Most home inspections begin in the basement and crawl spaces of a home because that is where the majority of problems occur. This is where the majority of structural components, major plumbing and electrical system components, and central heating and cooling systems are exposed to water and moisture. Exposure to high levels of moisture can cause serious damage to your home. Damp and nasty basements and crawl spaces will lead to mold growth and rotting wood, resulting in structural damage as well as harmful airborne mold spores. To prevent such damage the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has instructed that conditioned crawl spaces provide better moisture control with an added bonus of being more energy efficient. Traditionally, these standards are required by building codes with exceptions in flood zones, raised pier foundations, and dry and marine climates. Your building inspector will be knowledgeable of the requirements.
Conditioned crawl spaces protect several areas, including:
• Perimeter walls which are sealed to prevent outdoor air from penetrating into the home
• Insulated walls to reduce heat transfer in and out of the space
• Floor drains leading outdoors or to a sump pit
• Exhaust or air supply
Here is how you can protect your home and family from potential health hazards.
Ventilation openings should not be installed in the crawl space walls except when an active exhaust fan is located in the wall for mechanical ventilation. Make sure exterior hatches and doors, joints between the foundation and the wall, and ducts, conduits, or other penetration points are sealed using caulks and adhesives.
Just because your basement or crawl space is sealed does not mean that moisture and humidity problems are eliminated. A small amount of water can cause significant problems unless provisions are made. Mechanical ventilation can help eliminate these issues in two ways. The first is to install an exhaust fan into the crawl space wall which will remove air from the crawl space and replace it with conditioned air from the living space. The second is when conditioned air is blown directly from the home’s air conditioning system or HVAC into the space. To aid this type of system, foundation walls may be insulated on the inside, outside, or both. Insulation will help keep the foundation walls a more constant temperature throughout the year.
In warmer weather this will prevent warm air from outside entering the home and condensing on cool surfaces within the home. The reverse applies for cooler climates. This type of sealing system will also increase your energy savings by preventing the loss of dryer conditioned air or warmer conditioned air in winter months from escaping outside.
This post was written for A Mom and Her Blog by Michael Spano with bidonmyrenovation.com, your source for getting multiple NYC contractors to bid on your home renovation projects.