Negatives to Crawl Space Encapsulation

We will frequently seek to get some solution to our crawl spaces. The moisture and added issues stem from the weather effects as well as the improper treatment. However, encapsulation itself, the most usual solution, can be troublesome. Here are the negatives to crawl space encapsulation.

Why you shouldn’t encapsulate your crawl space


Of course, despite there being benefits and even disadvantages, there are sometimes simply harmful effects of encapsulation. These aren’t numerous, but they are worth considering when working on the project.

It will change your HVACs functionality

As noted, we will usually have to upgrade our HVAC system when engaging in crawl space encapsulation. That means extra costs but also extra work. Some people may be unwilling or simply unable to provide extra work on the matter. In situations where HVAC was already oddly installed, this complication can get even worse leading to our entire operation being compromised.

Crawl space has large air holes

The main reason why you may consider not encapsulating your crawl space is its inopportune design. If the crawl space has way too many holes and places where the air can seep through, it’ll be quite difficult or even impossible to seal it.

In addition, with the constant influx of outside air, crawl spaces become far harder to maintain, and the entire benefit of insulating them is lost.

There’s often flooding

Areas with frequent flooding may run into considerable issues even if they encapsulate their crawl space. Intense amounts of water can make it, so even the smallest of entryways are turned into huge problems. Our crawl space will get quickly filled with water, and despite systems put in place to mitigate water, it will most likely fail to do so with all the flood water coming in. [1]

Negatives to crawl space encapsulation


While encapsulation has plentiful benefits, there are also drawbacks to consider. These drawbacks stem from the price and engagement required for the most part. First, we will delve somewhat deeper into them.

Cost of implementation

The encapsulation is a pricey process. It can easily cost thousands of dollars. Many extra costs will be coming our way, depending on the situation your crawl space may be in. Many factors can come into play, including the state of the terrain and ease of approach to your household.

Overall, prices can fluctuate for the encapsulation, but they’ll always be quite considerable. They start at 5,000 dollars and can ramp up to 30,000. Most people will find this an intense amount of money to use.

Maintenance required

The job isn’t done when the crawl space is encapsulated. We’ll be burdened with many worries we must consider when the job is done. Do take into account that this will require even more funds and time.

The dehumidifier, sump pump, properly installed vents, and cleaning are how we maintain the entire encapsulation working as intended. Generally, each form of maintenance should be done at least once or twice throughout the year, which requires extra time. [2]

May cause you to upgrade HVAC

The HVAC in our home is custom-made for the construction of our home. Altering it with encapsulation could mess the system up somewhat. This doesn’t mean HVAC won’t work, but it could lessen its overall efficiency.

Upgrading or changing our HVAC is possible, but it will require more work. This only adds to the stack of costs we’d amount through encapsulation. Due to hampering the functionality of other things in our home, this is the biggest drawback of changing our crawl space. [3]

Does crawl space encapsulation really work


With the price of encapsulation, we want to ensure it’s worth the price. So many will ask themselves whether the encapsulation works. The short answer is that it does. Our crawl space will be properly isolated and well-secured after the process is done.

Protects home from the outside air

The outside air can easily go through our crawl space and find its way inside our home from the bottom. By encapsulating our crawl space, the outside air entering our home will drop greatly. This is rather effective.

Encapsulating crawl space can protect your home

The whole crawl space allows allergens and toxins to accumulate easily. Due to their microscopic size, they can squeeze through into our homes. Through encapsulation, we reduce all of these negative elements.

Reduces chances of crawl space being damaged

During winter, your crawl space is exposed to cold wind and harsh cold. When summer comes, it’s not much better. Moisture will fill the area in the crawl space, which can damage it considerably. When we indulge in encapsulating the crawl space, we will be able to eliminate damage caused by this trait of crawl spaces. [4]

Do I need a dehumidifier in my encapsulated crawl space?


The key reason to get an encapsulated crawl space is so we can keep it dry. This dryness is meant to stop mold from forming. As long as you keep the area’s relative humidity at around 60%, the crawl space should be mold-free.

A dehumidifier is the simplest thing to employ if you want to lower the humidity level. A dehumidifier is great for regulating exceptionally humid crawl spaces. However, without a dehumidifier, lowering humidity becomes far more troublesome.

In conclusion, you don’t need a dehumidifier, but using it will reduce the time your encapsulation takes by quite a bit. That way, the remaining crawl space will be kept free of mold.

Is it ok to seal off a crawl space?

Sealing a crawl space is another step in the act of encapsulation. Actions taken to seal a crawl space off will vary depending on the process of encapsulation you end up going with. As it all progresses, we will see multiple required treatments to get everything properly sealed off. However, is it ok to do so? Let’s dive in and see.

Sealing the vents properly

As we go through the process of sealing the crawl space, we’ll get to the act of sealing the vents. Not all crawl spaces have these vents, but those that do should have theirs sealed, save for one. A single vent should be left open, which is where we will install a foundation vent fan.

