The crawl space is one of the most neglected areas of a home. Crawl spaces are dark, dusty, cramped and generally miserable which is enough to keep people out of them. However, spending an hour or so each year looking around in a crawl space can help a homeowner to identify potentially severe problems while they are minor and easy to fix. Working part time as a handyman I have gone into many crawl spaces for clients to complete a minor repair and uncovered a more serious problem. If you have a home with a crawl space, grab a flashlight and go into the crawlspace at least once a year and look things over. Here are some key things to look for when inspecting your crawl space.
Mold is one of the most common problems in a crawlspace. If you open the access to a crawlspace and can smell mold, consider hiring a professional to inspect the crawlspace. Breathing in mold spores can result in serious medical problems for even a healthy person. If you cannot smell mold, it may still be present. Look for black or white mold on floor joists and other surfaces in the crawlspace. Various mold killing products are available to homeowners at hardware stores and similar retailers to kill and prevent mold, but care must be taken to not breathe in mold spores.
Mold needs moisture to grow, but regardless of the presence of mold crawlspaces should be as free of moisture as possible. Though the entire crawl space should be checked for moisture, you should carefully inspect areas under the kitchen and bathrooms for moisture. To prevent moisture in a crawlspace, make certain that none of the pipes running through the crawlspace are leaking, make certain the crawlspace has a vapor barrier (plastic sheeting) in good condition and make certain that the home’s gutters drain away from the home. More serious moisture problems may require the installation of a sump pump in the crawl space or water proofing the foundation walls. If you find rotting floor joists or other wooden structures, this will require immediate attention.
Rodents and Insects
When inspecting a crawl space, look for any signs of rodents or insects. Signs that a homeowner should look for include nests or nest materials (often shredded cloth or insulation), droppings, damage to floor joists and other wooden structures or damage to wiring and insulation.
Loose or missing insulation should be repaired or replaced. Cracked foundation walls are another problem that a crawlspace inspection may uncover. This may be a serious problem and requires immediate attention. If your ductwork runs through your crawlspace, inspect the ductwork for damage. If ducts are damaged or loose, air can be lost into the crawlspace causing an increase in heating and cooling costs. Loose ductwork can also allow dust from the crawlspace to enter the living areas of the home.