This Aylett homeowner contacted us because they were interested in replacing the insulation in their crawl space. This is a common call we get from customers who notice that their floors are cold or have a service person in their crawl space that indicates the insulation is falling.
At the inspection, we found that not only was insulation falling, but the vapor barrier was unsealed and damaged. We also found microbial growth on the floor joists and evidence of water and moisture infiltration on the foundation walls.
The damage to the insulation and the microbial growth was being aided by open vents and the unsealed vapor barrier allowing moisture into the crawl space. Fiberglass insulation and the wood substructure absorb moisture in the crawl space and with warm temperatures, organic material allows mold and mildew growth to occur. The added weight of the moisture in the fiberglass allows it to begin to deteriorate and fall.
The insulation needs to be replaced, however, if that is all that is done, the homeowner will be facing the same problem again. We recommended to the homeowner that if they wanted to not only fix the problem but keep it from happening again, they take some additional steps.
First, we would clean the old insulation, 6-mil and any debris out of the crawl space. We would then want to treat the mold and mildew growth with an anti-microbial to kill it. Our next recommended step is to install a heavy-duty vapor barrier, because this is a walk-in crawl space that has equipment and the homeowner would like to use it for storage, we suggested the 20-mil CleanSpace Vapor barrier. It is durable enough to withstand storage and high traffic. It can also be sealed at all seams, around piers, and on the foundation walls 6-8 inches above outside grade completely isolating the crawl space from the earth’s moisture.
We would also air seal the crawl space by sealing off vents, sealing the rim & band, and sealing the sill plate. The Sill plate is the first piece of your home’s frame that touches the foundation wall. This is seldom flush, so by sealing the gap between the block and sill plate we can stop air and moisture infiltration. We then recommended the homeowner insulate the crawl space walls with Foamax Foam board Insulation instead of reinstalling fiberglass in the floor joists. We suggest this step because it extends the thermal barrier of the home from the joists to the floor of the crawl space. This not only keeps your floors warmer, but it makes it easier to control the environment in the crawl space and reduces energy bills. When installing insulation on the crawl space walls, we leave a 2-inch viewing strip, per Virginia building code, for termite inspections.
Finally, we recommend the homeowner install a SaniDry Sedona Dehumidifier. This is the last piece in controlling relative humidity. The Sedona is a dehumidifier developed specifically for crawl spaces and basements that is designed to remove moisture from the air and circulate dry air throughout the crawl space.
If the homeowner chooses to go this route, they will not have to worry about replacing the insulation in their crawl space again. They can also protect any items they store in the crawl space from being damaged by moisture, decrease energy bills, have warm floors in the winter and improve their indoor air quality.