When you go into your crawlspace and notice dampness, mold growth, or standing water, you might wonder where the moisture is coming from and how you can stop it. Older and newer homes can have foundation water problems that come from a variety of causes. Your first step to making sure your crawlspace stays dry is to find out why you're experiencing moisture leaks.
Some causes are simple, and others are more severe or costly to repair. Here are the most common reasons why people find water in their crawlspace.
1. Leaking plumbing
Gravity causes water to flow downward, and many crawlspaces have plumbing that runs beneath the first floor of the house. If you have a leak somewhere else in the home, water can still wind up in the crawlspace because it seeps or flows downward. For example, if you have a leaking water connection in the wall behind your bathroom sink, the water can drip down, soak through the floor, and land in the crawlspace, where it pools. Pipes running through the crawlspace can also crack or back up, causing leaks.
The first thing you should check when you notice standing water in the crawlspace is the plumbing. You want to catch leaks early before they cause greater damage, especially if the leak is in a kitchen, laundry, or bathroom from an upper story.
2. Poor drainage
Another common cause of crawlspace leaks is poor exterior drainage around the foundation of your home. Ideally, the ground should slope away from the outside walls of your house, allowing rain water to run off, instead of pooling near the foundation. You should also have functional gutters (cleaned of leaves) and proper downspouts to collect water that falls on the roof and conduct it away safely.
Check the area around your house to look for puddles, especially after heavy rain. If you notice pooling, check the gutters first, and then check into whether or not your home needs better grading or more advanced water removal. For example, in a damp area with a lot of rain, weeping tile and trenching might be needed to help collect and redirect water away from the house.
As a fail-safe, you can also install a crawlspace sump pump to help prevent water from flooding the crawlspace if you have a really heavy storm.
3. Seeping and condensation
In some more humid areas, you can get damp concrete in your crawlspace because concrete is porous. Instead of water coming in because of poor drainage, it might come in because there's a high amount of water in the soil, which puts pressure on the foundation. With enough pressure, water starts to seep through the porous concrete, making it damp to the touch. Homes with a lot of interior humidity can also have moisture from condensation. The concrete is cool, so the humidity from the home collects, leading to mildew or mold growth.
A waterproofing company can install a barrier to help prevent seeping from a high water table. For humidity trouble, you can run dehumidifiers indoors and take steps to reduce humidity in your home. For example, if you don't have ventilation fans in your bathroom or above your stove, your indoor humidity will go up every time someone boils water or uses the shower. You can also check your dryer in the laundry room to make sure that the clothes dryer is vented to the outside.
4. Clogged floor drains
Many crawlspaces have floor drains as a safety measure to prevent home flooding. These drains can get clogged from debris, so when there is a leak or a flood, the drain does not protect you. Keep the drain clear and make sure it has a functional cover to keep foreign objects out of the drain space.
To learn more about protecting your crawlspace from moisture, contact a company that offers crawlspace waterproofing services.