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March 27, 2018
Historically, crawl spaces have been thought of as dark, creepy areas under homes that receive little to no attention. Other than the attic, the crawl space is probably the only part of the home that has inspired horror stories and movies. It’s little wonder many homeowners either ignore or avoid their home’s crawl space—until it becomes a problem.
Today, we know it’s best to pay attention to crawl spaces, ensuring they’re dry, clean and pest-free. An odor emanating from the space in your home along Maryland’s Eastern Shore is never a good thing. If you smell something strange in your crawl space, you should immediately track down the source, either carefully on your own, or by hiring a professional.
Causes of Crawl Space Odors
Sometimes, the cause of crawl space odors is obvious upon inspection; more rarely, the smell can be nearly impossible to pin down. The following are some of the most common causes:
If your crawl space isn’t sealed, there are many small gaps and holes through which any number of insects and rodents can enter. Amazingly, if a pencil can fit through a hole in your home, so can a mouse! If mice are nesting in your crawl space, then you’re in for some unpleasant smells.
One mouse means more mice, so if you see one, you can try traps, but you may want to call pest control. And, once the pests are gone, you’ll want to air seal those gaps to avoid future infestations.
Moisture from Vents
Once common practice, crawl space vents are now known to let in humidity and moisture. Uncontrolled moisture leads to mold and mildew, which are not only odiferous but also detrimental to your home and health. Mold spores travel unseen into your living area, impair your indoor air quality, and harm your respiratory system. Moisture and mold also cause rot and decay in wooden floor joists, damaging the structural integrity of your home.
To rectify this situation, all moisture and mold-damaged materials should be removed from your crawl space, drainage should be addressed, all vents should be sealed, and a vapor barrier and crawl space dehumidifier installed.
Moisture from the Ground
Whether the floor in your crawl space is a concrete slab or dirt, it can be a source of unwanted odors. Earth floors naturally contain moisture and, depending on where the earth came from, all kinds of other organic materials, from plants and chemicals to manure, which create odors as they break down. Any moisture beneath the cement slab when it was poured or that was trapped there as the cement dried, will eventually find its way into the crawl space. As mentioned above, any moisture creates opportunities for mold and mildew growth, as well as odors.
If your crawl space has been worked on, it’s possible that a product used to fix a problem contains chemicals that are off-gassing. This is an issue that’s best handled by professionals who have the tools and experience to pinpoint the source and remediate the problem.
Stored or “Left” Items
Lastly, crawl space smells can be caused by something as simple as trash, garbage or other deteriorating items that have been stored or tossed into the space. Before storing anything in your crawl space, you should ensure that it’s clean and dry and that the items being stored won’t become hazards later on.
Get Rid of Crawl Space Odors with Encapsulation
As part of your house that affects the comfort and air quality of the rest of your home, your crawl space should be a clean, dry and relatively pleasant space. The certified experts at Total Home Performance are uniquely qualified to inspect and rectify any and all crawl space issues you may encounter.
Our crawl space encapsulation services ensure odors in your crawl space are a thing of the past, while improving your indoor air quality and home comfort. Last but not least, a conditioned crawl space increases energy efficiency for year-round savings on your heating and cooling costs.