Pros & Cons of Crawl Space Encapsulation

From family photos to old Christmas decorations, crawl spaces are often used as a storage space in a home while providing a protective barrier for the first floor. However, whether or not this crawl space is encapsulated, also usually insulated and sealed, is a question that many home owners or home builders think about for their own foundations. There are a variety of pros and cons concerning this, and you must take each into consideration to determine whether encapsulation is right for your particular house.

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Creating a crawl space is done as a house is being built.

Moisture

Crawl space humidity is often an issue with homes that are in moisture-laden regions.Ventilation is necessary to keep this area from becoming saturated with water; however, it is more difficult when there is insulation in the crawl space, for it traps the moisture. Insulation becomes saturated with water and can fall off to the floor. Encapsulation is the solution to this, and should be done in regions that are known for having a high moisture content. Waterproofing and complete sealing are needed, and encapsulation therefore becomes a positive for foundations in these regions.

Cost

Encapsulating a crawl space is more costly than just leaving it as is. The crawl space must be sealed with airtight covers, and the walls and floors must be lined with a thick plastic liner when it is encapsulated. This is expensive and time consuming for a home owner.

Protection

Shielding from termites must be considered during the installation of a crawl space. Encapsulation protects against termites, especially when used in conjunction with a termite barrier before the installation of the encapsulation. This is a positive aspect of encapsulation and is a must in areas where termites are a widespread problem.

Heating

Encapsulating a crawl space may initially be more costly than just leaving it, which can be a problem for many home owners. However, in the long run, it is less expensive as it can reduce heating costs. The process actually improves a home's energy efficiency as hot air is not lost through the crawl space, and the area actually creates its own form of air insulation, protecting the house's heat from the cold ground underneath. This also works in summer, maintaining a cool element in the basement of the house that aids in cooling down the entire home.