Whether you’re facing the aftermath of a flood in your area or there’s been a leak in your plumbing system, water in your crawl space is an issue that needs an immediate fix.
That’s because excess moisture in a crawl space may lead to many unfavorable scenarios. In short, it can have a negative impact on your health as well as the structure of your house.
So, if you find any water in there, it’s time to take action and learn how to dry out a crawl space. In this guide, we’ll explain how to do that step-by-step and answer a few related questions that may be on your mind.
Let’s get to it!
Are Crawl Spaces Supposed to Be Dry?
Yes. You must keep your crawl space dry at all times because an accumulation of moisture in that area can cause a lot of health-related and structural problems.
Those issues include the formation of mold and mildew, pest infestations, insulation damage, and wood damage.
The first two can negatively affect the health of the house’s inhabitants and make the home the ideal place for the spread of illnesses and diseases. Plus, if mold and infestations burrow deep into the structure of your crawl space, it can take so much time and money to get rid of them.
As for the damage to the crawl space’s insulation and wood structure, that could jeopardize the strength of the house’s foundations. The more time that passes with water or excess moisture in a crawl space, the weaker the structure of a house will get.
Most importantly, the later that you discover the issue, the more it’ll cost you to fix it. That’s why it’s crucial to inspect your crawl space from time to time to make sure there aren’t any water leaks.
It’s also a must to check your crawl space after a flood or an especially powerful storm to dry it out and avoid moisture-triggered issues in the future.
How to Dry Out a Crawl Space Step-by-Step
Thankfully, if you discover water or excess moisture in your crawl space early, you can easily get rid of it in a few steps.
Here’s what you should do:
Step 1: Find the Source of the Water in the Crawl Space and Stop the Leak
Of course, before you attempt to dry out the crawl space, you must inspect every inch of it to find out where the water is coming from. It doesn’t even have to be standing water; if the crawl space is damp or slightly wet, you should also look for the source of this moisture.
If it’s a leaking pipe, it’ll be easy to pinpoint the problem and fix it by shutting off the main valve.
Yet, sometimes, the moisture might come up from the soil underneath through a crack in the foundation. If your house has been standing for a long while, it’s prone to gaps in the foundation with the passage of time.
In this case, hiring a professional to maintain those cracks should block the source of moisture for now. To keep this from happening again, consider having someone check your crawl space for cracks every once in a while.
Step 2: Remove Wet or Soaked Objects
Now that no more water can enter your crawl space, it’s time to clear it up from any wet or damaged items before drying it out.
If you ignore this step and start drying the crawl space anyway, chances are the moisture will build up quickly once again. That’s because there’ll still be water stuck on anything from insulation to vapor barriers and more.
So, make sure that your crawl space is completely empty before trying to dry it out.
Step 3: Dispose of Any Standing Water
This step is essential if there’s standing water in your crawl space as a result of a serious plumbing leak or a flood. Without getting rid of the water gathered in your crawl space, it’ll take you forever to dry the area with huge amounts of water in there!
A bucket and a few rags seem like a logical option to dispose of standing water, especially since they won’t cost you anything. Yet, going that path will be time-consuming, and it’ll probably leave you with a sore back afterward.
Instead, we suggest you use the help of a submersible pump. All you’ll have to do is drop the pump underneath the water, move the end of its hose to a suitable place for water drainage, and plug the device into an outlet.
Depending on the amount of water in your crawl space, the pump can take anywhere from an hour to several hours to dispose of excess water.
In most cases, there’ll still be some water left in your crawl space that the pump won’t be able to get rid of. Here, your best bet is to use a wet-dry vacuum to suck any remaining water.
You’ll likely not have these two pieces of equipment on hand, but you can always rent them. Or, if you think they might be useful in the future, there’s the option to just purchase them from your nearby hardware store.
Step 4: Get Rid of Any Debris That Might Be in Your Way
Now with your crawl space almost dry, do another quick inspection of it to locate debris that you may not have noticed earlier with the standing water.
