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Pros and Cons of Sealing a Crawlspace: Everything You Need to Know

Sealing a Crawlspace

Dark. Damp. Dirty.

When you think about your crawlspace—which may be the last thing you want to do—these may be the words that spring to mind.

Homeowners tend to ignore the dark recesses of the home, but a neglected crawlspace can be a veritable nightmare. Crawlspaces can let in unwanted outdoor issues, like the scorching summer heat, the cold winter chill, or moisture and humidity. They can host uninvited pests, problematic allergens, and even mold and rot.

So how can you make the area more efficient, dry, and useful? Sealing a crawlspace is a great way to clear out these unwanted issues and more. But is this home renovation the right call for you?

If you’re on the fence about it, here are some crawlspace encapsulation pros and cons to consider.

Pro: Prevent Pests from Entering Your Home

North Carolina homeowners have to fight their fair share of pests. Depending on the season, the plague at hand may be ants, termites, spiders, or even rodents.

Fortunately, the airtight barrier of a sealed crawlspace means that unwanted insects and critters can no longer enter. Of course, you’ll have to eradicate any colonies of pests currently living in your crawlspace, but no future unwanted guests will be able to enter when the job is done. If you’re concerned about a particular breed of pest, you can even ask your contractor for pest-specific barriers.

Pro: Reduce Moisture in Your Crawlspace

Household humidity is a genuine issue in any home, but it can be a bigger issue in homes with crawlspaces. These areas tend to trap moisture, making it a breeding ground for mold, mildew, and fungal growth.

This can be a major health issue, especially if anyone in your home has allergies or asthma. If your crawlspace isn’t encapsulated, you may have found yourself needing professional mold removal to take care of the problem in the past.

If you opt to have your crawlspace sealed, however, part of the process will involve cleaning and prepping your space. This can ensure the resulting encapsulated crawlspace is free of potential health hazards, and the airtight barrier will keep future moisture outside of your home where it belongs.

Furthermore, the seal on your crawlspace can also help protect your home’s foundations. Moisture leads to rot, which can impact the structural integrity of a house, but a sealed home is more stable and better protected overall.

Pro: Increase Energy Efficiency

Once you’ve made your crawl space airtight, there will be no more loss of hot or cool air to the outside.

This in turn means that your HVAC system will no longer need to fight so hard to keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. In the long run, this conserves energy and reduces your heating costs over the lifetime of your home.

Pro: Add Storage Space

An encapsulated crawl space is dry, airtight, and sanitary once more. If you have easy access to the area, such as a well-insulated and airtight door, you can treat your crawl space like any other storage space within your home.

Con: The Cost

This is the most obvious of our crawl space encapsulation cons. On average, a homeowner can expect to pay anywhere from $1,500 to $15,000 for the job. The price will depend on the size of your crawlspace, the supplies, the condition of the crawl space, and the labor involved.

In addition, as you prepare for the encapsulation, you might run into a few additional costs.

First, your contractor may recommend that you install some additional insulation around your foundation wall to improve the area’s energy efficiency. In addition, if you have wires and pipes running through your crawlspace, you may need to consult with a plumber or electrician to take any safety considerations into account before construction can proceed.

Con: More Maintenance

Now that you’re no longer ignoring your crawlspace, you’ll need to keep maintaining it just as you do any other part of your home. This will include adding regular crawlspace inspections to your annual home maintenance checklist, just to be sure that the area remains properly insulated and well maintained.

Con: Potential HVAC Upgrade

After your crawlspace has been encapsulated, air movement through your home will be more restricted. This may mean that your HVAC system—designed with the former air circulation in mind—may no longer be as efficient as it once was. This may be more likely if you have a combustion-based furnace or heater.

If your house no longer feels as warm or cool as it used to be in the months following your crawlspace encapsulation, you might need to upgrade your HVAC system to ensure your home comfort.

Con: Lack of Storage

On the flipside of our earlier note, if you do not have access to your crawlspace through a door, you will be losing access to a storage space you may have been using. Continuing to store materials in your crawlspace would require you to break the seal to access them—which negates the benefits of the encapsulation—so you’ll need to find somewhere else to keep them.

Consider Your Next Steps for Sealing a Crawlspace

Sealing a crawlspace is a popular solution for avoiding pests, moisture issues, heating inefficiency, and more. However, it also comes with a few drawbacks that you should keep in mind as you consider your next steps.

If you’re dealing with issues like water in your crawlspace or even heavier flooding, it may be time to consider better prevention methods.

