Because most homeowners spend very little time in their crawl space, leaks and floods go unnoticed for months and even years. Despite the belief that a wet crawl space is normal, moisture in a foundation can lead to structural problems and can cost you thousands in repairs.
Unfortunately, the only thing more difficult than detecting a crawl space flood is getting rid of it. Crawl spaces are small and contain most of the house’s wiring, electrical, HVAC ductwork, and pipes. It’s not easy to remove standing water from a crawl space because there simply isn’t enough space to do so comfortably. Given the fact that North Carolina is one of the rainiest states in the U.S., you’ll need a way to drain water out of the crawl space in a way that is efficient, fast, and comfortable if you want to protect your foundation’s structural integrity. This is why you need to waterproof your crawl space.
One of the waterproofing solutions you’ll need to protect your foundation is an interior drainage system capable of collecting water from within the crawl space and from the soil itself. Dry Pro is happy to provide a drainage system capable of doing just that for the homeowners of Charlotte, NC. This system is called CrawlDrain™.
What is The CrawlDrain™ Crawl Space Interior Drain?
CrawlDrain™ is a type of interior drainage system for crawl spaces, but instead of being installed outside the foundation, it’s installed inside the crawl space itself.
The main purpose of the drainage system is to collect water from within the crawl space to keep it dry and prevent flooding. It does so automatically because of its ingenious design and ability to work with other crawl space waterproofing methods. It provides homeowners with a way to keep their crawl space completely free of standing water or moisture, and, thanks to its durability, it does so for decades.
What Is the Difference Between CrawlDrain™ and Other Interior Drainage Systems?
CrawlDrain™ is a special drainage system provided only by Dry Pro for the homeowners of Charlotte, NC. Other interior drainage systems can be less effective, so we’ve designed CrawlDrain™ in a way that addresses all those issues while maximizing the drainage capabilities.
To start, CrawlDrain™ has an anti-clog design. Because other interior drainage systems are installed outside and under the earth, they tend to get clogged by mud. This can be harmful for your foundation since there’s no way of knowing that the drain is clogged until the crawl space gets flooded.
CrawlDrain™ has a special filter fabric on all of the openings that face the dirt. The filter allows the water to get through while still keeping the mud and debris out of the drainpipe itself. Because there’s less maintenance involved, CrawlDrain™ is better able to guarantee a dry crawl space more than any other interior drainage system.
CrawlDrain™ also has a unique design that allows it to drain from even more areas than a typical drainage system. When water flows into the crawl space, CrawlDrain™ is able to collect the water, but it’s also able to collect water from two other places: the soil and the walls.
The soil that surrounds your crawl space plays a big part in how wet it can get. In a rainy city like Charlotte, NC, all the rainwater that gets soaked into the soil makes the water table rise and brings groundwater closer to the surface. More often than not, what this does is elevate the humidity in the crawl space, but it also can cause flooding if the water table is extremely close to the surface in the first place. During the winter, the groundwater also displaces the soil because of frost heave.
Moisture and water vapor can also get into the crawl space through the concrete walls, since concrete is a porous material. CrawlDrain™ has an opening that goes right against the walls of your crawl space, so all the moisture flows down the wall and gets collected by the drain. CrawlDrain™ can even be connected to the sump pump so that all the water gets pumped out of and away from the foundation.
How Do I Know If I Need a Crawl Space Interior Drainage System?
Foundation drainage problems manifest themselves in different ways. It’s important that you keep an eye out for every possible indicator that you have foundation drainage problems so that you know when it’s time to contact a foundation expert before the structural damage gets worse.
- Standing Water
The most obvious sign of a crawl space drainage problem is standing water. No matter how common it is for many homeowners with a crawl space, a foundation should never be flooded. Take a look inside your crawl space after it rains, and check to see if there is any water in the crawl space. You might want to check during the rainy season when the water table is most likely to rise and the crawl space is most likely to get flooded with water. In Charlotte, the rainy season starts in May and ends in August.
