Leaks, dirt, dust, and mold all plague the infamous crawl space stereotype. In fact, the half basement terror even inspired a horror movie, but don’t let your crawl space turn into a place you avoid at all costs. A crawl space gives you a convenient place for storage. But if you want to use this area for storage, you won’t have much luck using a messy crawl space. Which means you first have to clean it up.

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Take these essential steps to get a cleaner, functional crawl space:

1. Get Your Crawl Space Checked By A Professional.

Before you try and take a sledge hammer to your basement floor, consider calling a professional. Their experience and expertise can go a long way when it comes to home improvement. To get the best game plan for your basement, talk to someone who has dealt with basements before. Most of the time companies offer consultations for free.

Do this step as soon as possible. Whether you have a new home or one with decades of wear and tear, you could end up with a few problems if you ignore your crawl space. Health concerns from poor air quality can lead to mold illness. Damages to your foundation can also arise from a mistreated crawl space.

2. Dirt Be Gone!

If your crawl space still has a dirt floor, you might want to think of covering it. Not only can the dirt spread everywhere else in your house, but it retains moisture more than other materials. And if a flood strikes, it’ll turn your crawl space into mud and cause all kinds of problems.

The solution? Install a rat slab. A rat slab is a 2- or 3-inch slab of concrete that contractors spread over the entire basement floor. The rat slab gives your crawl space a clean flooring. Once you have a clean flooring to your crawl space, you can
start using it for storage, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t need more storage? It also prevents rodents and groundwater invasion.

If you want a quicker fix, a vapor barrier might work better for you. Barriers cost less, and they minimize the moisture in your basement to help keep the air quality clean. A vapor barrier is a piece of plastic that you lay down to stop the moisture in the air that causes mold and mildew. This solution can last for years and will help reduce problems with air quality.

3. Drainage System Delight or Disaster?

If you want to avoid mold, you have to install a drainage system. Water can get through floor foundations, walls, or through other drain pipes. When it does, mold and mildew start to grow and your crawl space starts to stink.

You have several options if you need to install a drainage system. Sump Pumps don’t cost too much, they give you a simple option if you don’t want to deal with the complication of a gravity flowing drain. Interior drainage systems take the water from inside of your house to the outside of your house. Builders dig a hole into the concrete from the drain to the outside of your house. They place a pipe in the hole, then they cover it back up with concrete.

4. Prevent Pests.

No one wants to go down into their crawl space and find that a bunch of creepy critters have invaded their space. Rats and mice gravitate toward any supply of shelter and food. Keep open food out of your crawl space if you want to avoid the pests. Store food in durable containers to reduce risk of unwanted pests.

If you have a lot of plants that provide cover outside, they will burrow there. If your foundation has any cracks, mice might follow roots and moisture through the cracks and into your crawl space.

Always fix foundational cracks as soon as possible to avoid this.

5. Prepare for Problems.

Now that you have a functioning crawl space, don’t to maintain it-the issues and invaders may return. Schedule a time every othermonth to do a problem scan. Complications like leaks or foundational damage can happen, and you want to catch them as soon as possible. If you forget your crawl space, you risk health problems for your family and foundational problems in your home.

Also, if make sure you check often, you can keep it tidy and avoid a hoarding situation. While you check, look for any type of water leakage, rat bites or droppings, and anything that looks out of the ordinary. Upkeep in a basement is just as important as upkeep in the rest of the house.

Now that you have the tools to keep your crawl space under control, you can get started! Take the suggestions one step at a time. Never overwhelm yourself or take on more projects than you can handle. Plan your work and work your plan.