1. Why is crawl space encapsulation bad?

Crawl space encapsulation might not always be the perfect solution. Some negatives to crawl space encapsulation include the initial cost of installation, which can be relatively high for some homeowners. Furthermore, if poorly installed or if the crawl space is not adequately conditioned after encapsulation, it could lead to an imbalance in humidity levels, potentially causing other issues within the home. The process also necessitates regular maintenance checks to ensure the encapsulation remains effective and does not inadvertently trap moisture, leading to mold or mildew problems, negating the encapsulation’s benefits.

2. Is encapsulating a crawl space worth it?

Yes, encapsulating a crawl space is worth it. It effectively controls moisture and humidity under the house, preventing issues such as mold growth, wood rot, and pest infestations, all of which can impact the structural integrity and air quality of a home. Additionally, encapsulation can improve energy efficiency by reducing the humidity that makes heating and cooling systems work harder. While there might be an upfront cost, the long-term benefits to the home’s structural health, energy savings, and indoor air quality make crawl space encapsulation a valuable investment.

3. What are the negatives to crawl space encapsulation?

Crawl space encapsulation has a few negatives worth considering. Initially, the process can be costly and may not fit every budget. Moreover, if not done correctly, it could trap moisture already inside the crawl space, leading to mold growth and wood rot. Additionally, poor installation can result in ineffective sealing, requiring further investment to rectify. Search for “crawl space encapsulation near me” online and ensure a professional and thorough job to avoid these issues.

4. When should you not encapsulate a crawl space?

There are a few pros and cons of insulating crawl space, and they depend on individual circumstances. You should reconsider encapsulating your crawl space if your home is located in a very cold climate without proper insulation or heating in the crawl space, as this can lead to frozen pipes and potential water damage.

Additionally, if your crawl space already has efficient water drainage and humidity control measures in place, the benefits of encapsulation may not outweigh the costs. Always assess your home’s specific needs and consult with professionals before deciding on encapsulation.

5. Should a crawl space be sealed?

Yes, sealing a crawl space is generally beneficial. It mitigates moisture issues, reducing mold growth and wood rot, and prevents pest infestations, contributing to the home’s overall structural integrity. Additionally, encapsulation helps regulate indoor temperatures by blocking humid air from entering, improving energy efficiency and comfort. While considering the pros and cons, the long-term benefits of a sealed crawl space make it a worthy investment. You shall also consider alternatives to crawl space encapsulation like crawl space waterproofing. Talk to our experts to know more.

6.What are the problems with crawlspace encapsulation?

While crawl space encapsulation can significantly mitigate moisture-related issues, potential negatives should be considered. If not properly installed or maintained, encapsulation can lead to trapped moisture, creating an environment conducive to mold growth and wood rot. Moreover, initial costs to seal crawl space can be high, and incorrect installation may inadvertently seal in existing pests or moisture. Homeowners must ensure encapsulation is correctly executed and regularly inspected to avoid such pitfalls.

7. Is crawl space encapsulation a good idea?

Yes, crawlspace encapsulation is generally considered a good idea, particularly for homeowners looking to protect their property from moisture-related issues. This process effectively seals off the crawl space from external elements, maintaining a dry and stable environment that can also improve energy efficiency by mitigating the stack effect. While there may be an upfront investment, the benefits of preventing structural damage and creating a healthier living environment make encapsulation a worthwhile consideration for home improvement enthusiasts.

8. Should I condition my crawl space?

Yes, conditioning your crawl space is generally recommended. It can prevent moisture-related problems like mold growth, wood rot, and pest infestations, improving the overall air quality and structural integrity of your home. By controlling moisture, you also reduce energy costs by minimizing the humidity that enters your living space, making it easier to heat and cool.

Additionally, conditioning can create a usable storage space while protecting the foundation and interior of your home from outside temperature differentials. Remember that the initial cost of conditioning can be high and requires regular maintenance. So, weigh in the conditioned crawl space pros and cons before you make a decision.

9. Do I really need to encapsulate my crawl space?

Whether you need to encapsulate your crawl space depends on various factors such as moisture problems, mold growth, pest infestations, and energy inefficiency in your home. If you experience high humidity, moldy smells, fluctuating indoor temperatures, or pest issues, encapsulation can offer significant benefits.

It creates a moisture barrier, improves air quality, enhances energy efficiency, and prevents structural damage. However, it’s an investment, and considerations should be made based on the specific conditions and problems your crawl space is facing. Talk to our experts if you’d like to know about the crawl space encapsulation cost.

10. Does crawl space encapsulation help energy bills?

Yes, one of the crawl space encapsulation benefits is that it can help reduce energy bills. By preventing moisture and humidity from entering the crawl space, it creates a barrier that can lower the need for cooling and heating, as the trapped humidity and moisture are significant factors in fluctuating indoor temperatures. This process improves the overall energy efficiency of the home, potentially leading to lower energy costs.

Check out our blog for more information and crawlspace encapsulation tips.

Learn more about Sedona Waterproofing Solutions.