For being the foundation of the house it is surprising how basements and crawlspaces can be ignored. Whether a dirt root cellar, basement or crawlspace these sub surface spaces can be a big headache to us. For some it’s not the Robin that is the harbinger of spring but the song of the sump pump humming and gurgling as the snow melts. Or maybe it’s the beginning of the long run of the dehumidifier and the utility bill to match.
Mike brought up odor and air quality issues such as mold and mildew related to spaces that the team at Energy Efficient Solutions, a GreenHomes America location in Yorktown, Virginia sees, and the same issues that happen there happen on the west coast and the northeast.
As homeowners we too often come to accept the problems in our house as just the way it is or hope they will go away. We take care of our roofs and siding to keep the water out. These underground spaces ought to be treated with the same importance. Air sealing like we recommend for attics can help a lot down below as well. You can flip the house upside down and treat it the same way. We need something to keep the water out and drain it away, insulation and good solid air barrier between the living space and the outside.
Either way you look at the house, there is an optimum relative humidity for healthy air inside. Higher (and lower) ranges are ones ripe for growth of bacteria viruses, fungi and mold. Lower and we get to be too uncomfortable and suffer from the effects.
There is a sweet spot right down the middle. Preventing big moisture issues is important for our well being. Because they are out of sight down below doesn’t mean they should be ignored. Make sure any contractor who does work on your home understands this and how it relates to the work they’re doing. If not, you could be headed for trouble.