How Basement and Attic Encapsulation Services Can Improve Your IAQ

April 29, 2016
Ross and Witmer

Basement and attic encapsulation is quickly becoming one of the biggest trends for new homes across the nation. Prior to its emergence as the premier way to prevent excessive moisture, pest control, and other problems, most attics and basements were completely unsealed. Encapsulation is the process of taking polyethylene plastic and using it to line the attic as well as the walls and floor of the foundation. By using basement and attic encapsulation services, you’ll get a plethora of benefits for your Charlotte, North Carolina, home. Here are just a few things to expect after the job is done.

Perfect Relative Humidity

Without crawl space encapsulation, the area underneath your home is much more susceptible to changes in humidity and temperature. In particular, the summer is the point when humidity is at its highest, and this results in a crawl space that’s less than ideal. With the added humidity comes mold and other contaminants which not only lower your indoor air quality, but also leave a foul, musty odor.

Encapsulation solves this problem. By sealing the area, it keeps the crawl space at a temperature and humidity similar to the rest of your home. This process also gets rid of the literal and figurative headaches caused by traditional crawl spaces.

Remember that humidity, not temperature, is the foremost cause of improved indoor air quality. With the perfect relative humidity, you get an abundance of benefits including fewer allergens, fewer nosebleeds, and fresh air to help you recover from an already present ailment.

Minimal Pests and Rodents

Another perk of attic or crawl space encapsulation is the removal of pests and rodents. With an unsealed area, moisture and darkness lurk, becoming an inviting refuge for animals and insects. Essentially, many areas under the home and in the attic are made of wood. As humidity seeps into the home, this wood collects moisture, which isn’t harmful in small doses. Over time, however, moisture causes the wood to rot. At the same time, this wood is the perfect breeding ground for termites, which eventually start to eat away the wood entirely. Animals also seek these moist, wooden spots because they’re free of predators and colder temperatures.

When you encapsulate these areas, you prevent them from becoming overly moist or rotten. Animals and insects have a much more difficult time breaking through the plastic, and typically, the barrier prevents them from entering altogether. From a preventive standpoint, the polyethylene plastic used in the process is clear, meaning that it still gives exterminators ability to see if there are any termites in plain sight. From an air quality perspective, encapsulation keeps bugs out of the house and also removes the threat of any airborne fecal matter from rodents.

Decreased Energy Costs

Even if you have a relatively new HVAC system, an unsealed attic, crawl space, or basement wreaks havoc on your monthly energy bill. The reason is simple. Because the outside air leaks into these spaces, it makes your HVAC system work harder to counteract the effects of the higher temperatures and humidity. While it may not seem like a few small leaks would cause that much of a problem, hundreds of small gaps add up quickly. Not only does this cause your energy bills to increase, but the strain on your HVAC can end up costing you hundreds to thousands of dollars in repairs. In some cases, it can also cost you an entirely new HVAC system.

The freshly encapsulated area also helps lessen the blow of energy bills because it seals off the area from outside drafts in unsealed portions of the home. These are often major contributors to poor energy efficiency. Encapsulation also regulates humidity, which boosts your air conditioner in the summer by reducing air conditioner drainage, as well as decreasing your reliance on humidifiers and dehumidifiers.

Longer Lifespan for Your Home

For most homeowners, your home is the most expensive purchase that you’ll make in a lifetime. That’s why it’s in your best interest to protect your investment. Encapsulation is a smart way to add value and a layer of protection to your home.

Encapsulation effectively protects the wood and joists in your basement from both moisture and pests, and the process also keeps the soil underneath your home dry. This means that you’ll have addressed the problem that most other homeowners have with their foundations. All foundations sink or move over time, but with dry soil, your home moves far less than others in the same time period.

In addition, encapsulation can increase the value of your home, as previously unusable space is now perfect for storage. It’s an investment that pays off easily in the long run.

Protected Plumbing

Your home almost certainly has plumbing work in the basement or crawl space, and your home may even have plumbing in the attic. A problem with these locations is that the plumbing is defenseless against the outside temperatures, particularly in the winter. As the temperatures drop, pipes become exposed to freezing conditions, leaving them particularly vulnerable to bursting. Once that happens, the road to recovery isn’t that simple. Burst pipes can leave your family without water for an undetermined amount of time and can require serious money for repairs.

A sealed or encapsulated attic, basement, or crawl space doesn’t suffer from this type of catastrophe, especially if it’s heated to the same temperature as the rest of the house. Think of it like this: A simple encapsulation process essentially pays for itself by protecting your home from damaged water pipes, and you won’t have to buy water, boil water, or pay for housing elsewhere while the problem gets solved. It makes burst pipes virtually a non-issue and eliminates a potentially serious problem.

More Usable Space

One thing you should think about before encapsulating your basement, crawlspace, or attic is what you’re going to do with the area afterward. Your plans for the area have a profound effect on the overall price of the installation. When your contractor installs the polyethylene plastic, keep in mind that it comes in several thicknesses, puncture strengths, and tensile strengths. Each one of these factors goes a long way in preserving the integrity of the encapsulation.

If you don’t plan to use the area actively, a low strength, 3-millimeter plastic is probably your best bet. If you’re going to use the area for storage or other purposes, you may want an ultra-durable plastic that’s up to 20 millimeters thick. Either way, just make certain that you’ve considered all viable possibilities for the encapsulated area.

Additional Ways to Benefit

To complement your encapsulation service, you should also consider a number of other things. Think about installing a register that goes from the crawl space to your ductwork. The reason for this additional register is that it can keep the area at the same temperature and humidity as the rest of your home. This can mean improved air quality in the crawl space as well as in your home overall.

Another way to benefit from encapsulation is by pouring concrete under your home, instead of the dirt or loose rock usually found in the crawl space area. Concrete helps control moisture and pests much more than a traditional crawl space and helps keep an even temperature in the area. Plus, with the added floor integrity, it’s easier to use your crawl space for other purposes. Keep in mind that not all crawl spaces or unfinished basements are the ideal size for such an undertaking. In most cases, you’ll want a height of at least five feet. Otherwise, it’s often a waste of time, money, and resources.

The best part about encapsulation services is that they don’t require a large crew or create disruptive work that will leave your family in a hotel. In addition, the benefits of the process leave your air cleaner, your home more valuable, and your family breathing easier. However, you do need a contractor that has the knowledge and expertise to get the job done right the first time. That’s why you need to call Ross & Witmer. Our courteous, friendly, and well-trained technicians will have the job done quickly and with the utmost professionalism. Call us today at 704-392-6188 and breathe some life back into your home.

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