First – what is a crawl space? As the name implies, it’s a space in your home where you need to crawl, because it’s not high enough to walk in. The crawl space can be under the floors instead of a basement, However, it can also be in the attic. In both areas you’ll find important pieces of the building’s infrastructure. And some things need to be watched and sometimes maintained.
Foundation Crawl Space
Let’s talk about the foundation crawl space, which is beneath the floors on the ground level. Have you ever gone down there to visit? It’s not usually the nicest space in the home. Most of the time, the floor of the crawl space is a concrete slab. But sometimes (usually in older homes) it’s a dirt floor. Crawl spaces are typically 2-3 feet in height.
Starting from the bottom, you should have a vapor barrier. This keeps moisture from rising from the ground, which can create mold and other nasty growths. If the floor is a concrete slab, that’s the vapor barrier. If it’s a dirt floor, a sheet of plastic needs to cover the entire area.
Above you is insulation. This should be installed between every joist or beam, giving a solid barrier of insulation material to conserve heat. Watch out for that tricky thing called gravity. It tends to pull the insulation down from its intended location.
Often you’ll find duct work for the heat and cooling systems. These can also fall victim to gravity. The duct work ideally should be insulated to conserve energy.
Plumbing and Electric
You’ll also find plumbing supply and drain lines. The supply lines should be above the insulation and protected from the cold weather.
You’ll also find electrical wires. Sometimes unwanted critters enter the crawl space and they have been known to chew on electrical wiring, which could possibly cause a fire.
Holes in the Foundation
Various items at times need to go to the outside of the home. Examples would be wires for outdoor electrical receptacles and lighting, plumbing for outside hose faucets, incoming plumbing and gas supply lines, clothes dryer exhaust vents. The holes made in the foundation or the supporting beams above the foundation are quite often larger than necessary. This can lead to energy loss or can be a doorway for unwanted critters to enter.
You should also find foundation vents. These are grills which should be opened in the summer to allow air to blow through the crawl space. These should be closed in the winter to conserve heat. Vents are available that automatically open and close at the appropriate temperature.
Attic Crawl Space
In the attic the insulation is below you, directly above the ceiling of the rooms below. Most older homes had 4” of insulation installed originally. Over the years this insulation tends to collapse upon itself, which lowers the effective insulation. Installing additional insulation will help keep your home warmer in winter and cooler in summer. These days it’s recommended that you have up to 14″ of insulation.
The attic also requires ventilation to allow hot air to escape in the summer, which will prolong the life of the roof. Fans should be installed that have thermostats to turn the fan on or off as the situation requires. Many of the items in the lower crawl also apply to the attic.
Be proactive and maintain these important areas of your home that most people ignore. Maintaining these areas properly will also have an affect when you sell the home.
Speaking of selling your home – call us when it’s time. Call Bunny and Art Reiman – the Adult Community Specialists!
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