Published On: June 7th, 2024Categories: Insulation

Crawl spaces are a feature in some older Kansas City homes, but they’re often overlooked or misunderstood. A damp, uninsulated crawl space can lead to a host of problems, from mold and pests to high energy bills. This guide will walk you through the best methods for finishing your crawl space, improving your home’s comfort, health, and energy efficiency.

Understanding Your Crawl Space: Why It Matters

Kansas City crawl spaces face unique challenges: high summer humidity, wide temperature fluctuations, pests like termites and rodents, and radon gas accumulation. Homeowners often report musty smells in their home, cold floors, drafts, and increased allergy symptoms due to mold. These issues aren’t just minor inconveniences—they significantly impact your indoor air quality and the structural integrity of your home. And they stem from your crawl space.

Local building codes and regulations emphasize the importance of maintaining your crawl space. Resources like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provide guidance on radon mitigation and mold basics, while the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services also offers valuable information on mold prevention. Understanding these regulations and guidelines is crucial for maintaining a healthy and safe home environment.

Crawl Space Encapsulation: The Gold Standard

Worker installing spray foam in a crawl space.Crawl spaces are susceptible to dampness partly due to the moisture from the soil seeping into the crawl space. Moisture can attract unwanted pests and the contaminated air can flow up into your living spaces. The best solution is crawl space encapsulation which is a two step process that combines proper insulation and air sealing with moisture control. First a vapor barrier is installed using a 6- or 10-millimeter poly liner to seal out soil moisture, then spray foam is added along the crawl space walls to add R-value and seal any air leaks and vents or openings. It’s always a good idea to install a dehumidifier to help control the humidity levels in your crawl space.

Building science principles and industry standards highlight the importance of air sealing and moisture control for your crawl space. The Building Performance Institute (BPI) endorses the benefits of air sealing and encapsulation for long-term home health and energy efficiency. Encapsulating your crawl space results in a healthier indoor living space, lower energy consumption and a dry storage area and is a big win for your entire family.

Albert, a local homeowner, recently had insulation added to his attic, crawl space, and basement by The Hayes Company. He was happy to report that he “noticed the improvements right away in my heating bills.”

And the Shuff family of New York began enjoying the benefits of their newly encapsulated crawl space immediately. In fact, the plastic vapor barrier that was installed in their crawl space was “key to ensuring the cold floors in the kitchen and the rest of the house would be drastically improved.”

Other Crawl Space Finishing Options

Worker installing insulation in a crawl space.Alternative methods for finishing your crawl space include:

  • Insulation Only: Adding insulation without a vapor barrier provides some temperature control but may not prevent moisture problems in Kansas City’s humid climate.
  • Increased Ventilation: Adding vents to improve air circulation can help but may be ineffective in high humidity.
  • Conditioning the Crawl Space: Heating and cooling the crawl space like the rest of the house is effective but expensive.

Research suggests these methods offer some benefits but may not be as comprehensive as encapsulation, especially in our Midwest climate.

Choosing the Right Contractor

Finding the right contractor is crucial for a successful crawl space finishing project. To ensure you select a qualified professional make sure to:

  • Look for certifications from reputable organizations.
  • Check for positive reviews on websites like the Better Business Bureau, Angi, and Google.
  • Ask for references and inquire about their experience with Kansas City crawl spaces.

Beware of scams or misleading claims. Avoid contractors promising quick fixes or overly cheap solutions. Always get multiple quotes and compare estimates to make an informed decision.

Creating a Comfortable Home from the Bottom Up

Your crawl space doesn’t have to be a source of problems. By choosing the right finishing method, you can transform it into an asset for your Kansas City home. Whether you opt for encapsulation or another solution, prioritize moisture control, insulation, and professional installation to ensure long-term benefits.

The expert team at The Hayes Company has been providing top notch insulation and home improvement products and services to our Kansas City community since 1978. We’re here to ensure the structural integrity, overall energy efficiency, and comfort of your home with expert crawl space encapsulation and insulation. Contact us today to learn how you can improve the crawl space of your Kansas City home.