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May 15, 2024

Springtime in Pennsylvania is a beautiful season, full of blooming flowers, budding trees, and unfortunately, plenty of rain. As the ground becomes saturated with spring rain, many homeowners find themselves dealing with excess humidity and water infiltration in their basements and crawl spaces. This can lead to a host of problems, including mold growth, structural damage, and poor indoor air quality

If the time has come to put these moisture issues behind you for good, the solution lies in a combination of waterproofing, insulating, and air sealing the bottom of your home called basement or crawl space encapsulation. In this article we will get into how spring moisture problems occur, and how they are resolved from a building science perspective.

The Problem: Spring Rain and Basement Moisture

During the spring, Pennsylvania’s climate brings heavy rains — and while this precipitation is great for gardens, it can wreak havoc on your home as it is absorbed into the ground. When the ground becomes overly saturated, the water table rises, and hydrostatic pressure increases against your basement walls and floor. This pressure can force water through any cracks or gaps in the foundation, leading to water infiltration.

There are several ways that moisture can enter your basement during rainy spring months:

  1. Hydrostatic Pressure: Increased groundwater levels create pressure against the foundation, forcing water through cracks and gaps.

  2. Capillary Action: Water from saturated soil can travel through small pores in the concrete or masonry, moving upwards or laterally into the basement.

  3. Surface Water Runoff: Poor grading or ineffective gutter systems can cause rainwater to pool around the foundation, eventually seeping into the basement.

  4. Condensation: High humidity levels can lead to condensation on cooler basement surfaces, adding to the moisture problem.

Signs of Basement/Crawlspace Moisture

Excess moisture in your basement or crawlspace is more than just a nuisance; it can cause serious damage to your home and pose health risks to your family. Here are some of the primary concerns, and signs that you may have too much moisture in your home:

  • Mold and Mildew: 

    • Mold thrives in damp environments and can spread rapidly. Mold spores can cause respiratory issues, allergic reactions, and other health problems.

  • Rot and Structural Damage: 

    • Prolonged moisture exposure and mold growth can weaken or rot the foundation, wooden supports, and other structural components of your home.

  • Poor Indoor Air Quality: 

    • Moisture and mold in the basement can affect the air quality throughout the entire house, as air naturally moves upward from the basement to the living spaces.

  • Increased Energy Bills: 

    • Humidity makes the job of your heating and cooling systems harder, wasting energy, increasing costs, and reducing comfort.

Crawlspace Encapsulation

Crawlspace encapsulation is an effective way to protect your home from moisture infiltration and the associated problems. This process involves creating a sealed barrier that prevents water and humidity from entering your crawlspace.. Here’s how Energy Smart Home Improvement tackles the process:

  1. Inspection and Repair: Begin by inspecting the crawlspace or basement for any existing damage, such as cracks in the foundation or leaks. These should be repaired before encapsulation.

  2. Cleaning and Drying: Thoroughly clean and dry the basement, removing any mold, dirt, and debris.

  3. Installing the Vapor Barrier:

  • A heavy-duty reinforced liner is applied to the floors. This barrier is sealed at seams and edges to create a continuous layer that blocks moisture.

  • All seams and edges are sealed using seam tape and spray foam to ensure a continuous barrier.

  • Vent Sealing: Foundation vents are sealed to create an effective pressure boundary, preventing outside air from entering.

  • Air Sealing: Gaps at the band board detail (the wood framing just above the foundation) are sealed with spray foam to block air infiltration.

  • Insulation Installation: Rigid insulation is applied to the foundation walls to prevent cold temperatures from conducting through the concrete or block into the crawlspace.

  • Blower Door Test: A final blower door test is performed to check for any remaining air leaks and to measure the overall reduction in air infiltration.

  • Benefits of Encapsulation

    By encapsulating your crawlspace, you can enjoy several significant benefits: reduced moisture and humidity, less mold and mildew, enhanced indoor air quality, protection from water damage, improved energy efficiency, and more. If you want to know if basement encapsulation is right for your home, get started with an energy audit from the Energy Smart Home Improvement team.

    Schedule a no-cost home assessment to learn if your home is a good candidate for crawl space encapsulation. Call to schedule now




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