A crawl space is the area of your home located between the ground and the first floor. Many homes have crawl spaces, which can be a great way to access plumbing or electrical systems for repairs. 

According to Christine Kingsley at the Lung Institute, crawl spaces can also be a source of moisture and mold, leading to respiratory health problems for the home’s occupants. 

Crawl space encapsulation is a process of sealing off the crawl space to prevent moisture and pests from entering. 

In this guide, we will discuss the benefits of crawl space encapsulation, the process of encapsulation, and the cost of encapsulating your crawl space. By this article’s end, you will better understand whether crawl space encapsulation is suitable for your home.

What Is Crawl Space Encapsulation?

Crawl space encapsulation is the process of sealing off a crawl space to prevent moisture, pests, and other outside elements from entering. 

Encapsulation is typically done by installing a heavy-duty vapor barrier on the floor and walls of the crawl space and then sealing any openings, such as vents, with caulking or spray foam.

 Once the crawl space is completely sealed, it can be further insulated and turned into valuable storage space. 

In addition to protecting your home from moisture damage, crawl space encapsulation can also help improve your home’s energy efficiency by preventing heat from escaping through the floors.

crawl space encapsulation before after
Source: Houzz – The Basement Doctor

What Are the Best Materials for Crawl Space Encapsulation?

When it comes to encapsulating a crawl space, there are a variety of different materials that can be used. Let’s take a look at the other materials that you can use.

Heavy-Duty Plastic

Heavy-duty plastic is one of the best materials for crawl space encapsulation because it is durable and airtight. It will also prevent moisture from entering the space, which can lead to mold and mildew growth.

 In addition, heavy-duty plastic is less likely to tear or puncture than other materials, making it more effective at creating a barrier between your home and the outdoors. Therefore, choosing heavy-duty plastic for your crawl space encapsulation project will give you the best chance of success.

Concrete

Concrete is incredibly durable, meaning it will stand up to wear and tear for years to come. Second, it’s waterproof, so it will help to keep your crawl space dry and free of mold and mildew. 

Third, it’s easy to clean and maintain, so you won’t have to spend hours scrubbing moldy walls or dealing with water damage. Finally, concrete is eco-friendly, so you can feel good about using sustainable materials. 

Insulation

 Proper insulation is essential to create a comfortable and energy-efficient home. Several insulation materials are available on the market, each with unique benefits. 

Fiberglass batt insulation is one of the most popular options, as it is readily available and easy to install. However, it is not as effective at sealing off space from outside air, making it a less ideal choice for crawl spaces. 

Closed-cell spray foam insulation is more expensive than fiberglass but provides a much better seal against outside air. This makes it an excellent option for preventing moisture and mold growth in a crawl space. 

Open-cell spray foam insulation is also quite effective at sealing off a space, but it is not as strong as closed-cell spray foam and can allow some moisture to pass through.

 Rigid foam insulation is another good option for crawl spaces, as it is firm and does not absorb water. However, it can be challenging to work with and can be costly. 

Do You Need Crawl Space Encapsulation? 

You might be wondering if you really need to encapsulate your crawl space. Yes, it would be best if you did it, and here’s why.

Mold and Pests

When it comes to mold and pests, one of the best ways to prevent problems is by addressing damp, moist environments. Crawl space encapsulation is an effective way to do this. 

By sealing off the crawl space from the outside elements, you can create a drier, healthier environment that is less inviting to mold and pests. 

In addition, crawl space encapsulation can help improve the overall air quality in your home by reducing musty odors and excessive dust. 

Issues With Energy Efficiency 

One of the best ways to make your home more energy efficient is to address issues with heating and cooling. Crawl space encapsulation is one way to do this, as it helps to regulate the temperature in your home by sealing off the crawlspace from the outside world. 

This can help to reduce energy bills, as you won’t need to use as much artificial heating and cooling to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home.

