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Property owners frequently underestimate the effects that crawl spaces, notably their ventilation, have on their properties. Even though few people visit the area as often as other rooms in their building, the state of the crawl space has a significant impact. If not properly maintained, they can affect the worth and security of your property.
Here’s what you must understand about crawlspaces and what you can do to make yours well-ventilated:
What Is Crawlspace?
A crawl space is a small area underneath the first floor or roof of a building. People utilize it for electrical and plumbing access. Sometimes, owners install a crawlspace access door for further convenience. The circulation of air going into and out of a space is what people call ventilation.
How Does Ventilation in Crawl Spaces Work?
A crawl space type of foundation is typical in warm and humid locations. It is usual in areas where lifting the structure just a little bit off the ground is preferable to prevent moisture. You can typically find these areas alongside basement foundations when there’s a separate part of the building—like a porch with a different foundation.
Heat, light, and air movement are the best defenses against moisture in crawl spaces. The most excellent option is to promote optimum ventilation because it is challenging to heat and light the area.
Standard building rules traditionally mandated that subterranean spaces have adequate ventilation. It is so that sufficient airflow can assist in maintaining these areas dry to prevent damage from moisture that may deteriorate beams, flooring, and joists. The foundations of the concrete block buildings surrounding the crawl area typically contain several rectangular, screened vents that allow this ventilation.
Common Crawl Space Issues
Crawl spaces have the potential to generate several significant issues over time. As molds, pests, mildews, and fungi prefer wet environments, these little areas can become havens for them.
Insulation retains water vapor, which leads to moisture in crawl spaces. The warm and dark environment promotes fungus and mold growth, causing increased respiratory and other health issues.
Requirements for Crawl Space Ventilation
The International Residential Code specifies crawl space ventilation requirements (IRC). The IRC contains regulations to ensure the well-being of each dwelling resident.
According to the IRC, a crawl space must have one sq. ft. of screened vent per every 150 sq. feet. Property owners can cover the soil using a vapor-barrier material authorized to decrease moisture further. The IRC also mandates one vented opening in every corner of the structure to provide a crossflow of air.
According to the IRC, the apertures in a structure’s corners must be at least one square foot in dimension. The materials listed below guarantee effective crossflow for air circulation:
- Wire mesh that is at least 1/8 inch thick and corrosion resistant.
- Plates of sheet metal with holes that are at least 0.070 inches thick.
- Grill or grate made of cast iron.
- Expanded sheet metal plates with a minimum thickness of 0.047 inches.
Such materials make the room “breathable” to prevent moisture from accumulating and allow for the restricted but proper airflow to remove humidity. The apertures at each corner of the building allow air to enter from various directions, ensuring efficient and uniform airflow across the crawl space.
Unventilated Crawl Spaces
Some property owners decide not to vent their crawl spaces to reduce heat loss. The IRC recently gave contractors the choice of not venting crawl areas as long as they mechanically move air between the conditioned top level and the crawl space. It requires using a substance that delays moisture entry to seal the space’s floor area and foundation walls.
Ventilating Your Crawl Space
Depending on the structure or foundation, it requires time to add airflow to a crawl space. Although the vents lead outside, encapsulation has become more popular over the years due to its efficiency.
Encapsulation involves enclosing support structures, such as floors and walls, in plastic sheeting to keep the area dry. Additional solutions for ventilating the crawl space include the following:
- Deliver a little supply of warm air from the HVAC system in the crawl space.
- Utilize a dehumidifier system or air intake.
- To transport air out of the crawl space, use an exhaust fan.
Ventilation is a non-negotiable element for commercial and residential properties. It ensures comfort and protects the well-being of all occupants inside. It also defends structural components from deterioration due to moisture, pests, and fungal growth that strives in damp areas on your property.