March 01, 2022
Experiencing problems with your crawl space can be quite stressful. And given the unique problems that arise because of the climate here in Austin, you may have the added burden of trying to plan for complex (and expensive) solutions.
Having an idea of what to expect with each type of problem is particularly helpful for setting your budget and finding the right contractor. We review some of the most common crawl space issues below to point you in the right direction.
Most Austin homes are built with crawl spaces that are vented. This can seem like a benefit – after all, ventilation is always a good thing, right?
The main problem is that Austin gets really humid. It has a subtropical climate, meaning that the air is usually warm and moist. Vents allow for that swampy air to enter the crawlspace and sit, creating a dark, steamy, cave-like environment that is the perfect breeding ground for mold and other substances.
Mold can easily proliferate in an Austin crawlspace, potentially permeating the wood and insulation. The mold spores can even rise up from the crawlspace and into your home, posing a significant health risk to your household. Mild mold exposure can cause unpleasant, cold-like symptoms that never seem to get better, but higher levels can trigger toxic shock and respiratory attacks.
These hazards make it critical to remediate a moldy crawl space as soon as a problem is detected. Vents may need to be closed, and mold-afflicted materials will need to be chemically treated or replaced. In the event that mold has spread to a level where a complete tear-out is needed, you may require part of your crawlspace structure to be built anew.
All of that moist air coming in through crawl space vents has a tendency to create condensation. The water molecules gather on the surrounding surfaces, where they can cause quite a bit of trouble.
Insulation that accumulates humidity acts like a sponge: it soaks up that water and gets very heavy. This can cause the insulation to pull away, drooping down and creating a gap for air to flow into. At its worst, this problem can result in the insulation entirely dropping from the crawl space ceiling, completely exposing your home’s interior to heat and cold coming up through the floors.
Moisture saturation is also bad for any wooden beams and support structures you have within your crawl space. Wood that gets soggy with this excess water can expand and even rot, necessitating replacement right away. Recruiting the help of an expert foundation repair contractor will allow you to effectively address any compromised materials and fix the ventilation issues that are contributing to the humidity.
Drainage can also be built into the interior of your basement, which may be necessary if it’s prone to flooding. This may be done by drilling weep holes into the foundation, or installing track drainage. The particular approach chosen by your contractor will depend on your foundation’s specific features and whether or not your basement is vulnerable everywhere, or just in distinct areas.
There’s an unlucky trend among Austin’s homes: the soil just beneath the house tends to sink lower than the surrounding terrain. Consequently, homeowners often experience a lot of water pooling in the crawl space. Not only does this cause the moisture problems listed above, it also triggers erosion that makes the soil sag.
Soil that gets compacted down and washed away by water will eventually weaken the support around pier and beam foundations. This will manifest as the beams begin to tilt or drop lower, introducing dips in the ceiling of the crawl space. The entire support structure of the home then becomes compromised, and may be visible in the interior through sagging floors, uneven doorways, and cracks in the walls.
Fortunately, there are soil stabilization specialists in Austin that can help you reduce the risk of this problem. Treating the warp-prone clay soil beneath your Austin home will make it resistant to water accumulation, putting a stop to erosion and the shrink-and-swell cycle.
If you suspect that you have any of these crawl space problems in your home, you’ll need the assistance of experts. Here at Douglas Foundation Solutions, we’ve been helping Austin homeowners like you tackle their crawl space woes quickly, skillfully, and affordably.
We’ll come out to perform an evaluation as soon as possible, providing you with an official diagnosis of the problem and a quote for the most efficient solution. Our process is completely transparent and focused on providing you with the best value for your budget and circumstances. Please contact us today to schedule your appointment.