Pros & cons
These foundations have always been popular because they can be built quickly and more economically than basement foundations. When properly constructed, a crawl space foundation provides a solid, secure, long-lasting base for a building. The walls and posts elevate the wood framing above ground level, allowing the first floor to be insulated easily while also helping to protect wood from being damaged by moisture in the soil.
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For one thing, a crawl space can be dark, damp and cramped. If you need to work in this confined space, it’s not going to be easy. Insects and rodents are common inhabitants in unfinished spaces, and they can actually damage insulation, wood and wiring. Unless a crawlspace has been properly sealed and waterproofed, moisture is likely to be a problem. Excessive moisture in this enclosed space will enable mold to grow and can cause wood to rot. If it contains ductwork, HVAC components or a water heater, this equipment is likely to be damaged as steel parts rust. Radon is another possible concern, especially if it has a dirt floor.
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Types of crawl space foundations
Most of these foundations have poured concrete or concrete block perimeter walls. A typical foundation will have at least one vent (usually a screened opening) per side and a single access door. The foundation floor can be dirt, poured concrete, or dirt that is covered with a moisture barrier; the last two options are more desirable. Mid-span support is often required for floor joists that span between walls, and this is usually provided by posts that rest on concrete piers or footings.
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Fixing the problems
Bad conditions can easily effect the rest of the house and the people in it. If the walls have cracked, bowed or crumbled, these structural issues should be corrected by a foundation repair specialist. Foundation posts sometimes shift off their supports. If this is the case, or if the floor above the crawl space has sagged or become too springy, professional repair will also be necessary. An experienced foundation repair contractor will be able to determine if waterproofing and/or encapsulation are called for to solve moisture problems. Radon mitigation is often included when a foundation repair contractor performs encapsulation work. If the first floor of the house is uncomfortably cold during winter months, the floor and walls might require air sealing and extra insulation.
Samantha Walton currently works as a web content writer for home improvement sites. She’s a college graduate with a B.A. in communication and a concentration in public relations. She’s aspiring to one day further her education with a seminary degree. Her experience ranges from internships in marketing and public relations, content writing for local television broadcasts, to writing and editing newsletters, fliers, and other content for her local church.