Open crawl space vents: it's historically been the consensus in construction to include them in building design, but as building science has advanced and informed home design, the paradigm has shifted.
As a trusted insulation company that specializes in fixing crawl space issues throughout the greater Charlotte area, Standard Insulating Company has come to understand that having open vents in the crawl spaces of our homes can lead to numerous issues, ranging from pest infestations and indoor air quality degradation to pervasive moisture issues that affect the entire house. Closing the crawl space vents, when done correctly, can dramatically improve these issues and even enhance overall home performance.
The Downside of Open Vents in Crawl Spaces
Traditionally, home designs included crawl spaces to grant easy access to the home’s underpinning systems like plumbing, electrical wiring, and heating and cooling units. Open vents were added to these spaces to increase airflow and prevent moisture build-up. However, as we've seen over years and years of crawling underneath older homes, these vents have often been more of a problem than a solution. The problem lies in how these vents allow humid air to freely enter and accumulate in the crawl space. In climates with high humidity, like the one here in Charlotte, this excess moisture will ultimately cause structural damage and a host of other issues:
Open vents provide an inviting entrance for pests, ranging from insects, like ants and cockroaches, to small rodents, like mice. Once inside, these pests can not only cause structural damage but also pose potential health risks to the home's inhabitants.
Indoor Air Quality Degradation
Because of the way airflow and pressure intertwine in a home, much of the air within a home actually originates from its crawl space. If the air in the crawl space is laden with moisture or contaminants, the indoor air quality within the entire house can be significantly compromised. This can lead to a myriad of health concerns.
Moisture Problems Throughout the Home
The moisture entering the crawl space through open vents can trigger a chain reaction of issues throughout the home. These issues include a heightened risk of mold growth, peeling paint, and even foundational problems over time.
The Upside of Closing Vents and Prioritizing Insulation
The benefits of sealing crawl space vents are far-reaching. By gaining complete control over airflow and moisture, we can foster healthier, more comfortable, and more energy-efficient homes. Closed, encapsulated, and properly ventilated crawl spaces offer:
Superior Moisture Control
Closing the vents in your crawl space significantly reduces the amount of moisture entering the space. Encapsulating the crawl space by installing a vapor barrier and incorporating a properly designed ventilation system can further ensure that any residual moisture is effectively managed.
Improved Indoor Air Quality
By creating an airtight crawl space and introducing controlled ventilation, we can substantially reduce indoor air pollution and enhance overall air quality within the home. The air that circulates into your home from the crawl space will be cleaner, drier, and healthier to breathe.
Increased Energy Efficiency
Closing crawl space vents and insulating the space helps establish a home’s thermal envelope. By adding effective insulation measures, we create a barrier that limits the exchange of heat, thereby increasing the energy efficiency of the entire home. Overall, an airtight and insulated home will require much less of your heating and cooling system, saving you on energy costs each month of the year.
Effective Pest Control
By closing off access points like open vents, we can significantly limit the entry of unwanted pests into our homes, which not only provides peace of mind but also mitigates potential structural damage.
The Role of Building Science in Home Performance Upgrades
At Standard Insulating Company, we're committed to improving home performance using a science-based approach. Our team of knowledgeable building science professionals will assess your crawl space, guide you through the process, and suggest the most efficient solutions tailored to your home. We aim to strike the "Goldilocks" balance, ensuring just the right amount of controlled airflow while maintaining an airtight, well-insulated space.