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Old 06-23-2014, 07:45 PM   #1
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Crawl space encapsulation


I have a home in South Carolina with a crawl space of approx. 2,300 square feet. The space is dirt floor on level ground and runs from 28 to 32 inches. The home is new, & has no visible mold problems at this time or any type of pest infestation. However, I want to go ahead & encapsulate the space & conditin it as necessary to prevent any mold growth or other structral problems down the road. The foundation space is dry with no water issues. There is also a full french drain system in place which drains outside. All my rain gutters remove rain water from the foundation wall.

Ive consulted with a company in my area that has been doing this work for 25 years & has a quality reputation. I've fully educated myself on the process & the science involved & want to go ahead and get the job done. However I was given a quote which is higher than I expected. I have found a source to buy the materials from which are the same grade & quality as the pros use. My material cost will come in around $2,500-3,000. I would like to install this myself, but the wife is giving me a hard time. Im in my late sixties & I don't have any help I can call upon to give me a hand.

The work is not all that hard, but it is tough for an ole geezer alone. I don't think encapsulating the walls will be difficult. But I do see challenges in the floor covering as the quality of the material is very heavy to deal with. Also I have quite a few support piers which the builder laid in even thought the architect said it was not necessary. So I have a lot of pier trim work to do to encapsulate the space properly. The goal is to eliminate any mold & insect problems by reducing potential water vapor to absolute minimums. Has anyone out there ever taken on their own encapsulation? Would like to hear from an older DIy'er like myselfe if possible. Thanks.

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Old 06-23-2014, 08:06 PM   #2
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Crawl space encapsulation


I am over sixty also. There is a point at which it is easier to pay for someone else than to pay for the ER bills. Ron

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Old 06-23-2014, 09:23 PM   #3
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Crawl space encapsulation


In my opinion when a structure has correct drainage away from it the plastic membrane in a crawl space is not only unnecessary but also foolish. Vent the crawl and forget the rubber.

But if you must do it get a contract with a termite company soon because you are building a house for termites they couldn't be happier with. Dark and moist under their nice blanket of plastic.
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Old 06-23-2014, 09:39 PM   #4
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Only thing I would do is add a black 6mil. vapor barrier held down with 16" insulation ties bent in half.
I live where there's a very high water table and 99% of the time that's all that's done and works just fine.
I used to work for an exterminator and have done 100's of home inspection.
The worst homes where they had no barrier or had closed it up.
Easy one man 2 hours or less job and only cost about $100.00.
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Old 06-23-2014, 11:03 PM   #5
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all you need is 8 mill black plastic on the dirt let the air flow through the vent blocks. I live in the pacific northwest and that is all that is needed and most places have a high water table too. your wasting your money doing it.
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Old 06-24-2014, 09:11 AM   #6
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If I were having no issues, i would leave it alone. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." When it comes to crawl spaces, people screw things up by tinkering.
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Old 06-24-2014, 09:35 AM   #7
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Before you do anything by yourself, spend an hour climbing around under the building and see what it will be like. This will make your understand why the price is high.
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Old 06-24-2014, 12:35 PM   #8
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I am over sixty also. There is a point at which it is easier to pay for someone else than to pay for the ER bills. Ron
Ron- Thanks for the good advice. I know you are right. But its so hard to have to except the fact that after a lifetime of doing this kind of stuff, I can no longer do it because of physical limitations. Just really hard for me to except it. But your right, it's time to step aside on some of this stuff. Thanks.
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Old 06-24-2014, 12:43 PM   #9
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In my opinion when a structure has correct drainage away from it the plastic membrane in a crawl space is not only unnecessary but also foolish. Vent the crawl and forget the rubber.

