Should I Replace My Vapor Barrier?

Should I Replace My Vapor Barrier?

If your home has a vapor barrier – also called a moisture barrier – you may think that it is a one-and-done project; once installed, you never have to worry about it again. Unfortunately, vapor barriers in the greater Richmond, Williamsburg, and Newport News areas become damaged for a variety of reasons, and it’s important to know if the damage is significant enough to warrant a replacement.

First, A Little Bit About Vapor Barriers

Generally, a vapor barrier is a thick plastic sheet that is placed in your home’s crawlspace. The sheet covers the entire ground from the foundation walls to the center of the crawlspace, leaving no ground exposed.

The vapor barrier controls the humidity – and moisture – in your home’s crawlspace by placing a barrier between the ground and your home. In order for a vapor barrier to work properly, all ground must be covered, and it is generally recommended that seams are overlapped and secured together using a construction-grade tape or sealing system. It is also recommended that the plastic sheeting be run up the foundation walls to provide additional protection.

For most Eco Pest Control customers, we install a 100% reinforced 15-mil vapor and moisture barrier that is waterproof, anti-microbial, fire-retardant, and puncture resistant – and installed using an adhesive strip. The result is a clean, sanitary crawl space that no longer promotes mold, odors, pests, and rodent infestation and can even be used for storage purposes, ultimately promoting healthy air circulation and reducing overall humidity in the house.

How Do I Know if My Vapor Barrier Should Be Replaced?

Your home’s vapor barrier should last for many years, but there are times when it might need to be repaired or replaced. If your home has encountered one or more of these three issues, then you should call us to have your crawl space inspected.

  1. There is water in your crawl space. If you discover standing water in your crawl space, then you either have a plumbing issue or a drainage issue. Whichever it is, it needs to be fixed, as standing water creates a moisture-rich environment that can wreak havoc on your home. We can help find the source of the water and determine if the vapor barrier must be replaced.
  2. There is evidence that rodents and/or wildlife have been in your crawl space. Rodents and other wildlife, such as raccoons, can easily tear up the plastic sheeting that serves as your vapor barrier. That’s not all. They can also leave behind droppings and other contaminants. It is important to not only find and seal animal entrances, but also ensure they have all been removed from the crawl space before any repairs are made.
  3. There has been significant damage cause be people crawling around under your home. If you installed cable service, an alarm system, or a similar service since you outfitted your crawl space with a vapor barrier, then various contractors have likely been crawling around underneath your home. All of this activity can cause considerable damage to your vapor barrier.

An inspection of your vapor barrier will determine if simple repairs can resolve any problems you are experiencing or if the entire vapor barrier must be replaced. An inspection can determine the best course of action to get your home’s crawl space back in order.

Why Keep Your Crawl Space Healthy?

Very simply, crawl spaces that are damp or wet can cause all sorts of problems, including:

  • Attracting pests such as ants and termites,
  • Causing wood to rot,
  • Causing home insulation to become saturated with water, which impacts its ability to insulate your home, and
  • Fostering the growth of mold spores that are easily transferred throughout your home via your ducts.

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