If there’s any water entering your crawl space, then there will most likely also be mold growth. Mold loves damp, dark places where the sun doesn’t shine, so crawl spaces are ideal. Mold can show up anywhere on your crawl space, including the concrete. Mold stains on concrete can be black or green, so make sure you have a flashlight with you when inspecting the crawl space.
- Wood Rot
Wood rot is when wood gets infected with a fungal growth that slowly deteriorates the wood. Fungus is a microorganism that needs organic matter to survive, as well as water. If your crawl space has a drainage issue, then it won’t lack a water source, and the wood acts as a source of nutrition. When wood is infected with wood rot, some discoloration appears. The stains can be white, green, black, gray, or yellow.
Depending on the type of fungus it is, there also can be some red dust on the surface of the rotting wood. This would be the fungal spores waiting for the right conditions to turn into fully-grown fungi. Wood rot sometimes makes the wood soft, which is something you can test out by stabbing it with a screwdriver.
Efflorescence is a type of stain that shows up on your concrete. It occurs when the moisture in concrete rises to the surface and brings with it all the salts and minerals within the structure. The water evaporates, but the salts can’t do the same; so, they simply stay clumped up on the surface of the concrete, forming the white stain that you see. Efflorescence is a sign that your wall is being exposed to too much moisture. An interior drainage system will be able to scoop up all the water that flows down a crawl space wall so that it doesn’t get absorbed by the concrete.
- High Energy Bills
The state of your crawl space actually impacts your energy consumption thanks to the stack effect. The stack effect is when the air inside your crawl space rises to the rest of your home. Hot, humid air is lighter than cold, dry air, so it easily infiltrates the house as it leaves your foundation.
During the summer, all the invading warm air makes things feel hotter, so homeowners leave the AC on for longer and keep it running at a lower temperature. Having to constantly compete with the warm air coming from the crawl space forces the AC to consume more energy than it needs to, resulting in high energy bills. The same thing happens to your HVAC system during the winter.
The stack effect is most noticeable during extreme weather, so compare your energy bills throughout the year. If you notice that there’s a significant spike during the summer and winter, then it could be because of your crawl space. Humidity makes a crawl space incredibly warm, so by waterproofing it, you can lower your energy bills.
Crawl Space Drainage
Crawl spaces don’t get much attention from homeowners, which is unfortunate since it’s the entire house’s foundation system. If the foundation fails, then so does the rest of the house. Although standing water in a crawl space is common, it doesn’t mean that it’s healthy for a foundation.
There are a few ways the existence of standing water in your foundation contributes to the structural deterioration of your home, so it’s in your best interest to stop it from happening in order to avoid the following problems:
- Uneven Floor
Crawl spaces do not get much sunlight, so if there is any humidity in the air, there’s a high probability that mold will grow. Mold growth in your foundation is detrimental to your health as well as the health of your home. It’s dangerous for you because long-term exposure to mold can cause mold poisoning. Even while in the foundation, mold spores have a way of rising up and mingling with the air in your home. Besides that, the wooden joint in your crawl space can get infected with wood rot.
Wood rot is when wood starts deteriorating because of a fungal infection. The fungus eats away at the mold and either makes it soft or breaks it down to the point where it can no longer support your floor. If the floor joists are deteriorating, then your floor will begin to sag, feel bouncy when you walk on it, and overall look and feel very uneven.
- Material Deterioration
Besides the destruction of the floor joists you have in your crawl space, standing water is dangerous because it contributes to the material deterioration of the space. For example, water is able to displace the soil that surrounds the crawl space support posts, causing them to shift. The soil in Charlotte, NC contains quite a bit of clay in it, so it expands when saturated with water but shrinks once it isn’t. Because of the loss of volume when the soil shrinks, the erosion results in uneven floors.
During the winter, the water in your crawl space freezes and turns into ice. When water freezes, it expands by 9% and the pressure from the expansion also displaces the soil. If there is any moisture in the crawl space materials, such as the wood and concrete, then they will also deteriorate due to this freeze-thaw cycle. The micro-tears created by the expansion cause materials to break over time, resulting in expensive foundation problems.
