The crawlspace under your home isn't there to provide a place for stray animals to hide (which, by the way, is something you definitely don't want). Crawlspaces contain drain lines and other infrastructure essentials that are vitally important to the way your home functions. You've got to pay attention to your crawlspace, or you could end up with damaged systems...or much worse problems than pests living under your home.
1. Moisture Can Damage the House's Infrastructure
It's important to prevent moisture in your crawlspace that can damage wiring, ductwork, and pipes over time. Wait for a clear, sunny day, and then climb down into the crawlspace to perform a visual inspection. Look for sunlight coming into the space around the foundation. Be particularly attentive to areas where pipes, ductwork, and wiring are located, and shine a flashlight directly around the walls of the crawlspace in these areas. If you find gaps, seal them with caulk to prevent moisture from entering your space and potentially damaging your home’s infrastructure.
2. Insects Can Invade
Regularly clean out your crawlspace to prevent insects from making their home here. No matter how well-insulated your crawlspace is or how vigilant you are, debris will accumulate in this area. Dead leaves, branches, rocks, and dirt will wind up in this area, so you need to perform regular checks and be prepared to clean all this junk out. Remove all the debris and dirt you can to keep the area uninhabitable to insects, who like to nest in protected areas that offer hiding spaces. If insects have nowhere to hide, it’s easier to find and eliminate them before they create damage.
3. Mold Can Grow
Cover the floor of your crawlspace with plastic sheeting to prevent mold and keep the whole area safer. When placing sheets, overlap the seams by about 12 inches to prevent moisture from seeping in around the edges. Mold grows in warm moist places, so you want to keep your crawlspace as dry as you possibly can. Tape the plastic to seal the seams. Plastic sheeting will not only keep the crawlspace dry, but it will also provide some insulation to ward against hot and cold. The plastic should also extend up the walls of the crawlspace, about six inches. Weigh down plastic sheets with heavy rocks or bricks to keep your insulation in place and keep mold from growing.
4. Weather Can Damage the Infrastructure
Weather damage like wind, rain, and ice can cause pipes to burst, destroy ducts, and damage electrical work. Protect your crawlspace from the elements using weather stripping. Install it directly around the entry door to block the weather from entering and potentially creating damage. Weather stripping is easy to find at any home improvement store and simple to install.
5. Pests Can Inhabit the Space
If small animals get into your crawlspace, they can create havoc in a matter of days. Pests will chew through insulation and wiring, and cause other damage that can ultimately harm your home. The best way to prevent the presence of pests like rodents or even birds is to keep the crawlspace dry. Perform regular checks to look for the presence of animals. You may not see the pests themselves because they know how to hide, but you will see signs of habitation, such as nests and droppings. Any large holes around the crawlspace should be covered with hardware cloth. This material is easy to find and install. It's essentially wire mesh that can easily be placed over crawlspace holes, including the doorway. Rodents and other animals can't chew through this mesh, so they can't get in.
Take good care of your crawlspace, and your crawlspace will keep your home in better shape. You’ll have fewer problems, and that means you’ll have less maintenance to perform to keep your infrastructure functioning properly. Pay attention to your crawlspace and perform regular maintenance, and your entire home will be in better shape.