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Tag Archives: Moisture

crawl space insulation

Understanding 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.


x-ray lungs

How Undetected Mold Affects Your Health

If you’ve noticed an increase in asthma attacks or are experiencing unexplained breathing or respiratory problems, there may be mold lurking in your home.

According to the November 2021 issue of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, exposure to mold can make asthma worse, trigger allergic reactions and infants living in moldy homes were 3x more likely to develop asthma by the age of 7.

Learn more about how mold can affect your health and how to get rid of it.

What is Mold and Where it Comes From

Mold is part of the fungus family. A microorganism presenting in the form of spores, it is found everywhere whether indoors or outside.

In order to grow, mold needs moisture and oxygen. Wet leaves and soil or dead/decaying organic matter are prime spots for mold. Outdoors, mold plays its part in the eco-cycle by breaking down this dead/decaying organic matter.

Inside your home, however, mold causes damage and triggers allergic reactions and other health issues.

With the right damp conditions, mold can grow on virtually anything from walls, windows, carpet, clothing, and food. Mold reproduces and spreads by releasing spores into the air. Once the spores are released into the air, they “feed” on whatever they land on and ultimately, whatever the mold lands on is destroyed.

Health Risks Due to Mold

Mold primarily affects the respiratory system. Those with pre-existing breathing conditions such as allergies as asthma are at high risk for increased health risks.

Mold exposure is also dangerous for infants and the elderly.

Health indicators that mold may be present in your home include:

  • An increase in allergy symptoms such as a rash, runny nose, watery eyes and sneezing
  • An increase in the onset or severity of asthma attacks
  • Headache
  • Dizziness

Eliminating Mold

  • Proper ventilation is a key factor to prevent the growth and spread of mold. A dehumidifier, fans and sump pumps all help circulate air and dry out damp areas throughout the home.
  • Repair all leaks and sources of standing water or damp conditions in the home. Mold needs moisture to thrive.
  • Clean mold with a solution of water and bleach to kill and prevent mold from spreading and causing damage to its host, which can be anything from food to fabrics to walls.
  • Odor is also a key indicator that there may be a moisture problem in your home. Spray wet surfaces and musty-smelling spaces with an anti-fungal spray to sanitize and deodorize the areas prior to drying.

While mold is not a health issue for everyone, living in a home with active, growing mold and breathing in the spores on a daily basis is not healthy.

In Sonoma County, count on the professional mold remediation team at RCS for help, recommendations and an action plan to eliminate and prevent mold in your home.

Solving the Mystery of Recurring Moisture Issues in Basements and Crawl Spaces

When it seems like every time it rains or gets humid outside, the lower level and crawl space in your home is damp, full of moisture and maybe even standing water.

Identifying the source of moisture and why it continues to be a recurring problem in these same areas is the first step to eliminating the problem for good.

Basements and Crawl Spaces = High Risk Areas

After or even during a rainstorm, you probably head straight to the basement to check for water. Despite taking preventative measures, you continue to combat moisture issues.

The common denominator for these moisture problems is water. The goal is to solve the mystery of how it’s getting inside your home.

If water enters the basement and/or crawl space and has no way to escape or dry out, moisture and dampness is going to continue to be your issue.

Unresolved moisture issues ultimately lead to bigger issues such as mold, odor, structural damage and pest infestations.

Breaking Down Potential Water Sources in High Risk Areas


If your gutters are failing, water slides down the sides of your home, pools around your foundation and gets inside. Make sure your gutters are clean, in good working order and downspouts direct water well away from the foundation of your home.

If you notice cracks in the basement walls, it’s another place where water is able to get inside. If there is carpet or cardboard boxes on the floor, the water will soak right in, remain wet and become moldy and musty.

Leaky pipes and faucets in the basement are another source for moisture and standing water problems.

Old basement windows may very well have broken or cracked seals allowing water to enter the home.

Crawl Spaces

Many of the same moisture issues that affect the basement also affect crawl spaces.
Excess moisture or water in crawl spaces may result from standing groundwater, failing gutters, faulty grading around the foundation, leaking pipes or leaky windows.

The bigger problem with crawl spaces is that you don’t check those spaces often, which gives water a chance to stand and pool without ever drying out.

Too much water in a crawl space causes damage to any insulation or mechanicals stored there. Standing water in a crawl space is a breeding ground for all kinds of insects or rodents, in addition to making conditions perfect for mold.

Call a Professional

When you’ve checked all the areas, repaired what you could see yet continue to experience water issues, call a professional to check the basement and crawl space areas. Keep in mind that dampness and moisture problems lead to bigger problems for you and your home down the road.

A professional service can find the source of the water, thoroughly dry affected areas and seal/drain the crawl spaces to prevent further problems and damage.

In Santa Rosa and surrounding Sonoma County areas, call RCS for expert moisture prevention recommendations, services and a free estimate.

cleaning crawlspace

Benefits of a Clean Crawlspace

A crawlspace is an area between the ground and first floor of a home. Typically, it’s a hollow area usually not higher than 3’ or just enough space to crawl through.

