Do You Have a Pier & Beam Foundation ?: Waterproofing the Crawl Space
Pier and beam foundation problems strike nearly all homes sooner or later. If you’re careless, your crawl space can be flooded with water, grow mold and start to rot.
Left unattended, problems in the foundation may even affect the structural integrity of your house! Read on to find out how to effectively waterproof a crawl space, and keep your pier and beam foundation sturdy.
Read on to find out how to effectively waterproof a crawl space!
Pier and Beam Foundations 101
So, let’s see what goes into a beam and pier foundation first.
Basically, your house was built on strong wooden beams that rest on vertical concrete piers set into the ground, which bear the weight of the entire building. A pier and beam foundation is elevated as many as twenty inches above ground, creating what’s known as ‘crawlspace’ underneath.
Crawlspace is where plumbing, electricity and sometimes ventilation utility units are installed, so they are protected from the elements. Obviously, you don’t want water to get into your crawlspace, as it can mess with your utilities, and also compromise the structural integrity of your house.
One of the major advantages of that kind of foundation is that it allows you to quickly do repairs, as long as it’s easily accessible. However, as the beams are typically not set very deep into the ground, it’s not the ideal foundation for houses built in areas that experience hurricanes or frequent earthquakes.
Water Can Affect Your Foundation
The most serious and frequent problem with pier and beam foundations is standing water or the accumulation of moisture. This will gradually damage the foundation, rot the wooden beams and eventually begin affecting the house itself.
Moreover, the water will soften and slowly erode the earth underneath your house, causing the concrete piers to shift, which may even rip your house apart!
If that wasn’t enough, standing water in your crawlspace will create various air quality problems and can become a hotbed for harmful microorganisms. How long do you think it will take for them to make their way into your home?
Checking Your Crawlspace
So, you can see your crawlspace as the basis of the system that’s your home. Most utilities run through there, and your home literally stands on the beams.
You should frequently inspect your crawlspace for standing water and excess moisture, and if you detect problems, you should act fast!
Here’s a list of telltale signs to keep in mind. Any of these indicate that you may have a problem in your crawlspace:
- Unexplained unpleasant smells and foul odors.
- Allergies and asthma flare-ups.
- Heightened moisture in the house.
- Plumbing problems.
Particularly about plumbing problems, keep an eye out for lower water pressure, or unexplained sounds of running water. A plumbing leakage can flood your crawlspace in a matter of hours, making it inaccessible and very hard to repair. What’s worse is that the better you have waterproofed your crawlspace, the more leaked water it will be able to hold in the event of a plumbing leakage, so be extra careful!
If standing water is left for too long in your crawlspace, you may also notice a range of other symptoms, which include structural issues such as:
- Shifting floors.
- Cracking, leaning or bowing walls.
- Sinking foundation.
- Sticking doors and windows.
Please act before you get to that stage, as that kind of damage is a lot more serious than just draining your crawlspace from standing water and fixing any plumbing issues.
Also, if you’re using your crawlspace for storage, it’s crucially important to keep it dry for obvious reasons. A properly waterproofed and safe crawlspace can be a secure storage area, but if you allow issues to go unchecked, you risk ruining whatever it is you are storing!
Setting the Foundations for a Safe Foundation
There are many products and repair solutions that will waterproof your crawlspace and ensure the structural integrity of your house. From vapor barriers and support jackets, to DIY repairs and homemade solutions, different homeowners try different things to keep their foundation stable and robust.
While many DIY solutions might seem attractive, it’s your house we’re talking about, and an improperly maintained crawlspace can eventually lead to huge repair bills. In this case, prevention is a lot better than treatment.
Thankfully, there are many reliable foundation repair experts who will fix your foundation issues and waterproof your crawlspace easily and cost-effectively. Trusting the repairs to expects will ensure that your house remains leveled (almost impossible to do it without specialized equipment) and your foundations secure.
Depending on severity, foundation maintenance may include many of the following steps:
- Repairing water leaks.
- Ensuring appropriate water drainage.
- Waterproofing, which includes encapsulation, vapor barriers and support jackets.
- Replacement or retrofitting of old piers.
- Installation of push pier systems.
Particularly if your foundation has already began to fail and you notice structural problems with your house, you will need experts to install a push pier system ASAP, which will basically give a second life to your foundation.
Caring for Your Pier and Beam Foundation
Proper maintenance will ensure your house remains in good foundation and that any repair bills you might have over the years will be reasonable.
Even if your crawlspace is in perfect order right now, it pays to invest smartly into keeping it that way. There are several steps you can take to ensure the health and longevity of your pier and beam foundation, including:
- Installing an automatic drainage system that will siphon away moisture buildup and deal with groundwater.
- Preemptively sealing up and waterproofing the floors and walls of your crawlspace.
- Installing a dehumidifier to eliminate mold growth, which is also a smart way to reduce allergies.
Living around Dallas and worried about your foundation? Don’t fret! Just get in touch with a reputable repair expert in your area that will help you with your foundation repairs quickly and cost-effectively. Remember, that caught early, foundation problems can be fixed easily, but if left unchecked, they can literally wreck your house!