Crawlspace Vapor Barrier: What Is It and Do I Need One?

From Columbia CrawlSpace

Crawlspace Vapor Barrier_ What Is It and Do I Need One_

If you have a crawlspace under your house, you may think of it as that weird-smelling, dank, dirt area you store random tools or project leftovers. However, the crawlspace is so much more! And taking care of your crawlspace actually has a massive impact on not only the well-being of your structure, but the health of you and your family.

Maybe you’ve heard of a vapor barrier but not really known what it was or if you should look into it. Maybe you’ve never even heard the term. Either way, here’s all the info you need about vapor barriers, what they do and why you may need one.

What Causes Moisture in a Crawlspace?

You know that funky smell and dankness common in some crawlspaces? Those odors come from moisture in your crawlspace. Moisture isn’t necessarily related to a major systemic issue, like plumbing leaks, poor grading, or draining problems, although those certainly can contribute. Moisture can be caused by condensation or seepage up from the ground. Just like dew gets on the grass without rain falling, moisture can develop in a crawlspace without a leak or drainage problem.

Why is Moisture in a Crawlspace a Bad Thing?

Moisture can cause damage to the integrity of your house in a few ways. Mold and mildew thrive in moisture. Wood can begin to rot, causing foundation problems. Rodents, pests and other critters can set up shop in your damp crawlspace, chewing through wires, insulation and support beams.

Plus, the air under your house becomes the air you breathe inside your house. Mold spores in the air you breathe can cause respiratory issues, such as coughing, congestion and sinus problems. And if you or a family member already have compromised breathing issues such as asthma, mold or mildew in your air can aggravate the condition.

What Exactly is a Vapor Barrier?

In the simplest terms, a vapor barrier is a six millimeter-thick plastic sheet installed on the ground and about six inches up the walls of the crawlspace. While it can be a DIY project, it’s usually best left to the professionals to ensure correct installation.

Preparing the space is an important step, often overlooked by amateurs. The dirt “floor” should be dry, level, smooth and clean. Loose or sharp debris could puncture the barrier. A level ground that has been cleared of loose debris and obstacles means a tighter barrier and better waterproofing.

How Do I Know if I Need a Vapor Barrier?

If you have a dirt crawlspace, you need a vapor barrier. Not only will the air quality inside the house improve noticeably, you will also protect your biggest investment from unseen potential damage. You may also see your utility bills decrease. And speaking of investments, the resale potential on your house may increase. Most buyers will either insist on the crawlspace being protected by a vapor barrier or offer a lower price if it’s not.

Ready to Install a Vapor Barrier? We Can Help!

If you need a vapor barrier, the experts at Columbia CrawlSpace are ready to help! We can help with moisture control, ventilation and insulation to make your house the place you’re happy to call home. Contact us at 931-982-5310 or email us at [email protected]. Inspections and estimates are complimentary.

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