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Crawlspace FAQs

Here are some common questions we encounter about moisture under your home and crawlspace work:

Why are my hardwood floors cupping?
Floors often cup for 2 reasons. The first being they were installed improperly. The second and most common reason is that there is too much moisture seeping through the floor. Warm moist air naturally rises and converges with the cool dry air in your home. The cool dry air contracting the wood while the warm moist air causes expansion. This combination causes the wave-like cupping in hardwoods. A dry crawlspace can help increase the lifespan of your hardwood floors.
How does a “dry” crawl space have a moisture issue?
Often times an inspector will inform a client about high moisture levels only to be met with disbelief. The client has always had a “dry” crawl space so the inspector must be mistaken. Well, sometimes that can be true. However, most of the time the inspector is not talking about massive puddles of water under your home. They are referring to the amount of invisible humidity that has been absorbed into the wooden components of your home. Water vapor is the biggest issue in regards to moisture in crawlspaces because it presents conducive conditions for pests, mold and rot.
Why is my crawl space dry when I go in it myself?

Well let’s answer that question with a question. Do you, like most people, only go in your crawl space when it’s nice, cool and dry outside? If so, you probably won’t be observing a seasonal moisture issue. Seasonal moisture occurs during the warmer months and is rarely seen (unless severe) from November to April.

Will adding foundation vents or fans help my moisture problem?
This question is hard to answer without inspecting each individual home. The reason being, every home is different. Sealing a crawlspace is not the solution for every home. However, it is important to note that during a humid coastal plains summer, the exchange of crawl space air for outside air usually causes more problems than provides solutions. I mean think about it, if the air under your house is bad because it’s wet, then why replace it with the humid air outside your home which averages almost 80% during the summer? In regards to fans; they tend to cause more issues than they’re worth. One issue for example is the risk of fire. Fans tend to run more frequently and can get very hot. They also vibrate your insulation which causes it to break down more rapidly. Only in rare cases is it recommended to use foundation vent fans.
When should I open and close my vents?

This is a very common question and the unfortunate truth is there isn’t one hard and fast answer. There are a lot of strong opinions between home inspectors and county officials about when to open and close vents, which are usually given over the phone without seeing your home. The truth is every house is different. The studies on foundation vents were done a long time ago in an arid climate where it made sense to open and close them during certain times of the year. This science is not only irrelevant in a humid climate, but the theory itself in most cases is outdated. You may have a home that “breathes” easily and if it is working for you, don’t change it. Most homeowners do not benefit from having ventilation. But don’t take our word for it, ask

Why would I need a dehumidifier?

If you have a crawl space that is full of humidity, you are in need of a dehumidifier. Condensation dripping from insulation, air ducts, floor systems and utility conduits, fungal growth and rusting of metal components under homes are all reasons for installing a dehumidifier. A wood moisture content reading above 19% is also cause for a dehumidifier. To know for sure if you need a dehumidifier, we need to see your home first hand. We will be happy to show you via video exactly what is going on under your home.

Should I buy a dehumidifier from a hardware store?
If the dehumidifier is for your crawlspace, the answer is absolutely 100% NO! We understand it’s the less expensive alternative. We understand it says dehumidifier on the box. These units are not suited for what you are asking it to do. These dehumidifiers are INDOOR units. They simply are not designed to handle the conditions and capacity of a crawlspace. It is the equivalent of towing a 30ft boat with a 2-door coupe: Sure you can do it, but you will destroy that car very quickly. An even bigger objection to this idea is the fact that there have been millions of recalls on these dehumidifiers due to fire. There are several models listed on the Consumer Affairs website that are under homes today. Please check the site and your model number if you have an indoor unit under your home and keep in mind these recall lists sometimes do not get updated until several units from several years ago have problems.
Can I sell my house without a dehumidifier?
Absolutely.  However, if your home inspection indicates the need for work to be done in your crawlspace you may have to have the work done anyway. You may also risk running off a buyer as more and more potential homeowners are becoming savvy on crawlspace issues.
What is the difference between a sealed or conditioned crawlspace and an encapsulation?

