How to Dry Out a Crawl Space After a Leak
Certain areas of the home are easy to overlook. Dust builds up in corners; cobwebs appear on hard-to-reach hallway ceilings. And while some of these forgotten areas are merely a nuisance when cleaning, others can wreak havoc on your home. One of the main culprits? Crawl spaces.
Crawl spaces often get neglected because they are out of sight. But if a leak occurs in one, the damage can escalate quickly.
If you don’t act fast after a leak, you could risk lasting, sometimes irreversible, damage.
Protect your home and your family’s health by acting fast to address the water damage. Here’s how you can make sure your crawl space is thoroughly dry after a leak or flood.
How to Dry Out Your Crawl Space
Here are the basic steps to dry out the crawl space in the aftermath of a leak.
1. Locate and Stop the Leak
The first step when you notice water in your crawl space is to identify the source of the leak. Even if you only notice moisture in the area, it is best to proactively figure out the cause so that you can stop the problem before it gets worse.
Inspect the foundation of the crawl space for any cracks. Water can seep up through the floorboards from the soil below your home. As time goes on, the foundation of your home will wear, making it more susceptible to cracks and leakage. The best way to prevent this is to have your crawlspace inspected and maintained regularly.
The other primary source of water collecting in your crawl space is faulty or improperly insulated plumbing. If pipes lack adequate sealant and begin to crack, they can spout leaks that could cause immense damage to your home’s foundation. Additionally, cold water pipes can develop condensation along the outside of the piping and gradually drip.
Once you identify the problem, it’s best to address the issue immediately. Repair cracks in the foundation, insulate or repair leaking pipes, and stop the leak once and for all. Not only are leaks damaging to your property and potentially harmful to your health, but also they can take a toll on your checkbook. Indeed, the average family can waste 180 gallons of water every week from leaks alone!
2. Remove All Water and Moisture
After you’ve resolved the source of the leak and ensured no new water can flow into the space, you can get to work removing any standing water or moisture. There are a few techniques to approach this.
If there is a small amount of moisture in the space, you may be able to clear it out with rags and paper towels alone.
If there is standing water in the crawl space, you’ll need to come in armed for battle. You can attempt to clear it out with rags and a bucket, but that can take a long time and be ineffective. The best bet is to rent a pump or a wet-dry vacuum. Either tool is a more efficient and faster way to remove standing water and protect the foundation of your home.
If you feel it’s over your head, call a professional to get the job done right.
3. Dry the Crawl Space Completely
Now that there is no water in the crawl space, it is essential to dry out the area thoroughly. Doing so prevents the risk of mold.
Even if the space seems dry enough, a small amount of leftover moisture can be enough for health hazards like mold to sprout. Mold exposure can cause many health issues, especially for people with asthma or other respiratory conditions.
If you can open a window or door to ventilate the area, this can help. Using fans and dehumidifiers can also simplify and speed up the drying process.
Note: While you can detect mold by appearance or smell, not all mold is immediately visible. Calling in a professional for mold remediation is the most reliable solution to ensure the safety of everyone in the home.
4. Repair Any Damages
Next, it’s time to clean up the area and repair any damage. Standing water can erode foundations and cause rust. Repair floorboards and replace hardware as needed.
If any insulation is wet, remove it entirely and replace it with new, dry materials.
How to Prevent Water Damage in a Crawl Space
The best way to ensure a crawl space is dry and free of water damage is to protect the area against leaks.
Understandably, this may seem like a daunting task, especially since crawl spaces are so hard to access. Fortunately, there are a few practical actions you can take to solve the issue of a soggy crawl space proactively.
A properly insulated crawl space minimizes the risk of leaks. Insulation means ensuring that floorboards are intact and free of cracks, fully sealing all pipes, and limiting exposure to outside elements.
Making sure the area gets fresh air moving through it can help prevent moisture buildup. Some households opt to install a dehumidifier in the space, and others routinely run a fan in the area.
Whatever method you choose, prevent stagnant air so that water doesn’t have a chance of creating overly damp conditions in the crawl space.
Here are a few of the most common questions homeowners ask about drying out crawl spaces.
How Long Does It Take for Water in a Crawl Space to Dry Out?
With professional-grade equipment, like high-volume fans and structural drying dehumidifiers, it can take less than 24 hours to dry out a crawl space thoroughly.
If you’re using standard household equipment to support the drying process, it may take a few days to get the job done.
How Can I Keep My Crawl Space Dry?
The best method to keep the crawl space dry is to use methods discussed in this article: make sure your crawl space remains enclosed, seal all pipes, and circulate air. With these proactive measures, you should have no issues keeping the area dry.
It is also helpful to inspect the area routinely to check for moisture build-up. If you can’t access the space easily, call a professional for help.
Drying out your crawl space after a leak can help you save time, frustration, and money. Most importantly, it can protect your home’s structural integrity and safeguard your family’s health.