In addition, crawl space encapsulation can help improve indoor air quality by preventing dust and other allergens from entering your home through the crawlspace. 

Noticeable Smells

A musty smell can be a sign that your crawl space needs attention. Encapsulating your crawl space can help to address the problem by creating a barrier that prevents moisture and mold from entering the space. 

In addition, encapsulation will help regulate the crawl space’s temperature and humidity levels, which can also reduce or eliminate musty smells. 

Furthermore, encapsulating your crawl space can also help to prevent pests from getting into the space, which can also help to reduce or eliminate any unpleasant smells.

Allergies

For many people, allergies are a seasonal nuisance that can be remedied with over-the-counter medications. However, for others, allergies can be a year-round problem that can severely impact their quality of life. 

Dust mites, pet dander, and mold are all familiar sources of indoor allergens, and these particles can become trapped in your home if you don’t have proper ventilation. 

Crawl space encapsulation is one way to improve indoor air quality and reduce the levels of allergens in your home. Your home’s crawl space can be enclosed to form a barrier that keeps out dirt, dust, and other irritants.

Sweating Windows 

One of the most common problems in homes with basements is “sweating” windows. When warm, humid air hits a cold surface, such as a window, it condenses and forms water droplets. This can cause the windows to fog up and can lead to water damage on the sill. 

Crawl space encapsulation can help to address this problem by creating a barrier between the humid air and the cold surface. By sealing off the crawl space and insulating the walls, you can prevent the warm air from coming into contact with the cold windows. 

This will reduce the amount of condensation and help to keep your windows clear. In addition, crawl space encapsulation can also help improve your home’s energy efficiency by keeping the warm air from escaping through the foundation.

What Is the Average Cost of Getting Crawl Space Encapsulation? 

The average cost of getting crawl space encapsulation ranges from $1,500 to $15,000, with a $5,500 national average. This price includes materials and labor costs.

 Installing a crawl space encapsulation system typically costs between $2 and $4 per square foot. If you’re thinking about encapsulating your crawl space, be sure to get multiple quotes from different contractors before making a decision.

Calculating Crawl Space Encapsulation Cost Factors

Here are a few cost considerations for crawl space encapsulation. 

Crawl Space Size and Condition

Regarding crawl space encapsulation, the cost will vary depending on the size and condition of the crawl space. For example, the cost will be higher if the crawl space is cluttered or in need of repairs. However, the price will be lower if the crawl space is clean and structurally sound. 

In general, repairs will cost anywhere from $1,500 to $15,000. The crawl space size will also play a role in the final cost. A larger crawl space will require more material and labor, increasing the price. 

Materials and Labor

Anywhere between $1,500 and $15,000 is the going rate for materials and labor of a crawl space enclosure. The price variation is significant because it is based on the region’s labor costs and the quality of the materials used. 

However, it is essential to note that even the most expensive enclosures will eventually pay for themselves through energy savings.

Crawl Space Encapsulation Costs

Permits

One crucial factor to consider when calculating the cost of encapsulating your crawl space is the price of permits. In many areas, a permit is required for this project, and the cost can range from $100 to $250.

Inspection

In most cases, the permit fee will include the cost of having an inspector visit the job site to assess the work that has been done. 

This is important to ensure that the work has been done correctly and that there are no safety concerns. After the inspection, the inspector will provide a report outlining any areas that need improvement.

Vapor Barrier Installation

There are several factors to consider when calculating the cost of a vapor barrier for a crawl space. The most crucial factor is the quality of the vapor barrier. 

A higher quality barrier will be more expensive, but it will also be more effective at preventing moisture and humidity from damaging your home. The thickness of the vapor barrier is also a significant factor in its cost. 

Thickness is measured in millimeters, and a thicker barrier will be more expensive than a thinner one. A moisture barrier for a crawl space can cost anywhere between $0.50 and $0.70 per square foot, depending on the barrier’s quality and thickness.

