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TxJack 03-29-2012 11:15 PM

Crawl space help in Texas???
I'm about to pull my hair out as I've been searching the web, as well as, looked through the many posts on this subject here and finally just decided to post one of my own. It is becoming frustrating because one person or site says one thing and then there is another that contradicts what the other said to do.

Here are the basics:
We are adding on to our ranch home which is block and beam and open on all sides. The new side will keep the "theme" and it too will be block and beam although now we are going to put a brick or stone non-structural "footing wall" around the whole perimeter. We are located outside of Houston, Texas. And since HUMID is Houston's middle name the potential for problems looms.

Here's are a few of the questions I've come up with so far:

1. What type of vapor barrier do I need on the ground? I know plastic, but is there one that won't deteriorate over time like most plastic is designed to do nowadays. I know there is a "special" one made for this application (pool liner grade), but besides being expensive I am worried it is over kill and one of those things where plain plastic works just fine. But like I said there are conflicting views out there. Some sites say you should not put a vapor barrier down in hot humid climates.

2. Spray foam or no spray foam between the floor joists? Or anywhere for that matter. Conflicting views: it can trap in moisture which rots the floor and joists.

3. Vents or no vents? I would think you would want the airflow, but some say the hot air mixing with the cool under the house air causes condensation problems which obviously leads to mold and rot.

4. Some say put gravel down on the liner, some say pin through it with landscape pins to keep it from shifting. But I see all kind of problems with both of those.

5. Tape.....don't tape the seams?

6. You are supposed to carry the plastic up the wall. What is the best way to attach? Some say to tar the wall and push the plastic into it. Others say construction adhesive. Then there's the mastic option..plain duct tape....mechanical fasteners.....etc.

7. Do I need to put a sealer on the little perimeter "footing wall" we are putting in? Some say if I spray foam that, that water can wick through it up into the wood. And that you need to leave a gap in between so you can see if termites are present.

I could go on and on...

One of my biggest concerns is they didn't go to any of these lengths back in the day and things where just fine. Yes I know they didn't have central air and heat, but is this one of those areas where over thinking and OVER SPENDING will never get the perfect environment anyways? Or the KISS acronym is the best.

5603maggie 08-07-2012 05:03 PM

Have you the name of a plumber that's done work in the crawl space of your home & you've been satisfied with the work? I'm searching for plumber to do work in crawl space of 40s home. My plumber has retired & I'm looking for a replacement if the need arises.

ddawg16 08-07-2012 07:49 PM

If I recall, you have pretty sandy soil there.....actually....really good drains well.....

I'm thinking your better off NOT putting down a vapor barrier....your better off with plenty of venting.

If I recall....your coldest temps are maybe in the 60's? Your real issue is heat getting into your house...(AC load)....

Given the humidity of Texas (I used to live there...will never go back to live), I think your better off with plenty of air circulation under the house and concentrate in insulation in the walls and ceiling.

Have you talked with a local insulation company? Have you tried the PoCo? In many cases they have rebates for certain improvements....hence, if they are offering a rebate...then there is some payback involved....

Keep us posted as to what you find.....might help the next guy.

GBrackins 08-07-2012 08:46 PM


check out this link, I believe it might help to answer your questions .....

Good luck!

5603maggie 08-08-2012 08:13 AM

Old Houses ventilation
Most old houses [mine 40s/50s] were built for sufficient ventilation [& were very well built] to catch the breezes. In Houston area where I've owned old houses, they sit on black gumbo dirt. We're far from experts, but have found remodeling with today's insulation is not always the best idea. The old houses built to "breathe", thus no build up of condensation/mold/etc. I've seen/bought houses with roof problems, wood walls[covered with sheetrock],hardwood floors & nothing inside suffered major problems from the leaking roof because the house was well built & could breathe. Case in point... the house was built by hand by a family in the 40s. The floor is as level as any new home [has not warped]. Did have to replace sheetrock which we feared had mildew & mold behind it. But much to our surprise had only a small bit which was treated & sheetrock replaced. Before I would do major insulation on old house in Houston area, I'd talk with as many residents in the area for their experiences with insulating an old house. I now live in a 70s house well insulated & we do not feel any more comfortable than our old uninsulated house. Plus, if a well insulated house ever gets water, the wet insulation does more damage than the water. Just finished a job of replacing entire ceiling in rental that had pin hole leak in water line. Wet insulation caused multitude of repairs! Not expert advice, just my 2 cents from 50 yrs of having old houses. Antiques also need a certain amount of ventilation/humidity to continue surviving [found out hard way]. The old stuff is built to last by knowledgeable tradesmen knowing how to dry the wood so won't shrink/etc [too bad building has changed].

Gary in WA 08-10-2012 04:52 PM

He may not answer...sometime you may want to click on the OP's name (on older posts) to find it was his last post.....LOL, been there, done that.


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