Crawl Space Water Removal

Crawl Space Water Removal

Crawl Space Water Removal

I discuss here the process of crawl space water removal, which is a step before implementing many preventive measures that I also debate here some of them involving crawlspace waterproofing, usually by installing a vapor barrier and probably a dehumidifier, but not always all of these solutions at the same time.

Crawl space water removal is a high priority since the moisture can cause mold and may impact your insulation and foundation.

Water in the crawl space generates particular situations in the foundation that can make it unsafe, and issues like the deterioration of the air quality and the problems when trying to sell the house with this issue.

If the problem of water in the crawl space appears only when it rains, it can be easier to solve. Here we refer to a complete study about how to proceed to a crawlspace water removal.

Furthermore, I propose the solution of serious issues when we detect standing water in the crawl space despite the lack of rain, without leaking water heaters, without flooding due to a sudden rise of the water table.

As a summary of this article, do this:

First, remove the standing water by pumping and/or draining, 2. dry out the crawl area by fans, air movement, exhaust 3. find and fix the cause of water entry 4. if it’s a dirt floor, add a poly vapor barrier on the dirt and up lower foundation wall 5. for insurance, install a sump pump in a pit in the lowest corner of the crawl space, pumping to a suitable discharge location at least 20 feet away from the foundation.

When you have water intrusion underneath your house, making the ground, soil, and earth damp and wet. With a wet ground and standing water in the crawl space, there is a high chance that structural problems and health complications will occur if the issue isn’t fixed. If there are high humidity levels in the crawl space, mold can grow very quickly. Also, if the air conditioning system is located in the crawl space, the system will stream unhealthy, molded air throughout the entire home. The moisture levels and mold can also damage the structure of the home and the installation (if present in crawl space). Leaving standing water in the crawl space can destroy your home and wallet if left untreated. 

Restoration is the process of removing sewage or water after a backup, flood or leak. Whether the damage was caused by a water heater leak, sewage backup or sump pump failure, we clean up all types of water in a crawl space. 

Since it serves as the foundation for your home, the biggest risk of water in your crawl space is structural damage. After enough time, it will cause wood beams to rot and eventually weaken foundation walls. 

Crawl Space Water removal Cost

The average cost of crawl space water removal ranges from $1,100 to $4,600 or more depending on the damage. The key factors that go into the cost include how much water there is, how long it sat and whether there is structural damage.

Due to these factors, it’s impossible to give an estimate over the phone. For this reason, our specialists will assess the damage in person and provide a free estimate.

Step By Step Performing Crawl Space Water Removal Through Water Damage Remediation

Water damage remediation refers to the process of cleaning, drying, and stabilizing a flooded area. 

The homeowner can accomplish some of these tasks, but most will require professional help. In any case, this work will need to be completed before the preventative measures described below can be implemented. 

1. Identification Of the Source Of Water

When you find standing water on the ground, it is important to identify whether the source of the water is groundwater water flowing in or seeping up from the ground or if it is coming from above-grade. Above-grade water usually comes from a leak in plumbing fixtures, drain pipes, or water supply pipes running in the space below the floor of the house.

Locate the access opening to your crawl space. This is sometimes an outside hatchway in the exterior wall around the crawlspace or a hatch in the floor, often located in a closet or utility area. Equipped with a good flashlight, sturdy work clothes, and plastic sheeting to protect your clothes as you crawl about, enter the crawl space and inspect every area both the ground and the structural members of the house above you. Look for signs of standing, puddling water on the ground, and signs of discoloration caused by mildew and wood rot on the wooden posts, piers, and overhead structural members of the house.

The first thing you’ll need to do is find the problem that’s allowing water to enter the area under your home.

The most common causes are cracks in the siding of the home or leaking pipes. The areas around toilets are particularly prone to allowing water to enter the undercarriage of your home.

If there are serious amounts of water it’s not going to do you any good to start trying to remove the water before the problem has been solved.

