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5 Crawl Space Issues and How to Fix Them

You might overlook your crawl space amid all the other day-to-day concerns of homeownership. Then, one day, you notice something seems off, and you take a peek down there. Suddenly, you realize you need to know how to fix a crawl space.

This article addresses five typical crawl space issues and solutions. It will take you through the problems, their potential causes and how to fix them, along with their average national cost, so you can make an informed decision.

1. Stale or Mildewy Smell

It’s a familiar odor — one you immediately recognize, no matter how long it’s been since the last time you experienced it. Do all crawl spaces have a musty, stagnant smell, or is something causing it? As it turns out, there are several possible sources, such as:

  • Trash left behind by contractors or previous owners
  • Organic material like leaves or manure in the soil
  • Dead animals, insects or animal droppings
  • A sewage backup
  • Mold

Whatever the cause, you’re probably more than ready to have the smell gone. Your first step is to investigate — that means either you or a paid professional crawling in and inspecting. Once you’ve taken a look around and identified the odor’s source, you can start taking steps to eliminate it.

Clearing out abandoned trash is likely to have a very affordable solution, even if you decide to hire someone else to do it. Causes that require a more substantial cleaning process, such as a pest infestation, average in cost from $200 to $4,000. In the case of a sewage backup, it will take an average of $100 to $600 to have someone clean the drains. If the source of the smell is the soil, you can install a vapor barrier for $1,200 to $4,000 on average.

2. Pest Infestation

If you have a pest problem, cleaning is an essential aspect of reclaiming your crawl space. Insects like cockroaches spread bacteria and pathogens, while rodents are potent disease vectors. Pests can also be responsible for significant structural damage to your home. Rodents and small mammals like raccoons and opossums can chew through wiring and insulation. Termites cause an estimated $5 billion in annual property damage.

With any infestation, removal is the first and most vital step. Costs will vary based on the size of your crawl space, its accessibility, the severity of the infestation and the type of creatures you are having removed.

  • Insects: The cost of extermination averages between $100 and $300, though it varies widely by the type of insect.
  • Rodents: Rodent extermination costs between $200 and $600 on average, with higher costs if you prefer live removal methods.
  • Small animals: You may be able to have your local animal control remove raccoons or possums for free, but a professional service will cost $300 to $500 per raccoon.

Once you’ve contained and eliminated the pests, you will need to repair any damage. You’ll also want to take preventive measures against future infestations. You can install a vapor barrier, or opt instead for full encapsulation to keep your crawl space as protected as possible. The average cost for encapsulation is $5,500, ranging between $1,500 and $15,000.

3. Water in the Crawl Space

Your crawl space may flood without properly draining, leaving standing water to soak into the walls and spread upward over time. Some possible water sources include:

  • Groundwater seepage
  • Over-saturated soil from rain or overwatering
  • Poor drainage
  • Flooding

When water sits without draining, it can cause structural damage to your home. Wood can warp or rot, which may include the framing or floor joists. Porous material like drywall, insulation or unsealed concrete may soak up the water and need replacement. Mold thrives in damp conditions and will weaken any surface it spreads to.

First, you will need to pump the water out of your crawl space and dry it. Wet crawl space repair costs will vary depending on the water source and cleanliness and the affected area’s size. Clean water removal averages $500 to $1,500, with costs rising if the water is from a contaminated source.
Once the crawl space is dry, you can assess what repairs are necessary. The average range for drywall repair is between $300 and $850. Repairing or replacing floor joists can start at as little as $300 to $2,000 but might reach $30,000 if you need a large-scale replacement. If the water came from a burst pipe, you can expect to pay an average of $1,000 to $4,000 to repair it.

4. High Energy Bills

Your crawl space might be driving your energy bills up in colder weather. As the temperature outside drops, a chilly crawl space can force your heater to work overtime if your vented crawl space is pulling in more cold air. An uninsulated crawl space will also drive your bill up as it lets the warm air escape. Either way, your house — especially the floors — is probably still cold, despite your pricey heating bills.

Adequate insulation is an essential part of crawl space maintenance. Some lower-cost options are to install vent covers and caulk up any joints or cracks. Reducing or eliminating any direct paths for cold outside air to find its way inside will help reduce the chill.

You can install a vapor barrier on the ground to prevent moisture from seeping up and bringing the temperature down. However, for the best results, you should also check your crawl space’s walls and ceiling. If you’ve noticed that your floors seem cold and your energy bill seems high, you may have missing or too-thin insulation. The cost will vary depending on the type of insulation you choose and the size of the space, but you can expect to spend between $500 and $1,500.

5. Mold

From unpleasant odors to drainage problems to structural damage, mold is part of many of typical crawl space issues. As a homeowner, you’re always on the lookout for it. However, mold in a crawl space can go unnoticed longer than in many other areas of the house.

Where did it come from? It might have been from groundwater or plumbing leaks, decay or a sewage backup. Perhaps it’s even been there since before you bought your house. Now that you know about it, you’ll want to act before it spreads. Mold can cause structural damage like wood decay, and aggravate respiratory conditions like allergies and asthma.
Professional mold removal for crawl spaces averages $1,150 to $3,350 to start. If it has spread to other areas, you will also have to emove it there. Additionally, as mold grows best in damp conditions, you will probably also need to consider water repair as part of the cost.

Your Home Repair Alternative

Crawl space problems come in sets — as soon as there’s one, there’s more likely to be another. It can be overwhelming, both mentally and financially. If it all seems too daunting, maybe it’s time to consider selling to HomeGo.

With HomeGo, you can get an offer on your house as it is today, without having to make any costly repairs or upgrades. We believe selling your home should be easy, simple and satisfying. Come check out our Leaseback Program and see for yourself!

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