Basement/Crawl Space

BASEMENT

General

In most homes, the basement is the heart of the house. Generally all of the mechanical systems;

heating, plumbing, and electrical, are located in the basement. The immediate area around these components should be kept free of storage and clutter. A minimum of one foot around any heating device is recommended for fire safety reasons. Generally accepted standards require that the front of the electrical service be kept free of obstructions.

Floor

Nearly all basement floors will display cracking to some degree. This occurs because the concrete

shrinks while curing. Cracks less than 1/4″ are considered acceptable. Large cracks may be a sign of unwanted ground settling and should be evaluated by a qualified professional who specializes in foundation repair.

Walls

Just as cracks in the floor are acceptable, the same is true for cracks in the basement walls. Cracks in masonry walls are common and usually not cause for alarm. Particular attention should be paid to any crack that is wider than 1/4″ or displays a distinct pattern as shown below.

CRAWL SPACES

Access

Reasonable access to the crawl space should be available. Access may be obtained by way of a small door or hatch on the outside, or a scuttle access through the floor from inside the house.

It is important that the space is easy to get into so that all necessary maintenance may be accomplished.

Moisture and Water

The number one problem with crawl spaces is dampness. The first things that should be accomplished is be sure that all rain water is directed away from the crawl space. A positive grade should be established around the perimeter of the home so that any water will run away from the house. Rain water from the roof should be directed away from the house by way of functioning gutters and down spouts.

Vapor Barrier

Moisture can be controlled in the crawl space by placing a vapor barrier on the ground- particularly in spaces  where the floor is dirt. Roll out 6 mil plastic directly on the floor over the entire floor of the crawl space. This will prevent moisture vapor that is in the soil from entering the space and making every in it wet.

Ventilation

Crawl space vents should be placed in the foundation wall near the sill plate. The vents are the size of a conventional cement block. Simply remove one block and replace it with a vent. Most vents may be placed in an open or closed position. Most inspectors agree that the vents should be opened in the spring and closed in the winter. The ideal free air ventilation ratio is one square foot of ventilation for 1500 square feet of floor space. Vents should be situate so that cross ventilation can occur.

Insulation

The crawl space may or may not be insulated. There are two lines of thinking in this matter. A crawl space that is heated by a furnace register will do two things; help to heat the first floor and keep plumbing from freezing in the winter. then If the floor joists are insulated then there will be no outside heat in the winter to keep the pipes from freezing. If the crawl space in insulated and not heated, then all water pipes and drains should be protected from freezing with heat tape. In either case, exposed pipes can be wrapped with insulation to prevent sweating.

Appliances and Components

Some homes are built with items such as the furnace and water heater in the crawl space. These items are specially designed for use in the crawl space and require routine maintenance. In general, much of the plumbing and some electrical components will run through the crawl space.

Leave a Response