Below-Grade Water Sources H4

Below-grade water problems typically become exaggerated during certain seasons of the year, especially rainy months. If your periodic inspections show that puddling water occurs more during these periods, then it is likely you are dealing with water entering the crawlspace from below-grade either as run-off from rain or from a rising water table.

In many parts of the country, the water table is quite high, and the rainy season can cause water to rise up into standing puddles in low areas of the crawlspace.

Above-Grade Water Sources H4

If the puddling water does not seem to be affected by seasons or weather, it is possible you are dealing with above-grade sources. This is most likely caused by plumbing problems in drain pipes or water supply pipes running beneath the floor in the crawl space.

If you notice that the pooling, puddling water is found directly below a tub, shower, toilet or other plumbing fixtures, or beneath drain pipes, you are probably dealing with a plumbing-related water problem. The good news here is that plumbing problems can be corrected by a plumber, which will be less costly than dealing with groundwater issues.

Interior Water Issues H4

Simple humidity issues arise from water vapor transferring up from the ground into the crawl space. In this instance, you will rarely see puddling or pooling water, but there may be widespread evidence of mildew or mold on the wooden framing of the house.

This can be a severe problem in crawlspaces without vapor barriers and without adequate ventilation. But the solution is often simply to lay a vapor barrier over the ground, which is a much less expensive fix than dealing with major groundwater problems.

2. Get Your Hands on a Submersible Pump

If there’s standing water then you’ll need to find a pump of some sort to remove the water. Submersible pumps can be found easily, whether you need to buy or rent one, and will help you make short work of the water under your home.

Only serious cases of flooding will require the use of a pump, but when they’re needed there’s really no other option.

While a professional is probably the better option in the case of large amounts of standing water you’ll want to remove any vapor barrier which has been placed and dig a three to four-inch trench around the outside of the crawlspace.

Place the pump in the impromptu moat and use the pump there.

Extract the Water – Utilize a pump to remove the standing water from the crawl space. Make sure the hoses are correctly attached to the pump, so the water is pushed away from the house. Remove the remaining water with a wet vacuum, then dump the water outside away from the house. 

3. Use a Wet/Dry Vaccum to Remove Standing Water

A wet/dry vacuum is the usual course of action for removing water from under the home. They’re a versatile tool and you can stick them directly in the water so that it gets sucked up and removed.

You’ll want to suck up as much of the water as possible.

Hopefully, you have a vapor barrier down there or you’re going to end up sucking up dirt as well, but the important thing is to remove as much of the water as possible as soon as the initial problem has been found.

4. Dehumidify the Space

Even humidity can cause serious problems with rot or fungus. The last thing you need is for your subflooring to begin to rot so using a dehumidifier under the home is the best way to go about things.

For the best results, it’s recommended to install a permanent crawl space dehumidifier and seal the foundation vents. They’re fairly easy to operate. It’s a specialized task and should be properly installed.

5. Remove Contaminated Items

If there was anything in the crawl space that’s been wetted down it will need to be removed.

This is doubly important if the spill was sewage-related. Don’t expose yourself to the contamination, but removing any items which were wetted with blackwater and placing them in plastic bags for later disposal needs to be done before you can begin working on it.

Even regular water spills from rain or a leaking water pipe are likely to have mildew or mold on them and most will have to be disposed of.

Working under your home can present many hazards. Dust, dried animal feces, black mold, and asbestos are only a few of the contaminants you might breathe in this space. Always wear breathing protection in the crawl space.

Many sharp objects might be in the crawl space since builders sometimes discard nails, utility knife blades, glass, and metal here. Be sure to wear heavy gloves, knee pads, heavy pants, and long-sleeved shirts or coats.

6. Decontaminate Sewage Spills

Blackwater is a serious problem. If the initial leak was coming through sewer piping then you’ve got a lot more work on your hands.

If you didn’t have a vapor barrier in place, then the top few inches of the soil will be contaminated and can pose a serious health risk to the occupants of the home. Don’t let the soil stay.

