Insulating crawl space ???

Discussion in 'Walls and Ceilings' started by nealtw, Feb 23, 2011.

  1. Feb 23, 2011 #1

    nealtw

    nealtw

    nealtw

    Contractor retired

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2010
    Messages:
    23,892
    Likes Received:
    3,117
    I keep reading about insulating the walls and sealing up the crawl space, I have a few questions.
    1 After closing up crawl space, are you heating it?
    2 If your not heating it, it is still a cold zone, no?
    3 Condensation will occur when warm meets cold, at the floor yes?
    4 When a house is sheeted with plywood or osb there a gaps left for airflow and under windows holes are drilled so trapped moisture can get out behind the siding.
    5 Many crawl spaces have some walls that are wood frame and were never ment to be insulated, so the vent holes were never drilled. If you end up with any amount of heat in the crawlspace you will have moisture build up against the sheeting and this is a big problem isn't it?
    6 When you have any kind of plumbing leak water spill in the house, it will find its way to the crawlspace, are you going to leave it there untill spring.
     
  2. Jun 3, 2013 #2

    WindowsonWashington

    WindowsonWashington

    WindowsonWashington

    Junior Member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2013
    Messages:
    198
    Likes Received:
    19
    Neal,

    1. Yes. You should supply heat to the space once it is insulated.
    2. No.
    3. Potentially, however, ground temps are pretty stable and once the stem walls are insulated, pretty high.
    4. Not sure about this one.
    5. If you do not use the proper insulation and air barrier, yes.
    6. Never had to deal with it but I would imagine that cleaning it up and fixing the leak are advisable.
     
  3. Jun 3, 2013 #3

    nealtw

    nealtw

    nealtw

    Contractor retired

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2010
    Messages:
    23,892
    Likes Received:
    3,117
    If you devert hot air from the furnace to the crawl space, are you taking return air from there too. Are you not adding moisture from the house to the crawls space. Once you do have a leak in the roof or plumbing and water gets in the crawlspace, you have to have a way to clean it up, as it often isn't descouvered soon enough, won't you be bringing back into the house.
    Perimeter drains often fail in older house and can result in inces of water in a closed area, do you think the poly on the floor will hold that back.
     
  4. Jun 3, 2013 #4

    WindowsonWashington

    WindowsonWashington

    WindowsonWashington

    Junior Member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2013
    Messages:
    198
    Likes Received:
    19
    If you have a leak, you will get water in the crawl space and there isn't much you can do about that besides be aware of the leak.

    Most crawls have enough communication with the home that they do not require return air.

    The only way that you would condition the space is if you are making sure that the moisture is not getting into the system (i.e. proper foam on the stem walls, proper vapor retarder on the floor and sealed to the stem wall, etc).

    Sealed poly on the floor that is sealed to the stem wall will hold a bunch of water down.

    Again, if something fails, that is a failure and cannot really be accounted for except that there are failures in the home regardless of what system is in place.
     
  5. Jun 3, 2013 #5

    nealtw

    nealtw

    nealtw

    Contractor retired

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2010
    Messages:
    23,892
    Likes Received:
    3,117
    Systems in the houses have failed for hundreds of years, for the most part the venting of a crawl space has worked well. I newer tight houses ever gap and hole is filled for air infiltration and firestopping. I can't immagine the bennifet over risk here. And what is the bennifet.
     
  6. Jun 4, 2013 #6

    GBR

    GBR

    GBR

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2009
    Messages:
    402
    Likes Received:
    38
  7. Jun 4, 2013 #7

    nealtw

    nealtw

    nealtw

    Contractor retired

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2010
    Messages:
    23,892
    Likes Received:
    3,117
    Thanks Gary; So by conditioned , you mean air movement, not likey hot water and or electric heat?
     
