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Is Your Crawlspace Contaminated?

crawlspace under home

Odds are, you probably don’t spend a whole lot of time in your crawlspace But if you find yourself sneezing, coughing or noticing a musty smell coming from an unknown source, it’s time to check out your crawlspace for contamination.

How Crawlspaces Become Contaminated

There are several ways your crawlspace may become contaminated:
  • Insufficient Insulation
Over 1/3 of your indoor air rises up through the crawlspace. If the crawlspace is not properly insulated, expect to pay higher energy bills. Non-insulated spaces also tend to attract more insects, rodents and mold.
  • Improper or Missing Vapor Barrier
Since vapor barriers protect from excess moisture and humidity, they significantly decrease the odds of mold growth. Vapor barriers also provide protection from insects and rodents, while keeping indoor temperatures more stable and comfortable.
  • Excessive moisture, humidity, and/or water
  • Condensation on plumbing pipes
  • Insufficient vents and air circulation
  • Rodent excrement, nests, or infestations 

Signs of a Contaminated Crawlspace

When checking your crawlspace, look for these signs for what could result in potential contamination:
  • Visual inspection for damaged or missing insulation, vents, or vapor barrier
  • Damage to wooden joists, structural or support beams
  • Rodent damage caused by chewing through electrical lines or insulation
  • Standing pools of water
  • Visible mold
  • No encapsulation of a dirt floor crawlspace

Negative Effects of a Contaminated Crawlspace

As long as the crawlspace goes unchecked or stays as is, the odds of contamination increase.  Here are some of the negative effects of a contaminated crawlspace:

Poor Air Quality

Since air from the crawlspace rises up and into your home, breathing in air particles containing dried rodent excrement or mold spores and mycotoxins on wooden beams, walls or the crawlspace ceiling can cause or aggravate existing health conditions such as asthma or allergies. The air can literally make you sick.

Higher Energy Costs

If your crawlspace lacks adequate insulation, you’re losing money every month on your heating and/or cooling bills. The furnace and air conditioner have to work longer and harder to keep your home comfortable due to conditioned air escaping through the crawlspace.

Structural Damage Inside the Home

If mold and water damage the ceiling of your crawlspace, it will eventually affect the integrity of your home’s subfloor and flooring above. Additionally, damage to wooden support beams and posts compromise the very foundation of your home.

Rodent Damage

From using insulation for a nest to chewing through electrical wires to leaving behind urine and feces, critter proofing and protecting your crawlspace as much as possible helps keep rodent residency and destruction to a minimum.


To prevent the damage and negative impact of a contaminated crawlspace, take a look to see what’s going on down there. If you spot problems with insulation, structure, water, mold, or any other potential contamination factors, don’t hesitate to bring in professionals. To identify and eliminate contamination and restore your crawlspace to a clean, healthy condition, call the crawlspace cleanup experts at RCS to schedule an inspection today.

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Is Encapsulating Your Crawlspace Under You Home Good?

unfinished basement

If your home has a crawl space in it, you might be wondering about the proper maintenance and care of that area of your home. The answer is different depending on your crawl space, your property, and your home. Understanding how to care for your crawl space begins with understanding why it’s there to begin with. Popularity of the basement crawl space underneath homes begins around the time industrialization also occurs, around the 1950s. Homes built around this time often have crawl spaces if they don’t have a full-blown basement space. They are also used when a full basement would be too expensive or impractical given the geographic area. Many of the original crawl spaces were between three and five feet tall, had open-air access, and were often used as mini versions of a basement. We now know, however, that humid air tends to build up in crawlspaces. This humidity and the damp earth create an environment ripe for all sorts of potential problems for a home and its residents. It’s important to maintain and keep this area clear and clean for the health and safety of the home’s residents. As with any type of basement, moisture can become a problem and seep into the crawl space via the soil. And as with any type of water problem, the best way to avoid crawl space moisture issues is to focus on the source. If you have a dirt crawl space encapsulation is likely your best option. For a bigger space, or a bigger crawl space, you might want a different solution. If you do encapsulate, don’t do so without a fully sealable space – it won’t fully work if there are large air gaps. Also be sure to account for drainage. Encapsulating your crawlspace provides a moisture and vapor barrier between your home and the earth. The area in and around your crawl space is critically important to the structural integrity of your home. Ensuring a proper level of moisture in the space is key. This is also a good time to determine if you need to insulate the upper level of your crawl space and provide some added energy efficiency benefits to your home. If you decide to encapsulate your crawl space, be sure to get in touch with a professionals at RCS in Santa Rosa to help you.

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How Neglecting a Crawlspace Impacts Indoor Flooring

Buckled Wood Flooring

While it’s not the most pleasant place to hang out, the crawlspace under your home may provide answers as to why you have cracked tiles, bouncy, creaky and/or sagging floors inside your home. Here’s how and why a neglected crawlspace causes damage to your flooring.