You’ll need to dig up at least two to three inches of the topsoil to remove it. If you insist on doing it yourself then make sure that you’re using proper PPE for biological hazards.

That typically means at least gloves, eye mask, a respirator, and some form of Tyvek to keep your clothing from getting contaminated.

You’ll also need to rig up some form of sled or wagon so that you can move around and remove buckets of soil from underneath the home without laying directly in it.

You’ll also need to decontaminate any wooden surfaces which have been wetted down with bleach.

The professional will also have to sanitize your crawlspace. If the water damage is from a sewer pipe, it’s going to be really gross and leave behind contaminants even after it’s been dried up. The mold will also need to be treated by an expert. This is all part of the crawlspace water removal process. 

7. Put It Back Together AND DEODORIZE

If you’ve had to remove a vapor barrier then you’ll want to make sure that you replace it once it’s been removed. Make sure to keep it tight and that you’re careful to cover 100 percent of the topsoil to prevent condensation problems.

If you remove any dirt, you’ll also want to replace it and level the surface before you’re done.

Clean the Area – Remove any debris from the area and if needed, replace the damaged insulation. 

Putting everything back together can be a pain, but it’s a necessary part of the process and you should do it as soon as you’re able.

8- Dryout Phase Handling Temperatures And Pressure

Do we need to blow crawl space air to outdoors during the rapid dryout phase?

If the crawl space air temperatures are lower than those in the occupied space above, the thermal updraft that might move moisture (and possibly contaminants) into the occupied space may not be significant.

But if temperatures in the building above and the crawl space are within 10 degF. of one another, or if the crawl space is visibly moldy or suspected of containing other contaminants (rodent debris, asbestos), then you want the crawl space air pressure to be negative with respect to the building above – so we don’t push contaminated air upstairs.

That means using exhaust fans or if appropriate, professional negative air equipment. 

9. Keep The Area Dry 

Dry the Crawl Space – To keep the area dry, set up containment with plastic sheets. These will prevent moisture from entering the affected area and will protect your home from further damage. Use a dehumidifier to remove moisture, and use radiant heaters to blow warm, dry air onto the affected area. To prevent mold growth in the crawl space, you need to dry the area thoroughly.

Homeowners Insurance And The Assessment Of Losses

The first step in water remediation is counting your losses. Here, a quality contractor and possibly an insurance adjuster will help you assess the damage caused by the water intrusion.

You may also want to hire a contractor to assess how much damage the water caused. Check whether your insurance covers it. Your homeowner’s insurance won’t pay unless the water came from a faulty pipe. You most likely have other types of insurance, however. Replace any damaged items from your home. 

After the initial assessment, the contractor will recommend the necessary emergency precautions to prevent further damage.

Afterward, they’ll give you a detailed report of the extent of the damage as well as the cost of all the necessary repairs.

Keep in mind that homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover damage caused by flooding. It only pays for damages caused by faulty plumbing and leaking roofs. For coverage on flood damage, you’ll need to be insured against floods and other natural disasters. 

Drying Out The Crawl Space After The Water Removal Utilizing Heat

It is not clear that we should use heat to dry out the surfaces after the crawl space water removal. It depends on each situation.

Warm air carries more moisture than cool air and thus will deliver moisture to the dehumidifier more rapidly. The answer is … it depends on the relative humidity in the area and ambient temperatures.

If the relative humidity (RH) is high, say over 60%, and temperatures are over 60 degF. (this is speculative opinion) you probably won’t gain much by adding heat to the crawl space during dryout.

We don’t want the crawl area so warm that we start sending moist, possibly moldy crawlspace air riding thermal currents into the occupied space of the building. But if crawl space temperatures are low, say below 50F, you will probably speed up drying by adding some warmth, beyond that already provided by the exhaust side of your dehumidifier fan motor.

This article series describes the steps needed to get into, inspect, clean, and then dry out a building crawl space.

