What Is Crawl Space Encapsulation?

What Is Crawl Space Encapsulation? Encapsulated crawl space? 

Maintaining a healthy crawl space is more than just a home improvement task; it's a crucial aspect of ensuring the overall well-being of your home and its occupants. But what exactly is crawl space encapsulation, and more importantly, why should it be on every homeowner's radar? At its core, encapsulation involves sealing the crawl space with a heavy-duty moisture barrier, effectively transforming this often-neglected area into a dry, clean, and energy-efficient space.

As we dive into the intricacies of crawl space encapsulation, including the "what" and "how" of transforming your home's foundation into a fortress against moisture and inefficiency, we'll explore the signs that indicate a need for encapsulation, the benefits it offers, and the specific materials used in the encapsulation process.


What is Crawl Space Encapsulation?

Crawl space encapsulation is a method used to protect your home from moisture-related issues by completely sealing the crawl space with a vapor barrier and other moisture control systems. This process differs significantly from simply laying down a moisture barrier on the ground; encapsulation involves covering the floor, walls, and sometimes even the ceiling of the crawl space with a thick, durable polyethylene barrier. The goal is to isolate the interior of the crawl space from the earth and outside air, which can carry moisture, thus creating a controlled environment that drastically reduces the humidity levels in the space.

The Evolution from Vapor Barriers to Full Encapsulation.

Traditionally, homeowners might have used basic vapor barriers—thin layers of plastic or foil placed over the ground—to manage moisture in crawl spaces. While this method can block some moisture from rising into the crawl space from the ground, it doesn't address airborne moisture or water intrusion through walls and openings. Full encapsulation takes moisture control a step further by sealing off all potential sources of moisture ingress, including vents and gaps, and often incorporates a dehumidifier to maintain optimal humidity levels.

Why Encapsulation Over Other Methods?

Choosing full encapsulation over simpler methods such as installing a vapor barrier alone comes down to the comprehensive protection it offers. By creating a completely sealed and controlled environment, encapsulation protects the structural integrity of your home, improves indoor air quality, and increases energy efficiency. This method is particularly beneficial for homes in areas with high humidity levels or those prone to water intrusion through the foundation.


What Is Basement Crawl Space Encapsulation

Encapsulating a basement crawl space, a variant of this process specifically targets the unique challenges presented by basements that are partially or fully below ground level. These areas are especially susceptible to moisture problems due to their proximity to the water table and the tendency for water to seep through foundation walls. It's essentially applying the same comprehensive sealing techniques used in crawl space encapsulation to these below-ground spaces, ensuring they remain dry, mold-free, and structurally sound.

Signs You Need Crawl Space Encapsulation

Recognizing the early signs that your crawl space needs encapsulation can save you from costly repairs and health issues down the line. Here are some indicators that your crawl space might require attention:

Musty Odors and Visible Mold

A telltale sign of excess moisture in your crawl space is the presence of musty odors or visible mold growth. These can indicate that your crawl space has become a breeding ground for mold and mildew, necessitating immediate action.

High Humidity Levels in Your Home

If you notice that the air inside your home feels unusually moist or that your windows frequently fog up, it could be a sign that humidity from the crawl space is affecting your indoor environment. This is particularly concerning during the warmer months when humidity levels naturally rise.

Pest Infestations

A damp crawl space can attract pests such as termites, ants, and rodents. These pests are not only a nuisance but can also cause damage to your home’s structure and potentially carry diseases.

Increased Energy Bills

An increase in your energy bills without a corresponding increase in usage can indicate that your crawl space is affecting your home’s energy efficiency. As mentioned earlier, moisture in the crawl space can make your heating and cooling systems work overtime, leading to higher energy costs.


The Crawl Space Encapsulation Process

Crawl space encapsulation is a detailed process that requires careful planning and execution to ensure that your crawl space is fully protected from moisture and its negative impacts. Here's a step-by-step overview of what the encapsulation process typically involves:

1. Inspection and Assessment

The first step is a thorough inspection of the crawl space to assess the current condition, identify any signs of moisture damage, and determine the best encapsulation strategy. This inspection should be conducted by professionals who can recognize subtle signs of moisture issues and structural damage.

2. Cleaning and Preparation

Before the encapsulation materials can be installed, the crawl space must be cleared of any debris, standing water, or existing mold. This may involve repairing any leaks or drainage issues to ensure that the space remains dry after encapsulation.

3. Repairing Existing Damage

Any damage found during the inspection, such as rotted wood or compromised insulation, must be repaired before encapsulating. This step is crucial to ensure the longevity and effectiveness of the encapsulation process.

4. Installing a Vapor Barrier

The heart of the encapsulation process is the installation of a heavy-duty vapor barrier. "What material is used to encapsulate a crawl space?" you might wonder. A thick, durable polyethylene sheeting is typically used, covering the floor, walls, and sometimes the ceiling of the crawl space. This barrier is meticulously sealed at all seams to prevent any moisture from entering the space.

5. Sealing Vents and Other Openings

All vents and other openings to the outside are sealed to prevent humid air from entering the crawl space. This step is essential to maintain a controlled environment within the encapsulated space.

6. Adding a Dehumidifier for Moisture Control

Even with a sealed crawl space, it's important to actively control the humidity levels to prevent any moisture that does enter from causing issues. A dehumidifier is installed to keep the air dry and ensure that the space remains protected from mold and mildew growth.


Spotlight on the Best Crawl Space Dehumidifier: AlorAir Sentinel HD35P

The AlorAir Sentinel HD35P stands as the premier choice for crawl space dehumidification, efficiently removing up to 70 pints of moisture daily, ensuring your space remains dry and healthy. Its GLGR technology guarantees precise humidity control, while the Energy Star certification promises energy efficiency. With a built-in pump and extensive drain hose, it offers flexible installation options for safeguarding your home against moisture.

Maintenance of an Encapsulated Crawl Space

After your crawl space has been encapsulated, minimal maintenance is required to keep the area dry and healthy. Regular inspections should be conducted to ensure the vapor barrier remains intact and the dehumidifier is functioning correctly. It's also important to replace or clean the dehumidifier's filter according to the manufacturer's recommendations to maintain its efficiency.


Crawl space encapsulation is a significant investment in your home's health and structural integrity. By creating a dry, controlled environment, encapsulation can prevent moisture-related issues, improve indoor air quality, and increase energy efficiency. Recognizing the signs that your crawl space may need encapsulation and understanding the process involved are the first steps toward protecting your home and enhancing your living environment.

As you consider this essential home improvement, remember that AlorAir offers a range of products designed to support crawl space encapsulation, including durable vapor barriers and efficient dehumidifiers. Our solutions are tailored to ensure that your crawl space remains a dry, healthy part of your home for years to come.

Take the Next Step Towards a Healthier Home with AlorAir

If you're noticing signs of moisture in your crawl space or simply want to take proactive steps to protect your home, visit AlorAir to explore our crawl space dehumidifiers, encapsulation kits, and other solutions. Let us help you create a healthier, more energy-efficient home from the ground up.