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Old 05-21-2014, 11:23 AM   #1
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Crawlspace treatment for older home?

Hey all, I'm looking for some advice on how to handle the crawlspace in my 130 year old Victorian home. The home is located on the eastern shore of Maryland and has two floors and then a full attic. There are no gutters or downspouts on the house. The house does not have central air. It will have baseboard heat and window AC units.

The foundation is original brick that runs about 24" below grade. The brick is stacked right on the soil, there is no footing. There are only 4 vents in the entire foundation wall and they look to have been added during more recent renovations. The rest of the wall is just solid brick. The existing crawlspace is a dirt floor with about 20" clearance between the dirt and the bottom of the floor joists.

I'm going to be removing and re-framing some of the floors on the first floor. This is going to be the best time to deal with the crawlspace. The existing crawlspace can be very damp at times, especially right after a heavy rain. There are a hand full of areas where water will pond up, but the issue is mostly overall dampness. I'm trying to decide how to go about treating this crawlspace and am open to advice or suggestions.

I know that I have grading issues. The rain water coming off of the roof is pounding down around the foundation and causing a negative grading problem. I'm sure that this is a contributing factor to the dampness issues in the crawlspace. I'm going to be correcting the grading around the foundation this summer. I'm not sure that I need gutters and downspouts though. There are A LOT of homes in this area without gutters and the owners aren't having moisture issues in their crawlspaces. (Note: Their crawlspaces are all vented during the entire year) So I wonder how much of my dampness/ponding issue can be resolved simply by correcting the grading.

Then there's the issue of installing poly over the dirt floor. I'd like to do this primarily to keep things a little cleaner under the house and to make it more pleasant to crawl around down there. I know that in some situations, the poly will also act as a vapor barrier if properly sealed. It's my understanding that because I don't have central air, I can't fully encapsulate the crawlspace. So does it make sense to install the poly if the crawlspace remains vented? Or should I install the poly, seal up the crawlspace and install a dehumidifier? Other suggestions? What would you do if this were your home?


Last edited by Pittsville; 05-21-2014 at 11:32 AM.
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Old 05-23-2014, 12:07 PM   #2
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No takers?

After some more research, Im thinking about doing the following. On the outside, removing the grass around the foundation to about 24" beyond the drip line. Add dirt with heavy clay content in the low areas/ruts and then establish 6" in 10' grade all around the house. Lay down poly or geotextile and wrap a couple inches up foundation wall. Cover with several inches of pebbles/stone and extend out to meet grass. Install a metal landscape edge with drainage holes between the stone and grass.

On the inside, add enough fill dirt to bring crawlspace floor elevation above outside grade. Level crawlspace floor and remove any debris. Cover floor 100% with reinforced poly or liner. Wrap up foundation walls to within 3" of sill beam. Secure to foundation wall and thoroughly tape all seams. Close off and insulate open vents. Install rigid foam to foundation walls leaving 3" gap between foam and crawlspace floor (wicking gap) and foam and sill beam (termite inspection). Since I don't have central air, I can't condition the space. Instead, add a dehumidifier to control crawlspace humidity levels.

Any feedback or suggestions on this approach?


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Old 05-26-2014, 01:46 PM   #3
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The ground-cover poly is code required whether you vent or not-, to reduce the amount of vents- it stops rising moisture from earth. Closed-crawl requires house air exchange;

5 ways of air;,d.cGU

The ventilation removes high RH in the crawlspace that could condense/rot the wood framing (it follows outside RH);

Vapor barriers are different than air barriers, no sealing required to get most benefit (though it does help limit air /moisture movement esp. vertical wall/dirt joint, around columns, etc.); pp. 3-5 here;

More on the approach later, gotta go.

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Old 06-02-2014, 09:28 PM   #4
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You really need a gutter, even a partial to catch the longest length roof part. But regrading will make a big difference, especially if you bury solid material to redirect the water. Roll roofing, corrugated roofing, some even suggest foam board (gets crushed, kind of pointless).
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