Crawlspace Contractor Cost Savings
I don’t need to tell the crawlspace contractors that the business of crawlspace encapsulation and vapor barrier installation is becoming more and more competitive. Between pest control companies, speciaity companies, HVAC contractors, insulation companies, and mold and water remediators, profit margins have been cut to the bone. Reputable crawlspace contractors everywhere are trying to find materials and method that will give them a competitive edge by increasing efficiency and maximizing margins without sacrificing quality installations.
Add to the compitition and general economic climate the ever increasing and evolving installation standards, successful crawlspace contractors are always looking for methods and materials to lower cost, increase efficiency, and provide a high quality installation.
All of the installation standards from the experts like the DOE (http://www.ornl.gov/sci/buildingsfoundations/handbook/section3-1.shtml), EPA (http://www.epa.gov/iaplus01/technical/moisture/1_2.html), Advanced Energy (http://www.crawlspaces.org/), Saturn Resource Management (http://blog.srmi.biz/fixing-wet-crawl-spaces/), and the individual state energy offices agree that when installing a simple vapor barrier or doing a full encapsulation, the seams need to be sealed and the vapor barrier needs to be firmly attached and sealed to the wall. The DOE standard vapor barrier standard states, “A continuous vapor retarding ground cover or vapor barrier shall be installed in all enclosed, accessible crawlspaces beneath conditioned space to prevent the diffusion of soil moisture into the dwelling or building materials.” The standard specifies that the vapor barrier be at least 6 mils thick, non-translucent, extend up the walls and piers a minimum of six inches, and be firmly attached and sealed to the perimeter walls and piers.
Attaching the vapor barrier to the wall has always been problematic and labor intensive. At Your Crawlspace, Inc., a pioneer in southeastern crawlspace methods and materials, our biggest challenge was finding a way to attach and seal the vapor barrier to the foundation wall efficiently and effectively. Over the past ten years we tried a wide variety of adhesives and caulks in combination with furring strips, concrete nails, Hilti guns, Ramset nailers, Tapcon screws, and plastic anchors pressed into pre-drilled holes. All were successful to varying degrees but all were extremely time consuming, adding hours (sometimes days) to a typical installation. Furthermore, some of the techniques actually damaged a concrete block foundation.
So we decided to “think outside the box.” Instead of looking for a different fastener or adhesive or caulk, Your Crawlspace looked at the vapor barrier itself and asked how it could be re-engineered for a simple, effective, and efficient installation. After four years of experimentation and testing, the patented the Crawl Curtain was developed. It is a Class I vapor barrier that can be attached to any foundation wall in a single simple step. The material was tested in-house and was field tested in several of the DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s test houses (
http://info.ornl.gov/sites/publications/files/Pub33059.pdf), in numerous Habitat for Humanity’s (http://www.ourtownshabitat.org/) System Vision houses, and in hundreds of private residences.
The Crawl Curtain is 9 mils thick, flexible enough to follow the contours and irregularities of a foundation wall, but strong enough to last the life of the home. Our customers in Maine love the ease of installation on field stone foundation walls. The Crawl Curtain is a polyethylene coated polypropylene and polyester fabric. It is a true Class I vapor barrier.
The Crawl Curtain is installed using a low VOC adhesive so it is safe for installation contractors, homeowners, and their families. Since the adhesive is low VOC, it only off-gasses only harmless CO2.
Since no additional mechanical fasteners are necessary, it will not damage the foundation wall. And since water is a catalyst for polyurethane to cure, it will adhere to any foundation wall, even a water saturated wall. It is the ideal adhesive for a potentially damp crawlspace. And the bond is so strong it will support the weight of a concrete block!
Most importantly, the Crawl Curtain will cut hours from a typical crawlspace installation. Using the Crawl Curtain, attaching a vapor barrier and sealing the foundation wall and piers, a process that once took two men one or two days, can be accomplished in just a few hours. And the hours saved translate directly to a greater margin for the crawlspace contractor. In this economy, contractors who do the job right need any competitive advantage they can find.