Most of the time, little thought is given to a crawl space. However, the integrity of a crawl space is incredibly important. Crawl spaces serve a valuable purpose. They elevate your home off the ground to contain its working elements like the plumbing, wiring, duct work and insulation in one hidden and convenient place to access. If you live in an area that is damp or experiences a lot of rain, or is prone to mold or termites, a crawl space can also be especially beneficial to help minimize these risks.
When your home has a crawl space though, one of the major issues to be concerned with is water intrusion. Water can cause mold, rot, pest infestation and decreased energy efficiency. Up to half of the air you breathe can originate from your home’s crawl space, affecting air quality and making it even more crucial to keep the space dry and clean. When it comes to options for protecting your crawl space, there are 2 widely used options, encapsulation and vapor barriers.
Crawl Space Encapsulation
The process of using white, heavy duty polyurethane plastic that is sealed to cover the entire crawl space is encapsulation. All seams, vents and junctions are completely sealed and you’ll be required to install a dehumidifier and sump pump. Many studies have proven that encapsulation can help to reduce 20% your energy bill. You are also able to use the clean area for additional storage.
Benefits of Encapsulation:
Vapor barrier installation is a much simpler and less involved process of laying 6mm black plastic on a crawl space’s floor. Vents are not sealed and a dehumidifier and sump pump are not necessary, which adds to the reduced cost. The benefits of a vapor barrier are the same as encapsulation with the exception of more attractive looking storage.
Benefits of Vapor Barriers:
Crawl space encapsulation and vapor barriers are very similar but also vary slightly. In the end, the decision will be purely personal based on the needs of you and your home. Both are sound choices that offer the same kind of protection with encapsulation as the more expensive choice though. Whatever you choose, it’s important to keep in mind the significance of using an experienced professional for the installation. Improper installation can lead to additional unnecessary and expensive problems as opposed to investing in the right choice the first time.
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