As you shop for a new home, the ones with crawl spaces might feel daunting if you’ve never had a home with this space. And rightly so. Without proper protection and maintenance, crawl spaces can become home to pests, a breeding ground for mold and mildew, and a source of moisture in your home.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with a crawl space though. So if you know what you’re looking for, you can spot the homes with well-maintained and secured crawl spaces. You don’t have to avoid purchasing your dream home just because it happens to have a crawl space. Here’s what to look for in a crawl space when touring homes you’re considering purchasing.
1. Status of Crawl Space Vents
As you walk around the exterior of the home, look to see whether the vents for the crawl space are open or closed. The old way of handling crawl spaces was to always ensure they were vented to bring outside air in to reduce moisture and keep the space dry. But now we know outside air brings moisture into the space, making it more challenging to maintain. Leaving vents open can allow condensation to build up and give mold the perfect condition for growth.
Closing vents and sealing crawl spaces to prevent moisture problems is the best way to handle things. Some homeowners choose to cover vents entirely while others just close and seal them. You can get vent covers to go over crawl space vents to make them airtight.
2. Look for Existing Signs of Moisture in the Crawl Space
If you toured a home with an open crawl space vent, you don’t have to write it off just yet. While this is likely a sign of inside moisture, it doesn’t always mean that the home is too far gone. In many cases, a foundation contractor can fix the issue and protect the home.
What you want to look for is signs of moisture damage already present in the crawl space. This will show up as corrosion, mold, wood rot, or mildew. These symptoms will likely be present in homes year-round and not just during the more humid seasons of spring and summer.
If you don’t know how to spot mold or mildew, just sniff and see if the area smells musty. Or look for condensation on the ductwork or plumbing. Insulation will look saggy if it’s overly moist. And when crawl spaces go too long without proper care, the moisture will make its way into the living areas, and you’ll see insect infestations.
3. Puddles or Pooling Water
Another thing to look for when touring a home with a crawl space is puddles or pooling water. This is the clearest sign that the crawl space is allowing moisture inside the home or that there is a plumbing leak that the current homeowner has missed. Plus, when you see pooling water, it tells you that the crawl space is not only improperly sealed but that it also lacks adequate drainage systems or that the drainage systems are clogged.
Standing water should always be a red flag for you. This means that there are likely several serious issues with the home, including the potential for termites and other pests.
It’s unlikely that you’ll spot pests in the livable area of a home that is for sale. But you might find them if you take a look in the crawl space. Just watch out because improperly maintained crawl spaces can become home to mice, rodents, spiders, cockroaches, termites, spiders, and carpenter ants. Depending on how large the opening to the home is, you might even find raccoons that have taken up residence in the crawl space.
And once the pests are there, they’ll cause more damage. Pests might chew threw electrical wires, damage insulation or burrow holes in air ducts. But the really concerning thing is, pests don’t stay in the crawl space. They’ll make their way into other areas of the home.
What if You Really Love the Home?
After touring a home with an apparent crawl space issue, you might feel disheartened. Everything about the home is perfect, other than the glaring issues the crawl space causes.
So do you have to write off the home entirely? If you’re serious about buying the home, you should call in a crawl space expert. Columbia Crawlspace offers free inspections and estimates to help you understand the best next steps in securing and preserving your home.
What might look terrible to the untrained eye might be a simple fix. Or it might be an involved fix that you’re willing to do for the right home. They’ll arm you with the information you need to negotiate a fair price for the home given the state of its crawl space while preparing you for a safe, enjoyable living experience.
Schedule your free inspection by calling Columbia Crawlspace at 931-281-2871 or sending us a message. They’ll be your greatest asset when shopping for homes that include a crawl space!