If you’ve already read our previous post about the five most commonly asked crawl space questions, you know that installing a vapor barrier is an important step in protecting it, and therefore the rest of your home, from dampness and mold growth. But what is a vapor barrier and how does it work?
Well, according to Wikipedia, “A vapor barrier is any material used for damp proofing, typically a plastic or foil sheet, that resists diffusion of moisture through the wall, floor, ceiling, or roof assemblies of buildings to prevent interstitial condensation.” Basically, a vapor barrier is a layer of material that resists the build up and prevents the spread of moisture that would otherwise enter a space to cause damage.
We know from the previous post that moisture is the enemy of a healthy crawl space, but how serious is it really? Why do you need a vapor barrier? Here are the top reasons:
Trap the moisture where it belongs
A vapor barrier is especially necessary for older homes which are more prone to dampness, but in general, it will help to keep your home drier overall. Especially in the Southern states where humidity is common almost all year round, your crawl space probably already has moisture and dampness issues, which a vapor barrier will help correct. It prevents moisture from escaping the soil and getting into the crawl space itself, as long as it is properly spread and installed.
Keep your duct work from taking damage
Homes with a crawl space usually have duct work that runs beneath the house, and additionally, many of them also have their HVAC system installed below the house along with the regular duct work. In order for all of this to work correctly and be properly maintained, moisture must be kept to a minimum to keep rust and corrosion at bay,
Prevent problems with wiring
Another important facet of your home that may be affected by dampness in your crawl space is wiring. The combination of water and electricity is never a good one, and moisture is just tiny water droplets that suffuse the space! If your crawl space has wiring in it, the buildup of moisture is not only unsafe for anyone who enters the space, it becomes a fire hazard.
Ensure your home is dry
The moisture levels in your home are directly affected by your crawl space. Why? Well, as we discussed in the previous post, excess moisture can seep through the floors and enter the upper levels of your home whether you’re aware of it or not. This can lead to mold and mildew in other areas of your house, as well as increasing utility bills by making it more difficult for your air conditioner to operate effectively. Because it’s important to keep mold out of your home in order to keep you and your family healthy, it is important to keep dampness from the crawlspace from entering.
Maintain a clean crawl space
Of course, no one wants any area of their home to be dangerous or unclean, but the crawl space can be easily forgotten- it’s out of sight and out of mind. However, in addition to the reasons we’ve already discussed, it’s important to keep your crawl space safe and clean because it’s a potential storage area that many homeowners want to take advantage of. A vapor barrier will help you accomplish this goal, not only by keeping out moisture that can cause stored items to rot or grow mildew, but by making the area less inhabitable for rodents or insects. If you plan to use the space for storage, make sure that the vapor barrier you choose is as strong and thick as possible to keep the maximum amount of moisture out.
If you have any questions about your crawl space, installing a vapor barrier, or other issues with dampness in your home, please give us a call at the Flood Medix! Our expert technicians are always happy to help you.