What to Do With Crawl Space Water Damage
The crawl space is an easy area to keep out of sight and out of mind, but a damp or flooded crawl space can cause a variety of problems for homeowners and should not be ignored.
Crawl space water damage can lead to structural problems, pest problems, and mold growth. While mold is always a serious problem that should be handled immediately, it is of particular concern if your HVAC system is located in your crawl space, as this will result in unhealthy air being circulated throughout your home.
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Causes of Crawl Space Water
A variety of things can lead to the accumulation of pooled water in your crawl space. These include, but are not limited to:
- A broken hot water heater
- Ground water seeping through cracks or gaps in your foundation
- Flooding from heavy rainfall
- Sewer drain line leakage
- Overwatering of plants and lawn
- Landscaping that slopes toward the foundation of the house, rather than away
- Incorrectly installer gutter downspouts, directing water towards the home’s foundation
As with other types of flooding, care should be taken to ensure safety, and scaled given the type of water you’re dealing with. In particular, water contaminated with sewage contains dangerous toxins, and should only be handled by a professional remediation company. Water that is clear and comes from clean sources, such as rainfall or a broken hot water heater, is not as likely to pose a significant danger to your health, but you should still exercise caution.
If you are cleaning up crawl space water on your own, be sure to wear protective gloves, boots, and a mask. If there is any chance of mold or asbestos, consult with your local hardware store to procure the appropriate mask for your situation.
Steps to Take
First thing’s first — identify and correct the source of the water. There is no sense in draining the water from you crawl space only to have it flood again within a matter of days or weeks. If you cannot determine the source, a water damage remediation company will be able to assess and address this situation.
Remedying the Current Situation
Depending on the amount of pooled water you’re dealing with, you will need either a wet vacuum or a sump pump to get rid of the standing water. Be careful using tools around any pooled water, as water and electricity are a very dangerous combination. Consult with an electrician there is water pooled around electrical outlets or wires, and never take any risks when it comes to this potentially dangerous situation. This is another instance where a remediation professional can help to assess the safety of the situation.
To remove moisture from the air, as well as moisture that has soaked into porous surfaces, utilize a dehumidifier. It is important to address even water that cannot be seen with the naked eye, as any remaining moisture will allow for mold growth.
Address Mold Growth
Speaking of mold, now is the time to get rid of any mold that has grown due to your water problem. If the water damage is less than 48 hours old, you might be safe, but if it has gone on longer than that, chances are, you might have some mold lurking within that damage.
In particular, there may be mold in drywall, soil, and other porous surfaces. If soil has been infested by mold growth, that soil will need to be removed/replaced. The same goes for drywall.
You may be able to spot mold growth, or may smell a musty odor. Even if neither of these clear cues is present, if water has been sitting for a while, you would be best advised to contact a mold remediation company for a consultation. The last thing you want is for mold to make its way through your vents and impact your entire home.
Future Prevention and Protection
You have a variety of options when it comes to how to best protect your crawl space from future water issues, as well as to protect your home from anything going on in your crawl space. All options first necessitate that your current water problem and damage have been dealt with, so be sure to have all of that taken care of before moving forward, or work with a company that will handle the entire situation.
Solutions to problems with water in your crawl space vary, and you should make decisions based on the source, severity, and persistence of the issues you’re facing. Your situation might be remedied by repairing cracks in your foundation, or installing a dehumidifier.
Another option is completely sealing your crawl space with an encapsulation system.This can be anything from a single sheet of plastic to a full system, complete with thicker vapor barriers, drainage trenches, sump pumps, and dehumidifiers. It is hard to tell how far to go when it comes to protecting your crawl space from future damage, so it can be helpful to bring in water damage remediation professionals, who will best be able to assess which route you should choose.
It is estimated by homeadvisor.com that the average total cost of cleaning up and repairing existing water damage, as well as installing an encapsulation system is $5,500, though they note that the cost can vary greatly, from $1,500 to $15,000. The overall price varies based on the extent of damage, the condition of the crawl space, and the rates in your area, and is also greatly impacted by the type of encapsulation system installed.
Dealing with crawl space water damage on your own can be a lot of work, and also pretty risky. It’s always a good idea to reach out to the experts, and Abbotts Cleanup & Restoration provides both water and mold remediation services, and will be able to provide a free consultation to determine exactly what you might need.