Many people look for alternatives to crawl space encapsulation due to the high cost of installation. But there are pros and cons to these alternatives as well. So, you should check the effects of those when determining the best option. Let’s start by finding out more about encapsulation, alternatives, and how they work to keep away moisture.
What is Crawl Space Encapsulation?
Covering up the entire crawl space using a polythene sheet to seal it from the external environment is known as encapsulation. It keeps the crawl space dry from possible water penetration. Encapsulation has many benefits, such as preventing mold growth and pest infestations. It also reduces energy costs and improves indoor air quality.
Different Alternatives to Crawl Space Encapsulation
People who dislike crawl space encapsulation seek various alternatives. The following are the best alternatives to encapsulation. The ideal solution may depend on the environmental conditions and other factors of the application.
Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that is found in the air and soil. Exposure to radon for a long period can be harmful. Radon mitigation involves sealing off visible cracks and crevices that could allow radon to enter the house. The system also uses a fan to draw out air from the crawl space and vent it to the outside. This not only prevents harmful gases from entering the house but also reduces moisture infiltration.
Crawl Space Insulation
Insulating the crawl space keeps the space between floor joists warm. It prevents moisture that could cause the growth of mold and mildew. This is a great alternative to encapsulation since it’s cheaper and the installation takes less time. Insulation of the floor above the crawl space also increases the efficiency and increases the energy efficiency of the house.
Vapor/ Moisture Barriers
This is another cost-effective solution to prevent moisture from entering the crawl space through the wall cavity. In addition to polyethylene sheets, there are various types of materials available for moisture barriers, such as metal and concrete. The average cost of installation for a vapor barrier is around $1,000 – $4,000. But it can increase up to $15,000 depending on the project.
However, vapor barriers do not seal off everything and might leave some space susceptible to humidity. You should also take care not to install a light vapor barrier on rough surfaces as it could damage the material. Check the material regularly for cuts or holes and seal any punctures with tape. Sometimes, there could be tears in different spots if the material is thinner. In that case, you probably have to replace it completely with a thicker membrane. Vapor barriers usually last for about 5 – 10 years before wearing off.
Crawl space dehumidifiers are different from regular dehumidifiers. They are made for continuous operation to overcome higher levels of humidity in the crawl space. The dehumidifier removes moisture from the air to an outside location. This reduces the chance of mold formation and insect infestations. You can use a dehumidifier without encapsulation, although it might not remove moisture completely.
The average cost of installing a crawl space dehumidifier is around $700 – $1800. The installation costs vary on the city, installer, and other requirements. It may usually be around $50 – $200. The price of a dehumidifier ranges from $300 to $800, depending on the model and capacity of the dehumidifier.
Crawl Space Vents
Installing crawl space vents is another alternative to crawl space encapsulation. Venting increases air circulation inside the crawl space, preventing moisture build-up. It regulates the temperature and makes any water present inside evaporate quickly. The downside of crawl space vents is that it lets in cold air during the winter and hot air in the summer.
Concrete is poured directly on the ground to create a slab foundation instead of having a crawl space. This eliminates the risk of moisture and pest invasions through the crawl space. It also improves energy efficiency due to less air movement under the house. So with this alternative, there is no need for encapsulation as there is no crawl space in the first place. Slab foundations are less likely to have moisture concerns as there are no wooden surfaces.
Basement Foundation Waterproofing
Waterproofing protects the concrete and masonry surfaces from moisture by acting as a barrier. The solution reaches into the pores and covers up the spaces to seal the surface. It is important to find a suitable product for the task since different waterproof solutions are designed for different applications. Waterproofing requires ventilation to keep moisture away from the crawl space after application. The best products last for up to 10 – 15 years before it peels off. Afterward, you need to remove the peeling and repaint the surface.
Interior Drainage Systems
An interior drainage system removes water from the foundation. This reduces the moisture content that lingers on the surface. Interior drainage consists of holes along the drain pipe, which is different from exterior drainage systems. This setting helps it to absorb water and moisture from both sides of the pipe. The cost of installation of an interior drainage system depends on the type and size of the application. Drainage systems cost around $20 – $30 per foot. But usually, a drainage system is installed with a sump pump. The cost of a sump pump ranges from $600 to $2000 according to the type and model.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Average Cost of Crawl Space Encapsulation?
The average cost of crawl space encapsulation is around $7,000. But the cost ranges from $5,000 up to $30,000. This depends on the size and condition of the crawl space.
Are Crawl Space Dehumidifiers Worth It?
Using a dehumidifier in the crawl space decreases the moisture inside and improves the air quality. This reduces the chances of mold growth and prevents allergies related to the same. Since the crawl space is no longer damp, it keeps insects and pests away from the area. As a dehumidifier provides all these benefits, it is definitely worth the investment.
What Are the Cons of Crawl Space Encapsulation?
The cost of installation is one of the most prominent negatives to crawl space encapsulation. It is quite expensive and also requires additional preparations such as new crawl space insulation and HVAC upgrades. Only the installation of these factors will make it more effective. Crawl space encapsulation also requires routine maintenance and inspection.
The effectiveness of these alternatives to crawl space encapsulation varies from one to another. However, you can combine two or a few of these methods to maximize moisture removal. Determine the best alternatives according to the requirements and budget. Don’t forget to find out more about each option and the steps of installation before picking the suitable method.