The foundation vent fan is the best way to air out our crawl space, preventing the dangerous accumulation of toxins. Those without vents should instead look into a whisper fan. This way, we can air out our crawl space even without vents.

The mold should be resolved as soon as possible. There should be ample attention given to it. Avoiding the spread of mold and its impact is a smart way to go. Otherwise, we will end up with it spreading throughout the crawl space and potentially across our house.

Sealing the whole crawl space will go by fine if you follow these steps. However, you still have to ensure that everything is done properly. Bad sealing of the crawl space will compromise the entire act of encapsulation. In fact, doing a poor job renders most of it useless.

Negatives to crawl space encapsulation

The whole action of sealing your crawl space will have a knock-on effect on your home. Your HVAC systems will often be the ones to suffer the most. This system is meant to keep air circulation in mind, but it is optimized for the original construction of the household. Which means the newly sealed crawl space could impact it.

How long does crawl space encapsulation last?

The encapsulation of our crawl space is a lengthy and complex process. However, it has its lifespan. As expected, wear and tear are present even with the best quality materials. Usually, this installation will last around 15 to 20 years. In fact, employing professionals to do it will yield a warranty on that duration.

Maintenance required

At least once a year, you should employ a sump pump in your crawl space. This is because water can accumulate by leaking throughout the year. While a dehumidifier will slow down moisture spreading, it cannot fully resolve more serious amounts of water.

Your dehumidifier should also be consistently taken care of. First, unplug the unit and clean it. Make sure to take notice of the settings as well. On top of it all, we should check the water line for leaks.

Lastly, running the dehumidifier should be set to 50% when we are done cleaning it. Having it at a lower level won’t be good for the air quality and will wear out the dehumidifier faster.

With the discharge line, which will help you discharge the water, there’s another set of checks and maintenance to do:


  • The discharge line should be tested by pouring water into the sump pump pit while checking the discharge line itself.
  • The discharge line should drain out the water soon after, with a pop-up style drain. If that doesn’t work, make sure to remove the top of the drain to look for debris that may obstruct it.
  • Clear out the potential blockage and close it.

With these actions, you should have ample safety guaranteed for your crawl space and household.

Cons of crawl space encapsulation

No matter how well encapsulation is done, it won’t change the limits of your crawl space. The smaller amount of space it provides compared to a basement will keep it limited in use. Any form of storage we aim to achieve with it will require some extra work. While the negatives of the crawl space encapsulation aren’t many, the low amount of overall benefits compared to other options is usually the biggest con.

Dangers of crawl space encapsulation

There are a few dangers we can induce through our crawl space encapsulation. We will cover the most important ones.

Accumulates toxic gasses

If you have improper ventilation, you are bound to suffer from the accumulation of bad gasses in our crawl space. It’s rather easy to end up with an awful-smelling crawl space with a potentially negative impact on our health. If these gasses get into our homes, we could experience health issues. These could be subtle and light but nonetheless a danger imposed by encapsulation.

Make sure there’s a proper vent remaining for the gasses to escape. Depending on the area you live in, it could result in better control of moisture. [5]

Structural integrity could get compromised

The structural integrity of our household is important. A good encapsulation is important because it won’t impact the structural integrity. However, even a simple mistake in placing down barriers can cause problems.

These problems will most often manifest in the form of wooden supports rotting from moisture accumulating in the space left empty between the improperly installed barrier and the wall. The repairs that stem from this can be quite pricey, which is why this damage is so troublesome if it does happen.

How effective is crawl space encapsulation

Once we’ve considered all the details and negatives, we’d like to know the effectiveness of the process. After all, knowing how much our effort will mean in the long run is an important detail that shouldn’t be neglected.

Improvements in air quality

A well-done encapsulation can quickly improve the quality of air. Both in the crawl space and the household itself. There are quite a few gasses that can produce issues if they accumulate too much.

Properly dehumidifying and venting the crawl space through a special vent will quickly help. However, proper installation is key. If the encapsulation isn’t properly done, the air quality can worsen.

Enhancing your safety from moisture

Moisture is an extremely dangerous factor. Encapsulation aims to resolve it as much as possible. Unfortunately, the moisture has multiple side effects on our home. Whether it’s growing more mold, compromising structural integrity, or attracting pests, we will end up with a handful of issues.

Encapsulation seals off a lot of the potential source of moisture, and the dehumidifier installed into the crawl space can help quite a bit. On top of those, we will seal most vents to reduce the influx of moisture. However, this is a contentious topic. Depending on the location, vents can help or hamper moisture accumulation. However, it will often do as well. [6]


While the crawl space encapsulation is the easiest way to deal with issues present beneath our house, it can have its drawbacks. These usually come forward due to costs, commitment, and weird interactions with surrounding installations.

However, poor installation can impact them as well. Which is why we should pay attention to properly conduct the entire encapsulation process. Checking up on our encapsulated crawl space is also important. Reducing the overall negative aspects to encapsulation through effort.