Do I Need a Dehumidifier for my Crawl Space?

It had always been my dream to have some land to play around on. A few years back I purchased twenty acres with an older home on it. This older home did not have a basement but instead had a crawl space. At the time of purchasing I didn’t know the first thing about crawl spaces. I had only grown up in homes with basements and I knew nothing of what to look for, how to take care of it, and how to prevent issues. Looking back at the past couple years I know I could have done things so much better. I ended up paying some hefty repair bills and I’m sharing this story with you so that you hopefully don’t make the same mistakes that I did.

The house that we had bought was older and a lot of the necessary maintenance work just hadn’t been done over the years. Overall, we didn’t have too many problems with the house but there was a reoccurring pain my side and that was the crawl space. Crawl spaces are quite a bit different then basements, which I was about to learn. Looking back at it now I should have paid more attention to the crawl space and the moisture that it was attracting. Instead, I opened the vent and forgot about it for a year.

It was about a year later that I was walking down my hallway that led out to our back porch. As I was walking I noticed something strange in a specific spot. I stepped on it and felt the sensation of the floor sinking. It felt similar to a sponge or when you would step onto a trampoline. Your foot would sink slightly. It was only in this specific spot so, like an idiot, I ignored it and carried on with life. It was about a month later that this spot had expanded its way down the hallway and another spot had formed on the other side of the hall in the master bathroom. At this point I knew things were bad and I called a contractor out to the house to figure out what the hell was going on.

Investigating the Issues

Larry, our contractor, came out about a few days later and started poking around. It only took him about ten minutes to figure out what the problem was. You see my crawl space had water problems. If you walked around down there, which I avoided as much as I could because it sucked, you would find standing water. Where you didn’t find standing water your feet would sink into the mud as you walked. There was no poly liner on the floor or on the foundation walls. There wasn’t even a dehumidifier. The sinking feeling that I had in my floor was the rotting of the floor board plywood due to the excess humidity and moisture in my crawl space. The crawl space was rotting my home from the inside out. Not good.

Larry handed me his quote for the repairs and I was taken aback. It was going to cost be about seven-thousand dollars to get this repaired. All of the flooring in the back hallway and the master bathroom had to be ripped up. The plywood floorboards underneath all had to be replaced. It was a disaster. Once he got going on the repair I set some time aside to start correcting my crawl space. The first thing I did was seal it up tight. I forget who told me this, but someone had told me that when buying a home with a crawl space it is best to let air out and have multiple vents open throughout the year. Well, after further research I found that was a mistake. So, I sealed up all the vents.

Next I bought some crawl space liner and covered the floor and the walls. By sealing the floor with liner you prevent the water from the soil seeping into your crawl space. The same can be said on your foundation walls if you have cracks or ways for water to get in. The water won’t be getting through that liner if you do it right. So, the last thing I did was have a new dehumidifier installed. I lived in this house for another year and within that year I saw no further problems. The floor that was replaced was holding up just fine… and was much nicer then the rest of the home’s floor! The occasional times I went down to the crawlspace I saw no indication of water pooling or mold growing. The mud was gone as well. All seemed to be right in the world.

Lessons Learned

So, the lesson here folks is that your crawl space most likely needs a dehumidifier in it, especially if you live in a humid climate. If you aren’t sure or are hesitant to to make the investment then at least check the humidity levels in your basement regularly to ensure that you aren’t having any problems arise. Most folks use a hand-held humidity reader. The humidity shouldn’t be above sixty percent. If you notice that the number is increasing then there are a few things you can do before purchasing a dehumidifier. Just like I mentioned above, you can purchase liners and cover the floor and walls with these waterproof liners. This will help moisture from coming up from the exposed dirt as well as the cracks or gaps in your foundation.

If you install liners and have even sealed all of the vents in your crawlspace but you are still having high humidity then it may be time to purchase a dehumidifier. I’ll be honest with you folks, this won’t be a cheaper purchase and that is precisely why I mentioned the above strategies first. Hopefully, they work for you but if they do not then it may be time to bite the bullet and make that investment into a dehumidifier. After all, would you rather pay a one time expense or pay a massive repair bill like I did?

Earlier today I did an in-depth review on one such crawl space dehumidifier from AlorAir. This is a great product for these specific situations and will definitely solve your problem. Just be aware that it is not a cheap product. Just note that the first part of the review I told this same story so you might want to skip ahead where I get into the features of the product.