We give a step by step crawl space entry, inspection, cleanout, dryout and keep dry guide explains how to get into or inspect a crawl space even if there is no ready access, how to assess crawl space conditions, how to stop water that is entering the crawl area, how to dry out the space, how to clean up and if necessary disinfect or sanitize the crawl space, and how to keep out crawl space water and moisture in the future.

If the crawl space air temperatures are lower than those in the occupied space above, the thermal updraft that might move moisture (and possibly contaminants) into the occupied space may not be significant. 

But if temperatures in the building above and the crawl space are within 10 degF. of one another, or if the crawl space is visibly moldy or suspected of containing other contaminants (rodent debris, asbestos), then you want the crawl space air pressure to be negative with respect to the building above – so we don’t push contaminated air upstairs. 

That means using exhaust fans or if appropriate, professional negative air equipment. 

Using A Fan To Help With The Drying Process

I’ve always used several inexpensive free-standing box fans at a few strategic locations, combined with one or more dehumidifiers, each connected to a drain or to a condensate disposal pump to a suitable destination so that we can leave the system running for a time.

For the cost of renting commercial air handlers (that may even be too big to get into the crawl area)

Not that you need a dozen fans to dry out a typical crawl area.

Most likely you want to follow the steps given here, including use of fans and one or more dehumidifiers, running 24/7, pumping the collected water out to an acceptable disposal point, until you’re confident that ALL of the water has been dried-out.

Watch out: Take care that your fans are secure – a fan that falls over could be unsafe and take care that no wiring nor fans nor any other electrical component is wet or in water – you could be shocked or killed. .

How to Prevent Water Damage in Your Crawl Space

While there’s nothing you can do to prevent natural disasters such as hurricanes or floods, you can take a few measures to safeguard your home against water damage not worry about crawl space water removal.

Here’s what you can do:

Limited Utilization Of Lime

Lime will absorb only a limited amount of moisture, as I explain in this article. It is not a permanent solution. It could help to improve the air quality and when there is raw sewage under the house.

Furthermore, when the waterflow comes through the soil of the crawlspace, you should be installing water drainage like we have explained when discussing flooded crawlspaces right here or what we have studied here when you see stagnant water after a heavy rain.

Lime won’t stop a wet or damp crawl space area. You need to address the water by keeping it out.

In this article, I have more effective solutions.

If you’re going to put something down, like a product, use 6 mil polyethytlene or equivalent to stop pumping moisture up through the building from the crawl, then look outside to find where the water’s coming from and address that.

Plant Away From Your Home

Some plants such as the weeping willows have invasive roots. If you plant them too close to your home, their roots will grow into your drainage pipes, sprinkler system, drainage field, foundation, and even septic tanks. This can cause blockages, which can burst your pipes open or cause sewage leaks.

a s an extra precaution, do not plant foliage too close to your home to reduce the risk of roots growing into pipes, sprinkler systems, foundation, or septic tanks. If the roots do grow into the lines, it can create a block that will result in a burst pipe. 

Clean Your Roof Gutters

Clogged roof gutters will direct rainwater into your building’s foundation or basement, where it will cause all kinds of damage.

Routine Gutter Cleanings – r outinely check your gutters to ensure there are no blockages that will direct water to drain into the foundation.

French Drains

French drains are a preventive strategy to keep your crawlspace dry. Home expert Bob Vila describes a French drain as , “a ditch in the ground, inset with a perforated pipe under a layer of gravel. That pipe funnels storm water away from where you don’t want it along the foundation, for example and deposits that water in a more desirable place, such as the municipal storm drain or a rain barrel This will help you direct water away from your crawlspace. Slope it slightly in the direction you want the water to flow. 

Slope Your Sidewalks

Rain is going to fall, so you need to do all you can to make sure the water doesn’t flow into your crawlspace. The area directly surrounding your home is the most prone to this rainwater soaking through and entering your crawlspace. There are a couple things you can do to keep this water away from your foundation, and lessen the chances of it getting in areas it shouldn’t be.