Any debris left is likely still wet, which can get in the way of ensuring that your crawl space is 100% dry.
Step 5: Use Fans and Proper Ventilation to Dry Out the Crawl Space Further
Even though your crawl space will appear dry now that you’ve disposed of the standing water, we’re not near done yet!
The walls, floor, and every other surface of your crawl space is still wet or at least damp. But we can’t have that; we want to make sure the entire area is free from moisture not to encourage the growth of mold.
Therefore, the best course of action would be to allow air into the crawl space. Open any doors, windows, or vents that can let some air in.
Plus, you should grab a few fans and arrange them as you see fit in your crawl space to speed up the drying process. Even better, positioning a dehumidifier or more in several places is also a great idea.
To be extra sure that there’s no moisture left in your crawl space, keep fans and dehumidifiers on for a few days. Check the drying progress throughout the entire process until the place is completely dry before you turn all the devices off and call it a day.
Step 6: Inspect the Crawl Space for Mold or Infestations
With your crawl space 100% dry, it’s time to make sure that the water that’s been in it didn’t cause any damage that you must reverse.
That’s why it’s important to inspect each nook and cranny of your crawl space carefully for signs of mold or an infestation. Pay special attention to corners and hidden areas, like piers, ducts, interior foundations, etc.
If you come across mold growth, get rid of it as soon as you see it using a mold remover spray. However, make sure you’re wearing protective gear and covering your mouth and nose before you do that; you don’t want mold particles to enter your airways.
When you’re done cleaning the mold, disinfect the spot with chemicals or by using a homemade cleaning solution. The best candidate for this job is vinegar.
Step 7: Make Any Necessary Fixes or Repairs
The step after that would be to maintain your crawl space to reverse any damage that happened to it as a result of the excess moisture.
First, replace items that the water has damaged, such as insulation, pipes, and the like.
Second of all, look for any cracks or gaps in the floor or walls of your crawl space and have them fixed by professionals. This also goes for any rotten wood, damaged bricks, and such.
This way, you’ll limit the chances of anything going wrong with your crawl space in the near future, moisture-related or not!
Step 8: Take Measures to Prevent Your Crawl Space From Getting Wet Again
No one wants to go through all this hassle again, at least if they can manage it. That’s why you’ll have to take some necessary measures to keep moisture from finding its way into your crawl space.
Here are some tips that you can follow to achieve that goal:
- Make sure that the humidity is always 50% to 60% in your crawl space (can be slightly below these percentages but not over them)
- Install a permanent dehumidifier if the moisture levels are always high in your crawl space
- Consider installing a vapor barrier (especially if the floor of your crawl space is dirt)
- Do an encapsulation of your crawl space if you’re facing a serious humidity problem
Can a Crawl Space Be Too Dry?
As a general rule in life, too much of anything is too much. Therefore, the answer to your question is yes; a crawl space can be too dry if the moisture levels in it drop below 30%.
In these conditions, any wood in your crawl space is prone to shrink, which can damage the structure of your house.
Plus, if it’s too dry in your crawl space, it can be too dry in your house, too. Ultimately, this can be unhealthy as very low humidity leads to irritated eyes, overly dry and irritated skin, inflammation, and more.
Therefore, we suggest you install a thermo-hygrometer inside your crawl space to monitor its humidity levels and ensure they don’t get too low.
Knowing how to dry out a crawl space is a process that all homeowners should have an idea about to ensure their crawl spaces remain moisture-free. This way, they’ll be able to minimize mold growth, pest infestations, and structural damage.
Now that you’ve read our guide, you have all the necessary steps to dry your crawl space effectively. It’s simply one of the easiest DIY projects that you can do to protect the foundations of your house.
However, keep in mind that you might need professional help to maintain any damaged parts, cracks, and the like.
Good luck drying out your crawl space!
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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