Greening Your Crawl Space

Remodeling in a green fashion is a way to leave a smaller carbon footprint on the planet and to create a healthier and a safer environment. The condition of the basement or crawl space affects the rest of the home. By making some adaptations to these spaces, you can reduce the homeowner’s footprint and help them to become more financially savvy.
Basements and crawl spaces tend to be the dampest areas in a residence. The stack effect causes the moist air to rise from the lower levels to the top of the home, and to exit through the attic or the roof. This could cost residents money and even make them ill. As moist air travels upward from the basement or crawl space, it carries with it the mold spores commonly found in the lowest level or in the crawl space. Although it is difficult to predict how mold will affect different individuals in various locations, it can lead to common health problems, including difficulty breathing, eye, throat, nose or skin irritation, sinus or nasal congestion, or upper respiratory infections. Because of these potential issues, it is best to rid the residence of mold.
Keep in mind that the mold and rot that originate from moisture are nature’s maid services. When an animal or a plant dies outdoors and remains on the ground, then mold eventually consumes the remaining organic material. Inside a moldy basement, the same process can occur. Mold and moisture can accumulate, and then insects feed on the mold and on the wood. Worse, rodents may then enter the home to eat the insects. This is the front line in the war against moisture. Guidelines to stop the escalation include keeping the relative humidity of the basement or crawl space below 60 percent to prevent mold growth, and avoiding the rotting of any lumber by keeping its moisture content below 16 percent. This way, you can avoid having to repair or to replace the wood in these areas of the home.
To maintain low levels of moisture in the air and in any lumber, stop any water from entering, or standing, in the basement or crawl space. This will empty the home of a key element that mold needs to grow. The methods to achieve this are different in basements and in crawl spaces. Here are some means of eliminating water intrusion.
Waterproofing
Crawl spaces: Use a different strategy for crawl spaces. Isolate the home from the earth to drastically lower the humidity level and, in turn, eliminate mold growth. To accomplish this, install a vapor barrier system in the crawl space. This should completely stop moisture penetration. Blocking off the vents in the crawl space is also necessary. Vent covers prevent cold air from rushing in during the winter and hot air from entering during the summer. Cover the vents and use a vapor barrier to use less energy and fewer resources, and to reduce heating and cooling costs. Note that some crawl spaces do require a drainage system underneath a liner to provide a dry, healthy crawl space.

          

Dehumidification
Once the basement or crawl space is waterproofed, the next step is dehumidification. Separate models are designed to tackle basements or crawl spaces. These units dry the air, and some drain the water out of the attached hose, rather than needing to be emptied by hand. Energy-efficient models can remove more water than typical dehumidifiers could, and achieve this with the same amount of energy that a standard unit would use. As discussed above, the stack effect causes the air in the basement or crawl space to move upward, through the rest of the house. By using a dehumidifier, the air will be dryer and safer throughout the entire residence.
Finishing
Crawl space: After installing a vapor barrier system, the crawl space will be finished. The thickness of the liner not only keeps humidity low, but also allows the space to be used as storage. Some barriers are also strong enough to allow other professional contractors, such as plumbers or electricians, to work in the crawl space without damaging or tearing the liner.

          

To successfully keep the basement or crawl space dry and environmentally friendly, waterproof, dehumidify and finish the crawl space or basement. These steps will help homeowners to green their residences, decrease their carbon footprints, and, overall, make the environment healthier.
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