A sealed or conditioned crawlspace is a crawlspace that has a 100% ground cover vapor barrier only, the foundation vents and small openings sealed off and a dehumidifier installed. This installation will correct 95% of crawlspace humidity problems. An encapsulated crawlspace (a more thorough process) is where the vapor barrier runs up and is secured to the foundation walls and the support pillars. The liner is then taped at the seams throughout the crawl space to create a seamless barrier on the ground and up the support piers. A dehumidifier is then installed and either a sump pump or zero-to-daylight gravity drain must also be installed to meet code. There are varying approaches and workmanship qualities to this installation but a real encapsulation job does not only use tape or caulk to secure a vapor barrier to any wall. Instead the vapor barrier is secured to the wall with nails or screws and sometimes a bead of caulk to block out moisture. This installation usually takes close to a week to complete if it is done correctly.

Should I fully encapsulate my crawlspace?

The answer to this question truly depends on what is going on at your specific house.Iif there is a significant amount of standing water, high humidity and moisture wicking through the foundation, then you may need a full encapsulation. In addition to controlling the moisture, energy saving are also a huge bonus to this type of installation.

What will conditioning my crawl space do or fix?
Conditioning the crawl space can do and fix several things. First of all, if you have excessive moisture, it can prevent further rot of your floor system. Conditioning can also increase the efficiency of the entire home and clean the air under your home.  When your air system is no longer covered in water, the lifespan of the HVAC is increased. If you have an acceptable wood moisture content in your floor system, you no longer have a conducive environment for pests and wood destroying organisms.
What is the cost of conditioning my crawlspace?
There is no standard answer for this common question. Sealing a crawl space with a ground cover, installing a dehumidifier and sealing the vents is usually ⅓ the cost of an encapsulation. Prices do vary based on the home, however Sahara Crawlspaces prides itself on offering an excellent product at an incredibly competitive rate.
What happens if I don’t fix the moisture problem in my crawlspace?
Depending on the severity of the situation you could be looking at thousands and possibly tens of thousands of dollars in long term repairs. In some cases, you and your family could experience health issues related to the air quality in the home. You could also be looking at a reduced sale price of your home if you have it on the market. It’s always better and more cost effective to be proactive rather than reactive. It’s hard to say exactly what the cost would be, but one thing is for sure, no serious problem ever got better by ignoring it.
How long will the installation last?

The materials may last anywhere from 10 to 30 years or more for vapor barriers depending on the material used and the conditions of your crawlspace. Dehumidifiers can last a very long time if they are properly maintained. A dehumidifier that does not get serviced as required will probably not last as long compared to one that is serviced. Circumstances outside of our control can always negatively affect the lifespan of an install. However, with our lifetime warranty, there is no limit to the life of your conditioned crawlspace.

What is the warranty on your services?
We guarantee all of our work to be completed to the standards of Sahara Crawlspaces and our customers expectations.  We provide a complimentary 30 day inspection to confirm our product is functioning properly. In addition to our 30 day follow-up, we provide the customer with the option to continue a full service/replacement warranty of our conditioned crawlspaces. This means on an annual basis we return to service the dehumidifier/condensate pump (if applicable) and inspect the vapor barrier. If any of the products that we installed need attention, we will repair or replace them at no additional cost.
Will a vapor barrier alone fix my moisture problem?

Possibly. Like we’ve said before. Every house is different. The solution to your home may be as simple as installing a vapor barrier. We are in the business of providing solutions, so if a vapor barrier is all you need that’s all you get! That’s all you get. Sometimes, it can be better to try a vapor barrier first and see if it works. In other cases, usually where the air unit is under the home, a vapor barrier alone will not be the answer.

How long does the installation process take?
In most cases the majority of the work can be done in one to two days.
How long before I start seeing results?
Once the dehumidifier is turned on it begins straining moisture from the air almost immediately. Some homeowners may begin seeing results in as little as 24hrs. For more severe moisture situations, it may take several weeks before the homeowner notices a change in the interior of their home. Regardless of the situation, Sahara Crawlspaces provides a complimentary 30 day follow-up on all installations to verify that our product is installed and working as intended.

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