Crawlspace Inspections

When checking out your crawlspace, it’s not hard to find problems with moisture, humidity, inadequate venting, vapor barrier or air circulation. However, one of the most overlooked but important areas to check are the supports and crawlspace ceiling joists for signs of weakness, mold, and damage.

Crawlspace Issues Leading to Indoor Flooring Damage

There are a number of reasons why joists and support beams in the crawlspace cause damage inside.
  • Inadequate number of support beams or poor joist spacing
  • Shifting and settling Settling of support beams under your home, especially if built on clay soil, consistently expand with excess water and contract when dry. Shifting soil causes support piers or posts to move enough to cause the floor joists to sag, which in turn causes damage and sagging to interior floors.
  • Old beams that simply fail over time due to exposure to the elements.

Potential Interior Damage from a Crawlspace

Damage may include noticeable gaps or spaces in the flooring itself, around the baseboards or the area from the floor to the wall. Uneven floors cause hazards such as tripping or other injury, overall safety and structural integrity, and a decrease in home value. Because support beams in the crawlspace tend to hold up better around its perimeter, you’ll notice floors sagging more in the middle areas of your home. Along with damage to your floors, excessive moisture in the crawlspace also results in unpleasant odors, higher energy bills, humidity issues inside the home and dangerous exposure to mold.

Crawlspace Solutions to Prevent Future Damage

For starters, here are some things to consider for prevention of further damage caused by inferior crawlspace support:
  • Repair or replace damaged joists and support beams
  • Add additional joists to crawlspace ceiling to provide more support for interior floors
  • Encapsulate a dirt floor to control excessive humidity, moisture, and water
  • Add or replace a vapor barrier
  • Improve venting, air flow and circulation in crawlspace
Conclusion Don’t put off needed repairs to the structural support located in your crawlspace before the rainy season hits. For more solutions to address the damage, moisture, and mold issues that wrecked or compromised the floors and overall support of your home, don’t delay in calling RCS for a thorough crawlspace inspection, cleanup and safety plan.

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Crawlspace Cleaning this Spring

spring clean crawl space

Now that the weather is heating up, it’s time for inspection and spring cleaning of your crawlspace. Read on to understand why it’s important to keep the crawlspace clean, and spring-cleaning maintenance tips for you to check off.

Maintaining Structural Integrity

Maintaining structural integrity of your home is critical. Keeping structural components like support beams located in the crawlspace dry, free from mold and damage from the elements keeps your foundation strong.

Protection of Utility Lines, Connections and Hook Ups

Much of the access to real-time lifelines of your home are located in the crawl space. It’s time to check on the plumbing, gas hook ups, electrical and HVAC ducts or ventilation systems. If mold is growing in the crawlspace, it can negatively affect the overall air quality in your home. This can spell disaster for anyone suffering from breathing or lung issues.

Common Crawlspace Problems

With extra rain and springtime humidity, conditions are perfect for fungus and mold to take root, grow and spread quickly. After months have gone by without checking the crawlspace, trash and yard debris blow into and accumulate there. It’s important to remove all the trash because it can interfere with the function of mechanicals stored below. Trash and debris also appeals to pests and rodents looking for nesting materials. Speaking of rodents and pests, they like to live in crawlspaces to protect themselves from predators and provide extra shelter from the elements. It’s important to remove nests and dry up wet standing water where insects can breed and reproduce.

Spring Crawlspace Checklist

Trash and Debris Removal. To include loose trash, broken pipes, disturbed or loose insulation, dead animals, and nests. Cleaning. Removal and cleaning of mold and fungus growing on support beams, HVAC ducts and from any other visible location. Drying. Using a wet dry vac or fan, vacuum up or air-dry standing pools of water. Ventilation. Check to make sure crawlspace is getting enough ventilation for proper airflow which keeps the space dry and protects mechanicals and insulation from mold. Repairs. Check for and repair leaking pipes, cracks, and holes. Replace. Replace missing or damaged insulation. This is also an opportunity to replace a missing or damaged vapor barrier, which helps prevent damage from moisture and humidity.

Professional Crawlspace Services

While an inspection and DIY cleaning may be enough for you to handle yourself this spring, there may be too much damage or required repairs that a professional can better handle. Crawlspaces are typically small and difficult to navigate. If you suffer from health or physical limitations, it may be extremely challenging for you to address everything needed to keep your space clean and well maintained. A professional crawlspace cleaning service has special equipment to find sewer/water leaks, measure moisture levels, clean pest, and rodent urine/droppings, completely dry/ventilate the area and address vapor barrier and dampness concerns.


This spring, make it a point to clean and restore your crawlspace for improved efficiency of your mechanicals and for top level HVAC air quality with mold-free, clean air circulation. In Sonoma County, schedule an inspection with the crawlspace cleaning experts at RCS. After our thorough inspection and clean out, you’ll have the peace of mind that comes from a safe and clean crawlspace and home all season long.

