Crawl space encapsulation is an involved process that costs at least $5,000. However, encapsulation doesn’t make the crawl space immune to damage such as floods or storms. Thus, purchasing an insurance policy covering the crawl space encapsulation system is the best way to reduce financial risks.
This guide will take you through the different encapsulation areas and whether insurance covers them. It’ll also cover crawl space waterproofing to keep the areas free from water and prevent the hassles of convincing your insurance company to cover the damages.
So, let’s get started!
Does Homeowner’s Insurance Typically Cover Crawl Space Encapsulation?
Unfortunately, standard homeowners’ insurance doesn’t cover crawl space encapsulation. However, if you purchased an insurance policy that covers unforeseen situations like leaks and floods, the insurance may cover specific encapsulation repairs. Therefore, you need to know these particular cases.
Crawl Space Encapsulation Insurance
You may experience several issues in crawl spaces, some of which standard homeowners’ insurance covers. However, insurance will not cover matters related to the insurance holder’s negligence.
Some of the problems you can expect to arise after crawl space encapsulation are:
- Slow water leak
- Foundation water flooding
- High humidity
- Mold and rot
- Structural problems
Let’s look at these issues and whether homeowners’ insurance covers them.
Water Damage Insurance in an Encapsulated Crawl Space
Crawl space encapsulation doesn’t prevent water from entering area. According to the California Energy Commission 2008 Residential Compliance Manual, encapsulation prevents moisture entry into the crawl space and your living area.
While this is effective in most cases, some extreme weather conditions can cause problems. For example, if there is a hurricane or severe storm, the water table could rise and flood your crawl space.
Insurance companies are specific about what they cover regarding water damage in the crawl space.
Most companies don’t cover the following:
- Slow water leaks
- Foundation water flooding
- High humidity levels
These are all things that it would be best to repair before crawl space encapsulation.
However, accidental pipe bursts that lead to water accumulation in your encapsulated crawl space are a valid insurance claim. Most home insurance companies consider this water damage and will cover the repairs.
Moreover, if you live in a flood-prone zone, the insurance should cover damages that may arise from flooding in your area. In this case, the insurance will cover repairs to get your encapsulated crawl space to its pre-loss period.
It’s worth noting that most homeowners’ insurance companies prefer cheap vendors to repair damaged properties. Thus, it’s no guarantee that the company will contract your previous crawl space encapsulation contractor for the repairs.
Instead, the company will hire a vendor who can work within its budget. No matter the case, your concern is to get your crawl space restored to its previous state.
Mold and Rot Insurance in an Encapsulated Crawl Space
Another problem you may face with crawl space encapsulation is mold and rot. According to the Building Science Corporation, high humidity levels or leaks that have gone undetected are the critical impetus for mold growth.
If left untreated, mold and rot can cause severe structural problems including:
- Buckling floors
- Sagging ceilings
- Wet insulation
- Moldy wood
You expect the humidity level will be considerably low after crawl space encapsulation. This lower moisture level is because the encapsulating layer prevents moisture from entering the area. However, there are some cases where the humidity level can still be high.
For example, the temperature difference between your crawl space and the outside air will cause condensation if you live in a hot and humid climate. This condensation can build moisture and, eventually, mold and rot.
You may also experience unforeseen damages that can lead to high humidity and water in the crawl space. For instance, pipe damage and water flooding can happen unexpectedly and cause the same problems.
Most home insurance companies do not cover mold and rot. The reason why they don’t cover these damages is that they consider them preventable. Most companies will only cover these damages if they result from an accident or natural disaster that was out of your control.
The company will argue that you should have called them earlier before the mold growth that caused rotting in the crawl space.
You may not notice when mold starts growing due to the little time it takes to grow. According to FEMA, mold takes 24-48 hours to grow on damp surfaces. Therefore, proving to the insurance company that your negligence did not cause mold growth in your crawl space can be challenging.
The best way to deal with this is to take pictures and videos of the damages as soon as you notice them. This record will be helpful evidence when making an insurance claim.
Moreover, you should get a written report from a certified mold inspector or remediation company. The information should include the mold type, the damage’s extent, and recommendations for remediation. This report will help to strengthen your case when making an insurance claim for mold damage in your crawl space.
Expert Tip: You should consult your insurance company to determine if they cover mold in encapsulated crawl spaces. This research will help you to know what to expect in case of any damages.
Vermin Damage Insurance in an Encapsulated Crawl Space
Vermin damage entails any damage caused by animals like:
The list goes on and on. These pests can cause a lot of damage to your encapsulated crawl space.
For example, they can:
- Chew through wires and insulation
- Make holes in the walls and floors
- Leave their droppings everywhere
It’s upon the insurance company to decide whether to cover vermin damage or not. However, Bankrate states that most home insurance companies don’t cover vermin damage as they consider it preventable.
An insurance company may only cover vermin damage in a situation whereby a rodent chews your water pipe and causes a flood.
In this scenario, the company considers the rodent an object that doesn’t live in your home. Moreover, standard homeowners’ insurance covers water damage from damaged pipes.