Crawlspaces should insulated and can be used to store mechanicals of your home like plumbing, electrical, HVAC ducts.

Disadvantages of a Crawl Space

While a crawlspace provides support and acts as a buffer between your home and the ground, there are distinct disadvantages especially if not maintained regularly.

Crawlspaces are not counted as livable space and not suitable for storage. Because of its small size and exposure to outdoor elements, a crawlspace is not the place to store anything that you don’t want exposed to the elements.

Water and moisture problems: Excessive moisture and standing water are serious problems in a crawlspace. If not cleaned and dried, the mechanicals of your home can incur damage, and energy bills will rise due to HVAC and electrical not working efficiently.

Excessive moisture causes musty odors which will infiltrate your home. If you notice a foul sewer smell in your home, it may be due to water or sewer damage coming from the crawlspace.

Mold: Where there is excessive moisture and water, there is mold. Once mold begins to grow in the crawlspace, mold spores become airborne and travel into your home. This puts your family at risk for allergies, asthma attacks and other respiratory issues.

Pest infestations: Crawlspaces make excellent homes for all kinds of pests and rodents.

The dark, damp area complete with insulation gives mice, rats and other unwelcome rodents an invitation to live there.

Where rodents live: there is excrement. This smell will seep into your home, and it’s not just unpleasant, but potentially dangerous to inhale.

How to Clean Your Crawl Space

If unable to fit in the crawlspace or are unsure of how to clean it properly, call a local professional to manage the cleanup for you.

Certified Restoration Specialists will remove wet/moldy items stored in the crawlspace, clean/dry any water or sewer damage and replace moisture and/or vapor barriers. The entire area will be sanitized.

Any damaged insulation is replaced, after a thorough vacuuming. All pest/rodent droppings are removed, and a pest control company may be brought in. Plumbing, electrical or HVAC referrals may also be necessary to repair/replace any damage in those areas.

Other issues are addressed based on the condition and assessment of the crawlspace.
Benefits of a Clean Crawl Space

Once your crawlspace has been cleaned, restored and sanitized, you’ll notice the benefits right away.

Safety of House Structure: After cleanup, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing there are no pests or water/sewer issues causing damage to the structure of your home.

Improved Energy Efficiency: New insulation and vapor/moisture barriers ensure your mechanicals are safe and running at maximum capacity.

Dry Conditions: A dry crawlspace prevents odor and mold from affecting the air quality inside your home.

Pest Control: A clean, dry crawlspace discourages pests and rodents from living under your home. This prevents bacteria from pest excrement, odor and rodent damage to insulation and mechanicals.

Improved Health: By far the most important benefit, a clean crawlspace prohibits mold spores, bacteria and airborne allergens from negatively affecting your health.

To reap the benefits of a clean crawlspace, contact the certified professionals at RCS. We will work with you during the cleanup process and show you how to prevent future problems. RCS proudly serves the Santa Rosa, Sonoma County and surrounding North Bay areas.

Humidifier front panel

Do Dehumidifers Work in Crawl Spaces?

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.

home sunny sonoma

How Summer Affects Your Crawl Space

As summer continues to linger, it can cause many issues for your crawl space. While this might not seem like a big deal, if your crawl space is having problems, it will eventually affect your home and health. Below is a bit more about how this season can wreak havoc on this area and a few things you can do to protect it.

Common Summer Crawl Space Concerns

Summer’s heat and humidity can result in moisture. This can make the crawl space very damp which can cause its temperature to fluctuate and encourage mold growth.

If not fixed, these issues can soon create even more concerns. These range from structural damage to poor home air quality.

3 Ways to Protect It

If you want to make sure these issues don’t happen, there are a few steps you can take.

Ensure There’s Proper Ventilation: The key to stopping summer crawl space problems is to make sure there’s good ventilation. One easy option is to blow a fan in it. This can keep it cool while drying out moisture.

Besides this, check that its vents are open. While they should be closed during the winter, during the summer they’ll keep air circulation flowing. This can significantly cut back on condensation.

Verify It’s Sealed: Another critical aspect to check is if the crawl space is sealed. If not, it could cause rain and other liquids to seep into it. If you’re not sure, look at the walls. Does a plastic sheet cover them? Do you notice thick caulking? If not, the space probably isn’t. You’ll want to seal it yourself or have a professional do so for you.

Install a Dehumidifier: A dehumidifier absorbs moisture by sucking it out of the air and then pushing it through its coils. After reaching the coils, the gadget will remove the condensation and then release the remaining air.

This makes it a critical tool to utilize in crawl spaces during the summer. You can plug one in and place it in the middle of the space for a few hours. You’ll want to check on it often and empty its bin so it works well.

Ideally, choose a dehumidifier designed specifically for crawl spaces. These tend to be more compact and powerful than ones built for regular indoor usage.

Summer can be a crawl space’s biggest nemesis. But, with these tips, you can work to fully protect your home.

If you’re worried the season might have already caused some crawl space problems, contact RCS in Sonoma County. Our team will be happy to inspect the area and get to work fixing any issues that might be of concern.