Aside from storing a bunch of your belongings, you probably don’t give your crawl space much thought. But while you might not actually spend any time down there, your crawl space is still an important part of your home that requires some level of attention. Just like any other part of your home, issues can arise in the crawl space which might warrant some repair. But the only way you’re going to know there’s a problem is if you pay attention to the warning signs.
Here are some red flags that there may be a problem in your home’s crawl space.
1. Foul Odors
Any time you detect a bad smell anywhere in the home, this warrants further investigation. More specifically, crawl spaces that have a foul “musty” odor might have some sort of moisture problem that you might need to look deeper into.
The smell could also be a result of something decaying down there, whether it’s dead rodents or something else rotting. While this might not sound very pleasant, any bad smells coming from your crawl space should be looked into further. It probably won’t go away on its own, so the sooner you look into it, the better.
2. Cold Floors
If certain floors in your home are colder than others, it may be the crawl space to blame. Warm air rises in a home, which explains why lower levels are typically cooler than upper levels. The warm air that rises is replaced by air being pulled in at the crawl space.
If this particular area is not properly insulated or ventilated, the air that gets pulled in might be cooler than it should be. This issue is more common in northern parts of the state where temperatures tend to dip and isn’t commonly seen in Southern California.
3. Standing Water
Any amount of water that is sitting on top of the floor in the crawl space should absolutely be dealt with right away. All that water – no matter how little – can cause mold, not to mention cause damage to the floor and walls as well as any belongings you might have stored down there.
Many times, standing water is a result of leaky pipes or poor drainage, which will need to be addressed by a professional. If the issue isn’t rectified, you could be dealing with more cases of standing water in the basement, which will just cause you more headaches, time, and money to deal with.
4. Sagging Floors
If you notice that the floors in the crawl space are sagging, there may be an issue with the floor joists underneath. Whether it’s because the load on top is just too much for the joists or they are old and weak, you might need to have the joists repaired in order to avoid any future issues.
In addition, you might even notice some sloping of the floors in the crawl space. If that’s the case, there is likely an issue with the foundation of your home, in which case you will need the help of a structural engineer or other professional to prevent the issue from getting any worse.
5. High Humidity
Have you noticed your home’s interior is a little more humid than normal, despite running your A/C? If so, go down to your crawl space to see what the humidity levels are like down there as well. Most likely, the humidity will be even worse, which could be a sign that there is a high level of moisture building up.
This can lead to further issues, including condensation on your windows and pipes, peeling wallpaper, musty smells, and even mold and mildew. Any abnormally high levels of humidity in the crawl space and the rest of your home will need to be addressed.
6. Higher-Than-Usual Energy Bills
Utility bills are already expensive enough as it is, so when you suddenly notice them spike, you know there’s a problem somewhere in the home. Many times, a jump in energy bills is the result of leaks in windows and doors that allow cooled or heated indoor air to escape, making your HVAC system work harder than it has to and costing you more money in the meantime.
When it comes to your crawl space, the air might not be circulating properly down there, or there may be a high humidity issue that is making your HVAC run into overdrive to deal with the problem. Or, the insulation in the crawl space may be inadequate, which could also be contributing to an inefficient HVAC system. Regardless, the fact that your HVAC system is working harder will inevitably translate into higher energy bills.
If you actually see physical mold anywhere in your crawl space, you’ve got a problem. Mold should never be left alone to fester and grow, as it can cause a serious health hazard in the home when left for all occupants to breathe in over the long haul.
Don’t try to get rid of the mold yourself if you happen to notice it in your home, as this can just end up making things a lot worse. Instead, you will need to contact the professionals to identify the exact type of mold that’s present and eliminate it safely and effectively.
The Bottom Line
Don’t ignore your crawl space, even if you hardly ever go down there. Paying attention to issues in this seemingly unimportant area can have a direct effect on the rest of your home, so you’ll want to address any issues as soon as you notice them. The sooner you can deal with any problems, the lower the odds of them becoming a major issue.