Encapsulation and Sealed Crawl Space Controversy
I have been getting a lot of phone calls recently on the difference between crawlspace encapsulation¬†and crawl space ventilation.
Which solution is better?
Unfortunately, there is an abundance of¬†information on the Internet about this topic. Some good, some bad, some extraordinarily bad. Since I¬†am an expert in both solutions, I will try to emphasize some key points on both systems that you should¬†consider before making a decision.
Keep in mind that over the last 10 years there has been an explosion¬†of manufacturer franchisee relationships that have popped up in the industry to push the encapsulation¬†angle. The market is flooded with overpriced plastic, mold remediations, insulation products, and¬†dehumidifiers.
The most important decision that you could make is to hire an independent¬†non-commission based professional in your area that is properly educated on crawlspace science and¬†can explain the difference between the two systems properly. The consultant should have the ability to¬†inspect the structure and advise a solution without manufacturer or dealer manipulation. There is no¬†need to be overcharged for products and services that you don‚Äôt need.
A crawlspace encapsulation in a nutshell is a protocol where the contractor will close off all of the¬†crawlspace vents, solve drainage problems, clean biofilm contaminants from the floor system, and¬†install a fancy pool liner over the crawlspace soils including wrapping crawl space piers and often sealing¬†the liner to the foundation wall of the crawlspace. A commercial dehumidifier must be installed to¬†remove moisture build up from the air for this protocol to work properly or potential damage to the¬†structure could occur. This system when installed properly does control crawl space moisture problems,¬†however, there are many disadvantages.
- ¬†Encapsulations are expensive
- ¬†Fiber reinforced liners are expensive
- ¬†Encapsulations eliminate fresh air exchange
- ¬†Dehumidifiers are expensive and need to be replaced often
- ¬†Dehumidifiers increase power consumption by $10-$50 dollars per month
- ¬†Encapsulations cause the air inside the crawlspace to become stale, which reciprocates to poor¬†air quality inside the whole house envelope.
- Without fresh air introduced into the crawlspace, the soil, plastic, and other building materials¬†off gas odors that clients can smell in the upper areas of the house.
- ¬†Termite inspections are impossible so many pest control companies cancel their termite bonds¬†with their customers when they discover sealed crawlspaces.
- ¬†Sealed crawlspaces often require expensive HVAC upgrades to maintain safety and code
The Best Way To Control Your Crawl Space Humidity Problem – ATMOX
A dew point controlled crawlspace ventilation system is a solution that utilizes the existing crawlspace¬†vents on the house to introduce outside air into the crawlspace envelop when it is drier outside. By¬†utilizing the installation of a controller, interior and exterior sensors, strategic fan locations on the¬†house, and a network of dead corner fans inside the crawlspace to service dead corners, the customer¬†can solve their crawlspace moisture problem at a much more competitive price point than a sealed¬†crawlspace.
There are those whom will attack this solution because they have not educated themselves¬†on how a dew point controlled ventilation system works. Keep in mind that older systems such as¬†barometric controlled, temperature controlled, and humidistat control fans do not open and close at the¬†right times to be effective, often making the problem much worse. In order for crawl space fans to work¬†properly, they must be on a dew point controlled system. The only fan system in the United States that¬†possesses this technology is an Atmox controlled ventilation system.
This smart system for your crawl¬†space has been designed by engineers. If designed properly by an Atmox certified consultant in your¬†area, your crawl space vents can be engineered to work like they were supposed to work at the time of¬†construction. The Atmox controlled ventilation system has several advantages:
- solves crawlspace moisture problems with a warranty¬†fans use low voltage technology
- Contractor grade staked liners covering the surface soils of the crawlspace only are sufficient for¬†the system to work.
- No need for dehumidifiers in most cases.
- No need for extra insulation.
- allows fresh air into the space when it is drier outside.
- Improves air quality inside the whole house envelope.
- Keeps colder air from entering the space in the winter
- Keeps hotter air from entering the space summer.
- Prevents stale air from building up inside the crawlspace.
- Odors and smells from off gassing soil, plastic, and other construction materials is eliminated.
- Long-term maintenance costs are low.
- No expensive HVAC upgrades as and sealed crawl space protocols
- Available for attics in Northern Climates.
There is certainly much more to learn about the science involved with both of these topics. For more¬†information about crawl space moisture control please feel free to reach out to us with questions or¬†concerns. I hope this short article has been helpful in getting you started on your quest for a real¬†solution to your problem.
Michael – call me at (704) 787-6972