How often have you been under your house to check your crawl space? If your answer is ‘Never’, you are not alone. Some people check before they purchase the home or shortly after purchase, some people check and maintain the area regularly, while most people never even think of the area. This is not really surprising, it tends to be dark, dirty and confined under there, with little space to move around in comfortably and often difficult to access. That being said, it is important to inspect this area as part of your general home maintenance to ensure everything is in good working order. So what are you likely to find under there?
Dirt: Most crawl spaces are rock or dirt flooring. If the crawl space is well maintained, there should be a vapor barrier in place to protect your home from moisture, mold and odor that could come up from damp soil. If there is no insulation and vapor barrier in place, it is a good idea to have this installed.
Plumbing pipes: Most of your plumbing will travel through some section of your crawl space. This includes the pipes that carry sewerage out of your home to the municipal sewerage system or into your septic tank. These pipes should be well insulated to protect them from heat and cold weather changes, which can cause moisture under your home due to condensation. Extra moisture brings on mold, which is difficult to remove under your home. Regular maintenance will also ensure that these pipes are checked for cracks and leaks and can be repaired or replaced before a sewerage spill happens under your home.
Duct-work: Duct-work for all your cooling and heating systems are generally found in the crawl space. Your appliances that require duct-work and plumbing often have all their piping running under your home in the crawl space as well. If you have a dishwasher, dryer, washing machine and so forth, the piping is probably hidden in the crawl space. All your plumbing pipes which carry water to and from these appliances are generally situated within this area as well. To reduce heating and cooling costs through loss of energy due to poorly insulated duct-work as well as reducing temperature changes and moisture buildup, it is important that your duct work be adequately insulated. Good insulation extends the life of your duct work, reduces the chance of mold development and improves the air quality of your home. Insulation also protects from bugs and rodents that can cause damage to your ducts.
Vents: Make sure your vents under your home are unimpeded and allow for good airflow in the crawlspace. This allows for good ventilation in this area. Make sure the wire mesh on the vents are in good condition and securely in place. This will stop rodents and larger bugs from nesting under your home and becoming a potential health and peace of mind problem.
Wiring: Make sure the electrical wiring in the crawl space is fitted tightly against the walls and are well insulated. This protects them from rodents as well as preventing their exposure to temperature extremes.
Beams: The wood or metal beams you find in your crawl space are instrumental in keeping the foundation of your home in good order. These beams should never be removed and should be checked for mold growth, cracks and bending regularly in order to keep your home structurally sound.
Pumps and drains: Generally pumps and drains under your home are there to remove water safely from your home in the case of a flood. Check that drains are clean and not covered and that sump pumps work as intended. This could be a life saver in the event of flooding.
As well as the above, you may find unwanted bugs and rodents under your home, poor insulation and no vapor barrier. Dealing with a multitude of issues is sometimes best left to a professional. Check your crawl space regularly or call in an experienced company to do so on your behalf, and keep this area dry, clean and free of mold and bad odors.