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7 Common Mistakes to Avoid During Crawl Space Repair

by George Pilate on Oct 19, 2021

Homeowners should never attempt DIY crawl space repair, as improper repairs can leave behind damaged piers and beams. A damaged, weak foundation allows a home to shift and settle, risking wall and ceiling cracks, a crumbling chimney, roof cracks, and more!

It’s also not unusual for homeowners to make some common mistakes when attempting DIY crawl space repair. Check out a few of those mistakes here so you know why it’s vital to call the pros, and how to ensure proper repairs for your home.

1. Added Vents Don’t Help Crawl Space Repair

Many homeowners assume that added vents will help remove condensation and moisture that would otherwise damage pier and beam foundations, and a home’s floor joists. In reality, however, those added vents can bring more moisture into the crawl space, especially during humid summer months.

Crawl space vents are also used by insects and rodents to make their way to the home’s underside. Carpenter ants, termites, and rats chewing through wood, wiring, insulation, and other building materials can mean thousands of dollars in damages! To avoid this damage, never add vents to the crawl space unless recommended by a professional repair contractor.

2. Spray Foam In a Damp Crawl Space Means Added Damage!

Spray foam insulation is an excellent choice for inside the home and for outside crawl spaces, but not for damp surfaces. Adding spray foam along a damp crawl space will trap that moisture along the surface of foundation pieces, risking more water damage.

In addition to water damage, trapped moisture can also lead to mold growth along a home’s underside. That mold can grow and spread easily, even making its way inside the home, risking more damage and health concerns. To avoid these risks, a crawl space should be completely dry before spray foam insulation is applied.

3. Never Use Fiberglas Insulation for Crawl Space Repair

Fiberglass insulation actually absorbs moisture! Using fiberglass insulation during or after crawl space repair can then mean holding moisture against a home’s underside and along the piers and beams of its foundation.

As with applying spray foam onto a damp crawl space, using fiberglass insulation can risk wood rot, mold growth, rusted plumbing pipes, and damaged electrical wiring. That moisture can also attract insects and rodents!

4. Vapor Barriers Don’t Belong Under a Home’s Floor Joists

Applying vapor barriers under a home’s floor joists might seem like a good idea, but these barriers can trap moisture along those surfaces. Remember that condensation can form along those joists from inside the home! A vapor barrier can suffer small tears and other damage, allowing moisture to settle between it and the building materials above it.

5. Drainage Systems Are Part of Proper Crawl Space Repairs

Encapsulation, vapor barriers, and other protective measures are vital for ensuring your crawl space stays in good condition. However, a homeowner should also never overlook a needed drainage system for their property, to keep moisture away from the home itself.

A high-quality drainage system keeps moisture out of the soil and away from foundation piers, reducing the risk of water damage along with a crawl space. Note a few choices for proper drainage systems that you can discuss with a foundation repair contractor near you:

Sump pumps are excellent for protecting property against flooding and standing water. Sump pumps collect excess water in a pit and then pump that water to a nearby drain or trench, away from the home’s foundation and crawl space.

French drains are a set of PVC pipes buried a few inches underground. These also collect excess moisture from the soil and then direct it to a runoff point or a sump pump. French drains can even be connected to landscaping features and gardens, keeping them watered as needed.

Property grading refers to a slant or angle of soil, and all properties should be graded slightly away from a structure and to a street or nearby drain. However, over time that grade can break down so that moisture then collects around a crawl space. Proper grading can allow moisture to drain away from the home as it should.

High-quality dehumidifiers also work to help drain a crawl space of excess moisture. A dehumidifier will pull moisture from the air and then direct it out of a hose so that it drains away from the crawl space.

6. Rotted Materials Need Replacing, Not Just Repairs

Replacing rotted joists, piers, and beams is typically more expensive than patching those pieces or shimming between the piers and beams. However, note that a foundation needs to be strong enough to support a home’s weight. Cracked, chipped, or rotted joists and other foundation parts will let the house settle and shift, and eventually sink.

Contractors might use pressed pilings, or new piers installed under the home to provide added support and to replace damaged piers. Rotted joists also need replacing, and new steel beams can provide support for decades if not indefinitely.

New bolts or T-straps can also provide added support for a pier and beam foundation. Bolting the piers to new joists or adding T-straps can keep the foundation structurally stable but these don’t work well if attached to cracked or damaged foundations.

7. Address Secondary Damage After Crawl Space Repair

After you’ve scheduled crawl space repair, it’s vital that you address secondary damage throughout the property, to ensure your foundation stays in good condition! This secondary damage can include cracks along interior walls, outside walls, interior ceilings, and a chimney stack.

A home with a weak foundation can also form gaps around window and door frames. All these gaps can let moisture into the structure. Your foundation and framing can absorb that moisture, risking even more damage and the need for added repairs.

After scheduling crawl space repair for your home, don’t overlook needed crack patching, mold cleanup, drainage system installation, and other such fixes. Your home will then be in good condition and those repairs will last as long as possible.

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