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  • Winterizing a crawlspace

    Posted on January 20th, 2009 Matt 1 comment

    3 Steps to winterize your crawlspace.

    If you’re one of the lucky folks out there who’s got a crawlspace under your house then you’ve got a few things you’ll want to be aware of.

    Note: Whether you’ve got a basement or crawl you need to be aware of moisture under your house, but people with basements don’t usually have to go out of their way to monitor what’s going on in their basement (when you are doing laundry in the basement, you tend to notice if you’re standing in a puddle) or take extra steps to protect things each year (basements are usually at least partially conditioned).

    Here’s a few tips to make living with your crawl a little easier.

    1. Make sure all your pipes are insulated. It’s good to have the subfloor of your crawlspace insulated but there still may be some exposed plumbing supply pipes. If those are well insulated, you don’t have to worry as much about closing off crawlspace vents in freezing weather. Those vents need to be kept open most of the time and are only meant to be closed during freezing weather. But who actually remembers to go out and open them back up after each cold spurt? For that matter who even remembers to close them unless you’ve watched the news and they’ve reminded you about it when they are warning of Snowmageddon! Do yourself a favor, make sure the pipes are insulated and check that insulation once a year before the winter and leave those vents open.

    2. Check your crawlspace vents, they should be Secure, Open and Clear (SOC?).
    Are they Secure? Your vents should have screens covering them to prevent little critters from taking shelter in your crawlspace. If there’s a hole in the screen it needs to be fixed and you might want to be sure that the pipe insulation that I know you put on to protect the pipes, hasn’t been chewed off.
    Are they Open? I know we just went over this, but I can’t get my SOC acronym without a vowel, so make sure the vents are kept open, this helps prevent moisture build up (which can cause mold, rot and all kinds of bad things) in your crawl.
    Are they Clear? With the crawlspace vents mostly at or near ground level, they can get blocked by leaves and other landscaping debris. Clear the leaves and debris around the vent and MAKE SURE the ground is not sloping towards the vent. If your house is in a colder climate than the Portland metro area, or we go through one of the rare extended cold streaks of below freezing weather then closing off those vents can be a good idea, just remember to open them back up when the weather warms.

    3. Check the drainage around the outside of the crawlspace. This is a good idea for any house in the winter, but as I mentioned before, people go into their basement regularly so they will notice a lot quicker if they’ve neglected this one. Check to make sure the all the downspouts are connected and draining a few feet away from the edge of the building. This will help prevent unwanted moisture from entering your crawlspace… where it might get trapped if you forgot to check the vents for SOC, see how well it all comes around?

    This should not replace regular, full inspection of your crawlspace. But I know most of you would prefer to stay out of there as much as possible, so it gives you something proactive to do with one less trip into the dark, dingy, cobwebbed land below your floor.

     

    One response to “Winterizing a crawlspace”

    1. Thanks for the information, it’s nice to know what to look for, and how to protect our house from potential issues.