Has your crawl space been inspected lately?
A crawl space is an extension of your home. Therefore, a crawl space inspection should be performed to ensure there are no issues that have gone undetected. Issues inside a crawl space may affect the integrity of your home.
Real estate transactions typically require an all-encompassing home inspection. Generally, this includes a thorough crawl space inspection.
With a home inspection for a real estate transaction, there are typically 3 stages to the crawl space portion of the inspection:
- Entry way to the crawl space
- Superficial observations
- Detailed observations
The licensed home inspector is searching for structural and electrical issues that may be present in addition to issues related to water or moisture. Obviously, these are all important aspects of a home that you should be aware of before purchasing.
Crawl Space Inspections are an Important Part of Home Maintenance
Although a thorough home inspection is done when a home is sold, you should inspect your crawl space a minimum of once per year. Your home and its surroundings change over time. For example, with water from overflowing gutters or consistent rain, the soil around the perimeter of the house can erode or shift. When this happens, water then finds new paths and entry points into your crawl space. ATMOX’s focus is on inspecting for issues related to moisture that can arise within a crawl space. Surprisingly, these simple changing conditions are often the culprit.
Part of a Spring Cleaning Routine
Spring is generally a good time to complete an inspection. Springtime typically brings more rain than other times of the year making it an ideal time to check for potential water intrusion. Additionally, you want to ensure that it is ready for the peak humidity that often comes during the hot summer months.
Keep in mind that there is a difference between a water issue and a moisture issue. However, wherever water is present, moisture will eventually exist in the air as it evaporates. The opposite can also happen when excessive moisture in the air condenses and can create water. Therefore, if you have water in your crawl space, you may have to play detective and investigate to determine which is the cause and which is the effect. Accordingly, both must be addressed. However, water intrusion must be addressed through proper drainage or waterproofing while moisture is addressed by a moisture control solution.
What to Look for in a Crawl Space Inspection
Whether you hire a professional or inspect the crawl space yourself, there are several items you should inspect inside and outside of the crawl space:
Exterior of the House:
- Overflowing gutters
- Direction of downspouts
- Grading around the house
- Gaps and cracks in the foundation
- Vent wells
Overflowing gutters and misdirected downspouts can create water problems in your crawl space. This water flowing toward your crawl space can seep through the crawl space walls. Furthermore, If there are gaps or cracks in the foundation, the water can find an easy entry point. The grading around the house also affects the direction of water. If done improperly, this can also allow water to enter the crawl space.
Interior of the Crawl Space:
- Signs of water intrusion
- Standing water in the crawl space
- Condition of the vapor barrier
- Plumbing leaks
- Insulation intact
- Signs of pests
After inspecting outside factors that may cause water issues, open the crawl space door to visually inspect the area. As a first step, scan the crawl space. Secondly, you or your service professional are going to have to crawl in and really look around all areas and corners of the crawl space.
Once inside, look for signs of mold or moisture on the ceiling of the crawl space. Additionally, are there rusty nails, mold, signs of pests or any indicators that moisture was present?
Is there standing water, insulation on the ground, efflorescence on the wall, or visible mold within the space? All are indicators of water and moisture problems.
Ensure your insulation is intact. If there is droopy or fallen insulation on the floor, check to see if it is wet or moldy. As a result, insulation that absorbs too much moisture may become heavy and tear.
Inspect the entire crawl space vapor barrier for tears or rips. Ground water and moisture can enter through these tears. If you find standing water, pooling or efflorescence, this may indicate that you have an existing or previous water and moisture problem. Standing water could be the result of water intrusion but also of plumbing leaks or even condensation dripping from HVAC ducting can create a pond of water.
Crawl Space Inspections Detect Issues Before Bigger Problems Arise
It is important to look around the outside of your home and inside your crawl space and correct anything that may cause a potential water or moisture issue. As explained, any one of these factors can lead to mold or wood rot within your crawl space. If you do not open your crawl space and check its health, you may be missing some signs that you have a problem. You want to find and address any concerns before they become bigger and more expensive problems. It’s easy to forget about a crawl space, but remember that is the foundation for your entire home.
Installed ATMOX Products
However, there is good news if you have an ATMOX system in place! You already have crawl space conditions at your fingertips. The controller allows you to monitor your crawl space conditions all year long from inside your home. However, it is still important to visually inspect your crawl space and your installed ATMOX products and other moisture control products such as dehumidifiers and sump pumps.
Start with the ATMOX Display
The ATMOX Display should be your starting point for information throughout the year.
Is there a red alert light? Check for notifications or alerts on the system indicating a potential issue within the crawl space or a system component. This will help identify any type of hardware problem.
Review the data on the display of the ATMOX system. Take a look at the temperature and humidity information. Are they in reasonable ranges? When evaluating these readings keep in mind what time of the year it is. These readings may vary depending on the season and your location. Accordingly, if your home is in a region that experiences all four seasons, your readings will vary from Summer to Winter.
Review the wood moisture reading (if installed) to get a good indication of the moisture level in the crawl space. This will vary by season but gives you the best information on moisture conditions.
Test and Inspect ATMOX Components
As part of your crawl space inspection, manually test the components that are installed in your home. Use the test mode to check each of the following components:
- Exhaust and Intake Fans
- Internal Fans
Steps for Testing ATMOX Components:
- Open the Settings Menu by pressing the Home Button. Scroll forward to the Testing Screens.
- EXHAUST AND INTAKE FAN TESTING (Red Output) This starts all components wired to Red/Black. The Exhaust and Intake Fans will be turned on. Physically inspect the fans by walking around the house to ensure that each fan is functioning.
- INTERNAL FAN TESTING (Orange Output) This starts all components wired to Orange/Black. The Internal Fans will be turned on. Physically inspect the fans by crawling into the crawl space to ensure that each fan is functioning.
- DEHUMIDIFIER TESTING (Yellow Output) This starts all components wired to Yellow/Black. The Dehumidifier will be turned on. Physically inspect the dehumidifier by crawling into the crawl space to ensure that it is functioning. You should also check any condensate pumps or other products.
- LIGHT TESTING (Green Output) This starts all components wired to Green/Black. The Lights will be turned on. You can generally see very quickly whether or not the lights are working.
Either before or after testing the system, remember to visually inspect the crawl space as highlighted above. You will be checking for signs of water and moisture in the crawl space. If any water issues are identified, you will obviously want to correct those first. ATMOX products solve moisture related issues but do not solve a water intrusion problem. The ATMOX controller directs moisture reduction through ventilation and/or dehumidification. It is an energy efficient solution that optimizes moisture control operation in your crawl space.
Now go grab your flashlight and your coveralls and get crawling . . . or call your preferred service provider to schedule a crawl space inspection.