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Understanding Crawl Space Insulation

crawl space insulation

If you have standing water or high levels of moisture in and around your crawl space, it may be time to check the insulation. Keeping the crawl space properly insulated not only protects any equipment stored there, but goes a long way to resolve and prevent the many problems excess water can mean for you. Here are some things to know about a properly insulated crawl space.

Problems Caused by Standing Water in the Crawl Space

Standing water in the crawl space is a common headache for homeowners in Sonoma County. Excess water, even moisture or high humidity in the crawl space presents the following problems for your home:
  • Mold and mildew growth
  • Wood rot and decay; compromise structural integrity of home foundation
  • Attracts insects and rodents such as termites and rats
  • Potential costly structural repairs
  • Less energy efficient
  • Lower home value

Inspecting the Crawl Space

Using a strong flashlight, thoroughly inspect the entire crawl space. Obvious signs of potential water problems will be puddles or standing water. Check for water stains on joists or wet wooden support beams. If it smells musty, that’s a sure sign of mold growth and highly likely there’s too much moisture or water getting into the crawl space.

Identifying the Water Source

It’s important to find the source of water problems in the crawl space. High humidity levels are common, especially during the rainy season. Homes located near water are prone to higher humidity in the air which easily seeps into the crawl space. Spaces without the protection of a vapor barrier are at greater risk for damage due to humidity. Groundwater can either come up from the ground when water tables are high or flood and overflow into the crawl space. Other water sources may be due to broken or leaky pipes, plumbing fixtures or water supply pipes which allow water to drip or drain into the crawl space. Outside factors include poor grading around foundation of home and inadequate or clogged gutters and downspouts.

Insulating a Crawl Space

Although you can do a project like this yourself, it’s a potentially involved project that may be better handled by professionals who know how to clean, dry, and protect crawl spaces. Professionals also know how to manage exposure to challenges in the crawl space such as insects, rodents, feces, sharp materials, rocks or mold. In addition, pros can more easily identify the cause of the water issues and know proper insulation strategies that can eliminate or minimize issues going forward. The insulation process includes steps to stop water from entering the crawl space and to keep the area dry.
  • Remove any existing water vapor barrier
  • Thoroughly dry out crawl space
  • Trench around the interior perimeter of the crawl space
  • Lay drainpipe in the trench to catch water and drain into a sump pump pit, from which the sump pump/discharge pipe pumps the water away from the crawl space
  • Cover the trench/drainpipes with gravel
  • Install sump pump and water discharge pipe
  • Install rigid foam board insulation and/or a new vapor barrier, which prevents water vapors from escaping from the ground reducing the risk of mold and mildew problems
  • Ventilation measures (such as fan vents) installed for cross ventilation to keep crawl space dry


For homeowners, crawl spaces come along with unique issues and challenges. Whether it makes more sense to insulate with foam board and vapor barrier or an insulation inspection calls for updated ventilation measures, call RCS in Santa Rosa, your crawl space specialists serving Sonoma County.  

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Do Dehumidifers Work in Crawl Spaces?

Humidifier front panel

A dehumidifier is designed to monitor and remove humidity from the air. This not only prevents the space from getting stuffy but can improve the air quality. Because of this, the tool is often recommended to place in crawl spaces. Below you’ll discover more about this important gadget and how to use it in a crawl space.

Does a Dehumidifier Improve Crawl Spaces?

Dehumidifiers are a great tool to use to combat common crawl space problems. Crawl spaces are situated beneath homes and often closed off. This makes them a very dark and damp place and susceptible to mold, water damage, and pest issues. You might also be surprised to find that air from the crawl space rises. As it moves upward and into vents, the contaminated air will eventually get sent into your home. By simply absorbing moisture, dehumidifiers keep the space clean and dry. This prevents frequent crawl space problems and keeps its structure in good condition. It also stops you from breathing in toxins.

How to Use a Dehumidifier in a Crawl Space

A simple way to utilize a dehumidifier in your home’s crawl space is by running a small one in it. This simple choice is ideal for small-scale crawl spaces. Keep in mind though that you need to monitor this device as it runs. This will prevent it from overheating and gives you time to empty its canister if necessary. You could also opt for an industrial one to be professionally installed. While a bit pricier, this selection tends to be more powerful and has more unique features, such as an auto pump and programmable settings.

Should I Clean the Dehumidifier?

Because this device often removes tainted air, it’s ideal to wash its tank out at least once a month. This will remove any mold spores or bacteria lingering within it that could get sent back into the air. To clean the tank, simply take some warm water and disinfectant soap and scrub it around. After rinsing it off, dry it, and place it back in the device. If there’s a filter, make sure to remove and rinse it off as well. This will get rid of dangerous particles and encourage the device to work better. Dehumidifiers are a helpful gadget to store in your crawl space. If you’d like to learn more about this useful tool or are concerned about some other crawl space issues, contact RCS in Santa Rosa, CA. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and fix any crawl spaces problems your home has.

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