Foundation Waterproofing 

Waterproofing can help to prevent cracks and leaks, and it can also extend the life of the foundation. However, waterproofing is not a simple process and can be expensive. 

The cost of waterproofing depends on several factors, including the size of the foundation, the type of waterproofing material used, and the severity of any damage. Waterproofing can cost anywhere between $600 and $10,000. But the average cost is $4600.

Read More: How Long Does It Take a House To Settle?

Wall Insulation 

Many factors will affect the final price tag, but one of the most important is the type of insulation you choose. 

Batt insulation is the most economical option, with an average cost of $300 to insulate a large crawl space. However, spray foam insulation can be more expensive, ranging from $0.50 to $1.50 per board foot.

Vent Sealing

When considering crawl space encapsulation, one of the first cost factors to consider is sealing the vents. This is necessary to keep the space dry, and covers for the crawl space vents are reasonably priced. They cost between $15 and $22. 

Sealing up other cracks and air leaks into the crawl space is also necessary to keep moisture out. 

Drainage System, Repair, and Cleaning 

 In some cases, simply installing a sump pump will be sufficient. However, in other cases, you may need to install an internal drain system, which can cost between $700 and $5200. 

Additionally, if your home has any foundation fissures, these will need to be repaired before encapsulation occurs. Foundation fissure repairs typically cost between $2025 and $7100. 

Finally, if your home does not have gutters and downspouts to divert water away from the foundation, you may need to install these at an additional cost of $1050. 

Dehumidifier 

Dehumidifiers remove moisture from the air, which can help prevent mold and mildew growth. However, dehumidifiers can be expensive, ranging from $800 to $1,200.

 In addition, installing a sump pump may be necessary if a dehumidifier is required. Sump pumps help to remove water from the area around the foundation, and they can be used to direct water away from home.

Pest and Mold Removal

There are a few factors to consider when encapsulating your crawl space. Pest and mold removal is one of them. Depending on the severity of the issue, pest and mold eradication can range from $500 to $6,000. 

Finishing

Another cost to consider is finishing. One of the most significant cost factors is finishing. The price per square foot to transform a crawl room into a finished area ranges from $40 to $100. Accessibility, the size of the crawl space, and the quantity of encapsulation required will all affect the cost. 

Pros and Cons of Crawl Space Encapsulation

Just like anything else, crawl space encapsulation has its advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at both.

Pros 

From increased energy efficiency to mold and mildew prevention, crawl space encapsulation offers various advantages. Here are a few of those advantages.

Better Indoor Comfort and Air Quality

One of the main benefits of crawl space encapsulation is improved indoor comfort. By sealing off your crawl space from the outdoors, you can prevent cold drafts from coming into your home in winter and hot, humid air from seeping in during summer. 

This can lead to increased energy efficiency as your HVAC system won’t have to work as hard to maintain a comfortable temperature inside your home. 

In addition, by creating a barrier between your living space and damp, musty crawl space air, you can improve the overall air quality inside your home. 

Insect and Pest Prevention

Another advantage of crawl space encapsulation is that it can help to prevent insects and pests from entering your home. 

By sealing off cracks and gaps in your foundation and installing a vapor barrier on the ground, you can create a physical barrier that insects and pests will have difficulty getting through.

 In addition, sealing off your crawl space will also help prevent animals such as rodents and snakes from residing in your home area. 

Mold and Mildew Prevention

Another significant benefit of crawl space encapsulation is that it helps to prevent mold and mildew growth. When left unencapsulated, crawl spaces are often damp and humid, which creates the perfect conditions for mold and mildew spores to thrive. 

However, by sealing off your crawl space with a vapor barrier, you can create an inhospitable environment for mold and mildew growth. In addition, by keeping the humidity level in your crawl space low, you can also help to prevent wood rot, which can damage the support beams in your home. 

Increased Energy Efficiency

As we mentioned above, one of the benefits of having an encapsulated crawl space is increased energy efficiency. When you seal off leaky cracks and gaps in your foundation and install a vapor barrier on the ground, you can reduce air leakage into and out of your home. 

