Is your crawl space prepared for the cold winter weather? The crawl space is often forgotten during winter prepping but it can make a significant impact on your home and heating bill.
Take advantage of the beautiful fall weather now to prepare your crawl space so you don’t have to worry during the winter months.
Here are our top 6 tips for preparing your crawl space for winter:
Tip #1 Check for Any Cracks in Your Crawl Space Walls
Check around the exterior of your crawl space to make sure there are no apparent cracks or odd holes in your home’s foundation that would allow water seepage inside. If water seeps into your crawl space, it can lead to severe issues like mold and mildew growth. Cracks also provide easy access for rodents and pests to find their way into the space . Some cracks will be visible and others may be harder to find so make sure to look closely. If you find any cracks, make sure you tightly seal it to keep your crawl space vacant from all unwanted occupants this winter. We recommend using mortar or an expanding foam filler (typically used for areas around plumbing pipes) to seal up any cracks or holes in the exterior wall of your crawl space.
While you’re checking the crawl space, make sure the doors are also sealed as tightly as possible and don’t have any gaps that could allow water, pests or rodents inside the space.
TIP #2 Insulate Your Crawl Space
Walls and ceilings that are bare and exposed can create many problems for your home. By insulating the walls and ceiling of your crawl space, the space will be much warmer, keeping your home overall warmer, and have a lower chance of moisture from condensation developing on cold walls. Doing this may also reduce your heating bill this winter.
The type of insulating you choose for your crawl space is just as important. Standard insulation can let moisture seep into your crawl space. Instead of this type of insulation, we recommend using insulation that is water resistant. Typically, this comes in the form of rigid boards or encapsulated batt insultation. We also recommend encapsulating or adding a vapor barrier to resist moisture buildup in your crawl space. We will talk more about these two moisture-resistant systems later in this article.
TIP #3 Prevent Rodents and Pests from Entering Your Crawl Space
Don’t let rodents and pests find their way inside your crawl space this winter. Step inside your crawl space and look for any signs of rodents and pests hiding in the space. Look for nests, feces, bites and chew marks on the wood. Or worse, you may find the rodents and pests themselves inside the space. This is also a good time to look for any cracks or holes that may expose your crawl space to the elements. Now is a good time to seal them with mortar or an expanding foam filler like we mentioned in tip #1.
TIP #4 Check your pipes
Frozen pipes cause one of the biggest issues for homeowners during the winter months. We recommend covering the pipes with protection and looking for any signs of condensation buildup or leaking water that could cause a much larger issue. It’s important to remember that the closer your pipes are to exterior walls, the more at risk they are to freeze. Cover the pipes in your crawl space with pipe warmers or wrap to protect them from the bitter cold of winter to help reduce the chance of freezing.
TIP #5 Close Your Air Vents
Some crawl spaces are built with air vents and others are not. If your crawl space is vented, we recommending closing the vents during the winter. In fact, we recommend closing them year round but this is highly debated and there is a catch. To be able to close the air vents without harming your crawl space, you need to control the moisture inside the space. This is best done with encapsulation (learn more about encapsulation here), but that’s a topic for a different day. Houses are built with air vents to promote air flow in crawl spaces but if air vents are not closed, they can let cold and unconditioned air into the space. Additionally, air vents can let precipitation, such as rain or snow, seep inside the crawl space. This increases the chances of pipes or water lines freezing during the winter.
I talk more about why you should or should not close your air vents in this video found here.
TIP #6 Invest in a Vapor Barrier or Encapsulation
Is your crawl space encapsulated? Or does it have a vapor barrier? If neither, we recommend installing one prior to winter for several reasons. Encapsulation and vapor barriers are both designed to prevent moisture buildup in your crawl space. Moisture can lead to a lot of problems including mold growth, mildew growth and wood rot. This affects your home’s overall air quality which could lead to health issues for you and your family if left unaddressed. Because of this, we recommend choosing to either encapsulate your crawl space or add a vapor barrier to the space. The difference in each option is the thickness, flexibility and how well each option is sealed within the space.
Our vapor barriers are a thin sheet of black plastic, 6 mil thick, that spread across the
crawl space floor and overlap at the seams. It’s not a sealed system which means moisture can go under or around the vapor barrier and still get into your crawl space.
The downfalls of vapor barriers are the reasons we recommend encapsulations for crawl spaces. Prior to encapsulating a space, vents, holes, cracks and areas where air can seep into the crawl space are sealed to ensure the space remains dry at all times. We then use a thick plastic (about twice as thick as vapor barrier plastic), typically between 12 and 20 mil thick, to seal the space. The plastic has a polyester-cored reinforcement which makes it more durable than the plastic used for a vapor barrier. All seams are sealed and the liner is attached to the walls and the columns within the space, creating a fully encapsulated
Of course, there are several factors to choosing between a vapor barrier and encapsulation system for your home and that’s why we’re here to help.
Our team of experts can help with any of your crawlspace winterizing needs this fall. Give us a call at (270) 804-6909 or send us a message here to get a complimentary quote on your crawl space project. We offer free consultations and guarantee honest advice to help you determine if a vapor barrier or encapsulation is the right fit for you and your home.