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Full Crawl Space Encapsulation – Is It The Answer to Moisture Issues?

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Typical of warm and humid climates as Grand Junction, CO, condensation is likely to cause problems in the below the ground area of your home. After all, this is an area where 50% of indoor air originates. So keeping it clean and dry should be your top priority.

The question is what type of encapsulation systems are the most effective? As well as showing you what systems work best, we’ll advise you on where to source yours and what you can expect.

What Type of Crawl Space Encapsulation Should I Use?

While contractors have different approaches to protecting the crawl space, more than 90% generally agree that complete encapsulation using a polyethylene plastic vapor barrier is the way to go. This solution is often regarded as the best way to deal with moisture and water damage, a problem that’s common in a vented crawl space. The outcome is less air condensation, reduced mold growth, no waterlogged insulation, and a less attractive environment for crawl space pests.

A typical encapsulation starts with preparing the crawl space. Your contractor removes dirt and debris, then takes care of standing water with an interior drain. Next, your house is isolated from the earth using a thick plastic liner covering the floor and the walls as well as around columns. Vents are sealed and ductworks are insulated to stop hot air from entering the crawl space and condensing on cold surfaces.

Sometimes, indoor humidity may still persist after encapsulation and air sealing. If that’s the case, your contractor may install a dehumidifier to dry out the crawl space and to bring down moisture to acceptable levels.

Sourcing Encapsulation Materials

Plastic vapor barriers come in different sizes and thicknesses. This includes 6-mil, 12-mil, 16-mil, and 20-mil reinforced vapor barriers. We strongly recommend the 20-mil vapor barrier with reinforced polymer liner, as it’s durable. While you can get this easily in your local hardware store, it’s best to check with your local crawl space encapsulation contractor. They will be able to properly install the heavy-duty 20-mil barrier, which comes with a 25-year warranty against rips and tears. When installed in your crawl space, it will keep your home dry, clean, and safe for a long time.

How Long Does Encapsulation Take?

Sealing the entire crawl space could take up to eight hours. That is two or more installers working side by side. However, there are instances when encapsulation could run for a couple of days. A good example is if the crawl space is dirty or needs remediation or repairs. You’ll have to clean it up and repair any damaged wooden joists/beams, fix leaking pipes, remove the damaged insulation, and seal cracks and openings. An inspection could reveal what you’re up against and how much time the contractors will need to fix the crawl space issues.

Once encapsulation is done, you need to monitor the crawl space periodically to ensure the dehumidifier is working properly and the barrier is intact. We suggest you do a follow-up inspection after a couple of months, if not a year. Some contractors offer service and maintenance programs to ensure the work they did continues to protect your home.

How Much to Encapsulate the Crawl Space?

When encapsulating the crawl space, the cost factor is certainly one of those things that will keep popping up in your mind. Different contractors will give you different quotes. But in our estimation, it could be anywhere between $5,000 and $15,000. The ultimate costs will depend on the condition of the crawl space and its size. A cleaner and well-maintained crawl space will be much easier to encapsulate than a dirty one as the contractor won’t have to do much preparation work before they can install the plastic barrier. A sizable chunk of the expenses will cover material and labor. Remember to budget for a dehumidifier if internal condensation will still persist.

Why You Should Hire a Professional

As much as installing a plastic vapor barrier sounds exciting, your enthusiasm may not match the rigors of encapsulation. You’re going to work in dirty, debris-filled, and moldy crawl space conditions. And without the right gear, you will find yourself crawling out faster than you crawled in.

Another reason is sealing the crawl space requires skill, tact, and experience. Without these, any attempt to seal up your crawl space could end up badly. You’ll find yourself with a less-than-perfect crawl space that lets in water, moisture, pests, and dust from the outside. Eventually, you’ll have to hire a local basement contractor to fix the mess, an undertaking that will cost you more time and money.

Looking to encapsulate the crawl space of your Grand Junction, CO, home but don’t know where to start? Schedule a free inspection with us and get a crawl space repair quote. We’ll advise you on the choice of materials and recommend a lasting solution to your moisture problems!

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