Crawl space moisture control with open vents...help!

cheri127May 5, 2012

Hello all. This is my first post here and I hope someone can help me. The building and insurance code in our beach town insists that we maintain open flood vents in our crawl space. We have a damp, moldy smell in the house coming from the crawl space and I have no idea how to dehumidify the space if I must maintain open vents. Will a circulating fan help to at least bring in fresher if still moist air? I have no idea what to do. Any advice would really be appreciated. Thanks.

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cheri127

I forgot to add that the floor is concrete and the walls cinder block. Water got into the space from the irrigation system and we've had the smell ever since.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 10:54AM
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worthy

"If it is not possible to treat the crawlspace as a part of the house such as in flood zones in coastal areas...it is important to construct the house such that the crawlspace is isolated from the house--outside of the building boundary. These situations should follow recommendations for homes built on piers." Building Science Corp. (see link)

Here is a link that might be useful: Building Science Corp.: Crawlspace Insulation

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 1:04PM
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cheri127

I'm not sure how this helps as the crawlspace and house are already built. Am I missing something?

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 10:27AM
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worthy

Then you retrofit as if the house were built on piers.

See linked document from Photograph 5 forward for the alternatives.

Essentially, you're trying to keep the wood framing warmer than the air below so it is not a condensing surface. The spray foam achieves that goal and serves as an air seal to prevent the movement of odour from the crawl to the conditioned living space.

Here is a link that might be useful: Building Science Corp. : New Light in Crawlspaces

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 8:35PM
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cheri127

Thanks, Worthy. I actually am quite familiar with the paper you linked and couldn't agree more with the author. I'm selling the house mentioned above so don't want to invest a lot of money to address this problem. All of the houses in the area are the same.

But while I have your attention, perhaps you can give your opinion on the house we currently use. It, too, has a vented, unconditioned crawl space but has a sand floor and the A/C ducts run through it bringing the bad smells into the living space. However, we can close the louvers on the vents on this house because they are SmartVents, so the whole vent pivots open in the event of a storm surge. We closed the vents and installed a SaniDry dehumidifier, which has helped but not completely fixed the problem. We are going to have the floor covered in the next week.

I would love to remove the batting under the floor above and insulate the walls and condition the space but I don't think the vents are sealed enough for this not to be a huge waste in energy. Opening the space more to the outside and treating it as pier construction is not an option due to the nature of the house construction. So, what are my options? I have an HVAC guy coming out next week for a full evaluation, replace any dirty vents and SEAL them well. This will improve indoor air quality but not moisture control in the space. Do you think it's possible to achieve RH

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 9:37AM
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Why not go all the way and do a conditioned crawl by sealing the basement floor, adding perimeter insulation and removing the fibrous insulation? Plus using a mechanical dehumidifier and sealing/insulating the ducts with mastic and then sprayed foam insulation?

Smart Vent makesinsulated units that look like they may address your air leakage concerns.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 10:41PM
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BarryAntonelli

In most cases, flood vents offer enough air movement to keep the average crawlspace dry and mold free. However, under some circumstances, such as high humidity, enclosing topography, and poor building construction, moisture can gather and mold can grow leaving a home with that dank, wet smell. Here are some solutions: an interior drain tile system will take care of intruding water and a circulation fan on a timer will take care of the high humidity and potentially stagnant air.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 10:59AM
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