If you’re like most homeowners, you probably only visit your crawl space when you absolutely have to. People usually go down there only to check heating or cooling equipment, change a filter, or turn an obscure plumbing valve – and normally only when they can’t pay somebody else to do it.
Before we get into solutions, let’s explore the most common causes of crawl space odors.
Common causes of crawl space odors in Alabama homes
Many Alabama homeowners don’t realize that even when a house is still and quiet, the air inside is always moving. As warm air leaves the attic or vents through windows, cooler air from underneath rushes upward to replace it. This process happens naturally in just about every house, and it’s known as the “stack effect” or “chimney effect.”
Alternating periods of hot and cold weather create seasonal changes in moisture and condensation underneath your house. If your crawl space has never been properly sealed, these conditions can soon lead to mold, mildew, and rot. Pests like insects and rodents can also get in through gaps and vents. The stack effect we described can pull the resulting smells straight up into your living areas and allow them to permeate just about everything you own.
Here is how the stack effect works against your home, causing air quality and moisture problems
Does “bad” crawl space air raise any health concerns?
Strange smells are one thing, but the picture gets even worse when you consider the potential health risks to you and your family.
In addition to bad smells, as crawl space air moves upward, it can also carry mold spores or toxins that off-gas from building materials or contaminated soil according to the EPA. These can attack your respiratory system or cause other health problems. More than a few mystery ailments have been cured when folks discovered they were being slowly poisoned by their own homes.
Here’s how you can eliminate bad smells from the crawl space
So what can you do if your crawl space smells bad, or worse, when crawl space odors are coming up into the living areas of your home?
Crawl space encapsulation technology has come a long way in the last few decades, and the good news is that there are a number of highly effective and affordable corrective measures to choose from. Here are a few that are recommended by the most reputable service providers:
- Crawl space encapsulation: Using special purpose lining materials that won’t deteriorate or give off odors of their own, encapsulation surrounds your crawl space with complete protection against unwanted moisture. This can easily be coordinated with other corrective measures like drainage improvements and dehumidification.
- Drainage: The right professional or do-it-yourselfer can make sure that excess water is properly drained away from your crawl space with a tailored mix of aggregate, perforated piping, or landscape grading. Also consider sealing cracks and vents to keep water from getting in. And don’t forget to ensure your gutters are clean, free of debris, and include downspout extensions that keep water away from underneath the home.
- Dehumidification: For chronically damp conditions, there are dehumidifier units that are specially designed to keep crawl spaces clean, dry, and healthy for your family. These work especially well when combined with crawl space encapsulation.
- Sump pumps: Crawl space sump pumps take water management to the next level by forcibly removing any excess water. At SouthernDry, we offer a wide variety of sump pumps, including battery backup systems and WiFi enabled models
When it comes to smelly crawl spaces, your number one enemy is unwanted moisture.
Once dampness begins to accumulate under your house, the stage is set for invasion by mold and mildew, which can cause your building materials to rot and deteriorate. These all come with their own odors, but remember that the same conditions may also attract insects and rodents that create even more offensive smells. It’s important to get a trustworthy professional assessment on all these conditions so you can choose the repair options that are best for your situation.
SouthernDry has been a trusted crawl space and basement repair partner for years in Alabama. We can help you protect your family with affordable and proven preventive measures like crawl space encapsulation, dehumidification, and a complete array of reliable foundation repair services that will improve the living experience for your whole family.