophic damage.
Depending on your coverage plan, your insurance can cover mold remediation services and water mitigation. Even if your homeowners’ insurance doesn’t cover crawl space encapsulation, it’s a good investment. It’s a measure that can make it more difficult for standing water to form in the first place, as well as making it easier to drain water that has accumulated in your home’s foundation.
Crawl Space Encapsulation Tax Credit
According to the U.S Government, The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 reinstated the 25C tax credit for insulation and air sealing through 2022. Until Dec. 31, homeowners may be eligible for a federal tax credit up to $500 or 10% of their purchase of insulation to their main home, whichever is lower.
Hire the Experts
Time is of the essence, and damages can worsen if neglected. Waiting to deal with your crawl space issues can lead to major structural damages that can quickly become very costly. Investing on the frontend will save you money tremendously on the backend. If the cost of crawl space encapsulation is more than you can afford, worry not! We offer a number of great low-interest payment options to accommodate to your needs.
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If your Raleigh, NC or Durham, NC crawl space needs repairs or encapsulation, give us a call to schedule an inspection with one of our experts! 984-272-9712
Learn how Odyssey Contracting can restore your home with crawl space repair and encapsulation.
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