Many people live in homes that have crawl space foundations. If you’ve never lived in a house with a crawl space before, you might not quite understand what they’re used for.
A crawl space is quite a bit different than a basement. You’re going to use them in different ways.
Things that would be possible in a basement aren’t necessarily possible in a crawl space. If you’re moving to a home that has a crawl space foundation, it’ll be beneficial to understand what you can and cannot do with the space.
Crawl Spaces Are Used for Maintenance Access
The most common thing that crawl spaces are used for involves maintenance. A crawl space is a convenient space under your home where workers can access your pipes and vents.
There might be times when you’ll need to have plumbers or HVAC workers take a look at certain things. If you’re fortunate enough to have a crawl space foundation, workers can go directly underneath your home to access both the pipes and the vents.
When you have a concrete slab foundation the pipes and the vents will be encased in concrete. They won’t be able to be accessed from the underside of the house.
In many ways, having a crawl space makes handling work a lot easier. You can make plumbing changes or redo your vents without having to go to a huge effort.
You’ll have workers take a look underneath your home when you’re dealing with various problems. Issues with leaky pipes can be solved easier when you have a crawl space foundation.
Without a crawl space foundation, the workers might have to tear up your floors to access certain pipes. So you can see why having a crawl space is more appealing in some ways.
Can a Crawl Space Be Used for Storage?
Most people don’t use crawl spaces for storage purposes. Whether your crawl space will be suitable as a storage location depends on various factors.
To store things in your crawl space, it’s important to ensure that the crawl space is encapsulated. A crawl space that isn’t encapsulated wouldn’t protect your stuff much at all.
You’ll also need to make sure that the crawl space has many issues solved. Crawl spaces are known to be areas where moisture can be a problem.
Excessive moisture in crawl spaces often leads to problems with mold and mildew. You can protect the crawl space by installing a vapor barrier, ensuring that the crawl space is properly ventilated, and using a crawl space dehumidifier.
It might not be necessary to use a dehumidifier unless you live in an area with very high humidity. A vapor barrier and proper ventilation will always be essential, though.
If your crawl space is safe enough, you can choose to store certain things there. It’d be best to only keep airtight totes in the crawl space area.
You also don’t want to put too much stuff in the crawl space. The crawl space is an area that will need to be accessed by workers from time to time.
If you cram it full of totes, it’s not going to be possible for workers to access your pipes, look at your vents, or check other aspects of your home. So the practicality of storing things in the crawl space might not be there.
You also need to consider the size of the crawl space. Crawl spaces aren’t exactly huge spaces.
Most crawl spaces are so small that you need to crawl on your hands and knees to get around underneath the house. So you might not be able to fit totes that are too tall in this space.
Is it practical to store things in a crawl space? Some people would say no, but others will use crawl spaces for storage when necessary.
Can a Crawl Space Be Used as a Root Cellar?
Some people use crawl spaces as root cellars. So this is possible if you have an encapsulated crawl space that you deem to be safe enough.
To use the crawl space as a root cellar, you’ll first need to cut an opening in the wall. Then you’ll install a little door to ensure that you have easy access to the space that you’re using.
You can use the root cellar as a place to store fruits and veggies. It’ll keep things cool naturally and it should be quite convenient.
There can be problems with this idea, but it’ll be fine so long as you can keep pests at bay. If your crawl space has issues with rodents, it’s not recommended to attempt to use the area as a root cellar.
So you must ensure that the crawl space is sealed and protected. It’s necessary to get rid of any gaps and cracks that will allow mice, rats, and other types of pests to enter the area.
If you can set things up so that the area will be safe, you can use the crawl space as a root cellar. However, some people might not find the crawl space to be a safe enough location.
Insulate the Crawl Space
One thing you should know is that crawl spaces have the potential to waste lots of energy. When you have a crawl space foundation, it’s wise to make sure that the crawl space is insulated.
When crawl spaces aren’t insulated, they’ll wind up wasting a lot of heat. You’ll lose heat and air underneath the house due to the lack of insulation.
The first thing to focus on is ensuring that the crawl space is encapsulated. A crawl space that isn’t encapsulated will have even more problems with energy loss.
Next, you want to install insulation on the crawl space ceiling. You can hang the insulation and keep it in place using wires.
This alone will do a good job of saving you money on your monthly energy bills. You can also go a step further and insulate the walls.
People commonly attach insulation boards to crawl space walls. It’ll cost a bit of money to insulate your crawl space, but it’s worthwhile since it’ll save you money in the long run.
Can a Crawl Space Be Used as a Storm Shelter?
You might be able to turn a crawl space into a storm shelter, but it depends on various factors. Generally, a crawl space is not going to be a good place to hide during a storm.
It’d be better to stay in the house and hide underneath something sturdy such as a table. You’d also likely have a better experience hiding in a closet or another secure location.
Tornadoes have great destructive power and are known to be able to destroy houses with crawl space foundations. Hiding in the crawl space could wind up being more dangerous than simply staying in the house.
Also, it’s worth noting that crawl spaces are prone to issues with flooding. You can take steps to mitigate such issues, but it’s still not common for crawl spaces to be used as storm shelters.
Can a Crawl Space Be Turned Into a Basement?
Perhaps you wish that you had a full basement. Having a full basement can indeed be more useful than having a crawl space in certain ways.
Is it possible to turn a house with a crawl space foundation into one with a basement foundation? This is something that can be done, but it’ll require the work of professionals to get the job done.
Turning a crawl space into a basement is a huge undertaking that will require money and expertise. You’ll need to work with foundation experts to ensure that you do everything as safely as possible.
You’ll need workers with the right engineering knowledge to pull this off. Some companies offer such conversion and you’ll simply need to look into your options locally.
Whether this is a worthwhile move to make will depend on your situation. The cost of converting a crawl space into a basement might not be worth it depending on what your budget looks like.
Now you know what you can and cannot do with a crawl space. Crawl spaces are great in some ways, but you can only use them for so much.
It is technically possible to use encapsulated crawl spaces for storage purposes. You’ll only want to put airtight containers in the crawl space, though.
If your crawl space isn’t very big, it might not be that practical to try to store things in there. Also, it’s not wise to block the crawl space since workers have to go in there sometimes.
You can choose to use the crawl space as a root cellar if you want to. Just be sure to protect the crawl space from rodents and other pests if you choose to do this.
Remember to insulate the crawl space so it will be less of a money pit. Crawl spaces that aren’t insulated wind up costing you a lot of extra cash on monthly energy bills.
Don’t use your crawl space as a storm shelter since it’s not the best option. You should find a safe location in your house or travel to a proper storm shelter to be safe.
If you wish to convert your crawl space into a basement, it’s possible to do so. However, such an undertaking will require professional help and it’ll likely be very expensive to get the job done.
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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