This means that your HVAC system won’t have to work as hard to maintain a comfortable temperature inside your home, which can lead to lower energy bills. 

In fact, according to energy star, proper sealing and insulation of your crawl space can save you up to 11% on heating and cooling costs each year! 

Tax Rebates and Increased Property Value

One of the most significant benefits of crawl space encapsulation is that it can lead to tax rebates and increased property value. Many municipalities offer tax rebates for energy-efficient home improvements, and crawl space encapsulation services may qualify for many of these rebates. 

In addition, a sealed crawl space can lead to increased property value because it improves the home’s energy efficiency, making it more attractive to potential buyers.

Radon Gas Prevention

Radon gas is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that can seep into homes through cracks in the foundation. Exposure to radon gas can cause lung cancer, so taking steps to prevent radon gas from entering your home is essential. 

Crawl space encapsulation can help to prevent radon gas from entering your home by sealing off cracks in the foundation and creating an airtight barrier.

Foundation Protection

Another benefit of crawl space encapsulation is that it can help to protect your foundation from water damage. When water leaks into the crawl space, it can cause severe damage to the foundation of your home. 

Crawl space encapsulation prevents water leaks by creating a waterproof barrier around the perimeter of your crawl space. This barrier will keep water out and help to protect your foundation from costly water damage. 

Additional Reading: Pier and Beam Foundations (Building, Cost, & Problems)

Cons 

While encapsulation may seem like a good idea, there are a few disadvantages to consider before you decide to encapsulate your crawl space. 

Additional Cost

While the initial cost of encapsulating your crawl space may not be prohibitive, the ongoing maintenance cost can be. 

Once your crawl space has been sealed off, you will need to regularly check for cracks or holes in the vapor barrier and repair them as necessary. This can be a time-consuming and costly endeavor. 

Maintenance 

In addition to the regular checks and repairs required, you will also need to clean your crawl space regularly. This is because dirt, dust, and other debris can still accumulate in your crawl space even after it has been sealed off. 

Possible HVAC Upgrades 

If you have an HVAC unit in your crawl space, you may need to upgrade it once it has been sealed off. This is because the lack of ventilation can cause condensation to build up on the coils, which can cause problems with the unit itself. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you DIY crawl space encapsulation? 

    The truth is that crawl space encapsulation DIY is not as difficult as it may seem. With the right tools and supplies, anyone can do it.

    The most important thing is to ensure that you have an excellent sealant to prevent moisture from seeping in. Once you have that, the rest simply means following the instructions.

  • How long does crawl space encapsulation installation take? 

    The process typically takes up to eight hours, depending on the size of the area to be encapsulated.

  • Is crawl space encapsulation the same as insulation?

    No, it’s not the same. Crawl space encapsulation is the process of sealing the crawl space with a vapor barrier to prevent moisture and humidity from entering.

    Crawl space insulation, on the other hand, combats cold flooring. Although both processes serve different purposes, they are both essential in keeping the crawl space dry and free of mold.

  • Will crawl space encapsulation increase my home value?

    Yes, adding a crawl space encapsulation will most likely increase the value of your home. Buyers are always looking for added features that will improve their homes’ comfort, safety, and appeal, and an added crawl space encapsulation will do just that.

Final Thoughts 

Crawl space encapsulation can be a great way to improve the safety and longevity of your home. It is an effective solution for preventing water damage, mold growth, and radon gas infiltration. 

With proper maintenance and regular checks, you can ensure that your crawl space remains sealed off from the elements. Additionally, it may even help to increase the value of your home. 

Ultimately, the decision to encapsulate is up to you and should be based on your personal needs and budget. 

Whatever you decide, it is essential to always consult with a professional before starting any home improvement or crawl space encapsulation projects. Doing so can help ensure a successful outcome and save you money in the long run.

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