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8 Dirty Little Secrets in Your Crawl Space

Pretty blonde woman with eyes and mouth wide open expressing shock at being told her home has black mold.

Oh my! How could my home have sick building syndrome?

Most of us have no desire to enter space that lies beneath our homes.

Crawl Spaces typically are dark, dirty and damp. A haven for spiders and animal waste prevents them from being an attractive venue for even the most adventurous of us.

The conditions within Crawl Spaces prevents most East Tennessee homeowners from seeing the damage that can occur to the foundation and mechanical systems of a home. Most forget entirely what lays below.  See a Crawl Space Inspection LIVE!

Neglecting your crawl space can jeopardize both your health and investment.

1. Dirt Floors-

90 of crawl spaces have dirt or gravel floors. As we inspect and test homes we find alarming volumes of dirt, dust and moisture that are in the air our clients breathe originated in the crawl space.

Most floors lack even a basic plastic vapor barrier that covers the dirt grade. Lack of a proper vapor barrier allows moisture to saturate framing and finished floorings inside your home creating mold, fungus and bacterias a great environment to grow and enter your home and your lungs.

Crawl spaces should be professionally inspected every six months.

2. Pipes-

Plumbing is often installed underneath your home. It is an economical location and easy to access while the home is being built. However the ease of access ends when the home is built over the crawl space.

Freezing temperatures and aging can cause most pipes to age and leak. Our inspectors frequently find leaking joints to waste and water supply lines during our inspections.

Imagine water and waste pooling just a foot or so below your carpets and wood floors.

3. Wires, Wires and More Stuff-

70 to 80% of the wiring in your home is run underneath the sub flooring. Some homes have very neat and organized wire runs, others, not so much.

During inspections it not unusual to find sagging wires in contact with metal pipes and in extreme cases open power boxes, rodent damaged wires or loose connections that can arch and cause fires.

Couple the above conditions, with moisture and lack of inspection over decades, you have a potential recipe for disaster and maintenance headaches.

4. Heating and Ventilation Systems-

Sewer and Water supply lines share the crawl space along with dryer vents and components of the Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning systems (HVAC).

In our inspections we often find damage to the supply and return ducts under homes. Conditioned air duct supply nice cozy homes for insects, snakes and rodents both large and small during all seasons of the year.

It’s not unusual to find leaks, gaps or holes in HVAC systems. Leaking systems within the crawl space that can actually draw air from the crawl space, waste energy and allow contaminate the systems that bring conditioned air into your home.

In recent National Energy studies it was calculated that 25 to 40% of the air in your home came from your crawl space.

5. Foundation Ventilation-

Ever wondered what those small rectangular grids were in your foundation wall?

Foundation vents were intended to allow your crawl space to breathe and release moist air from under the house and allow the crawl space to dry out. Critical to your crawl space and homes health these vents should be open and clear year round to function as designed.

The vents should have screening on them to keep out the little buggers and critters.
Let the fresh air in and the musty moist air out with proper operating foundation vents.

6. Crawl Space Moisture Barriers-

Photo of crawl space with saturated block and mold covered contents.

Crawl Spaces are often nasty. Note moisture in block walls and mold covered furniture store there for “safe keeping”.

Vapor barriers are very important part of your crawl space system.

Typically a heavy plastic sheet that covers the grade soils of your crawl space from wall to wall. Functioning as a, skin or barrier, from the ground to interior framing it keeps moisture from evaporating into your home and allowing mold growth on the wood framing under your home.

Controlling moisture under the home slows or minimizes mold growth and improves comfort up above inside your home.

7. Sub Floor Insulation-

Sub floor insulation is visible from the crawl space looking up toward the home. Insulation has two purposes: First to form a moisture barrier, Second to control thermal bridging to the interior of the home.

Most people insulate their floors to control energy loss and improve comfort. Nobody likes cold feet.

As we inspect home we typically find fallen or missing insulation. Fallen insulation can be caused by excessive moisture in the crawl space or poor installation practices.
What ever the cause, fallen or missing insulation, causes loss of energy, migration of damp crawl space air into the home and discomfort for those in doors.

8. Varmints and Crawlers-

As we inspect we always look forward to running into the other critters who live in / under your home. Rodents and insects are bad for homes in a great many ways.

Damaged wood framing, insulation and HVAC ducts frequently fall victims to these freeloading tenants. Attracted by the “cover” of a vacant space, moisture and food a multitude of varmints can be quite comfortable in the home below your home.

Entering through holes in the foundation and missing or damaged foundation vents they are sometimes tough to evict.

A through regular inspection can eliminate their mischief and poor house manners.


Ask your self: “When was the last time my crawl space was professionally inspected?” It’s a bad sign if you cant remember.

Volunteer Mold and Indoor Air Quality, based in Knoxville, TN, supplies affordable, professional inspections and solutions to environmental concerns at home and work.

Visit our Web Site or call us today for a free phone consultation and to schedule an appointment to inspect your home today.


Photo of Building Science Expert, Bob Byrne from Knoxville TN

Bob Byrne specializes in Indoor Air Quality and Mold inspections in the East Tennessee and the Knoxville area.

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