If your house has a crawl space, you may have noticed puddles of standing water. So, you start to wonder: is water in a crawl space normal?
While a certain amount of moisture in a crawl space is to be expected, standing water is a problem. If left unchecked, it can promote mold and mildew growth, as well as termite and rodent intrusion.
This can damage your home’s structure and pose health risks to you and your loved ones. Dampness in a crawl space can also increase energy costs and reduce the value of your home.
In this article, we’ll discuss the causes and risks associated with water in a crawl space. We’ll also tell you who to call to come and assess the situation.
Stagnant water in the crawl space can be detrimental in various ways, such as the following:
Mold and mildew are two types of harmful fungi that thrive in damp and humid environments, making a wet crawl space their perfect breeding ground. As such, they can spread quickly through the home and cause various health problems, including allergies, skin irritation, and respiratory diseases.
The moist environment attracts insects, such as termites, pests, and rodents. These unwanted intruders can cause significant damage to your home and your family’s health.
Water in a crawl space can also lead to other microorganisms, including bacteria and viruses. When the moisture evaporates, these microorganisms are released into the air, causing foul odors and symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue, and asthma.
When the crawl space is damp, it can make your home feel colder. This makes you use your heating system more, which drives up your energy bills.
Water in a crawl space can saturate the soil around the foundation, causing it to expand and contract. This can damage your home’s foundation, resulting in cracked walls, uneven floors, and difficult windows.
Various factors can cause water to accumulate in a crawl space.
Dampness in a crawl space is commonly caused by naturally present water in the ground. This is especially true if the home is located in an area with high levels of underground water or if the soil around the home is poorly draining.
Grading refers to the slope of the ground around a house or building. If the grading is insufficient, water can pool around the foundation instead of away from the property.
Also if the property is located on a slope or hill, water can easily flow toward the building and accumulate around the foundation.
Plumbing leaks or broken pipes can cause moisture to seep into the crawl space. If the leak is neglected, this will eventually result in water accumulation.
Gutters and downspouts divert water away from the roof and foundation of the building. If they get clogged with leaves and other types of debris, they can overflow and cause moisture to accumulate around the foundation of your home, including in the crawl space.
Houses with faulty drainage systems, such as sump pumps or French drains, tend to suffer from puddles in the crawlspace. If these systems are damaged, they lose their function, which is to help direct water away from the foundation and crawl space.
In areas with high humidity, condensation can form on the walls, floors, and other surfaces in the crawl space. Over time, this causes a build-up of dampness and moisture within the structure of the house.
Proper ventilation is essential in crawl spaces to avoid moisture buildup. Inadequate ventilation can mean too much moisture, leading to water accumulation in the crawl space.
In areas with heavy rainfall, even a well-designed drainage system might be unable to keep up with the amount of water that accumulates around a property’s foundation, eventually seeping into the crawl space.
Frequent heavy rain can also saturate the soil around the foundation, causing water levels to rise. If the crawl space doesn’t have proper drainage, moisture will seep into the crawl space through the floor and walls.
Whether the water goes away on its own depends on several factors like the volume of water, temperature, humidity, and soil type.
It’ll probably go away if the water is caused by heavy rainfall or snowmelt. A continuous source of water, such as groundwater or plumbing, can’t disappear on its own.
If the amount of water is minimal, it’s more likely to evaporate or be absorbed by the soil. In contrast, if the volume is significant, it takes much longer to go away.
Higher temperatures and lower humidity levels can increase the evaporation rate, which can help the water evaporate faster.
On the flip side, lower temperatures and higher humidity levels aren’t conducive to quick evaporation, making it more difficult for the moisture to go away.
Well-draining soil, such as sand, helps water dissipate more quickly. On the other hand, poorly-draining soil, such as clay, slows down the evaporation process.
If you can’t seem to find the source of the problem or if the water keeps coming back, it’s time to contact a professional to assess the situation and recommend an appropriate solution.
These professionals specialize in waterproofing crawl spaces. They can identify the cause of the water and recommend proper solutions, such as installing drainage systems, vapor barriers, sump pumps, and French drain systems.
If the dampness in the crawl space is caused by plumbing issues such as leaky pipes, you must contact a licensed plumber to repair the problem.
Professional gutter cleaners have the expertise and equipment to safely unclog your gutters, preventing water from overflowing and entering your crawl space. They may also recommend installing gutter guards to prevent future clogs.
If you suspect that the moisture in your crawl space has caused structural damage to your home’s foundation, walls, etc., a structural engineer can recommend and implement necessary repairs.
If the damp areas in your crawl space have resulted in mold or mildew growth, contact mold remediation specialists. They can assess the extent of mold growth and take steps to eliminate it to prevent health hazards.
Damp environments attract mold, mildew, termites, and rodents, causing health problems and structural damage to your home. Increased energy costs and reduced home value are other harmful consequences that may arise from having stagnant water in a crawl space.
Dampness can accumulate in a crawl space due to groundwater, inadequate grading, and damaged draining systems. Heavy rainfall and clogged gutters are also common causes.
If you can, try to fix the problem with a few DIY solutions. If you’re unsure or need assistance, reach out to any of the professional experts mentioned above to help you put an end to the problem once and for all.
Remember, early intervention is key to avoiding structural damage and potential health problems.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems and over 10 years of experience working in IT. As a homeowner, I love working on projects around the house, and as a father, I love investigating various ways to keep my family safe (whether or not this involves tech). I’ve also played guitar for almost 20 years and love writing music, although it’s hard to find the time these days.