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When Mike and Sue called us, they had a great house that they knew could be better. Well, technically they had two houses; see, their house was formed by what used to be two separate homes, and they had some concerns about the crawl space and the points where the houses were joined. They had cold floors, some moisture concerns, and noticed an odor that they now know was caused by mold (see the first two photos to the right). They wanted to be comfortable and save energy, and wanted reassurance that the structure of the crawl space was sound. Luckily, they were told to call us.
While the structure of the crawl space was safe, the fiberglass insulation was failing and in addition to dead rodents there was, indeed, mold; this isn't uncommon in crawl spaces, particularly in homes near water, but it also isn't something that should be written off or ignored. Mold - which is caused by the presence of ambient moisture and organic materials (wooden beams, in this case) - can exacerbate allergies and eventually even affect the structural integrity of the house by warping and ruining support beams.
Upon inspecting the crawl space, we formed a plan to take care of Mike and Sue's major concerns and make the crawl space safe and energy efficient (see photos 3-5, right). First was replacing the existing vapor barrier with CleanSpace. Affixed to the walls, floor, and support piers, CleanSpace is a resilient vapor barrier that protects the crawl space from ambient moisture. Its bright white color gives the crawl space a clean look and creates better visibility, preventing any dead mouse surprises.
Next was the insulation. The crawl space had fiberglass insulation, which can be effective in some cases but inevitably fails in crawl spaces. Fiberglass insulation absorbs ambient moisture, which causes it to get heavier until it eventually falls down, leaving the crawl space completely unprotected. What a crawl space needs is a water-resistant, inorganic insulation, which is what we provided. We used SilverGlo panels on the walls and sealed the rim joists as well as any corners or difficult gaps with FrothPak foam insulation. SilverGlo panels are rigid and reflective, which allows them to keep the crawl space even warmer than traditional insulation, and FrothPak's spray-in application ensures that we don't miss even the smallest crevice. Due to the stone exterior, we couldn't cover the vents (a major source of energy loss and water entry, not to mention insects and rodents), so we sealed the inside of the vents with SilverGlo and FrothPak as well.
As a final touch, we installed a SaniDry dehumidifier and a SmartDrain to help remove the collected water from the crawl space. A dehumidifier is vital to mold suppression and is an excellent accompaniment to the CleanSpace vapor barrier.
Living near water can present unique problems in your home, but Mike and Sue proved that if you pay attention to the signs of crawl space problems – weird smells, cold floors, and high energy bills – and call us, you can get your home back on track to being safe, comfortable, and energy efficient.
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