Looking for information about what causes standing water in a crawl space? If so, don’t hit that back button because that’s what we’re going to discuss in this article. We’ll review the most common causes of standing water in a crawl space, why you don’t want water in your home’s crawl space, the best way to get a clean, dry crawl space, and more.
Is Standing Water in a Crawl Space Normal?
No, standing water in a crawl space is not normal. It’s an indication of a problem that requires prompt identification and resolution. Standing water in a crawl space can be caused by various issues and, when left unaddressed, can lead to many problems, making your crawl space an ideal breeding ground for mold, mildew, and other harmful microorganisms. Moreover, crawl space moisture can cause structural damage to your home and adversely affect indoor air quality. Therefore, it’s crucial to have any standing water in your crawl space addressed as soon as possible.
How to Get Rid of Standing Water in Your Crawl Space
If your crawl space is flooded, you must call a professional specializing in restoring flooded homes. However, if it’s just a puddle or two, you can use a wet/dry shop vac to get the job done.
What Causes Standing Water in a Crawl Space?
Various things can cause standing water in a crawl space, including the following:
- A high water table – One primary cause of standing water in a crawl space is a high water table, which refers to the level at which groundwater is present in the soil. If the water table is close to the ground surface or higher than the crawl space, water can seep through the soil and collect in the crawl space.
- Improper grading – When the ground slopes towards the foundation, it can cause rainwater or runoff to drain toward the crawl space instead of flowing away from the house.
- Malfunctioning gutter system – A damaged or malfunctioning gutter system can contribute to water accumulation in the ground outside the crawl space and, eventually, water infiltration.
- Poor drainage – Poor drainage around the foundation can cause excess groundwater to build up in the ground around the foundation and eventually work its way inside.
- Plumbing leaks – Older drain lines are notorious for cracking or having leaks around their slip joints. It’s always good to check for leaks, especially if you have an older home with older plumbing and drain lines.
- Condensation – Warm and humid air can enter a crawl space through gaps and cracks, leading to condensation and mold formation. However, it’s rare for condensation to cause pools of standing water.
It’s essential to determine whether the water is coming from below or above ground. If you notice standing water in the crawl space more during the rainy season, the likely source of the water is below ground. The source might be runoff or a rising water table. If the standing water is also present during the dry season, it’s probably coming from an above-ground source, such as a plumbing leak. Is there a bathroom directly above the standing water?
No matter the underlying cause, standing water in a crawl space can lead to many problems, including structural damage, mold growth, pest infestations, and poor indoor air quality.
Note: A crawl space foundation is a type of stem wall foundation. For more information about stem wall foundations, see Stem Wall Repair.
Why You Don’t Want Water in Your Crawl Space
Water in your crawl space may seem like a minor inconvenience, but it can cause significant damage to your home and negatively impact your health. Here are some reasons why you don’t want water in your crawl space:
- Structural damage – Excess moisture in the crawl space can cause wood rot, mold growth, etc., weakening the wooden structures in the crawl space.
- Mold and mildew – A damp crawl space is the perfect environment for mold and mildew to grow. Because some of the air in the crawl space flows into your home’s living area, this can lead to a musty odor and respiratory issues for anyone living there.
- Increased energy bills – Water in your crawl space can cause your home’s insulation to become wet and ineffective. This increases energy bills as your HVAC system works harder to regulate the temperature.
- Pest infestations – Standing water in your crawl space is a magnet for pests such as termites, ants, and rodents. This can lead to costly extermination and repairs.
- Decreased home value – A wet and musty crawl space can be a significant turn-off to potential buyers. This can reduce the value of your home and make it harder to sell.
Water in your crawl space can cause a range of issues that go beyond a simple inconvenience. It’s essential to address water in your crawl space immediately to prevent further damage and ensure a safe and healthy home.
Signs There’s Moisture In Your Crawl Space
Several signs may indicate the presence of moisture in your crawl space. These include the following:
- A musty or damp odor inside your home
- Visible mold or mildew growth on crawl space structures
- Warped or rotten wood in the crawl space
- High humidity level in your home
- Bouncy floors. This could be a sign the wooden support structures in the crawl space have deteriorated.
- Pest infestation. These might be termites, ants, rodents, snakes, etc. In addition, you may notice pests such as termites and ants attracted to the damp environment.
As noted above, moisture in your crawl space can lead to serious structural problems, such as weakened foundation walls, sagging floors, and deteriorating insulation. It can also trigger respiratory problems, including allergies and asthma. Therefore, immediately addressing any signs of moisture in your crawl space is essential to prevent further damage and potential health risks. A professional inspection can help identify the source of the moisture and determine the appropriate course of action.
How To Get A Clean, Dry Crawl Space
The best way to get a clean, dry crawl space is to control groundwater around the foundation. Here are some ways to do that:
- Regrade the yard around the foundation, if necessary – A properly graded yard will slope away from the foundation, which allows water to flow away from the crawl space instead of towards it. This reduces the chance of water seeping into the crawl space.
- Fix any leaky pipes.
- Clean gutters regularly – If your gutters are clogged with dead leaves and other debris, water can spill over the side of your home and soak the ground around the foundation. From there, it can easily make its way into the crawl space.
- Use downspout extensions to direct runoff safely away from the foundation before release. This will prevent water from pooling around the foundation.
- Keep water-hungry vegetation away from the foundation. Flowers and shrubs might look beautiful next to the house, but they need water.
- Install a drain tile system to prevent excess moisture from building up in the ground around the foundation. When it comes to waterproofing, a drain tile system is a gold standard.
For more information, see What Homeowners Need To Know About Landscaping Next To Their Home’s Foundation.
If you’re concerned about standing water in your home’s crawl space, contact us today to schedule an evaluation. We serve Southern California, Arizona, and Nevada.