Crawl space water damage and basement water damage are unfortunately very common. This is because crawl space water damage and basement water damage can come from both outdoor and indoor sources. Since they're the lowest points in your house, crawl spaces and basements are typically the final traveling point of moisture that has leaked anywhere inside your home. The rising groundwater from soil that's underneath your house is another moisture source that feeds crawl space water damage and basement water damage.

One of the biggest outdoor moisture factors is your landscaping. Because water runs downhill, and because it always follows the "path of least resistance," your landscaping dictates whether your crawl space or basement stays dry or is prone to water intrusion.

The good news is that there are several preventative measures you can take to ensure that your landscaping doesn't contribute to crawl space water damage or basement water damage.

How to prevent crawl space water damage with landscaping?

  • Focus on the grade of your landscape. The grade of your landscape should be sloped away from your home, ensuring the water flows away from your crawl space or basement. The soil covering the first four feet outstretched from your foundation should slope downward, away from the home, so that water is diverted away and prevented from pooling near the crawl space or basement walls. Once you've gotten into the yard, your slope can be less extreme - just keep in mind that no areas of ground in your yard should slope toward the home.
  • Never use topsoil. Always make sure to use clean fill dirt for the areas of your yard directly adjacent to the house. Topsoil is porous and provides little to no resistance to water that could soak into the ground around the crawl space or basement, which would then infiltrate the home through cracks in the walls.
  • Keep flower beds away from the foundation. While they're beautiful to look at, flower beds next to your foundation could unfortunately promote crawl space water damage and basement water damage. Flower beds are typically made up of a large surface of soil that's porous and exposed, meaning it's ready and willing to absorb moisture that will then trickle downward along the foundation's wall.

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How to know if you're experiencing crawl space water damage?

Common signs of crawl space water damage issues include wood rot, termite damage to subfloor materials, hardwood flooring "cupping," and visible mold growth on the wood surfaces underneath your home. Many crawl spaces have exposed earthen floors, which can allow ground moisture to seep out from underneath your home and increase the humidity levels - especially if you don't have a dehumidifier for crawl space.

How to prevent crawl space water damage with dehumidifiers?

Another issue that stems from not having crawl space dehumidifiers or crawl space fans is the mixing of cooler crawl space air with the surrounding outside air. Without a crawl space fan, when warm, humid air from the outside enters the crawl space through crawl space vents, it clashes with the cool crawl space surfaces and results in condensation. This repeated wetting of building materials day after day provides the perfect environment for mold growth, which is what makes crawl space dehumidifiers and crawl space fans so important. To make matters worse, groundwater enters under our homes through leaks and seepage caused by improper grading, waterproofing, or guttering. The combined high levels of moisture along with a lack of crawl space dehumidifiers and crawl space fans can cause wood rot, mold growth, and even attract termites causing further damage to your joists and subfloor inside your crawl space.

Most crawl space ventilation systems, such as passive crawl space ventilation openings and crawl space ventilation flood vents, can often make the problem worse than having no crawl space ventilation at all, especially in extremely humid environments. To combat this, AdvantaClean has the expertise with these common issues to diagnose your specific issue and prescribe a solution; and once a moisture source is confirmed and addressed, our mold specialists can perform a professional remediation of the mold.

How to prevent crawl space water damage with a vapor barrier system? 

A crawl space vapor barrier system prevents ground moisture evaporation from entering your crawl space air. When you couple a crawl space vapor barrier system with a waterproofing system, moisture and water can be barred from the crawl space before it has a chance to cause problems - which means no more mold, foul odors, rot, rust, insects, rodents, and other humidity- or moisture-related problems.

A vapor barrier itself is designed to resist the flow of air. By stopping air movement, it turns your crawl space into a semi-conditioned area by making the temperature close to the living spaces in your home above the crawl space. When the temperature in your crawl space is similar to the temperature in your home's living areas, your floors feel warmer in the winter.

A crawl space vapor barrier system also has been known to slow the movement of harmful gases like radon from infiltrating the soil, helping the crawl space vapor barrier system greatly reduce the levels of radon found in the home.

More info? For more information about how to protect your crawl space from water damage, check out our other post: 5 Benefits of Having a Dehumidifier in Your Crawl Space.

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