Are you reluctant to clean your crawl space because of what you might find inside? It may be time to dive beneath before it’s too late. Crawl spaces that are neglected over time can detract from the livability of your home. You may find that your allergies are getting worse over time, or maybe there are odors in your home that you can’t identify.
Cleaning the space beneath your home may also reveal structural damage to your home before they worsen. This can lead to saving your home–and your wallet–from repairs that would have been extensive and expensive.
With this in mind, read on to learn our top do’s and don’ts for cleaning your own crawl space, along with some helpful information on why it’s so necessary!
Crawl spaces are simply an area beneath your home that’s large enough to crawl beneath on your belly or on hands and knees. Homes are built with crawl spaces out of convenience–dirt doesn’t need to be completely leveled before the home is built. A crawl space also makes it easier to install building utilities like plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and irrigation.
Unfortunately, this convenience doesn’t come without its negatives. Since crawl spaces are exposed to the air outside, this makes them prone to moisture-related issues that attract all kinds of insects we don’t want in our homes. This also makes them more prone to issues such as odors, mold and mildew, and structural damage to your floors.
Dirty crawl spaces that are attracting moisture can also exacerbate your allergies over time and decrease the quality of your air. Crawl space insulation and encapsulation can make your home a more livable place. Even though there are many methods for making your crawl space a less humid environment, cleaning it is the first step you should take.
Now that you know the importance of cleaning your crawl space, here are some of our top do’s and don’ts as you get started. We recommend starting with a solid plan and a budget in order to keep you on track.
Before you even begin cleaning your crawl space, you need to assess its size. This can determine how many tools you’ll need to purchase, the timeline for your cleaning, as well as whether you’ll need to call professionals. Once you’ve determined how much space you’re working with, you’ll have a far easier time planning the cleaning as well as the cleaning itself.
Removing debris from your crawl space is an important aspect of cleaning it. Failing to remove old trash, building debris, and junk can block your ability to access it. It’s also important to remember that you or a professional will need to go beneath in order to check for pests and water damage. Debris such as splintered wood or shattered glass can cause harm if they’re not taken care of right away.
When you’re dealing with a dark space close to the ground, it’s expected that you’re going to have to deal with insects and other pests. As part of your cleaning, make sure you’re checking for infestations as well. For example, dead rodents that have eaten poison bait could be the cause of odors you’ve experienced throughout your house.
Rodent infestations can still be dangerous even if they’re not able to enter your home. This is because breathing in rodent droppings and urine can invite unwanted pathogens into your body.
As you inspect the rest of your crawl space, it’s important to recognize that even a small leak or water drainage issue can lead to big problems later on. Take note of any leaks or water damage you notice, even though they may seem insignificant at the moment. Take as many photos as you can so you can show them to a professional later on for further review.
You can see how cleaning the debris from your crawl space before an inspection can help you notice the damage. Take into account settling floors, cracks, water damage, and more. If your budget doesn’t allow for all the damage to be addressed at once, speak with a professional about major crawl space repair that needs to be done as soon as possible.
By taking care of the major damage, you’ll be in a better position to address the small issues that arise later on. For instance, you may find a boost in your air quality and health if you take care of moisture problems early on.
Once you’ve completed the major repairs, it’s time to thoroughly clean your crawl space. We don’t recommend using water as it can exacerbate smaller issues and increase the humidity under your home. Instead, professionals use spray treatments that can kill mold and fungus while protecting the wood from future fungal growth.
This is especially important for people who are suffering from allergies. Crawl spaces that are home to fungal growths and mold will cause contaminated air combined with dust, pollen, and more that can distress family members that already have breathing issues.
If you’ve struggled with odors in your home that are coming from your crawl space, there are a variety of methods you can adopt that can help. After the space is clean, consider installing a crawl space dehumidifier to absorb and eliminate odor causing moisture.
You may find that the area needs to be dried because of condensation or dampness. If this is the case, we recommend contacting a professional that can dry the area in a safe way for everyone. This will drastically increase the quality of your air as well as the smell in your home.
Now that you’ve inspected, repaired, cleaned, and dehumidified the space, you want to make sure that the same issues don’t happen again. This is typically done through a vapor barrier or encapsulation.
This involves a plastic barrier that’s taped down in order to separate your living area from the crawl space below. An entire encapsulation of your crawlspace will be thousands of dollars, though you may not need to replace your entire vapor barrier.
Along with a new vapor barrier, you’ll want to ensure that your crawl space isn’t gathering water over time. Inspect your gutters and downspouts around your home and make sure that they’re free of debris and undamaged. They also need to be installed so that they’re routed away from your home instead of towards the foundations.
Installing a sump pump system in your crawl space with a french drain is an important extra addition that will ensure that water is never trapped below your house again.
Cleaning your crawl space is never comfortable, but you’ll be glad you did once it’s all over. Not only will you enjoy better quality air in your home, but you’ll also be discovering drainage issues that could have lead to costly repairs in the future if undetected.
When it comes to a structurally sound home, the difference may just be a vapor barrier and dehumidifier that are installed correctly. You might also find that your gutters may just need to be extended away from the home.
Cleaning your crawl space needs to be done carefully and deliberately. During this process, you’ll inspect the crawl space for insects and pests like rats and raccoons.
Although pests living under your home may seem harmless, the accumulation of their feces can be a toxic combination. Make sure to find contractors who use the right equipment when cleaning the crawl space and protecting your home.
Ready to begin the process of cleaning and repairing your crawl space? We’re an award-winning crawl space and foundation repair contractor that has over 30 professionals ready to help. Contact us today for a free expert analysis and quote!