Sidewalks don’t allow water to soak through. Because of this, they can be used to direct water in a certain direction. You can use this to your advantage by making sure they are slightly angled away from your home. This acts as a guide, causing the rainwater to flow away from your home.

Your roof protects the top of your home, and your gutters guide all of that water away. However, the rain spouts at the end of your gutters require a little attention. If these spouts simply guide the water alongside your home, they aren’t doing their job. Angle the spout away from your home toward a slope in your yard. And if there isn’t a slope leading away, attach a downspout extension to draw the rainwater into your yard and away from your crawlspace.

Control Humidity

Your crawlspace doesn’t have to be flooded to be a problem. Moisture and humidity can promote mold growth and lead to dangerous issues.

Consider getting a vapor barrier installed. This is a plastic sheet covering the ground and parts of the walls and posts. Just don’t block the vents in your foundation. That can seal in carcinogenic radon.

A vapor barrier is more of a water prevention strategy than a water removal strategy, but it can still help keep moisture out. 2 However, pooling water from a leaking pipe or rainwater can still be an issue.

Once you’ve put down a moisture barrier and stopped actual water flowing into the crawlspace, then your target RH is 18% or lower – that’s the level (or lower) that will resist mold growth and rot and attraction of wood destroying insects.

If your crawlspace is open to the outdoor air, of course, you’ll never get to 18% RH, so you may want to convert the space to a closed, dried, conditioned area.

Vapor Barrier Installation

In a crawl space that isn’t concrete, there are fabrics that contractors can lay down to serve as a vapor barrier . They’ll lay thick plastic under the entire house today to seal it, similar to rubberized roofing material. To eliminate any extra moisture in a crawl space with a dirt floor, use cross-ventilation, a dehumidifier, or an exhaust fan. Keep in mind that a dehumidifier’s moisture removal capacity is determined by how many quarts of water it can extract every hour. Also, since ambient air contains moisture, it’s essential to keep air flowing to and from the dehumidifier. To maximize airflow, you’ll probably want to add multiple fans in the crawl room. The crawl space may become flooded during a heavy rainstorm, necessitating a professional’s use to drain out the water and the installation of a sump pump.

Buy a Crawlspace Sump Pump

for insurance, install a sump pump in a pit in the lowest corner of the crawl space, pumping to a suitable discharge location away from the foundation.

Installing a sump pump helps to divert water away from your premises during storms, hence prevent water from accumulating in your basement. It’s especially useful if your home is prone to groundwater seepage.

A sump pump sucks water out of your crawlspace or basement to lessen the damage from flooding. They can last anywhere from 10-30 years depending on what type you get, so they don’t need to be replaced very often. It doesn’t require much maintenance, either, but there are some tips.

You sump pump should also send the water far from your home, at least 20 feet from your home foundation. Only a qualified professional should install your sump pump.

Crawlspace encapsulation

Consider investing in a crawl space encapsulation service. We know this may sound expensive, but over the life of owning your home, this could easily pay for itself by helping you avoid costly major water damage repairs, not to mention improving your indoor air quality and the efficiency of your home, even upstairs. Going the DIY route is always an option for the steps we described above, but if you’re not experienced in the details of crawl space encapsulation and you don’t have the right equipment and training, you might be wasting your time and money.

Typical Issues In Crawlspaces

Crawl spaces are used to house plumbing, electrical wiring, ductwork, air conditioning, and heating systems, as well as to provide unlimited access to these substructures. A crawl space’s problem is that it can rapidly become filthy and damp. Mold, fungus, termites, and rats may all be a problem in the crawl space if there is too much moisture.

Moisture: Moisture isn’t a crawl space’s best friend, mainly if it’s an older home with a ventilated crawl space. Excessive moisture may cause rot by compromising the structural integrity of wooden pieces. Replacement of rotted support beams can cost anything from $1,500 to $5,000, depending on the material used (wood or steel) and how easy the issue is to fix.

