Your crawl space is located beneath the wooden structure of your home. Some older homes were built with a dirt floor rather than a concrete slab or pad. Some homeowners are unaware a dirt floor is highly susceptible to dry rot or wood rot, as it's often referred. Dry rot grows when a basement or crawl space is not properly ventilated, and dampness and moisture sets in and consumes the space.
Dirt is a natural part of nature, but dirt should be left to the outside climate elements; snow fall, rain fall, moisture and heat. Moisture caused from dirt can rot the sill plates, floor joists and girders beneath your home causing mild to severe structural damage.
The crawl space underneath your home is large enough to go underneath the structure to perform routine maintenance and repairs. While there are many advantages to having a crawl space; additional storage or living space, there are disadvantages; insects, rodents, mold, mildew, moisture and flooding.
So how can all these negatives be prevented? A crawl space expert can prevent the effects of moisture damage through several repairs.
How Big is a Crawl Space?
The average size of crawl space can be one foot high in some older homes and three feet high in modern tract homes. This space is always very different. It can be small or large, short or tall, and in some cases--very, very, wide!
What's the Purpose?
Usually, there are vents placed at each end of your crawl space located at ground level. These vents were installed primarily to allow air to circulate underneath your home to help eliminate moisture, prevent mold and wood rot from developing under your home. Unfortunately, these vents do the exact opposite! They allow the unconditioned air to enter, thus adding moisture into the space.
A crawl space may be the location of some service units that need maintenance, but it can also serve as additional storage. It is a foundation type. Regardless of whether it is a small access of an older home or a trapdoor access in a modern home, these entrances allow homeowners the access they desire to address hidden water pipes, vents, wiring, and telephone and cable lines. Water pipes are installed to run underneath your home, and in the event there is a problem a crawl space allows you to enter the crawl space to fix, repair or remove the damage.
Crawl spaces are excellent sources for storage, especially those with a larger height. Although lower crawl spaces can be used for storage, many larger items are unable to fit through the trapdoor. If you choose to use your crawl space for storage, it is best to store your valuables in storage bins to help keep your valuables clean, dry and dust free. The most common items stored in crawl spaces are seasonal clothing and decorations.
What is Wood Rot?
Wood rot forms from a tiny organism and is related to the fungi group. A fungus thrives from the right amount of moisture, food, oxygen that meets the right temperature.
Your crawl space should be examined several times a year for signs of moisture, mold, mildew, wood rot and decay. Routine inspections should include looking for chips and cracks in the mortar between the cinder blocks, concrete walls and floors, as well as dampness and moisture that can lead to more serious problems in the future.
Always fill chips or cracks with a mortar replacement product. If you discover a problem with leakage or moisture, contact a trained professional who can resolve the issue before it becomes too large and costly.
The best and most effective way to protect your home from moisture is to contact a waterproofing expert. The specialists at JES Basement Systems offer free estimates for crawl space repair in Richmond, VA.