CRAWL SPACE ENCAPSULATION
Crawl spaces are by far the number one source of moisture in any home, letting in gallons of water each day in some cases in the form of water vapor. Because the floors of these spaces are often left as dirt or stone, excess moisture is retained and can support the growth and propagation of various toxic molds and create a haven for pests such as dust mites. Allergens caused from dust mite droppings and mold spores in this environment are two of the biggest factors affecting the indoor air quality of homes today.
Toxic soil gases such as Radon are also able to infiltrate your home through these spaces. As much as 50 percent of the air that you breathe in your home could be originating in your crawl space due to a condition known as the “Stack Effect.” This effect causes the air in the lower levels of your home to naturally flow to the upper levels. Without addressing this issue, your family could be breathing these mold spores, toxic gases, or various allergens putting their health at risk. Encapsulating your crawl space could be the solution to this concern.
At Preferred Basement Solutions, we utilize the Emeseal Crawl Space Encapsulation System. This system starts with the preparation of your crawl space floor. After removing all debris, we will establish a rough grade suitable for the installation of the Emeseal 90-mil floor liner. Once the floor liner is in place, the next step is to install the Emeseal 90-mil wall liner. RadonShield is used to adhere this liner to the wall which provides a dependable, air tight seal against Radon gas and moisture infiltration. All seams are then permanently sealed using seam lock and seaming tape to further complete the airtight seal of the system. Both the Emeseal floor liners and wall liners are antimicrobial and will not support the growth of mold. Featuring zero permeability, this system is sure to keep the moisture out while eliminating the damp, musty odors.
Encapsulating your crawl space provides additional clean, dry, usable, and sanitary square footage to your home while greatly improving the indoor air quality throughout. Sealing and insulating this space provides a cost effective, permanent solution to allergens and irritants in your home by eliminating the source of the indoor air problems.
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CRAWL SPACE SUPPORTS
Crawl spaces are sometimes found in homes in place of or in addition to basements as a way to elevate them off of the ground which is important in damp areas. They also promote air circulation throughout your home and allow easy access to plumbing and electrical components for the purpose of maintenance and repairs. Crawl spaces play a key role in a home’s structural integrity as they bear the weight of the structure above through the foundation walls and the support columns. There are two basic types of problems that typically occur in crawl spaces. They are inadequate structural support and moisture.
Inadequate structural support can result from settling caused by weak supporting foundation soils or a lack of proper drainage. Both can cause the soil to shift and settle as a result of changes in moisture content and density, causing the supporting beams above to move or sink. No matter how strong the supports are, they can only bear what the soils beneath are able to bear. If the supports sink, then the floor will as well. Inadequate structural support design is a result of improper spacing of existing support columns or posts. If support posts are not properly spaced, then overloading takes place on the girders, or the large beams that serve as main structural members by supporting the floor joists above. Girders transfer the “load” or weight from the floor joists to the crawl space walls and support columns. Overloaded girders will tend to bend and sag, affecting the structural integrity of the crawl space.
Moisture intrusion in a crawl space can be in the form of standing water, condensation, or humidity and has the ability to cause many issues. In addition to the usual problems such as mold, mildew, and musty odors which all affect the air quality in your home, moisture also has the capability of damaging key structural components in your crawl space. When crawl spaces are damp, humid, or have experienced flooding, then they become an ideal environment for rot or damaging insects that feed on organic materials, both of which can weaken and deteriorate the wooden structural members such as the floor joists and girders. Infested or rotten girders will tend to bend or sag, once again affecting the structural integrity of the crawl space.
Both inadequate structural support and moisture intrusion affect the structural integrity of your crawl space and translate to the living space above in generally the same way. Common signs of this structural support failure will be sloping, sagging, or uneven floors or will result in drywall cracking, usually around windows or door openings. While both of these crawl space issues can be resolved in the same manner with the installation of crawl space support posts or “jack posts”, it is important to note that the moisture and humidity issues will need to be addressed as well, if present, to completely resolve the situation.
Crawl space support jacks can be installed in failing crawl space structures as a permanent stabilization solution. Support jacks are adjustable, high strength steel piers that extend between an engineered concrete footing and the girders, effectively transferring the load from the girders to the concrete footer. A determination will be made as to how many jack posts will be necessary and at what intervals to properly span and support the structure above. A footer pad will first be poured to provide a solid base with the jack post resting on top of it. Each jack post is capable of supporting vertical loads in excess of 10,000 pounds. Hydraulic jacks will be used on either side of the jack post to return the floor to one inch past a level position. Once level, the jack post will be adjusted to the correct height and the girder will be lowered to rest on top of it. Severely damaged girders will need to be replaced or supplemented with sister beams. “Sistering” is simply a means of attaching more lumber or other material to the sides of the girder in order to reinforce it.
In comparison to foundation issues involving frost heave, foundation settlement, or bowing walls, installing crawl space supports is relatively easy, inexpensive, and a permanent solution to reinforcing joists and girders in structurally damaged crawl spaces. At Preferred Basement Solutions, we will take pride in restoring the structural integrity of your crawl space with minimal disturbance to your home!
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Excess moisture and poor air quality in your crawl space should be a concern of any homeowner. Due to a condition known as the “Stack Effect,” the air in the lower levels of your home will naturally flow to the upper levels. As a result, as much as 50 percent of the air that you breathe on the first level of your home may have originated in the crawl space below. Excess moisture retained in the dirt floors of crawl spaces can support the growth and propagation of various toxic molds and create a haven for pests such as dust mites. Allergens caused from dust mite droppings and mold spores in this environment are two of the biggest factors affecting the indoor air quality of homes today.
Installing a vapor barrier on the floor of your crawl space will greatly slow or entirely prevent the evaporation of ground moisture into the crawl space air. It is important to install a high quality, durable vapor barrier to ensure it’s long term effectiveness.
At Preferred Basement Solutions, we recommend installing an Emeseal 90-mil polyethylene floor liner. This antimicrobial liner will not support the growth of mold while acting as a form of insulation helping to reduce energy costs. With zero permeability, the Emeseal floor liner will not only stop the moisture infiltration, but will also greatly reduce the infiltration of soil gases into your home. To further your “peace of mind,” take a look at our full Emeseal Crawl Space Encapsulation System!