Part of the reason why crawl spaces are never fully waterproof unless they are encapsulated with a vapor barrier is because of how the water table can affect the space. Besides encapsulation, only an interior drainage system is capable of minimizing the damage a high water table can cause. Without draining out the water in the soil, there would be no way to stop moisture from seeping into the crawl space.
- What It Is
The soil in your yard may be dry, but a few feet down, the soil is saturated with groundwater. This is known as the zone of saturation, and it’s the area where groundwater perpetually resides. The water table is an invisible line that indicates where in the ground the zone of saturation begins. It starts just on the surface of all the groundwater.
The water table is not a static line. It can rise and fall depending on how much groundwater is in the soil. In Charlotte, NC, the annual precipitation is about 15 inches more than the national average. It also doesn’t help that, because of the characteristics of the Cecil soil of the region, the topsoil is moderately well-drained, so all the rainwater easily seeps down into the subsoil. The rainwater accumulates underground, and the water table rises the more water accumulates in the zone of saturation.
- How It Affects Your Crawl Space
The depth of the water table is something that varies not just nationwide but also citywide too. Some properties have extremely shallow water tables while others have a water table an impressive few feet below ground. It’s not something that can be known unless you get a professional to evaluate your property. Still, there are many areas in Charlotte where the water table may not be so high, but because of the persistent summer rain in North Carolina, it rises considerably.
When this happens, the water vapor from the moisture underground rises into the crawl space and raises the humidity levels of the space. The more water that is close to the soil during the winter will also contribute to frost heave, which is when the expanding ice puts upwards pressure on the crawl space posts and causes them to shift around. As a homeowner, you cannot control how much water seeps underground when it rains or snows, but you can control how much it gets drained out if you invest in a crawl space interior drain system.
There are many different types of waterproofing solutions you can choose for your crawl space. All of them are designed to keep your crawl space dry and humidity-free, so some of them seem to have the same function. However, even if some waterproofing solutions seem unnecessary, they are each a crucial part of the waterproofing system.
- What a Vapor Barrier Can’t Do
A vapor barrier is something every crawl space needs, but many believe it’s the only way to keep a crawl space structurally sound. Just because the vapor barrier can prevent water from flowing into space doesn’t mean that the water that could go in won’t do any damage. Remember, the groundwater that surrounds the crawl space can turn into ice and expand during the winter.
A vapor barrier is not capable of draining away the water that surrounds your foundation. It can keep water vapor from permeating through the walls, but it cannot redirect the moisture that flows down the walls of your crawl space. When that moisture seeps through the concrete and flows behind the vapor barrier, it has nowhere to go; so, it accumulates near the wall-floor joints of the foundation.
- Why You Need CrawlDrain™
You cannot have a vapor barrier without first installing an interior drain system like CrawlDrain™. An interior drainage system is what will collect the water from the soil so that the crawl space doesn’t get damaged from frost heave. Without the drain, crawl space deterioration is unavoidable.
With CrawlDrain™, the moisture that seeps through your walls can automatically be collected instead of accumulating behind the vapor barrier. The interior crawl space drain can be connected to the sump pump for easy, reliable drainage. CrawlDrain™ is inexpensive and can easily be installed in your crawl space by calling DryPro, so it’s a worthwhile investment to make if you want to avoid costly foundation repairs.
Call Dry Pro for Crawl Space Waterproofing
If you’re a homeowner in Charlotte, NC, then Dry Pro is here to make crawl space waterproofing easy for you. We’ve been waterproofing and repairing foundations since 1999 and know exactly what it takes to keep a foundation structurally sound. This is why we offer CrawlDrain™, a one-of-a-kind interior drainage system that’s designed for dirt crawl spaces.
If you’re interested, then don’t hesitate to contact us for a free inspection and repair estimate!
View More Crawl Space Solutions