The stress of having a damaged encapsulated crawl space, and the insurance company denying your claim can be unbearable. Therefore, you should err on the “prevention is better than cure” side and prevent vermin from your encapsulated crawl space.
Some pest prevention methods include:
- Keeping food sealed and stored away – exposed food attracts rats and other rodents, which can chew your encapsulation.
- Eliminating moisture – most animals are attracted to moist environments. Therefore, you should ensure that your crawl space is dry to prevent mold and mildew growth. This process will also help in preventing other insects like cockroaches and bees.
- Sealing all cracks and holes – these provide an entry point for animals into your home. Once these animals enter your house, they will settle in the crawl space since it’s mostly dark.
- Using traps – this measure will help eliminate the animals that have already found their way into your encapsulated crawl space.
Waterproofing Your Crawl Space To Prevent Insurance Claims
Waterproofing your crawl space is essential, especially if you live in a flood-prone area.
This preventative measure will stop water from entering the crawl space and causing damage. Consequently, this will eliminate the hassle of getting your insurance company to cover unnecessary repairs like mold growth and floods.
Some of the best ways to waterproof your crawl space include:
Sealing Vents and Windows
Vents are among the factors that allow humidity and water into your crawl space. The moisture then causes wood rot, mold growth, and insect infestation. Therefore, you should ensure that all vents in your crawl space are correctly sealed.
You can do this by caulking or installing a vent cover over the opening, which will help prevent water and pests from entering the space while allowing air to circulate.
You can also close the vents if they are louvered.
Installing a Sump Pump
A sump pump is essential in preventing water from accumulating in your crawl space. It does this by pumping the water out of the crawl space through a drainage system. Consequently, this helps keep the area dry and free of mold and mildew.
You should install a sump pump before encapsulating your crawl space because it’s easier to access and install.
It’s also advisable to install a battery-operated backup sump pump in case of a power outage. This backup will help ensure your crawl space stays dry even without electricity.
Applying a Waterproof Membrane to the Walls and Floor
Another way to waterproof your crawl space is by applying a waterproof membrane to the walls and floor. This method helps prevent water from seeping through the foundation and causing damage.
There are various types of waterproof membranes you can use, including:
- Polyethylene sheeting – this waterproofing is a heavy-duty plastic sheet placed over the foundation walls and floor. You then hold it in place with soil, gravel, or concrete.
- Spray-on waterproofing – this method involves applying a waterproof coating to the foundation walls and floor. The layer forms a barrier that prevents water from seeping through and damaging your crawl space.
Applying a waterproof membrane is usually done before crawl space encapsulation. However, you can also do it after the process.
Installing a French Drain
A French drain is a drainage system installed around your foundation’s perimeter. It helps to collect water that seeps through the foundation and redirects it away from your home. This crawl space encapsulation system keeps your crawl space dry and free of water damage.
When installing the French drain, make sure it’s sloped so the water flows away from your house. Energy Star recommends descending the surface by at least five feet (1.5 meters). Also, ensure that the drain is covered with gravel to prevent soil erosion.
Crawl Space Encapsulation Tips
Now that you know what insurance companies cover in encapsulated crawl spaces, here are some tips to help you do it right:
- Avoid standing water – water is one of the leading causes of crawl space problems. Therefore, you should ensure that there’s no standing water in the space, as it can cause mold.
- Clean and clear the space – before crawl space encapsulation, ensure it’s clean and clear—which will help you to identify any areas that need repairs.
- Seal cracks and gaps – cracks and crevices allow water and pests into your crawl space. Therefore, you should seal them before crawl space encapsulation.
- Install a vapor barrier – a vapor barrier helps prevent moisture from entering your crawl space. It also prevents mold growth and wood rot.
- Ensure adequate ventilation – proper ventilation is essential for preventing mold growth. Therefore, you should ensure that the space is well-ventilated before crawl space encapsulation.
An insurance company may cover damages to your encapsulated crawl space due to an accident or natural disaster. However, they’re likely to deny your claim if they believe you caused the damage by negligence on your part.
Thus, it would be best to seal off vents, windows, cracks, and holes in your encapsulated crawl space to be on the safe side with your home insurance provider.
- ScienceDirect: Moisture Safe and Mold Free Crawl Spaces: State-of-the-art Design of Full-Scale Experiment
- Penn State Cite Seer X: California Energy Commission 2008 Residential Compliance Manual – Building Envelope Requirements – Vapor Barriers and Moisture Protection
- Penn State Cite Seer X: Mold: Causes, Health Effects, and Clean-Up
- FEMA: Dealing With Mold and Mildew in Your Flood-Damaged Home
- Bankrate: Does Home Insurance Cover Rat Damage?
- Energy Star: Technology Fact Sheet – Crawl Space Encapsulation Insulation
- My Back Yard Life: Is Crawl Space Encapsulation Covered by Insurance?
- Crawl Space Encapsulation Door Systems: Flood Insurance – What Is Covered?