  8. Jun 4, 2013 #8

    WindowsonWashington

    WindowsonWashington

    WindowsonWashington

    Junior Member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2013
    Messages:
    198
    Likes Received:
    19
    Roof fail as some point but that does not mean I am going to not install one for that reason.

    Vented crawlspaces are fine and in certain applications, make sense. The issue is that most often times, they are not insulated properly and are very difficult to do so with the additional difficulty of insulating around supply lines, duct work, electrical, framing, etc.

    Most times, it is easier to just move the insulation to the outer wall and treat it as conditioned.

    In a perfect world, you should have some return air section in there. That being said, most crawls are well connected to the home and what small amount of air you need to supply will easily circulate back to the main returns.

    Regardless of conditioned or not, the floor should be sealed to block the migration of fumes, moisture, and humidity.

    Benefit to a conditioned crawl is that is more effectively keeps the floors warm, makes for more conditioned storage space, dryers and more healthy air, better smell, less bugs, etc.

    The biggest and most notable is that the floors above are usually much more livable.
     
  9. Jun 4, 2013 #9

    nealtw

    nealtw

    nealtw

    Contractor retired

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2010
    Messages:
    23,892
    Likes Received:
    3,117
    I've dealt with two new house and one wartime house that were insulated and sealed like this with problems.
    House one, 3 story with boiler and hotwater in the crawl space with was heat tubes pinned to underside of floor with insulation below that. Built on a mountain side the front of the foundation was something like 16ft high. Some water had found its way under the foam onto the concrete floor at that wall. We found a plumbing leak at the first floor kitchen sink that only show up when they rented the sweet. The smell in the crawl space was something else, we vented this as this was as there was no other way to dry this and keep it dry.

    House two had pooly installed windows, in removing rotten framing under window, the water had reached the crawl space and rotted the rim joist and sill plate, the smell and moisture in the crawlspace was left for homeowner to deal with. No conditioning in crawl space.

    House three was an old house that had been repaired with new perimeter drain and waterproofing. Poly and concrete on the floor and foam on the walls. Three heat ducts and a return.
    The homeowners were getting sick and had an air quility test down, they found the problem to be air comming from the crawl space and we went in to open the old vents, they had the heat closed off and insulated the floor.

    When you get a little further north if you don't heat the basement the pipe they will freeze, so expecting heat to migrate down is questionable at best.
    A dry well vented crawspace already is a good storage area.
    "If" a floor is sealed between the two floors which is code for firestopping and if the crawlspace is sealed as suggested and if water gets in there, and we know it will. This area will become high humidity and promote rot and mold growth. If you take that to the extreme you could have mold using all the oxigen in the space like a shop rusting.

    I would like to see peoples comments after having this done like 5 , 10 , and 15 years later.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2013
  10. Jun 4, 2013 #10

    GBR

    GBR

    GBR

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2009
    Messages:
    402
    Likes Received:
    38
    The 'conditioning" part is with air exchange with house above. Not simply supply air, as the 5 ways per code all included exhaust also(previous link). One should spread the vapor barrier (6-12mil.) to ease crawling, then air seal the crawlspace floor above, all the wiring, plumbing holes, chases, flues, ducts, etc. with appropriate fire/draft stopping materials to slow the "stack effect" from air rising to the attic through interior/exterior wall cavities (feeding convective looping in low density insulation and degrading R-value due to air movement); http://www.wag-aic.org/1999/WAG_99_baker.pdf
    Then go into attic and do the same, to stop the pressure differences that bring crawlspace air up as well as conditioned house air (balanced passive/active ventilation system).

