We’ve just come out of one of the coldest winters we’ve had in a while here in east central Mississippi. Lowes, Marvins, and every hardware store in a 100-mile radius sold out of PVC pipe and glue. Everyone was slamming shut those crawl space vents, sticking work lights next to pipes, and running faucets at night, trying to keep pipes from freezing. We covered it, closed it off, and did everything we could to thwart Mother Nature. And I imagine that many of you got up on roofs and covered those attic turbines up too, trying to save a few cents on the power bill.
But, this is the South. We wear our humidity like a wet blanket and as everyone knows, spring lasts for about two days around here and then it’s just miserably hot. But it’s not just hot, it’s a wet hot, one that almost smothers you with the dampness. And if you keep those crawl space vents closed and those attic turbines covered, you’re going to find that your foundation and attic are going to rebel.
If you haven’t installed a contractor- or factory-designed ventilation system for your crawl space, your foundation will rot down around you. This is the South. Our foundations have to breathe. Go to any lakefront community that has houses built over the water. They never have problems because those houses have no skirting or anything around their foundation. Ducks swim in one side and out the other. But we want to cover our crawl spaces for our land-based houses. We skirt them in with pretty brick, vinyl, or decorative wood and don’t give one thought to airflow. We may toss in a vent here and there, but for the most part, we cover it up.
And as you can see from the pictures below, it’s a recipe for disaster!
Get those crawl space vents opened up! Get any debris that’s under your house out so that you’re not attracting termites or other wood destroying insects. Make sure there are no water leaks from loose toilets, and if your clothes dryer is venting under the house? You’re dumping about 10 pounds of water from every washer load under the house when those clothes dry out. Don’t believe me? Look at the picture below. That’s the steam that’s coming out of every load of wash that you dry. Get that dryer vent routed to the outside.
Your attic is the same way. Don’t pump the moisture from bathroom exhaust fans into the attic. Route that exhaust vent to the outside. Don’t dump the stove hood vent into the attic. It’s not only dumping moisture, but also oil into your attic space and that’s a fire hazard. Either purchase a stove hood that recirculates or route that stove vent to the roof and outside. Your attic has to breathe too, so add more soffit and ridge venting if you have to.
Remember, moisture is the enemy! It’s the breeding ground for mold and mildew, and these fungi actually digest the wood when they grow on it. By doing this routine maintenance now, you’ll save yourself a lot of headache and heartache down the road.