Sealed vs. Vented Crawl Spaces: Which Is Right for Your Home?

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Many people assume it is better to leave a crawl space vent open. However, the reality of this situation might surprise you. There are distinct advantages to sealing a crawl space vent. Additionally, there are some specific reasons why an open vent could cause problems for your foundation.

What’s Wrong with Leaving Crawl Space Vents Open?

Open crawl space vents allow outside air to enter. While this air seems to allow for better circulation throughout your foundation, it comes with a severe detriment. Outside air tends to be moist. By allowing outside air in, the moisture level in your crawl space also elevates. Since this is the case, most crawl space professionals advise closing crawl space vents.

While an open crawl space vent seems better, the real answer might surprise you. This article delves into the details of sealed vs. vented crawl spaces.

Dangers of Moisture in a Crawl Space

Moisture in a crawl space or any foundation area can be detrimental in more ways than one. The list below shows some of the damage moisture can cause:

  1. Structural damage: Excessive moisture causes the structural elements in your crawl space to decay. This decay can have ramifications throughout your entire home. Many structures also consist of wood, especially prone to water damage. When moisture contacts wood, it can rot, causing it to lose its structural integrity.
  2. Water stains: Whether excessive moisture damages your structures or not, it often leaves a stain. Unfortunately, these stains are unsightly and difficult to remove.
  3. Poor air quality: High amounts of moisture in your crawl space lead to poor air quality in your foundation and throughout your home.
  4. More foul smells: As moisture accumulates, it can develop a foul odor that permeates your foundation and the rest of your house.
  5. Mold and mildew: As moisture grows, it also encourages the proliferation of mold and mildew. These substances can eventually harm your crawl space structures. Mold and mildew also immediately affect air quality, causing a significant problem for those with lung conditions.
  6. Damage to stored items: Moisture creates water damage for any items you store in your crawl space. As moisture issues worsen, this damage can increase significantly.

Why Sealing a Crawl Space Vent is Better

Experienced crawl space professionals recommend sealing all crawl space vents. Sealing vents prevent moist outside air from entering. It also helps you avoid all the dangers and damages we mentioned earlier. Fortunately, you can seal your crawl space vents through a more comprehensive service.

While an open crawl space vent seems better, the real answer might surprise you. This article delves into the details of sealed vs. vented crawl spaces.

Complete Sealing via an Encapsulated Crawl Space

Sealing vents is just one aspect of an encapsulated crawl space. However, the list below shows all the steps of crawl space encapsulation:

  1. Eliminating existing water: Before proceeding with any other steps, a crawl space professional will remove any standing water in your crawl space.
  2. Structural enhancement: If water has been an issue in your crawl space for a while, there’s an excellent chance you also have structural damage. Sometimes, it is better to replace crawl space structures. In other instances, it is better to repair them. That decision is one your crawl space technician should make.
  3. Drainage improvements: Your foundation team should improve your drainage system before creating an encapsulated crawl space. Drainage structures collect water and prevent it from being an issue in your foundation.
  4. Sealed crawl space vents: As noted, sealing crawl space vents is an essential part of the crawl space encapsulation process. Sealing these vents prevents moist air from entering your protected crawl space.
  5. Install a vapor barrier: A vapor barrier coats the inside of your crawl space. This seal prevents moisture from entering and prevents pest infestations.
  6. Set up dehumidification: The final step of the encapsulation process is to install a dehumidification system. These systems manage the relative humidity in a crawl space and keep it at an ideal level.

Do Local Municipalities Require Open Crawl Space Vents?

Previously, most local building codes required homes to have a vent for their crawl space. However, this law has changed in recent years. Since it is now well understood that open vents encourage moisture issues, they are no longer a requirement.

However, even if your location requires crawl space vents, they likely don’t require them to be open. This technicality allows you to seal your crawl space vents even if your municipality requires you to have them.

How Much Does Crawl Space Encapsulation Cost

Cost is an essential factor when considering any crawl space service. Still, the overall cost of this encapsulation depends on many factors. Considering all those elements, we estimate that the average encapsulated crawl space costs $8,000 on average.

Why Crawl Space Encapsulation is Worth the Cost

Although crawl space encapsulation might seem expensive, the list below shows reasons why it is worth it:

  1. Moisture control within your crawl space
  2. Better air quality for your crawl space and home
  3. Less chance of mold and mildew within your crawl space
  4. Fewer foul smells emanating from your crawl space
  5. Pest prevention thanks to the vapor barrier seal
  6. Protection for structures from excessive moisture
  7. Greater energy efficiency for HVAC units
  8. You can use an encapsulated crawl space to store things like tools and holiday decorations
  9. Encapsulation comes with sealed crawl space vents.

Talk to an Expert about Your Crawl Space Vents

Crawl space vents can be a challenging topic if you lack experience. The ideal approach is to talk with a crawl space expert about which foundation services are right for you. These individuals will likely advise you to seal your crawl space vents.

For crawl space advice in Eastern North Carolina, contact our team at Regional Foundation & Crawl Space Repair. We’d love to assess your crawl space and teach you more about our services.