    Just as you mentioned piping/venting in the crawl, each house is individual, not to "blanket" cover all by saying; "conditioned crawl is better", that may not work for some;

    Energy cost loss rather than savings from changing- Flagstaff; http://www.advancedenergy.org/buildings/knowledge_library/crawl_spaces/pdfs/Closed Crawl Spaces.pdf

    The vents role in the South; http://www.advancedenergy.org/build.../crawl_spaces/pdfs/To Vent or Not To Vent.pdf

    A.C./venting---http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/techline/crawl-space-ventilation.pdf

    Check out some of the links from "Technical Reports" at end; http://www.crawlspaces.org/


    Interesting read; http://www.smartvent.net/docs/crawlspacestudy.pdf

    BSC---- hot dry air; http://www.buildingscience.com/documents/published-articles/pa-built-wrong-from-start

    Open-cell rather than closed-cell SPF in flood areas; http://www.jlconline.com/coastal-contractor/raised-floors-for-the-low-country.aspx


    Then there is always the danger of radon or termites when "conditioning" your crawl which many forget to include when giving advice; http://energy.cr.usgs.gov/radon/rnus.html

    http://termites101.org/termite-basics/termites-by-region

    Each region/circumstances are different.

    Gary
    PS. I had another link on dangers of a heated crawl in the Great North- melts the surrounding perma-frost to damage foundation when it settles, lost it...
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2013
  11. Jun 5, 2013 #11

    nealtw

    nealtw

    nealtw

    Contractor retired

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2010
    Messages:
    23,892
    Likes Received:
    3,117
    Way to much reading: So is it safe to say, many things should be considered and it may be a good idea for a perticular house but not a solve all problem solution for every house.
     
  12. Jun 5, 2013 #12

    WindowsonWashington

    WindowsonWashington

    WindowsonWashington

    Junior Member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2013
    Messages:
    198
    Likes Received:
    19
    One situation does not fit all for certain.

    If the grading and water management are good, conditioning the crawl is usually the better option.
     
  13. Jun 5, 2013 #13

    nealtw

    nealtw

    nealtw

    Contractor retired

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2010
    Messages:
    23,892
    Likes Received:
    3,117
    That's my point. It may be a good option for some cases but there are to many things that could go wrong to make it a blanket statement without looking into the details of each house.

    The homeowner has to know the pitfalls before making a big change to one most important systems in the house.

    I will continue to argue with anyone that suggests it without asking 20 questions before giving that answer.
     
  14. Jun 7, 2013 #14

    WindowsonWashington

    WindowsonWashington

    WindowsonWashington

    Junior Member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2013
    Messages:
    198
    Likes Received:
    19
    I feel some good jousting coming on.....

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Oct 30, 2014 #15

    nunyabiz1

    nunyabiz1

    nunyabiz1

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2014
    Messages:
    102
    Likes Received:
    29
    If you are in a hot HUMID area such as anywhere between Texas up to at least Nebraska and east to the Atlantic and down to Florida, basically more than 50+% of the USA then a fully encapsulated crawl space is by far the better option, PERIOD.
    In fact in most of these states now it is starting to become code.
    I am pretty sure in NC right now any and all new homes are SEALED crawl space with no vents.

    If you are in a very cold area like Maine and you do not have hot humid summers then totally different story, it really doesn't matter much either way.
    But a French Drain around the perimeter and spray foam the entire floor joist and maybe a poly liner on the ground and you are good to go.

    Otherwise full encapsulation, thick poly on the ground, R13 polyiso foam board on the crawl space walls, pull out all the floor joist insulation because it is worthless anyway since it will be saturated with water and rats nest.
    Then IF you have your HVAC plenum under the house you just cut a hole in the plenum and install a vent so the air is conditioned.
    you do NOT put a return, just a vent INTO the space this conditions the air either hot or cold and it stays bone dry.
     
  16. Oct 30, 2014 #16

    nealtw

    nealtw

    nealtw

    Contractor retired

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2010
    Messages:
    23,892
    Likes Received:
    3,117
    Ok this arguement seems to be all about the humidity in the southern states. So let's say you have had high humidity for 2 months, you give it a number, has anyone ever poked the lumber in a crawlspace to see what the moisture content is as compared to when the humidity is way less. And then how much is to much for the wood speices used in that house.
     

Share This Page