March 1, 2022
By Martin Hawrysko, Emecole Metro LLC
By now, there is a general understanding that excess moisture, the entry of soil gases (including radon), and mold growth compromises the air quality within a crawl space. Health experts and building scientists agree that as compromised crawl space air circulates upward, it will negatively impact the air quality throughout the entire home. The encapsulation of a crawl space, which involves the installation of a highly durable and moisture resistant wall and floor liner, is one of the most effective ways to protect against such consequences.
As a manufacturer of professional grade waterproofing products, Emecole Metro is a prominent supplier of encapsulation materials for contractors servicing wet and musty crawl spaces. Our selection of liners, seaming tapes, and installation accessories, as part of the EmeSeal System, are relied upon to transform wet and musty crawl spaces into dry and healthy spaces in homes throughout the United States and Canada. To ensure that a home experiences the full benefits of an encapsulated crawl space, there are some preliminary measures that should be completed to ensure no issues later compromise the sealed system. Such pre-measures generally are not included in a contractor’s quote for the encapsulation and instead are likely to be listed as separate line items.
Basic Measures to Complete Prior to Encapsulating the Crawl Space
Prior to encapsulating a crawl space, any debris or existing storage should be removed to ensure that movement around the crawl space is not restricted. This also includes any hanging hazards, such as dropped or loose wires or ductwork that otherwise may get in the way or potentially become a safety hazard. Loose wires or ductwork can be secured to floor joists using zip ties.
Crawl spaces with dirt or stone surfaces should be smoothed as flat as possible. Contractors may use a rake or a come-along to remove any dips or valleys that otherwise can collect water. Removing any differences in the surface level will make it easier to move around the crawl space during the installation as well as after.
It is recommended to inspect for any opening or gaps that may exist in the crawl space. These should be repaired to prevent unwanted entry from pests, water, soil gases, or hot/cold air (depending on outside temperature at the time).
Lingering Water & Moisture Issues to Address Prior to Encapsulating the Crawl Space
If standing water is a reoccurring problem in the crawl space, it might be necessary to consider adding a sump pit and sump pump – or to replace an existing sump pump if unable to keep up with the amount of incoming water. Any improvements to an existing sump pump or pit should also include the installation of a sealed sump pit cover that bolts to the floor, providing an additional stopgap against the entry of moisture and soil gases. An additional option for severe standing water problems may also be to install an internal drainage system.
Issues with standing water or excess moisture may eventually lead to mold growth. Crawl spaces are an ideal breeding spot for mold due to their low air flow and high humidity. Mold may be present even without being visible (musty smells are usually an indicator). Since mold has an immediate effect on air quality, it is vital to clean and disinfect any visible growth by spraying or fogging within a contained environment to effectively kill any spores circulating within the air.
While addressing standing water, contractors encapsulating crawl spaces using the EmeSeal System have the option to install EmeSeal Drain Fabric or Emecole Metro’s Dimple Board under the liner. Either option allows for water movement below the liner surface, eliminating pooling that otherwise may become problematic over time.
Any cracks that have developed in poured concrete walls should be addressed. The most effective way to repair these cracks is the low pressure crack injection process, which completely fills cracks to ensure they no longer allow in water or soil gases. For cracks in concrete block, contractors may consider tuckpointing or drain tile systems as a means to stop or minimize the entry of water.
Cracks may also have developed in crawl spaces with concrete floors. Just as with concrete walls, cracks in concrete floors should be properly filled to protect against water and soil gas entry. If water is regularly rising through concrete floor cracks, that may indicate a problem with water table drainage. This is another potential issue to be mindful of and addressed.
A Successful Dry and Healthy Environment
Regardless of what pre-encapsulation measures may be necessary for a particular crawl space, Emecole Metro’s concrete repair and waterproofing products provide contractors a one-stop shop to successfully address lingering issues involving concrete, water intrusion, and humidity. The selection of available liners, from 10 mil to 250 mil, within the EmeSeal System allow contractors to successfully encapsulate crawl spaces to meet each customer’s specific requirements.
Ensuring that the above measures are completely followed will ensure that the overall crawl space encapsulation job is a success, resulting in a dry and healthy environment throughout the entire home.