Do I Need to Insulate My Crawl Space?
The crawl space is a commonly overlooked area of the house. Unfortunately, a number of problems may arise if your crawl space isn’t properly insulated.
Moisture buildup can impact the comfort and energy efficiency of your home. In addition, mold and mildew love to grow in dark, moist spaces. These fungi release spores into the air that can negatively impact your family’s health. Unsealed crawl spaces are also popular destinations for bugs, rodents, and other critters, potentially resulting in an infestation.
Given these issues, encapsulating and insulating your crawl space is essential. REenergizeCO can inspect your crawl space for problems and upgrade the insulation to prevent the accumulation of moisture, protect your Colorado home’s air quality, block unwanted animal visitors, and improve the efficiency and comfort of your home.
What Is Crawl Space Encapsulation?
Encapsulation is the process of adding a moisture barrier to the crawl space. It involves laying down a sheet of reinforced plastic over the dirt floor of the crawl space and attaching the barrier to the walls and the foundation, including posts, footings, etc.
If insulation issues in the crawl space are causing problems for your home, encapsulation is the first step. The moisture barrier keeps water vapor from building up and entering the house, reducing the infiltration of cold air, and limiting the circulation of harmful particulates from pests, mold, and mildew. By retaining warm air, encapsulation can also help prevent pipes from freezing in the wintertime.
How to Insulate a Crawl Space Ceiling
Although encapsulation is an important part of insulating your crawl space, the barrier should not be in contact with the ceiling of the crawl space. Warm air needs to be able to move around the crawl space ceiling and the joists that support the floor above.
Once the moisture barrier is in place, insulation can be upgraded. The most important places to add insulation are the rim joists, which are positioned on top of the foundation to serve as a cap for the floor joists or trusses. Insulating the rim joists helps seal the crawl space so cold air can’t get inside.
The majority of crawl spaces are built without insulation. If insulation was previously added and it has become degraded, old insulation will need to be removed before new material is added.
Is Spray Foam Appropriate for a Crawl Space?
Two insulation options are appropriate for crawl spaces:
- Spray foam insulation
- Batts of R19 fiberglass insulation
Of these options, spray foam is superior for a variety of reasons. Spray foam insulation is resistant to moisture, so it augments the effects of the vapor barrier. It also requires less labor to install, which means the job can get done faster. Once spray foam is in place, it forms a tight seal that is extremely effective at retaining warm air and keeping out the cold.
Spray foam is great for newer and older houses alike. Old insulation needs to be removed before the new material is installed, but the results are dramatic and overwhelmingly positive.
Homeowners on a budget may opt for R19 insulation. Although it is less expensive than spray foam, fiberglass insulation takes longer to install. Fiberglass also has poor resistance to moisture, so it is essential to invest in insulation with a vapor barrier.
Even with a vapor barrier, R19 insulation could degrade quickly if your crawl space is damp or if the batts are not properly installed. Generally, it is in your best interest to work with a knowledgeable insulation company regardless of which material you choose.
Many problems can arise if you have a crawl space without insulation. Beyond the high cost of heating and powering your home, other potential issues include:
- You may have cold floors.
- You might notice a damp or musty smell inside the house.
- Exposure to mold spores can aggravate allergies and lead to frequent sinus and respiratory illnesses.
- Insects, mice, and other creatures could take up residence in the crawl space, degrading air quality and potentially damaging your home.
- In extreme cases, structural damage may occur; you may notice cracks in the foundation, windows and doors that are difficult to open and shut, and other serious issues.
For all of these reasons, crawl space insulation is a good investment. Starting with a comprehensive home energy audit, REenergizeCO can evaluate the crawl space and other areas of the house to determine where you are losing energy and money.
We customize insulation upgrades to your needs and goals. And, with our transparent pricing, you will know upfront how much improvements are going to cost.
Learn how REenergizeCO can help you save money on home energy and improve the comfort of your home with high-quality, professionally installed insulation. Our Colorado insulation company serves homeowners in Denver, Fort Collins, and throughout the Colorado Front Range.