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The Dos and Donts of Cleaning Your Crawl Space

Blake Heron

How To Clean a Crawl Space Guide

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 necessary.

For professional help cleaning your crawl space in the greater Hampton Roads, VA / NC region, learn more about BAY Crawl Space & Foundation Repair at our Home Page, About Us Page, or Request A Quote Page.


How Our Crawl Space Cleaning Services Can Help

The team at BAY Crawl Space Foundation Repair will assess your crawl space and determine the proper course of action. We’ll provide you with a detailed plan, including a comprehensive quote.

Our crawl space encapsulation services are the best way to seal underneath your home. Get rid of unwanted pests, structural issues, and mold problems with the assistance of our technicians.

Step One: Clean Out

Crawl spaces are host to some nasty environments.  Many times, there’s trash, debris, dead insects, mouse poop, spider webs, fallen insulation, dust, mold and more.  A good cleanout should remove pretty much everything that’s not attached to the house.  Old plastic liners, wood, scrap building materials, old insulation, and any other trash in the crawl space, should be removed & disposed of.

Step Two: Mold & Fungus Remediation

Great mold remediation companies are hard to find.  Most companies cut corners, delivering subpar results. For full-scale mold remediation, companies need 1. expensive, specialized spray equipment & PPE… 2. properly mixed specialized chemical solutions… and most importantly, 3. trained & motivated technicians willing to spray every affected area thoroughly. 

At BAY, we specialize in mold remediation and highly recommend inspecting the results after the treatment is performed. Ask your contractor to use a dye in their spray, so you can see what all was sprayed. Even companies with the best reputations have been known to do a poor job on mold remediation.

As you can see, the blue dye shows what has, and has not been sprayed. Another important note: dye by itself doesn’t guarantee the chemical mixture was right, so ask thorough questions about the company’s experience with mold remediation.

Floor Joist Repair


Step Three: Sump Pumps and Interior Drainage

One of the steps we might take, depending on your home’s issues, is installing an interior crawl space drainage system.  This type of system is usually only installed as needed, depends on the history of water intrusion.  This is especially helpful for homes that are dealing with leakage or standing groundwater. Sump pumps are a wonderful way to prevent water from accumulating underneath your home.

Step Three: Structural Repairs

Many homes are damaged by crawl space moisture, along with other structural defects.  Structural repairs should be diagnosed by experienced foundation repair contractors & engineers only.  Professional foundation repair companies have access to special equipment, procedures, and materials that can produce majorly superior results vs. a handyman, jack of all trades, or non-specialist.

Crawl Space Encapsulation with Jacks


Step Four: Vapor Barrier or Encapsulation

An open dirt floor isn’t effective at protecting your home against water damage and pests. A vapor barrier liner is an effective method for keeping water outside of your crawl space.

Your home needs a vapor barrier liner, even if the dirt floor seems mostly dry. Dirt that looks dry on the surface can connect to the dirt underneath that contains moisture. The water will eventually seep up to the surface, affecting the dry dirt on top.

Step Five: Vent Covers

Our team will install vent covers over the existing vents you have in your crawl space. Airtight vent covers can remedy any problems you might be encountering with moisture underneath your home. These covers can also prevent rodents, bugs, and rainwater from entering your crawl space.

Step Six: Dehumidifiers

A dehumidifier is helpful for homes in very humid regions. The area around your home might still contain moisture even if your crawl space is sealed.

Dehumidifiers aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution. They need to be used in conjunction with other crawl space encapsulation techniques.

Crawl Space Encapsulation w Floor Joist Repair


Why Should You Clean Your Crawl Space?

Crawl spaces are simply an area beneath your home that’s large enough to crawl beneath your belly or on your 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.  Read more about the importance of cleaning your crawl space here.

Crawl Space Cleaning Tips

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.

Do: Determine to Crawl Space Size

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.

Don’t: Fail to Remove Debris

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.

Do: Check for Pests and Insects

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.

Don’t: Ignore Small Leaks

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.

Do: Repair the Damage

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.

Don’t: Use Water to Clean

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 who already have breathing issues.

Do: Seal and Dehumidify the Space

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.

Don’t: Fail to Waterproof

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 toward 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.


How Much Does Crawl Space Cleaning Cost?

The cost of our crawl space clean-up and encapsulation services varies from home to home. We’ll provide you with a detailed quote that lays out our plan and the project price.

Cleaning Your Crawl Space the Smart Way

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!


Voted #1 for Crawl Space Cleaning in Hampton Roads, VA

Our award-winning team of experts has hundreds of years of collective experience in crawl space and foundation repair. Here are a few reasons why our customers love us:

  • Photos included with free inspections
  • Flexible and customized options
  • Discounts and financing available
  • Excellent long-term warranties
  • Great communication

#1 Rated for Crawl Space Repair, Foundation Repair, & Crawl Space Encapsulation.

Our reviews show our commitment to taking great care of our customers over the years.  We pride ourselves on giving great customer experiences & delivering excellent value. Our experience & efficiency allow us to do more for less.

Experts Focused on Delivering Great Customer Experiences.

With over 5,000 happy customers & over 300 years of collective experience, we are VA & NC’s preferred crawl space & foundation repair contractor. Our team of crawl space & foundation repair specialists have special methods, materials, tools, and experts to make any project a success.