Most homes and buildings are fabricated over a foundation that has a crawlspace. Just like anything else, having a strong and robust foundation is critical to the integrity of the rest of the home. The crawlspace of a home can say a lot about it’s overall integrity just by looking for a few major things, that is why it’s critical to have a home inspector get underneath the building and check it out. We have listed a few of the major items that should be inspected by your certified home inspector below.
Common Concerns/Issues with Crawlspaces
There are many different signs that home inspectors will check for during a typical crawlspace inspection to ensure that the home is safe and robust for whomever occupies the space.
House settling is when the foundation of the home begins to sink into the soil beneath it, which could in turn begin to warp the rest of the home including the floors, walls, brick fireplaces, and even the roof. It can happen due to poor dirt preparation or even moisture problems.
Moisture and water can come from many sources. It can come from having a poor drainage system for the house where rain water isn’t dispersed away from the house rather it floods into the soil underneath the home, thus expanding the soil and causing foundation issues. It may also come from leaking plumbing. If a pipe breaks or leaks into the foundation the same issue will most likely arise.
The settling of a house is a major concern that should be caught and addressed quickly to prevent the creation of more issues with the rest of the home and to protect all of the occupants who reside there.
Type of Crawlspace/Foundation
The type of crawlspace you have can provide some insights into whether you should be concerned or not of damage. For instance, concrete foundations are known to do a great job of keeping water and air out of the crawlspace, thus protecting it for longer periods of time. In contrast, stone or concrete block foundations are known to be more susceptible to allowing moisture and air under the home. However, just because you have a stone or block foundation, doesn’t mean you should freak out, simply call up your trusted home inspector to come take a look to ensure that there aren’t any major openings or areas of concern within the foundation.
One of the major contributors to an unsound foundation is poor initial quality. Simply put, if the foundation, support beams, and floor joists were appropriately laid out and constructed under the home then there’s a chance that you’re home may be more susceptible to issues down the road. Your home inspector should know what a quality crawlspace should look like in this regard and should be able to tell you whether or not you have or may have issues such as floors sagging or squeaking in your home.
I know we’ve mentioned this one a few times above, but it is just that critical and dangerous. If you have a wet crawlspace or smell mold in or under your home, you most likely have a moisture problem. Openings in your crawlspace (even ventilations systems) allows moisture to come in causing plethora of issues like mold, mildew, wood rotting, and dust mite infestations.
In addition to the issues that may reside in the crawlspace, you must remember that moist air rises. When this moisture rises up into your floors, walls, insulation, etc. it can cause all sorts of issues. Also when moist air rises into your home, you are more likely to become hot and turn your air conditioner on, thus impacting your monthly electric bill!
Benefits of a Crawlspace Inspection
Crawlspace inspections should be performed regularly for anyone who owns, or is looking to own, a building be it residential or commercial. It is important that you consider a crawlspace inspection just as you would with any other home inspection; it should most definitely be a part of your “full home inspection services.” Regular home inspections should be spaced in accordance with your home inspector recommendations and should be based on different factors including: the age of the home, the type of crawlspace, the weather associated with the area, etc. The key objective with any crawlspace inspection is to identify whether or not the building is safe to occupy and to identify any risk areas associated with it so that they can be addressed accordingly.
Whether you want to have your current residence inspected or if you are trying to buy/sell, there are many benefits of getting a crawlspace inspection and having a healthy crawlspace.
The first benefit is obvious… SAFETY. There are many health benefits of ensuring that the crawlspace within the residence/building is acceptable. If structural damage or house settling is apparent, the individuals inside the building may be at a major risk due to potential structural collapses in the rest of the building. This can lead to severe injuries and possibly a hefty lawsuit for those renting to others. In addition to the potential physical damage done, the presence of mold and mildew can cause harm to the occupants as well. Mold and mildew are known to cause serious health issues to those exposed to it for long periods of time. That being said, a healthy crawlspace leads to healthy occupants.
The second benefit may also be obvious to some, but that is money. Inspecting and fixing any crawlspace problems will most definitely save you money in the long wrong. It is critical that you protect your investment so that it remains sound for as long as possible and the crawlspace/foundation is where it all starts. When damage to the foundation begins to develop, it can be extremely costly to the owner in a number of ways, thus it’s important to catch and correct the damage as soon as possible.
As mentioned above, the crawlspace is a telltale sign of whether the building of interest is “healthy” or not. The foundation makes up the pillars that hold up the rest of the building, thus it is extremely important to know and understand the shape of a home’s crawlspace. Little issues can become BIG issues very quickly in a crawlspace, thus it is of your best interest to hire a certified home inspector to come take a look at your crawlspace on a regular basis or when you plan to buy/sell a property. A professional crawlspace inspection will always give you the best chance of identifying the presence of any issues/concerns, thus at Ernst Home Inspections we will work as hard as necessary to confirm that your crawlspace and foundation are up to par and as safe as possible.