Crawl Space Insulation: The Opportunity Down Below
Afraid of Crawl Space Insulation Projects? Don’t Be!
Grow your expertise on crawl space insulation, vapor barriers, air quality, and dehumidifiers for crawl spaces, and see how these capabilities could grow your business and bottom line.
Why Crawl Spaces?
If you’ve ever had a crawl space or have been in one, what are some of the words you would use to describe it? What a great question to ask a homeowner!
A large number of homeowners are afraid of their crawl spaces. I’m sure some of you might even have some war stories of your own. Looking at a few of them on the job, it may seem tempting to avoid them, but many contractors are making great margins and ROI by focusing their work on them. Why? Because the vast majority of homeowners avoid their crawl spaces, and when they do find a problem under the home, most will gladly pay someone else to address it!
My Horror Story
My first real problem came in 1998, when a family of raccoons moved in and had babies in the side of our fiberglass tub enclosure.
They would cry and claw the sides of the tub starting around 2:00AM. Even worse, I didn’t know that the racoons were nothing compared to the mold down there that had set off my daughter’s asthma. We were living on top of a spore factory, and everyone in the home kept getting sick. So, was ours done differently than others? Were we the only ones suffering from issues related to our crawl space? Actually, we weren’t the only sufferers …
So Why Should Insulators Look for More Crawl Space Work?
- There are 26 million homes with crawl spaces and 250,000 more being built every year
- Rarely any of these are maintained and many were made with old materials
- Most are only inspected during real estate transactions, which means thousands are left unattended for years to grow mold and spores and play host to pests
As an insulator, you can evaluate these crawl spaces and install new, long-lasting barriers. If you’re called to work on other areas of a home, use that as an opportunity to educate your clients on their crawl space and potential issues like moisture, radon, mold, and pests. Be the hero homeowners didn’t know they needed, and help them keep their family safe and healthy — plus, earn more work in the same home!
Find out which barriers and equipment you should be installing other than insulation. And keep your jobs free of bugs, water, and debris. Endure fewer callbacks and wasted time and materials, and instead land more referrals and more work.
Crawl Space Insulation Changes & Where You Come In
Crawl spaces worked well years ago when floors weren’t insulated and were made from natural materials that allow vapor to pass through.
But, as codes, buildings and materials changed, crawl spaces became worse … that is until people started fixing them. Building Science Corp did a great article on this.
Help insulators go from torn up mess:
To long-lasting success:
Healthy, High-Performing Homes Start With Taking Care of the Crawl Space
Most homeowners are unqualified and want nothing to do with getting under there to fix a problem. In another post, Dr Joe says to treat crawl spaces like “mini-basements” unless you are in a flood area. There is a lot of building science one must consider when fixing crawl spaces.
Since this blog is focused on the opportunity, I would suggest reading both articles linked above regarding the science behind crawl space issues. As you read them, the one thing I would add is, many people do not want to directly connect the air in their home to the air in their crawl space. This can be addressed by using a dehumidifier (read on to see why).
Indoor Air Quality Concerns and Crawl Spaces
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is quickly becoming one of the biggest contracting markets for insulators and home builders. The market is expected to be around $11.4 billion this year and continuing to grow.
The residential portion is projected to move into the top position at 29% of the market. As people spend more time indoors, IAQ has increasingly greater impacts on their health. Relate that back to the many issues crawl spaces have, and we have a lot of places inside the home that need to be fixed.
As air in the home rises (stack effect), air leaving at the top of the structure is replaced by air drawn in at the base of the structure. Add an unhealthy crawl space to the mix and you can have big IAQ problems.
Crawl Space Insulation Solutions By Type
1. For most crawl spaces:
- Install a high-quality insulation vapor barrier liner onto the floor of the crawl space. Make sure to choose one that doesn’t break down from pests and debris (watch this video to learn more about the vapor liners we trust to get the job done)
- Create a slope to a drain (usually the sump pump)
- Test for radon (use our informative video to see how)
- Close off all outside ventilation
- Insulate the walls
- Dehumidify the space with an easy-to-use dehumidifier (get more information on dehumidifier use and installation in our video)
2. In a flood zone or dry, warm area:
- Install a high-quality insulation vapor barrier liner on the floor of the crawl space. Make sure to choose one that doesn’t break down (watch this video to learn more about the vapor liners we trust to get the job done)
- Insulate the floor including the rafters
- Ensure the space has great ventilation to the outside
Yes, there are other ways to do this, but they get more complicated and involve more science and construction expertise, as well as connections to the living space.
The point is, there is a lot of opportunity to improve crawl spaces by making them conditioned spaces that your customers are proud of, safe from, and no longer afraid of. They might even show them off to their friends!
Grow Your Expertise & Earn More Work
The key is to keep these spaces conditioned, dry and free of soil gasses. Be sure to watch our videos on dehumidification, radon testing, and crawl space liners — and make sure your crew does, too. The more you know, the more you can teach your customers. And, the more they know, the more likely they are to have you fix it!
What should you do next?
- Attend one of our crawl space classes, and find out how to get certified to perform these jobs through either Reets Drying Academy or the North Carolina Building Performance Association. Trust me, it’s easier and quicker than you think!
- Reach out to your local IDI for more information on certifications you may need, crawl spaces, crawl space dehumidifier insulation products, and resources on the science behind them.
If you have homes with crawl spaces in your area, we hope you consider this opportunity. At IDI, our goal is to help you grow your business — and crawl spaces might just be a great way to add higher-margin work to your business.
Let our team be your resource and help you get your certifications and the products you need. Get started now, and soon you’ll be the go-to contractor for homeowners who lean on you for whole-home insulation projects — including crawl spaces!
If there are other subjects, products, or questions you have about our industry, reach out to your local branch, or any of us here at IDI’s corporate office. We look forward to earning your business every day.
Helpful Videos Mentioned:
- Tips on how to choose the right insulation vapor barrier to line your crawl space
- Learn how to become certified to test radon in a home with this video — you’ll be surprised to see how quick and easy it is!
- Installing and maintaining dehumidifiers in a home’s crawl space
By: Ken Allison, Director of Business Development
Ken specializes in business development and building science. You can find him at any of our training events around the country helping local contractors grow their business. Contact your local rep about the next training event near you to hear Ken’s advice first-hand.