Mold, mildew, and fungus: If there is some water problem, the combination of that and inadequate ventilation leads to mold and mildew, which eventually rots the floor joists. If this is the case, mold removal is a must. And there’s the health problem of walking on a floor that has a lot of mold beneath it. When a moisture issue isn’t tackled, the crawl space becomes an ideal breeding ground for microorganisms like mold and mildew. The harmful microorganisms and bacteria will spread throughout the house if the air from the crawl space circulates. For residents with respiratory problems or allergies, this could spell disaster!

Pest infestations: Crawl spaces that aren’t properly sealed are vulnerable to insect infestation. The warmth and moisture found there attract rodents and small animals. Because of their dander and hair, insect infestations can pollute the air, but their droppings are also a health hazard. Insects such as termites, in addition to small animals, can cause damage to structural components, HVAC ducts, and wiring.

Poor insulation: Heating and cooling systems can be hindered by crawl spaces that have not been adequately enclosed or insulated. The furnace or heater may have to work longer to maintain temperature if the outside air is colder or hotter

Is it a good idea to buy a home with a crawl space?

You’ve noticed a house that you’d like to buy, but it has a crawl space. Should you make an offer right now? You can do so as long as a specialist has inspected the crawl space and determined that there is no mold, no standing water in your crawl space, and that the walls and footings are in good shape.

Along with adequate crawl space ventilation , make sure there are no holes in the ground that could cause rodents or small animals to enter the room. Insect screens should be installed on any vents to keep bees, hornets, and other insects out of the building. Remember that having a crawl space makes it much easier to reach the home’s numerous structures if something goes wrong. You must ensure that there is enough ventilation to avoid excessive humidity, which can be harmful to the structure of the house and the inhabitants.

Why Hire a Crawl Space Water Removal Company?

Cleaning up a damp crawl space can be difficult. However, our specialists have the training and equipment to clean up crawl space water damage quickly to prevent structural damage and mold. Call for a free estimate from a specialist near you.

Always Free Estimates: Our specialists assess the damage and provide a risk-free estimate for crawl space water removal.

24-Hour Emergency Service: With our 24-hour emergency response, we can start cleaning up a flooded crawl space fast.

30-Minute Response Time: Also, we provide a 30-minute rapid response to keep your home or business safe.

Licensed and Insured: Our restoration specialists are licensed and insured to protect you throughout the restoration process.

Professional Equipment and Techniques: We use professional equipment and advanced techniques during cleanup.

Local Professionals: Our local specialists are trained and certified to safely restore your home.

We Work With Your Insurance Company: Lastly, we accept all insurance companies and can even work with them directly to make your life easier.

Causes Of The Presence Of Water In Crawl Space

Causes of Water in Crawl Space Water in crawl space can come from a range of sources. These include but aren’t limited to ground water, heavy rainfall and plumbing leaks. Ground water or rainwater that seeps into the crawl space may come in through cracks or leaks in the foundation of your house, drainage tile issues or when gutter or downspout systems have failed or been improperly installed. 

The first step in solving crawl space water issues is to identify the source of the water. Then you can block or correct the cause. 

Water in Crawl Space Solutions If there is standing water in the crawl space, it first needs to be removed. This can be done, depending on the amount of water, with a wet vacuum or sump pump. Running a dehumidifier will reduce the humidity levels and help prevent the mold growth. 

To prevent water from pooling in the crawl space in the future, you can engineer a system that includes a perimeter trench, perforated pipe, gravel and a sump pump. Depending on its size and how easily you can access your crawl space, you may choose to attempt this project on your own. You may also choose to consult a professional for an easier, optimal solution. 

