Bought a 1967 brick rancher two months ago. The termite inspector
yesterday told me yesterday I had a water pipe leaking rather badly.
The plumber came and fixed it but also told me there is no insulation
under the house in the crawlspace. He says there are staples there but
the insulation is gone. For some reason the home inspector never
mentioned lack of insulation. Since all my previous homes have been on
slab I never thought to ask.
Obviously the old insulation was ripped out for some reason (flood,
maintenance?) and never replaced. I've called a few people to give me
estimates. Any ideas on what to expect? The house is around 1700 sq
Inspectors have insurance for a reason, like forgetting to tell
someone he should spend 1000.00 to insulate under the house, it it
code in your area, is it cold in your area. The dirt should also have
a vapor barrier.
FWIW, I had a similar problem several years ago: damp, moldy crawl
space. I had all the insulation pulled out, sprayed the mold with
clorox, closed the air vents to seal out humidity, and never replaced
I'm in North Carolina, where the winters are admittedly mild, but my
HVAC unit is in the crawl space and keeps it relatively warm. Any heat
lost due to lack of insulation is lost upwards to the living area, so
no big deal. I put a couple of dehumidifiers down there at the time of
the problem, but once the space dried up, it stayed dried up.
I'm in SE VA and am suspecting the same thing has occured in this
house. My HVAC unit is not in the crawlspace. The plumber said it was
not wet down there and was amazed water hadn't pooled from the leak.
He said there was some sort of a pipe in the crawlspace that carried
any water outside of the foundation. I'm not entirely sure what he
meant by that.
Well, it's been 5-6 years and no recurrence. I haven't even turned on
the dehumidifiers in several years. Once the source of the water was
fixed and the vents were closed to prevent humid air from entering,
there's been no mold problem.
I live in a flood zone and am required to have permanently open vents.
In fact, the total square inches of vent openings must be equal or
greater than the square footage of crawl space or you pay more, like I
I may be wrong, but I thought the home inspectors were to look for
things that were either broken/damaged or in violation of codes. If
this is true, then although it would be wise to have insulation under
the floor, it is neither of the aforementioned two.
I finally got hold of the local codes person. I'm told insulation in
floor joists was not required until 1976. My house is grandfathered
in. That said, he still recommended the insulation but was not in
favor of a plastic moisture barrier on the ground.
You can probably do this yourself.
Loose lay some plastic sheets making sure to cover the entire ground
This will keep the damp in the ground.
The under floor insulation is very important, as heat always moves to
This means you are loosing expensive heat the whole time through your
Fix sheets of polystyrene or similar tight under the floor. Try to
are no holes, as your heat will find the holes and leak out.
The polystyrene sheets are best at 5 inches thick, this will save all
heat, thinner sheets will save proportionally less heat
Perry there is one possible addition to this that you may not (and many
dont) have thought of. If the water pipes are down there, that leached heat
might be just enough to have kept the pipes from freezing in winter. It is
even possible the insulation was removed to prevent that by previous owner.
I'd suggest calling the plumber in his case to just check (should be a free
call for advice for this sort of thing) if he needs to do some sort of pipe
heating to match the insulation for his area.
My experince is not the same as a crawlspace but comes from a side issue
somewhat related. We have a laundry area with pipes that run along an
exterior wall along the roof with no insulation (has it now after the blow
out). There was a pipe heater strip along it that failed and this may be
related to why the pipes burst, but on futher checking we think that pipe
heater went 'belly up' much longer ago and the real difference was we had
just removed an old commercial size freezer from the garage and put the new
energystar unit in it's place. The savings of electrical was not that big
between the units but some part went bad that was easily fixed for less than
30$ by the soup kitchen that took the old unit, and the new one is more
sized for our needs (old one was a MONSTER BIG thing you could literally fit
a whole cow in, head and all). Anyways, The old unit was actually heating
the garage just enough, the pipes never hit freezing.
Now, we have new pipe heaters, and an electrical heater set for about 5C
back there. I'll be moving that heater to my 'new' (rebuilt) sunroom and
getting a bigger unit before this winter for the garage as that one was not
sized for the space (emergency fix, got biggest we could afford at the
The macabre part is the old huger freezer was less expensive on the
electrical bill than the combination of the electric heater and the new
energystar freezer. Aint that a kicker?
You have a very good point.
It is possible to buy an electrical resistance wire to wrap round
pipes that may freeze.
The idea being, OK you want to be comfortable in your home but, you
don't want to loose loads of heat through the floor that, has a high
A resistance wire with thermostat, set at say 35f will only warm up
the pipes when needed and only then to a minimum heat, therefore,
being as economic as possible.
Of course the correct pipe insulation at one inch thick or more, of
closed cell structure, will ensure that the heating will not be
required too often.
best choice closed cell foam. R6 or so per inch, unaffected by
any moisture in say fiberglassd makes it ineffective. closed cell foam
pro install but long term savings likely pay for itself
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