How to Safely Close A Crawl Space

The crawl space is a small area that gives the homeowner or repair technicians the ability to access utility lines, electrical wiring and plumbing. Typically of limited height and width, there are different perspectives on whether to leave these spaces open when access is not needed or to close them off for safety reasons.

If you do decide to close off your crawl space, here is a primer on how to do so safely.

The Best Time(s) to Close a Crawl Space
The first thing to know about closing off a crawl space is that it is generally advisable to do so during more extreme weather seasons when moisture or water may be able to get into these sensitive areas.

For example, if your winters are icy and snowy and your summers are humid and rainy, you would want to consider closing off your crawl space during these times of year.

Different Approaches to Safely Close a Crawl Space
How you close off your crawl space will depend in part on where it is located and what kind of opening you are dealing with.

Type 1: The Crawl Space with Adjustable Louvres
For example, some crawl spaces come with adjustable louvres that can be opened and closed as needed. If you need to really seal these off, you can insert a barrier plate right through the vent frame itself.

But before you make the decision to seal off your crawl space vents, be sure you have a way to de-humidify them to prevent mold and mildew from growing.

Type 2: The Open Crawl Space
If you don’t have easy adjustable louvres – or any louvres, another option is to simply put in a de-humidifier (also called a vapor retarder) to lower the damp and humidity in your crawl spaces.

Type 3: The Crawl Space with No Vents
The safety factor here in dealing with an unvented crawl space comes from ensuring the damp and humidity does not in time cause mildew and mold. So if you have a crawl space that is not vented, then your primary need is to de-humidify or temperature control your crawl space in some way.

This may include installing a de-humidifier, running pipes to connect your HVAC system to the crawl space, installing closable vents or simply sealing off your crawl space if you don’t anticipate needing access.

By understanding the purpose for leaving crawl spaces accessible and for closing them seasonally, you can make a decision about what to do with home and family safety foremost in mind. Since this can vary by geographic region, consulting local experts may be a good choice.