Is a Damp Crawl Space Normal?

Damp Crawl Spaces attract bugs

Is a damp crawl space normal? Short answer: yes. But, remember the scene in “Young Frankenstein” when the lab assistant steals a brain labeled Abby-someone, and the brain was Ab-normal? Normal is what you want in a brain. But, based on what our Ninjas see here in the Northwest Atlanta, Georgia area (Smyrna, Marietta), normal is maybe not what you want in a crawl space.

The “normal” or typical crawl space here often shows evidence of moisture or water intrusion. A similar question is, “Is it OK to have moisture in the crawl space?”  Answer: not so much. Few of us will have a 100% dry crawl space, but a damp crawl space is bad news for the house and often for the folks living in it. Here’s why.

Damp crawl space affects wood moisture levels

Damp crawl spaces affect wood moisture levels

Mold is Found in Damp Crawl Spaces

Dampness can lead to mold and dry rot which can affect the structural integrity of wood members comprising the subfloor, rim joists, floor, and studs. Mold spores can cause health issues for people in the home, especially for children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems. More on that in a sec.


Deep Breathing

Odors and pest waste from the crawl space can enter the living space through the HVAC system and something called the “stack effect”, which basically means that your home breathes deeply – from bottom to top. Moisture (especially moisture in a relatively undisturbed place such as a crawl space) is a condition conducive to infestations of pests including dust mites, cockroaches, cave crickets, spiders, and termites. Dirt crawl spaces can also harbor (among other things) rats, mice, snakes, and the scorpion I had to squish recently while taping a corner of vapor barrier.


Money, Honey

A humid crawl space puts strain on the HVAC system resulting in higher energy bills.  Humidity can also cause hardwood floors to cup and doors to stick.

Crawl spaces get moisture and become damp from plumbing leaks, surface water from a nearly year-round rainy season, and humidity especially when foundation vents are not sealed (did I mention we’re in Northwest Atlanta?). Most crawl space moisture we see seems to originate with hydrostatic pressure as water seeps from the soil through the walls or floor of the crawl space. A water management system and standard-setting encapsulation can be key to controlling moisture and creating a healthier home. Does your crawl space (or basement) need a Ninja?


Correcting a Damp Crawl Space

Do you need help in the Georgia area installing a crawl space encapsulation system? If so, we can help. Please contact us to schedule your assessment. Also, let us know in the comments below if you'd like to suggest a future blog post.

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