Article updated April, 2023
Cleaning your crawl space is never fun because people don’t even see it! Before you dive in, here are the dos and don’ts to keep you safe while cleaning!
Few things are as spooky as having to explore your crawl space. Tucked within the recesses of your home, this tight, confined space is one we typically leave alone unless necessity draws us to it.
However, you can’t ignore it forever. At some point, cleaning your crawl space will become a must.
Below is a straightforward guide to help you understand the do’s and don’ts of crawl space cleaning so you can get the job done safely.
A Beginner’s Guide to Cleaning Your Crawl Space
One look at a crawl space may have you wondering why you should bother cleaning it. After all, many of them are dark, damp places with a dirt floor that feels more like a cave than part of your home.
But cleaning and maintaining this part of your home is important. Without it, moisture and mold can build up, impacting your home’s air quality and overall insulation.
What Is a Crawl Space?
It’s important to note that not all homes have a crawl space. Typically, they are found in homes that lack a basement or a solid cement foundation.
Located beneath the floor of your home, access to these enclosed areas is typically found on the outside of your home, near the base. These entrances are small, hence the use of the word “crawl” in the name.
Once inside, you’ll find quite a bit inside, including plumbing, ventilation, electrical components, and gas hookups. Your crawl space makes these important home elements accessible in case they need to be repaired or replaced.
They also help with the circulation of air in your home as long as they’re well-maintained. The problem is that many homeowners don’t think to care for their crawl space until something goes wrong.
Common problems of a poorly maintained crawl space include:
- Growing fungus and mold
- Housing animals and other pests
- Housing hantavirus (a pathogen carried by rodents)
- Developing standing water or sewage
- Wasting energy due to poor insulation
- Poor or damaged wiring
- Structural collapse due to wear and tear or damage
- Asbestos from old insulation
Below we explain how you can properly clean and maintain this space for a healthy, happy household.
How to Properly Clean Your Crawl Space
You may be surprised to find that there’s a lot of manual labor involved to attain a clean crawl space. This isn’t just a process of wiping down and disinfecting the area. It can be quite a messy business.
As you go through the process, here are some to-do’s you’ll want to cover:
- Pest removal
- Removal of standing water
- Killing off old insect colonies
- Replacing old insulation
- Sealing air leaks
- Install and maintain vapor barriers
Does it sound more like a construction project than a cleaning project? If so, you’re right. That’s why we recommend that you hire a professional crawl space company like Crawl Pros to get the job done right.
Things to Avoid When Cleaning Your Crawl Space
With the “to-do’s” also come a series of “don’ts” you’ll need to follow.
DON’T Use Spray Foam to Insulate Your Crawl Space
Foam insulation may be your friend inside the house, but your crawl space is a different beast. Because it tends to be a damp place by design, using spray foam insulation can cause moisture to become trapped between the foam and the area to which it’s attached.
When this happens, the moisture can seep into the foundation, leading to a breeding ground for mold or wood rot. Either of these can harm your home, including the structural integrity of your foundation.
DON’T Install Too Many Vents
The more vents you have, the more moisture can be released, right? Wrong!
Too many vents can draw in humidity. This will do more harm than good by creating a moist environment for mold to thrive.
Plus, you’re simply installing more opportunities for critters and other pests to move in. Your crawl space is an enticing place to call home as it offers shelter from the elements and predators.
When it comes to crawl space vents, the first question to answer is whether or not your crawl space requires them. If so, stick with the standard of one vent every 10 feet and within three feet of every corner. You may also check with your local energy company. They may also be a great resource for qualified energy rebates.
DON’T Install Vapor Barriers into Your Floor Joists
Your floor joists are the framework that supports the floor of your home. Some people think that installing vapor barriers will help protect these wood supports from moisture.
However, this becomes a problem during the summer season when condensation from your crawl space creeps in between these vapor barriers and your floor joists. When this happens, it increases the risk of mold or wood rot.
Your priority for your crawl space should always be to avoid condensation. The more you can reduce it, the better.
DON’T Ignore Your Drainage System
Water naturally tends to collect within crawl spaces because of rain and groundwater. However, that doesn’t mean you should let it linger. If you have standing water, contact Crawl Pros to learn about crawl space water removal & water remediation services.
A good sump pump system will help you manage the water that gets into your crawl space. Look for one that dehumidifies and has a sump pump suited for the job. Furthermore, implement ways to prevent water in your crawl space.
Leave the Dirty Work to Us: Contact Crawl Pros
If anything, this blog post will certainly paint a picture of how cleaning your crawl space can be messy work. If you don’t want to do it yourself, don’t be shy about passing the job along to the professionals.
The trade-off of crawl space cleaning cost between doing it yourself vs. hiring a professional might just be less than you think!
Here at Crawl Pros, we serve customers in the Greater Seattle Area, Tacoma, Portland, Oregon, and Boise, Idaho. We have been serving customers in these areas since 2013 and have hundreds of satisfied customers.