Increasing Property Value by Encapsulating Your Crawl Space
In these economically challenging times, it is more important than ever to make your home more energy efficient. One of the best ways to do this is by encapsulating your crawl space.
Crawl spaces are notoriously damp and cold places that can lead to serious structural issues if not properly insulated. However, when encapsulated they can become a valuable asset in helping you sell your home or lease it out at a higher value because they improve the energy efficiency of your home while also lowering utility bills.
What is a Crawl Space?
A crawl space is a sub-level of a building, usually below ground level. It is enclosed and has no windows or natural light. The purpose of a crawl space is to provide additional living space for the home, but it can also serve as storage space. In some cases, it can also be used as an entrance to the basement.
A crawl space is typically enclosed by walls and/or a ceiling made out of plywood. There are also instances where the walls and ceilings are made out of cement blocks or brick and mortar.
In some cases, there can be more than one level of crawl spaces within a home, depending on how far below ground level they are located.
Problem with Crawl Spaces
The problem with crawl spaces is that they can be very damp and humid environments. A reason for this is that the soil around your home’s foundation is often moist from rain or snow melt.
Any moisture in this soil will naturally be drawn into your crawl space through cracks in your foundation, and it will then build up inside the walls and under your house’s floor joists.
If this moisture remains unchecked, it can cause serious problems with your home’s structure over time and health concerns associated with having too much humidity in a crawl space area.
What is Crawl Space Encapsulation?
Encapsulation is a process that involves sealing up your crawl space with a vapor barrier and installing vents to let fresh air into the crawl space while keeping out moisture and pests. The vents can be operated manually or automatically by a fan system. A properly installed encapsulation will keep your home dry and healthy without having to worry about mold or mildew forming in your crawl space. It will also prevent rodents and insects from getting into your house. More importantly, it will reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Benefits of Crawl Space Encapsulation
Encapsulating a crawl space is, in many cases, one of the most effective ways to increase the value of your home. Here are just some of the benefits:
Better Air Quality
Encapsulating a crawl space can help keep dust and other contaminants out of your home, which can improve air quality.
Reduced Water Damage
A crawl space that is properly encapsulated will prevent water from getting into your home’s foundation. This can help protect against flooding and other types of water damage to your house.
Lower Energy Costs
By keeping your home’s crawl space well insulated, you can reduce the amount of energy needed to heat and cool it. This will help lower your monthly utility bills.
Reduced Mold Growth
Encapsulation can help prevent water from getting into your basement, which reduces the chances of mold growth and its health problems.
Improved Property Value
Encapsulation can help improve the value of your home. By making it more energy efficient and protecting against water damage, a longer-lasting home could be worth more money when it comes time to sell.
How to know which material to use
The type of material used for encapsulation depends on several factors including…
The larger the crawl space is, the more difficult it will be to seal.
Spray foam insulation costs more than rigid foam board insulation but less than plastic sheeting.
If you live in an area where there is a lot of rain or snowfall then plastic sheeting may be the best choice.
An unfinished or vented crawl space will require different types of material than a sealed crawl space.
Some people don’t want to deal with the mess associated with spray foam insulation while others don’t mind it at all.
The different types of materials that you can use for encapsulation purposes include…
This works well for smaller crawl spaces because it’s easy to install and remove when needed.
Insulating your crawl space provides added protection against moisture build-up since insulation helps keep heat inside your home instead of allowing
A thin plastic sheet commonly used to temporarily cover exposed dirt floors during construction projects. It’s also used as a permanent covering for crawl spaces where moisture control isn’t critical. It comes in different thicknesses and colors. Some brands include an antifungal agent that keeps mold from forming beneath it.
Polyurethane Foam Insulation
Another option for encapsulating a crawl space. It’s made from polyurethane resin and air expanders that produce bubbles in the foam when it cures. The bubbles act like thousands of tiny balloons. They trap air inside them, which prevents heat loss through convection currents and helps maintain a consistent temperature throughout.
Used in crawl spaces to keep moisture out of the living space above. This is often an alternative to plastic sheeting because it’s more aesthetically pleasing than regular plastic sheeting would be in most homes. They work by blocking the flow of water vapor through tiny holes in the subflooring. The disadvantage of vapor barriers is that they must be installed over an impervious subflooring material such as concrete or plywood, and they can only be cut or punctured by sharp objects. Also, it tends to wear out faster than plastic sheeting does so it’s not as durable as some other types of encapsulation methods available on the market today.
How does it work?
The encapsulation process begins with the identification of any moisture issues that are present in your crawl space.
Once problems are identified, they should be addressed by clearing out all items you don’t need in your crawl space. This includes items such as old furniture or even dirt and rocks that may have fallen into the crawl space during work on your foundation.
Remove all old insulation from the walls and floor of your crawl space, as well as any moisture barriers that have been installed previously. This will allow you to insulate properly in these areas going forward and make sure that moisture doesn’t get trapped inside your walls or floor if there is any water leakage from above ground.
Install new insulation along with vapor barriers on top of each other if possible so that there is no chance of any moisture or humidity getting through them into the concrete or wood below them. You also want insulation that is resistant to mold growth so that it doesn’t become a breeding ground for mold spores that can cause respiratory problems.
If you want to protect against water intrusion at this point, it is recommended to install a secondary layer of plywood or OSB (oriented strand board) over top of your insulation.
If you have access to the crawl space above ground, then use vapor barriers on top of each other so that they cannot be penetrated by water in any way.
Install a dehumidifier in your crawl space if possible so that it can help remove moisture from the air before it gets trapped inside your walls or floor.
Install a vent fan in your crawl space if possible so that it can help remove moisture from the air before it gets trapped inside your walls or floor.
Use a crawl space sealer to create an airtight barrier between the ground and your home’s structure.
What does it cost?
Encapsulating a crawlspace is an investment in your home. The cost will depend on the size of your crawlspace, but it’s comparable to other popular home improvements such as adding insulation or replacing windows. There are two ways to approach encapsulation.
You can do it yourself or hire a professional to help you out. The best thing to do is check your budget to see what you can afford.
Creating an ideal living space is vital in making any home more desirable to potential buyers or renters. Encapsulating your crawl space is a worthy investment. It will not only give your home curb appeal and increase its value but also provide you with valuable peace of mind that your crawl space is no longer a potential source of structural damage and future plumbing issues.
It’s highly recommended to encapsulate your crawl space if you’re selling your house or want to lease out a rental. It’s an easy job that pays off in the long run. Don’t let your crawls pace keep you from reaching your property value goals.
To learn other ways how to increase the value of your home without breaking the bank head over to our article on renovating a house under 50K.
Adam Smith has spent the last 5 years in the Private Money Lending world helping real estate investors secure financing for their non-owner occupied real estate investments. When he’s not thinking about real estate, Adam is an avid Jazz music fan and fisherman.