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February 4, 2020
Crawl space vents are common in homes along the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Yet, many of these vents are now being sealed. If home performance professionals recommend sealing these vents, why are they there in the first place? And is it against code to seal them?
It used to be thought that vents were necessary to allow air and moisture to move freely from the crawl space. Over the years, it’s been shown that allowing air to move freely out of and into your crawl space is actually detrimental to your home and its indoor air quality.
Because much of the air you breathe in your home comes directly from your crawl space, most contractors today agree that the crawl space should be treated as part of your living area—in other words, it should be sealed, insulated and kept free of moisture.
First, Why Seal the Crawl Space Vents?
Stop moisture damage
Outside air, particularly the humid air along Maryland’s Eastern Shore, carries a significant amount of moisture with it. Warm, humid air creates condensation when it enters your vents and meets up with the cooler surfaces in your crawl space, such as the dirt or slab floor and cold air ducts. This creates an environment that encourages mold and mildew growth, which is not only detrimental to your health, but also to the integrity of the structure of your home, your insulation and any belongings you may have stored nearby.
Prevent rodents from setting up house
Rodents looking for shelter use vents to enter and nest in insulation, ruining its insulating ability and leaving droppings along the way. Now you’ve got a crawl space filled with mold, mildew and contaminants, all of which can move freely up into your living area.
Eliminate cold air, drafts and costly energy bills
In winter, cold air from the outside can freely enter your crawl space, creating cold floors and uncomfortable drafts while increasing your utility bills.
The Entire Crawl Space Solution
Vent sealing will keep outside air from entering one way, but it won’t stop air and moisture from entering or heat from escaping through other gaps and cracks in your crawl space. And it won’t address any existing moisture problems you may already have. The best way to address a crawl space is with a comprehensive approach.
Address Moisture Issues
If there is standing or groundwater in the crawl space, it must be addressed first. A drainage system and sump pump will ensure water is collected and pumped out and away from the house. Leaking ductwork must also be sealed at the seams.
Crawl Space Encapsulation
Once moisture problems are addressed, the crawl space can be air sealed, so there are no open gaps. Then a clean, sturdy vapor barrier is installed on the floor and walls of the crawl space.
Crawl Space Dehumidifier
The last and very important step is to install a crawl space dehumidifier to ensure the humidity in the crawl space stays at a constant and acceptable level year-round.
Get the Job Done Right
The certified and trained technicians at Total Home Performance are experienced in crawl space repair and encapsulation. While most crawl spaces share common problems, every home is unique, so we take an individual approach to find the solution that will best fit your needs and budget.
Let us turn your crawl space from a place to avoid to a space that gives you peace of mind, increases the energy efficiency of your home and helps lower your utility bills.