If your crawl space is wet and flooding, installing a crawl space waterproofing system is essential. The focus being on the word "system." Most crawl space encapsulation contractors are under the impression that waterproofing a crawl space is installing a french drain only or a sump pump and french drain. There is actually way more to it than that.
Waterproofing and the Sump Pump
If your crawl space is taking on standing water, a sump pump is a great way to move the water out of the crawl space. As mentioned in an earlier article, there are other options but the sump is certainly one of the most popular.
Sump pumps are designed to run as needed in order to keep your crawl space dry during heavy rains, plumbing leaks and even underground springs. But, the sump pump is not the only thing needed to waterproof your crawl space.
The French Drain
French drains or perimeter drains are also vital to waterproofing, especially in large crawl spaces with multiple water intrusion points. Having a sump pump in a corner normally only catches water in that general area. French drains bring water to the sump pumps for extraction. This makes french drains and sump pumps vital to waterproofing, but there's more.
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Crawl Space Mold and Foundation Issues
Remember, the whole point of stopping your crawl space from flooding is to control humidity. High humidity can lead to mold and wood rot fungus. Wood rot fungus can destroy the joists and sub-floor and lead to sagging floors.
Yard drainage needs to be part of the waterproofing process as well. Making sure a curtain drain is properly installed around the home can redirect water. Running downspout extensions a minimum of 10 feet from the crawl space is great but the further, the better. This can take some of the pressure off your waterproofing.
Crawl Space Vapor Barrier
The last and most overlooked aspect of crawl space waterproofing is the vapor barrier. Most companies are all in for french drains and sump pumps but want to reuse your old vapor barrier. I feel most do this to appear more competitive and "on your side" during the inspection process. This makes them look good by offering a better deal.
Here's the problem. Without a properly installed vapor barrier, the water can overflow the french drain and the sump pump. It can also shift the vapor barrier. When the plastic shifts to expose dirt, even in a dry season, the humidity is higher. High humidity makes the dehumidifier run more.
Basement Waterproofing vs Crawl Space Waterproofing
Imagine you had a flooded basement and the waterproofing company cut the concrete to install the french drain and sump pump. The equivalent would be moving the vapor barrier to expose the dirt for installation. After the trench was dug and everything installed, they did not pour back the concrete. What would happen to the water coming in? What would the humidity level be in your basement? Would you be concerned with bowing walls?
So why is it common practice to leave out or not fix the vapor barrier? The vapor barrier acts the same way in crawl space waterproofing as the concrete in basement waterproofing. With the exception of bowing walls. No concrete in the basement can allow walls to shift. This is why it needs to be overlapped, taped and attached to the walls.
When you are looking to hire a company to waterproof your crawl space or do it yourself. Make sure you install a sump pump, french drain, and vapor barrier with optional yard drainage if necessary.
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