Water in crawl spaces can be a bigger problem than you might think. Even though a crawl space is a relatively remote area of the home, water that pools there can cause issues on every floor if mold forms. There are two things mold needs to survive: Moisture and darkness, both of which are commonly found in a crawl space that has a leakage problem.
Many households don't realize they have a mold problem when it develops within a crawl space, because it is basically out of sight. But the mold can grow on the piers and joists and eventually cause structural issues, and in addition the mold spores can spread within the house by travelling through the ventilation system, leading to health problems.
5 Causes of Mold in a Crawl Space
The best solution to a problem is prevention and that's expecially true when it comes to mold. This article will explain the five primary ways water can enter your crawl space and how to prevent it from ever happening.
Poor Grading on Surrounding Landscape
The proper grading surrounding your house is critical when it comes protecting your home from leakage. In fact, it cannot be stressed enough how important a slope away from the home is in preventing foundation damage.
In other words, properly sloped grading around your foundation and crawl space can help prevent water from entering your home.
The good news is, this isn't a difficult issue to fix. The solution to a poor sloping grade is to build it up. Make sure you have a slope of at least 6-8 inches away from the foundation walls, extending for the first 6-8 feet. It's a best practice to check the grade every spring after the ground thaws. You'll be able to see if the winter has washed away or caused any shifting of the structure.
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Downspouts and Gutter Issues
One of the most common causes of crawl space leaks is improper downspout aiming or failure to clean the gutters. Cleaning the gutters is a relatively easy task and there are a number of different tools available. The most inexpensive is the Getter Gutter Scoop, but you'll need a ladder and the job itself can be a bit messy. There are also numerous pressure washer attachments such as the AgiiMan Gutter Cleaning Tool.
If the problem is your downspouts, you'll need to assess the situation to determine the best way to redirect the water away from your house. There are plenty of options available such as Downspout Flexi-Drain Extenders, Hinged Downspout Extenders, and Splash Blocks.
Downspouts should be pointed away from the home's foundation. They should also be accompanied by a 2-foot splash block at the bottom that guides water away. When a home doesn't have a downspout, or has one that is facing the house, the rain water will eventually wash away the grade of your soil. Over time, the water will be directed towards the foundation and can eventually flood a basement or crawl space.
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Over-Watering Flower Beds
Sometimes water in your crawl space is caused by human error. If a hose is left running near the side of the house, or if the shrubs and flowers are over-watered, or a sprinkler head breaks. Any of these scenarios could cause water to pool next to your foundation, with the end result being water seapage into your basement or crawl space.
In most cases, this issue will be resolved as soon as it's discovered by simply turning off the water or replacing the sprinkler. Many times when excessive water collects it'll create a "hole" where it pools. Simply grab a shovel and fill in the area and check that the graded slope allows for the water to be diverted away from your foundation.
Ruptured Water Lines
Not all crawl space leaks originate from outside your house. If you have a water pipe that has burst or developed a slow leak, the water could find itself under your house! Water will always trickles down, so even if the damaged pipe is somewhere near an upstairs bathroom, the water's final resting place could end up in your crawl space.
The easiest way to detect a broken pipe is by taking a visual inventory of the home, looking for obvious wet spots. However, if you suspect you have a broken pipe, but can’t locate the leak call in a plumbing service to help you.
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Subterranean water issues is when water comes from underground. This problem could be the result of a broken city line. If this is the case, the city municipality will need to come onsite to fix any line problems on their end. In most cases, you won't be responsible for the break in the line repairs, but you will need to pay for to the damage to your home.
There are also a number of other issues that could cause subterranean water to form. Here are a few of the most common:
- The foundation walls are creating a dam that's causing the surface water to seep underground. Eventually the water will find an opening in the foundation.
- The underground drains, which are designed to carry the water away from the house, have become damaged, plugged, or have an insufficient slope.
- A rain storm created too much water for your drainage system to handle. This can cause pools of water to form which can seep deep into the soil.
Depending upon how severe your problem is, you may want to contact a professional to diagnose and repair the underlying issue.
Other Waterproofing Options
There are many ways to waterproof your crawl space. Most of the techniques discussed in the article HERE can be applied to crawl spaces. Keeping your crawl space dry will prevent mold from developing as well as protecting the intergety of your home.