Whether you realize it or not, the condition of your Michigan crawl space is impacting your health and the health and wellness of your family members.
The indoor air quality upstairs is affected by the air inside the crawl space. That bad air can come up from the lower levels of the house through what is known as stack effect.
Stack effect is when the air transfer pulls up like a chimney. Today our homes are tighter and more energy efficient. However, with that, there are less natural air exchanges throughout the day. Meaning the air that we breathe inside our home is not circulating with fresh outside air. This is a good thing for energy efficiency because we aren’t heating and cooling outside air as much, but it is bad for indoor air quality. When the crawl space has problems, it can definitely impact your health for the worse.
Wet crawl spaces
The most common problem with the crawl space environment is water. Think of the crawl space as a mini basement. It is part of the house and the environment in the crawl space should be healthy and dry. Before you do anything else with the crawl space environment you need to address the water issues if there are any. Hire a professional to an install waterproofing system in the crawl space to manage and divert water out of the crawl space. It is similar to a basement waterproofing system. It usually involves a perimeter drainage trench and a sump pump. The goal is to dry the crawlspace and keep it to a relative humidity level of 50 percent.
Wet crawl spaces can cause and exasperate allergies
If the crawl space is wet, it can cause mold, which is the leading allergen that exasperates asthma symptoms and allergies. Did you ever think your crawlspace could be attributing to your allergies? Wet environments are also a perfect environment for pests and insects. Dust mites are a type of insect that loves a cool, moist environment. Just so happens, dust mites are also a leading allergen.
Problems with mold
Mold spores are not good for anyone to breathe in but they pose a more serious problem for children with asthma. Mold spores in the air can exasperate asthma symptoms. While the experts don’t know exactly what causes asthma, some researchers hypothesize that mold spores actually cause asthma in children. They know for sure mold does cause respiratory issues. Therefore, if you have mold growth in your crawl space, don’t assume the mold spores won’t impact your health.
Soil gases and radon
If you have a dirt crawl space, soil gases can easily enter your house through the exposed ground such as radon. Radon is a harmful soil gas that can cause lung cancer and other respiratory problems. The best practice with crawl spaces is to close the vents and line the dry crawl space with heavy duty plastic. This creates a barrier against soil gases and water. If you test for radon and find there is a radon problem in your home, it is important to also install a radon mitigation system. The best time to install a radon mitigation system is before the liner is installed in the crawl space.
Overall, the best practice is to treat the crawl space like the rest of the house. Keep it dry and clean with a barrier against radon, mold, pests and water. If these are in your crawl space, remember, they or the effects of them will move up into the rest of your house through stack effect. Even though your crawl space is usually out of sight, out of mind, the environment down there really is impacting your health.