But if you must do it get a contract with a termite company soon because you are building a house for termites they couldn't be happier with. Dark and moist under their nice blanket of plastic.
Thanks for your advice. But I must respectfully disagree with you about the termites. I have done a ton of research on this subject including the arguement that encapsulating a crawl space will contribute to termite activity. I have not been able to find any information that supports this theory. However I have found that encapsulation will drastically reduce or eliminate completely insect life within the crawlspace because the absense of moisture & the temperatures in provides will not support insect activity. As far as the temites go, I had a certified pre construction inspection & treatment of the foundation area & a annual contract for follow up routine inspections which should take care of the termite worries. Thanks!
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Old 06-24-2014, 01:10 PM   #10
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Only thing I would do is add a black 6mil. vapor barrier held down with 16" insulation ties bent in half.
I live where there's a very high water table and 99% of the time that's all that's done and works just fine.
I used to work for an exterminator and have done 100's of home inspection.
The worst homes where they had no barrier or had closed it up.
Easy one man 2 hours or less job and only cost about $100.00.
Joecaption- Yes I would fully agree with you IF the problem was water or High water tables etc. The issue is not liquid water which contributes nothing to mold growth on the surface of insulation bats or lumber. The issue is WATER VAPOR in the air within the crawl space. Its water vapor that you need to reduce to a level below which mold & insects will not thrive in. And yes, maybe 6 mil poly would work if you lay it down & never ever touch it again. Also keeping the crawlspace vents open in the summer in a place like South Carolina while trying to reduce water Vapor is like trying to stop bees by using honey as bait. Having said all this, there is no one answer to this problem. But even now the current IRC building codes are starting to address this problem. We have been building homes with these vented crawl spaces since the dawn of time. Now we are finally admitting it has been wrong & the science supports that we have been doing it wrong. You need to understand its Water Vapor not liquid water or ground water. Those are another problem all by themselves.
So why did I end up building a brand new home with a vented crawl space to begin with. Answer. The stupid current local code & building officials that have zero education in small building construction & engineering or envromental science who are even too dumb to make an effort to understand the basic science. Maybe someone can tell me what the difference is between a crawl space & a full basement that allows the code to insist one needs to be vented and the other dosen't? Thanks for your opinion.
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Old 06-24-2014, 01:16 PM   #11
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If I were having no issues, i would leave it alone. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." When it comes to crawl spaces, people screw things up by tinkering.
Mainenance- Good advice. And I would fully agree with you except for the fact that if I've got mold spores on my sub floor , joists, insulation, Im not going to know it until its too late, which is when you go into the space one day & smell it & see all those green & black dots all over everything & the insulation is on the floor because it is so wet it can't support itself. This is what I worry about. But yes- if it aint broke-dont fix it. But this is one exception to the rule I think. Thanks.
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Old 06-24-2014, 02:47 PM   #12
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Crawl space encapsulation


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The home is new, & has no visible mold problems at this time or any type of pest infestation. Thanks.

QUOTE: maddog - Mainenance- Good advice. And I would fully agree with you except for the fact that if I've got mold spores on my sub floor , joists, insulation, ************************************************** *************************


If I'm reading this right the situation has quickly gotten worse.

Being this is a new house, what you are seeing could be from new construction materials. The people that sell lumber and those applying it don't care what the moisture content is. Being concerned about things like that doesn't make them any money.


Do some moisture level investigation of your own to see what you are dealing with rather than grabbing at straws because someone says this is a sure cure.
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Old 06-24-2014, 04:37 PM   #13
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[QUOTE=Fairview;1367835]QUOTE: maddog - Mainenance- Good advice. And I would fully agree with you except for the fact that if I've got mold spores on my sub floor , joists, insulation, ************************************************** *************************


If I'm reading this right the situation has quickly gotten worse.

Being this is a new house, what you are seeing could be from new construction materials. The people that sell lumber and those applying it don't care what the moisture content is. Being concerned about things like that doesn't make them any money.

Fairview-No. Nothing has gotton worse. My concerns are with "what could happen" in the long term- say two=three=four years down the road.
First- your correct. No one stops to measure moisture content of lumber before they install it. Ideal lumber moisture content would be around or below 19% using a probing moistuer meter. But lets face reality. Contractors, framing carpenters & the lumber yard are not in the mold control business, and I as the owner was not in a position to have people standing around waiting for lumber to dry out. Most critical lumber products were delivered to my job site fully wrapped & moisture protected & they were not allowed to be in ground contact. The contractor did what he could to insure low moisture levels in OSB panels, LVL beams, structural framing lumber. But beyond that did anyone including myself measure moisture content. No. And I don't know anyone who does. Crawlspace encapsulation is becoming more & more understood by contractors & home owners. The only people who appear to have odds with it are mainly code officials who are perfectly content in going along with the local codes even though they make no sense whatsoever. All Im trying to do is protect my investment. Yes, maybe I will never have a problem & maybe Im "wasting" my money. Most people I know have a box of band aids & bandages, first aid creams & ointments and the like. Maybe they will never cut themselves or have an injury. Can you say those folks are wasting their money.
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Old 06-24-2014, 07:42 PM   #14
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Mold spores are everywhere. The last breath you took included at least a few. They need moisture to become mold colonies. You don't have a moisture problem, so they aren't going to be a problem either. Keep the vents open and peek into the space after a significant rain. If you don't see a problem, then none exists.

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