I Might Have Standing Water In My Crawl Space. What do I Do?
As a homeowner, you likely keep a checklist on hand of all the maintenance and upkeep items necessary to keep your home in tip-top shape. While it’s easy to remember to dust and vacuum, make repairs to the siding of the house, and other jobs that impact the aesthetics of the house, what about maintenance of those places that aren’t as visible? Many of us don’t bother to think about what’s going on beneath our feet, underneath the house. However, paying attention to what’s below, mainly standing water under houses, is essential when purchasing a new home or maintaining the home you have. Read on to learn what crawl spaces are, how water collects in these spaces, and tips on how to fix water in crawl spaces.
What Are Crawl Spaces
Simply put, crawl spaces are hollow areas between the ground and the first level of a house. As the name implies, crawl spaces are just high enough for a person to be able to crawl in, ranging between 1 and 3 feet high on average. One of the primary benefits to crawl spaces is that they allow for easy access to the “guts” of a home, such as the heating and cooling systems, plumbing, and electrical wiring. Having this type of access to these important components to a home prevents costly excavations should any problems arise with these systems. While it is true that basements do serve as an access point for these components of a house, crawl spaces are less expensive.
Another benefit to having crawl spaces in a home is that they prevent moisture from building up in the basement level of a house. Crawl spaces are well suited for particularly moist, coastal regions where water might find its way through holes and cracks and into the basement.
Causes of Standing Water in Crawl Spaces
There are a number of different causes of flooded crawl spaces. One of the most common causes of standing water in a crawl space is humidity from the ground. Many crawl spaces feature an earthen ground of soil, which acts as a sponge for water coming from above or below. Eventually, the water in the soil will rise to the surface. Once this happens, puddles will begin to form.
Another cause of standing water in crawl spaces are issues with a home’s foundation. Home builders will often use inexpensive block foundations during construction as a way to cut costs. However, concrete block foundations often experience cracks and other issues. Over time, these cracks in the foundation can result in water seeping into and collecting in crawl spaces, leading to flooded crawl spaces. Another foundational issue that can lead to water in crawl spaces is the use of stone foundations. Similar to cheap block foundations, stone foundations are prone to cracking, letting air and water into crawl spaces.
Other causes of water in crawl spaces include occurrences of heavy rain, as well as plumbing leaks.
How to Tell If You Have Standing Water
There are a few tell-tale signs that indicate you might have a flooded crawl space. One of the signs of standing water in a crawl space is wood rot. While dry wood is incredibly durable, when wood is exposed to moisture for a prolonged period of time it becomes vulnerable to fungi that can cause it to rot. As the decay worsens, wood will become soft, discolored, and will begin to smell.
In addition to wood rot, another sign of a flooded crawl space is the prevalence of termite damage. When water begins to damage the wood in your crawl spaces, it can attract pests such as termites. Termites and other insects that are drawn to water-damaged wood can cause serious issues in a home, resulting in a great deal of structural damage.
Other signs of standing water in a crawl space include “cupping” of hardwood floors, as well as visible mold growth in the crawl space. Molds of a wide variety flourish in damp, wet areas like crawl spaces, where water often accumulates. Once mold grows, there are increased health risks should spores become airborne and find their way into a home.
Impact of Standing Water in Crawl Spaces on Home Value
Standing water in a crawl space should not be overlooked or taken lightly, as the presence of this issue can seriously impact the value of a home. While the standing water itself will not decrease a home’s value, the challenges associated with standing water, such as termites, structural damage, and mold, can significantly affect the appraisal value of a house. Large growths of mold in a crawl space, especially if it is determined that the mold is black mold, can put you and your family at risk for health issues. Further, an overgrowth of mold in a crawl space can require a costly remediation process to remove the mold. If you suspect standing water, crawl space water removal is essential.
How to Fix Standing Water in Crawl Spaces
So how to fix water in crawl spaces? Fortunately, there are steps in the crawl space water removal process to fix water in crawl space issues and prevent future collection of standing water in crawl spaces. One of the first steps in addressing water in crawl spaces is to ensure there is proper ventilation. Dehumidifiers and crawl space ventilation fans effectively keep the level of moisture in a crawl space low enough so that water does not begin to puddle.
Another step for crawl space water removal to tackle water in crawl space is to ensure gutters and downspouts are installed and well-maintained. These systems are designed to direct the flow of water away from the home, therefore it is essential that they are kept in working order to prevent standing water in crawl spaces. If repairs are needed, they should be completed in a timely manner.
Additionally, to prevent standing water in crawl spaces, homeowners should equip the house with interior and exterior waterproofing, and install encapsulation systems to create a barrier between crawl spaces and the ground below.
Taking the time for proper crawl space water removal and to adequately protect your crawl space from moisture can save you money on potential repairs, while also ensuring your home maintains its value over time. Contact a specialist today to discuss standing water under houses and learn how they can help fix existing problems and prevent future occurrences of standing water in crawl spaces.