LESLIE: Now we’ve got Ann in North Carolina on the line who’s dealing with a wet crawlspace. Tell us what’s going on there.
ANN: Hey. I have a question about my house. It was built a long time ago and of course, back then they didn’t put a house off the ground. And it’s very low. And I’m just wondering how I can protect it from dampness and rot. I don’t have a lot of money to work with and I’ve heard a few things but I’m really not sure of what I can do.
TOM: OK. So right now, you’re on a crawlspace and the crawlspace, is it accessible? Can you get in there?
ANN: Through one small door.
TOM: OK, fine. It’s not a pleasant project but it is a project that you can do yourself, Ann.
So, a couple of things. First of all, you want to take steps to reduce the amount of moisture that collects at the outside of the foundation. You do that by making sure you have gutters, the gutters are clean and free-flowing and dumping water at least 4 to 6 feet from the foundation. That’s the most – single most important thing to do is a good gutter system.
Second to that is to make sure the soil around the house slopes away. You don’t want soil that’s settled and is very flat and holds water against the foundation; you want it to slope away. So you could have some clean fill dirt delivered very inexpensive. Basically just carry – pay for the truck to carry it out there. And then grade that to slope away from the walls on all four sides. Over the fill dirt, you could put some top soil and some seed or stone or whatever you want to do to control erosion.
Then the third thing you do is go in that crawlspace and cover all of the open soil with plastic. Get some large rolls of sheet plastic with as few seams as possible. Cover all of the soil with plastic. That stops a lot of the moisture from evaporating up into the air.
And those three things together will make a big difference.
ANN: Do I need a certain thickness?
TOM: The thicker the plastic the better, because it just – it’s easier to put down. You end up having to crawl on it and you won’t poke through.
ANN: Oh, OK. And does it need to be anchored in any way?
TOM: Nope. You can lay it right over the soil.
ANN: Really? I like that; don’t like the crawl part.
TOM: Yep. OK. Alright.
ANN: It’s just ugh, scary under there.
TOM: Yeah, it’s a little – like I said, it’s not the most pleasant job but it’s not hard and you can do it yourself. Get a really good friend to keep you company and do it together.
LESLIE: One who likes squishing bugs and giving you support.
ANN: OK. I appreciate it. That answers my question.
TOM: Good luck, Ann. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.