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Causes of Crawl Space Problems

There are many ways unwanted moisture can get into your crawl space and living area. Find out how.

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Your crawl space could be the unlikely source of many different issues building up in your home. If you notice dingy smells, poor air quality, bouncy floors, and higher energy bills, the source could be coming from down in the crawl space.  

How do all of these problems start? Here, we’ll be discussing common causes of crawl space damage, and what you can do to stop it before it starts.  

What Are The Root Causes for Crawl Space Damage? 

Stack Effect 

Hot air rises, and cold air sinks to the ground. This is the basic principle of the stack effect, mapped onto your home. Hot, humid air seeping into your crawl space will slowly rise into your living space and out through your chimney or roof. With this air comes all of the moisture, dirt, toxins, allergens, and even mold spores brewing in your unprotected crawl space.  

Since the stack effect is a completely natural phenomenon, there’s not much you can do to stop it aside from sealing, or encapsulating, your crawl space off from the external environment. This will prevent air of varying temperatures and moistures seeping in and setting the stack effect into motion.  

Foundation Construction 

From the 1950s to the 1990s, installing doors during the construction of a crawl space was standard practice. Engineers and builders at the time believed that free airflow beneath the home would prevent trapping excess humidity below the home.  

This was proven to be false, as crawl space doors actually enable and accelerate the stack effect in your home. Additionally, crawl space vents will the same effect on your home; the damage will be even worse if they are broken, malfunctioning, or unsealed.  

Poor Drainage 

Poorly drained soil in your yard can also be the culprit for issues in your crawl space. Colorado is famously home to bentonite clay soil, which is known for its poor drainage capabilities. Pair poorly drained soil with negative yard grading, and you are sure to have water pooling around and infiltrating your foundation and crawl space. Any standing water or excess moisture in your crawl space is cause for larger issues down the line.  

flooding and drainage problems

Rotting Support Beams or Floor Joists 

If moisture and humidity do happen to plague your crawl space, the wooden structural support systems may suffer from mold growth or wood rot. As wood rot or mold form on your crawl space joists, they weaken the wood, causing it to soften and crumble. One way that inspectors test this is by gently puncturing the wood with a pencil. In extreme cases, a hole can be punched through the wood.  

This type of damage can be very alarming for the structural safety of your home. If your structural supports are rotting, you may notice sagging, bouncing floors in your living space. If this is the case, we recommend calling in the professionals as soon as you can.  


The western slope of Colorado is notably dry during the summer. Dry weather and clay soil aren’t a great mixture, as clay tends to shrink, shrivel, and crack. This can jeopardize your Grand Junction crawl space, as the soil below can no longer provide adequate support for your crawl space floor joists and foundation walls.  

How Can You Tell That You Have Crawl Space Issues? 

Since your crawl space is a dark and typically hidden place in the home’ it’s not the first place you’ll inspect for damage. However, your home will still find ways to tell you that the problem is coming from down under.  

Without addressing the above key crawl space agitators, you may begin to spot these below problem signs in your home.   

  • Musty Smells Around the House  
  • Bouncy, Sagging Floors 
  • Pests  
  • High Indoor Humidity  
  • High Energy Bills 
  • Standing Water  
  • Mold  
  • And more 

Do you notice any of these in your home? Explore below to learn more about crawl space problem signs.  

How Can You Fight Back? 

With the help of Foundation Repair of Western Colorado, encapsulation can be your crawl space’s first line of defense.  Crawl space encapsulation is the process of sealing up your crawl space from harmful outdoor elements like moisture, extreme temperatures, pests, and more. Service technicians encapsulate crawl spaces by covering all surfaces with a thick plastic-like vapor barrier, sealing the vents with foam, properly sealing the crawl space door, installing a dehumidifier, and sometimes more.  

Since there are so many reasons for crawl space damage, there are a variety of different solutions. Browse more of our permanent crawl space encapsulation solutions below to learn more.  

Restore Your Crawl Space Once And For All 

At Foundation Repair of Western Colorado, we understand every home is different and will need unique repair solutions. That’s why we inspect your whole home, so we can correct the source of your home’s issues. Our certified field inspectors are proud to offer customized recommendations on how to treat your crawl space, and free quotes so that you can make an informed decision.  

Call us today to set up your free inspection and quote, so you can get back to enjoying your home. 

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    Grand Junction

    2575 U.S. 6 & 50, Unit A
    Grand Junction, CO 81501