Crawl space protects house

By taking good care of your crawl space, it will take care of your whole house.

The true purpose of a crawl space is to have easy access to the mechanical and sub-surface structural components of your home.

When your home was constructed, it was likely well-lit and storage free to provide easy access for working in. It should remain the same way for the duration of the home.

Unfortunately, some home owners see their crawl spaces as great storage space for infrequently used belongings.

However, the out of sight, out of mind approach may cause immense problems down the road. It stands to reason that crawl spaces with excessive storage make it difficult to look for developing problems.

Crawl spaces are prone to sub-surface activity that range from moisture problems to pest infestations, and if you can’t easily inspect for them, they’ll develop until they become a known problem.

Good home inspectors will tell you upfront that water is the No. 1 enemy of all homes. Once we have a water or moisture problem, they can be hard and expensive to fix.

In some cases, moisture related problems can lead to health problems.

Interestingly, most moisture problems in houses are a result of the actions of the home owner and not a result of natural occurrences. I

nstalling irrigation systems against the home is a common source of water intrusion in crawl spaces. Faulty and unmaintained gutter and downspouts systems can direct water where it can do harm.

Pest infestations can be a great concern for homeowners. Mice and rats can harbour in your crawl space unnoticed for ages without being detected, and their activity can be destructive.

The same can be said about subterranean termites. Yes, the Okanagan is home to termites. If you’ve had an infestation you’ll know what I’m talking about.

It can be difficult for homeowners to see clues of wood destroying insects (WDOs), because, for the most part, these pests live underground, but they do pop up into houses to investigate for new habitat and food sources.

That can be bad news. If your crawl space is full of storage, termites can be at work destroying the structural components of a home completely unnoticed.

Top four reasons why your home may be at risk of termites:

  • Access — In homes with concrete foundations and concrete floors, termites can enter a home through openings as narrow as two pieces of paper put together – think cracks. Once they get in and establish themselves, these WDOs have a never ending appetite.
  • Temperature – Much the same as humans, termites like to be comfortable. Any home that is climate controlled year round helps create optimal conditions for termites.
  • Moisture – We talked about moistures sources like faulty gutters and downspouts, and irrigation systems, but we need to add leaking plumbing components and sub-surface water activity to the list.
  • Food source – Termites eat wood. All wood products are at risk of infestation by termites. Firewood, decaying landscape structures, soil grading too high at the structure and concealed framing components are at risk.

Taking care and inspecting your crawl space can seem like a pain in the butt. Problems that develop in crawl spaces can fester for years and can affect the whole house and its occupants.

Regular inspections of your crawl space can help you identify moisture, rodent and nasty termite infestations.

Remember, take care of your crawl space and you’ll take care of the whole house.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.


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About the Author

When you need advice or guidance with DIY home improvement and repairs, Hugh Cairns can help you with the answers.

Home improvements can be rewarding, turn your home into a nicer more comfortable place to live, and increase its value.

Whether you are renovating your kitchen, converting a loft, giving a room a lick of paint or making improvements to your home’s energy efficiency, this column is here to guide you with useful information and key things to remember.

Do you have a renovation question or concern? Please feel free to send Hugh your questions. Contact him through www.subject2homeinspections.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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