Crawl Space: Encapsulation vs. Vapor Barrier

October 25, 2019

The key to maintaining the structural integrity of your home and the health of your family is to reduce moisture buildup in your crawl space. There are two ways to tackle water and moisture issues beneath your home. If you are considering the difference between encapsulation vs. vapor barrier, and which one is better for you, it is best to understand what they are and how they differ.

Crawl Space Encapsulation in Charleston, SC

When you want to seal your crawl space against moisture and water, encapsulation is a process where it is wrapped entirely in white plastic. When you choose to encapsulate your crawl space, it is a highly involved process that requires the installation of a dehumidifier and a sump pump. Encapsulating your crawl space helps to reduce moisture and any resulting mildew and mold. It is also a highly viable option to increase the air quality in both your crawl space and your home. And if you choose to have your crawl space encapsulated, it can be used as storage, since it will be completely clean and moisture free.

Facts About the Encapsulation Process

  • All the junctions, seams, and vents in your crawlspace are entirely sealed
  • Encapsulating your crawl space results in the ground under your home being 100% sealed in white plastic
  • Encapsulating your crawl space typically involves insulated band joists and insulated foundation walls
  • To have your crawl space encapsulated, you are required to have an additional mode of air conditioning that includes a dehumidifier, an air supply from your HVAC system, or an exhaust fan

Benefits of Encapsulation

There are many benefits to having your crawl space encapsulated. One of the most significant benefits is that it increases the air quality in your home. Encapsulating your crawl space can help to reduce allergens, mold, mildew, and insects. When you encapsulate your home, you also reduce humidity, which means that your HVAC system has to work less to maintain a constant temperature. This results in lower energy costs and increasing the lifespan of your HVAC units. According to Advanced Energy studies, encapsulating your home can help to reduce your heating and cooling costs by as much as 20%. And since it reduces moisture, having your crawl space encapsulated can help to eliminate mold growth.


Vapor Barrier

A vapor barrier installation involves covering the crawl space floor of your home with a 6mm black plastic cover. The process does not include sealing any vents. Therefore, you are not required to install a dehumidifier or a sump pump. However, sometimes installing a sump pump might be warranted with a vapor barrier depending on the situation within your crawl space.

Facts About Vapor Barriers

  • A vapor barrier uses black 6mm plastic to cover the length of your crawl space according to building code requirements
  • Vapor barrier vs. encapsulation is about a quarter of the cost
  • A vapor barrier does not require the installation of a dehumidifier or a sump pump

Benefits of a Vapor Barrier in Charleston, SC

When you install a vapor barrier, you get the same benefits that you do with encapsulation, except additional storage space. You might still be able to store things in your crawl space, but the process does not make it as “clean” as the encapsulation process does. Vapor barriers save you money in energy costs and help to reduce the risk of mold and mildew growth. And it comes with lesser investment.

Which is Right for you?

To protect the structural and environmental integrity of your home, keeping your crawl space moisture free is a must. Both encapsulation and vapor barrier are an excellent way to reduce the risk of mold and enhance the lifespan of your HVAC. The major difference is in cost; having your crawl space encapsulation is about three times more expensive than a vapor barrier.

Contact Carney & Son, the clear choice for expert crawl space issues today to discuss which method is best for you.

Carney & Son Air Conditioning and Heating

Carney & Son, 72 Degrees

We are a family Owned & Operated HVAC Services in Charleston, SC, proudly serving the Charleston community for 39 years.

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