There are special home crawl space does and don’ts that could affect the safety and comfort of your home. Here’s a simple guide to taking good care of your crawl space and avoiding endangering the safety of your home with improper usage.
Crawl Space Smell
It’s a good idea for every homeowner to climb up to the crawl space every few months and give it a good whiff. The crawl space entrance may be located in the garage with pull down stairs, or it may be inconveniently tucked at the top of a closet as in my old home. Fitting into the crawl space may be tricky and you’ll have to bring a flashlight with you. If you’re allergic to dust it’s a good idea to take anti-histamine before foraying into the crawl space of your home. Despite all this, checking the scent of your crawl space will alert you to be possible dampness, mildew, mold or critter presence. Detecting these problems early will allow you to solve them before damage is caused to your home.
Crawl Space Insulation
Proper insulation on the floor of your crawl space should be over 4 inches. Below this, winter heating in your house will be more costly. Hot air rises naturally and without sufficient insulation in the crawl space to hold the heat in place, the air will continue to rise straight out the roof. Exterminating companies typically also offer crawl space insulation services. The crew will come into your home and drive a thick hose through the nearest window. They will create a tunnel with plastic traps around the hose to keep your home clean. Then they will blow insulation into your crawl space and distribute it evenly around. Within less than a year you should be able to recoup the cost of insulating your crawl space through energy savings. And be sure to check with your electric company if they are offering rebates on this energy efficient crawl space insulation.
Crawl Space Vents
If you bought a used house, it’s a good idea to go up into the crawl space and locate the exists for all bathroom vents. Previous homeowners may have tried to cut on costs by driving humidity vents up through the ceiling but not all the way through the roof, as they did in my old home. As a result, a bathroom humidity vent might be emptying into the crawl space of your home. It’s also possible that a bathroom vent that was set up to go out the roof would become dislodged with time. Checking the crawl space of your home regularly will alert you to the problem before humidity damage occurs. Be aware the bathroom vents that do not vent directly up and out of the roof may also pose a problem in your crawl space. If the vent extends for several feet horizontally before rising, there will always be condensation of water in that space.
Dealing with Critters in Your Crawl Space
If you find signs of critter presence like stool, fur, feathers or if you hear movement in the crawl space at night, you best bet is to call in a professional exterminator. If you decide to spread poison in the crawl space instead, you will need to find every dead critter after the fact or end up with a terrible stench emanating from your crawl space to the rooms below.
What Not to Do with Your Crawl Space
Speaking with experts, I have learned that some homeowners attempt to build an office or storage space up in their crawl space. Not only is this a building code violation, but the added weight in the crawl space may compromise the integrity of the structure of your home. In addition, any electrical gadgets used in the crawl space, from a desk lamp to a drill pose a serious fire hazard, which is not worth the risk. If you are trying to sell a home in which an office or storage space was created in the crawl space, dismantle these before the home inspection, or the inspection will fail and you could be reported to the city and fined for a building violation.
How to Walk in the Crawl Space of Your Home
The crawl space of your home was not built for taking a stroll in. To safely walk in the crawl space you must walk on the jutting floor beams, not on the ceiling drywall between them. It’s a good idea to bring a plank of wood up with you and keep it in the crawl space. You can rest the plank between the floor beams and keep moving it as you walk, so as to always have safe passage before and after you. Always take a flashlight with you into the crawl space and watch your head, as you are likely going to need to bend as you walk in the crawl space. Finally, avoid climbing into the crawl space on hot or humid days. Remember that hot air rises and the crawl space of your home will be far more stifling than your home itself, especially if you have air conditioning that may lead you to forget just how hot it is outside.
For more home remodeling and decorating info from the same author, visit my comprehensive budget decorating guide.