Water in your home’s crawl space is more than just an annoyance; it can have devastating consequences for your home’s value. Standing water or even ever-present moisture in the air can create mold problems . At the extreme end, water in a crawlspace can lead to rot and decay that weakens structural members and makes major architectural repairs necessary. The presence of moisture can also foster termites, carpenter ants, and other insects that can damage your home. Water under the house attracts animals that you really want to avoid such as rats and raccoons. 

You can fix the problem of water in your crawl space on your own. Because it is such a time-consuming project, you may wish to call a water remediation company to do the job. 

Final Recommendations

Homeowners often forget about the crawl spaces that are located within or just under their homes. The crawl space is located around the foundation of the home. This area is usually filled with soil, and most homes have a layer of plastic covering the soil to help reduce moisture levels. However, when heavy rain hits or if a pipe bursts the crawl space beneath the home can flood. A flooded crawl space is the last thing you want in your home, and you should resolve the problem as quickly as possible.

Water can sit in the crawl space for months, even years, giving a false impression that everything will be fine as long as you own the house. Over the long term, though, standing water can damage the house’s foundation ; wooden beams and joists will begin to rot; various strains of mold can develop. You will be required to fix the problem when it comes time to sell the house. A future buyer will be unable to obtain a loan to buy a house with water problems in the crawl space.

Water remediation is a project best handled during dry months. While all of the work is done in protected environments such as in the house or under the house, water can continue to build up under the house and hamper work. 

By cleaning up your flood-prone crawl space and making a few design upgrades, you can protect your home and your health, and even regain your crawl space as a storage area. Read more to learn our best practices for dealing with a flooded crawl space.

If you live in a flood zone and the crawl space under your house isn’t correctly designed, there’s a good chance you’ll have to deal with a flooded crawl space at some point. Flooding in this area shouldn’t be ignored. It can lead to mold growth that rots your floors and the wood framing of your house, causing serious structural damage . Mold can also make its way into your living space, where it will worsen your indoor air quality.

By cleaning up your flood-prone crawl space and making a few design upgrades, you can protect your home and your health, and even regain your crawl space as a storage area.

Efficient Flooded Crawl Space Clean Up The job of cleaning a flooded crawl space starts with removing the standing water. If all you have are a few puddles, use a wet-vac to suck up the water and dump it outdoors.

For widespread flooding that doesn’t reach more than an inch deep, you can try sweeping the water out with a push broom. Using a general purpose pump, however, will get the job done more efficiently and it’s the only practical option if the space is severely flooded.

remove water from your crawl space with a pump, place the pump’s suction hose into the flood water and direct the drainage hose outdoors away from the house. The drainage hose should release the water far enough away from the house that it can’t flow back into the crawl space. Switch the pump on and let it run. You may have to re-position the suction hose periodically until all standing water is removed.

While the pump is running, remove all wet materials from the crawl space. This includes any stored items, soaked insulation, and debris the flood water carried in or knocked loose from the crawl space’s interior. Wet items hold in water and lengthen the time it takes to dry the space. Water-damaged insulation is no longer efficient, so throw it out and replace it rather than trying to dry it.

How to Dry Out a Flooded Crawl Space When all the standing water is out, you can begin drying the space more thoroughly. This means drying the wood framing, the subflooring above the crawl space, and the crawl space floor.

Before you start, make sure all mold and moldy materials have been removed, that there are no lingering puddles, and that no water is still entering the crawl space.

Once this is done, clean the surfaces inside the crawl space to discourage the spread of mold , which can contaminate your air and your dehumidifier. Check for wiring damage or other issues that would make it unsafe to use the outlets in or near the crawl space. These should be repaired before you bring in electrical equipment to help with drying.

Next, bring in a portable dehumidifier. A large room dehumidifier is enough for a small crawl space, but for a larger one, you may need to rent a commercial grade model. Set the dehumidifier for between 30 to 45 percent and let it run for several hours, then check on the space. A wet crawl space could take a total of eight to 10 hours to dry.

