Crawl space encapsulation only works if there isn’t any moisture within the crawl space. By moisture, we mean, water. In this case, the homeowner paid over $7,000 because the company installing them said it was the best way to rid the crawlspace of the mold and mildew that had formed on, and rotted, out their floor joists. They also guarantee a clean and dry crawlspace after installation. So, why is there water standing in the crawlspace? Simply put, the tape that holds the seams of the plastic together will never be watertight. And, given there is a high water table in this area, the water forced it’s way up through the seams and, well, there it sits…causing more damage to the joists because it cannot escape. “Wait, Mr. Grout Tech Man, why can’t it escape,” you may be asking. Because when you encapsulate a crawl space you seal off the ventilation holes. “So, that shouldn’t be a problem, right?” Wrong. No ventilation means that any moisture that gets in only has one way out…upwards, though the flooring and the house.
The number one complaint we receive about a crawl space which has been encapsulated to prevent moisture in that space is…it’s not working. Standing water or moist wood is the tell-tale sign of this issue.
The second most common complaint is the smell. Yes, the smell. Gases from the plastic, as well as natural gases rising up from the earth, get trapped in the encapsulated crawl space. Without ventilation they can only go up, just as the moisture. Most people believe it smells like cat urine. I’m not sure. I’ve never really put my nose up to a cat urinating to see what it smells like. I just take their word for it. When we tell them we can fix this, but it will involve creating ventilation, they are usually horrified to find they spent several thousands of dollars on something that doesn’t work as advertised. What? WAIT A MINUTE…. There’s something out there which is being advertised that doesn’t work as advertised to work??? Yep.
The third likely complaint is the home now feels damp. I reference you back to the fact that the water/moisture only has one exit now…upward through your home.
Oh, wait. You can always add a dehumidifier into the crawl space if you have a minor moisture problem. But, really, that should be a last resort (as well as a sump pump), and then only used if in combination with a REAL fix for the problem…ATMOX ventilation systems! Here’s a secret the encapsulators don’t want you to know: You can install the ATMOX system yourself if you’re a bit of a handy ma—errrr, person!