Crawl Space Encapsulation Vs Vapor Barrier

Here is a comparison guide between crawl space encapsulation and vapor barrier.

Moisture control strategies are quite varied and address several problems.

They all serve the purpose of waterproofing a structure, thus preventing moisture issues like seepage, condensation, high humidity levels, and a whole range of others.

Now, there are times when debates about the efficacy of some waterproofing techniques over others.

One of those you might have heard of is comparing crawl space encapsulation Vs the use of vapor barriers. This article will be providing vital insights into the different aspects of each waterproofing technique.

Rather than decide for you, the results of our comparison will speak for themselves. Based on the information provided, you get to decide which is best.

Your Crawl space or Basement Could Harbor Dangerous Water

As a homeowner, you’re likely to encounter challenges with your property as time goes on. One of the common problems you might have is moisture issues. Now, a lot of homes have crawl spaces as well as basements.

About 50% of the air coming into your home flows from your crawl space or basement.

This makes a big impact when there are moisture-related issues like rot, or mold & mildew growth. Apart from the damage caused to your structure, your home’s air is filled with tiny spores which can be inhaled.

These cause a wide range of illnesses. With this fact, it’s obvious that you need to address any moisture issues within your home.

Crawl Space Encapsulation Versus Vapor Barrier

Before we begin to compare both waterproofing techniques, it’s important to first provide some basic information about what they are.

One thing is sure; both crawl space encapsulation and vapor barriers are placed in crawl spaces for the main purpose of keeping out moisture.

  • About Crawl Space Encapsulation

Crawl space encapsulation is a form of moisture control that also seeks to prevent moisture-related musty odors. It involves the spreading of liners impermeable to moisture.

The result of this waterproofing technique is the general improvement of air quality and the prevention of moisture seepage.

Crawl space encapsulation also helps improve energy efficiency while also preventing mold & mildew growth. Pests drawn to moisture no longer have access to your crawl space because such moisture is effectively sealed out.

If you must enjoy all the above benefits mentioned, then crawl space encapsulation must be effectively installed. This is where the service of a licensed waterproofing technician becomes vital.

  • About Vapor Barriers

As stated earlier, vapor barriers are also meant to address moisture problems.

Another name for such barriers is the vapor diffusion barrier. Here, an impermeable layer of plastic is spread on the floor of a crawl space. Depending on the extent of moisture, one or more of these plastic sheets are used.

All floor sections beneath the crawl space need to be covered for best results.

However, it must be said that this moisture control process isn’t totally effective. In other words, moisture is significantly reduced but some of it will find its way into your crawl space and home.

Encapsulation Vs Vapor Barrier: Vital Points

To fully understand how both moisture control methods measure up against each other, we’ll be looking at several points. These points include moving or pooling water, vapor prevention, insulating effect, and maintenance of property value.

  • Moving or Pooling Water

Moving or pooling water issues are most common during flooding conditions. Crawl space encapsulation has a better response to this problem as it locks out water as well as vapor from getting into your crawl space.

Because crawl space floor and walls are sealed, a property becomes well protected from water incursion.

Vapor barriers on the other hand don’t stand a chance to prevent moving or pooling water beneath the crawl space. Because these plastic sheets are merely spread over the floor, water gets through the sides.

So, if you live in a flood-prone area, the adoption of the vapor barrier technique won’t help your situation.

  • Vapor Prevention

When it comes to vapor prevention, crawl space encapsulation also serves to protect your basement from such.

Due to how this waterproofing procedure is performed, both water vapor and moving or pooling water won’t get into your basement. The same cannot be said for the vapor barrier technique.

Although vapor barriers are designed to reduce vapor, that’s as far as they go. In other words, the gaseous vapor isn’t fully kept out of the crawl space by using vapor barriers. Some of it (vapor) escapes into the crawl space.

So, if you’re looking for total moisture or vapor prevention, crawl space encapsulation is the way to go.

  • Insulating Effect

Do crawl space waterproofing techniques have any insulating effect? It depends on the type you choose.

Crawl space encapsulation is one moisture control method that also offers some insulating benefits. These benefits are seen all year round. During the hot season, cool air is kept in, while warm air is conserved during the cold season.

With a vapor barrier, there’s no real insulating benefit.

Homeowners don’t stand to gain much with vapor barriers in place. As a homeowner having vapor barriers in place, you will have to do more to improve your home’s insulating effect.

  • Maintenance of Property Value

When crawl space insulation is provided early, it prevents any form of moisture damage to the structure. As mentioned earlier, there’s no rot, mold & mildew growth, or high humidity levels to deal with.

As a result, the condition of the property is preserved.

Homeowners with such provisions (crawl space encapsulation) in place tend to have a better resale value for their homes compared to those with vapor barriers.

The obvious reason is that homes with vapor barriers aren’t fully protected from moisture.

A Rundown of Benefits

When considering which waterproofing technique to use, it’s best to compare the benefits of each.

Crawl space encapsulation offers several benefits that include the preservation of heating & cooling ducts, improving resale value, preventing pest infestations and the reduction of humidity.

What more? Crawl space encapsulation significantly prevents mold & mildew growth in addition to prolonging the lifespan of your hardwood floors.

It’s important to also state that you get better air quality while also saving on energy bills.

The vapor barrier method of moisture control has its own benefits such as providing storage space below your crawl space and improving your home’s air quality. Mold issues are also decreased.

With the comparisons made above, you get to choose or decide which moisture control method between the two to adopt.

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