Warm, moving air picks up moisture more readily. To speed up the drying process, place a source of low heat, such as a light bulb, inside the crawl space and position one or more electric fans where they’ll blow air across damp surfaces.

If you plan to use your crawl space for storage and want to ensure it stays dry permanently, you’ll most likely need to install a permanent dehumidifier along with a heat source. Before you do, consult with a professional who can help you ensure the job is done safely.

Effective Crawl Space Flooding Solutions If your crawl space has already flooded, then you know that layer of plastic on the floor isn’t going to do much against moisture when a severe storm hits. Crawl space flooding isn’t inevitable, though, and it’s not even particularly difficult to prevent.

Before you consider upgrading your crawl space, address the drainage around your home. Ineffective exterior drainage leads rain runoff toward your home and into your crawl space, instead of draining that water away as it should. Check your gutters and down spouts, as well as the grade of the land surrounding your home.

A sump pump should be you next consideration. Not all crawl spaces need one, but in flood-prone areas, these devices provide effective backup when you’re not able to completely stop water from entering.

If you choose to install a sump pump , dig a drainage channel around the edges of the crawl space. This will lead water on the floor toward the sump pump. The floor should be flat enough to prevent puddles from forming. If the floor isn’t flat, level it out.

A sump pump alone can’t keep a crawl space completely dry. If that’s your goal, you’ll need to encapsulate (seal) the crawl space . That requires covering the floor with a vapor barrier, installing vent covers, and adding an airtight door. This approach isn’t appropriate for all climates, so before you start work, consult a professional so you don’t inadvertently worsen your home’s moisture problems.

Using Flood Vents for Crawl Spaces Flood vents are another way to protect your crawl space and the rest of your house from water damage. A flood vent is a permanent opening in the wall between your crawl space and the outdoors. It’s designed to let water pass through the space freely so that it doesn’t become trapped and create pressure that can damage your walls and foundation.

If your home is built on a flood plain, these vents may be required or recommended by local or national building codes, government agencies or your insurance company. The Federal Emergency Management Administration ( FEMA ) recommends homes on flood planes have at least two flood vents, each positioned on a different wall. These vents should provide at least 1 inch of open space for every square foot of enclosed crawl space.

The positioning and size of flood vents you’ll need depends on your home’s floor plan and overall design. The standard-size crawl space flood vent is 16 1/4 inch by 8 1/4 inch, the same size as a standard cinder block. Two vents of this size are usually enough to vent a space of 250 square feet or less.

Crawl space flooding is a common problem, but it isn’t something you have to or should put up with. Standing water and lingering dampness should be removed to prevent damage to your home. Once you get your flooded crawl space dry and clean again, consider approaches for preventing future flooding or at least minimizing flood damage. That might mean installing flood vents, encapsulating the space or investing in another type of upgrade.

Sources And References

[1] Harriet Burge, Harvard School of Public Health, and EM Laboratory, a private mold and environmental testing lab – email to D.F. August, 2004. Dr. Burge is an educator, writer, and consultant in the field of indoor air quality and mold contamination.

[2] Product literature and MSDS sheets for the biocides and fungicidal sealants listed in this article.

[3] US Centers for Disease Control, CDC: describes the risks associated with hantavirus.

[4] International Residential Code, IRC Section R408, Under Floor Space,, retrieved 3/2/2013 Section M1305.1.4 [PDF] Section M1305.1.4 for access requirements where mechanical equipment is located under floors.

[5] International Residential Code, IRC Section R406, Foundation Waterproofing and Dampproofing,, retrieved 3/2/2013

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BY M. Kogan

Hello, I am Marcio. I am an architect and designer, alma mater is Mackenzie. Retired in theory, but an architect never retires completely. Along with architectural projects, I am a filmmaker and have completed some short documentaries. Filmmaking and design are my passions. In HomeQN I write about home decoration and foundations. The goal is to teach homeowners to DYI as much as possible, and when this is not possible, enable them through knowledge, to evaluate service quotations and choose the best service technicians.

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