Crawl space encapsulation – also known as sealing – is a way of taking a damp, potentially moldy crawl space, and turning it into a dry, clean space. Effectively it involves putting a waterproof barrier around the outside of your crawl space to prevent dirt and moisture from entering your home. When you picture a crawl space, you often picture a dank, earth-covered space at the bottom of your home.
Post-encapsulation, this space will be free from dirt and mold and therefore will be a much more appealing space for you to use. Although crawl spaces aren’t designed to be livable spaces like basements – even if you do seal the space, you won’t be able to use it as an additional room in your house due to the low ceilings – encapsulating the crawl space has a number of benefits for your home.
Not only do these factors make your crawl space an unappealing space, but they can also have knock-on effects for the rest of your house. A damp crawl space can mean the following for your home as a whole:
All of these can:
quality of life
Damage your property
of your home
Your home’s insulation is only as strong as its weakest part, and the crawl space is often the place where moisture can easily enter your home.
If crawl space encapsulation is something you’re investigating for your home, then this guide is the best place to start. We’ll walk you through the overall costs, and then breakdown what’s involved so that you can see where the potential savings are.
For example, in some parts of the process, doing the work yourself is fairly straightforward, saving labor costs. This guide will show you all the ways in which you can be savvy in saving and spending money on encapsulating your crawl space.
THE OVERALL COST
Overall, you can expect to spend between $1,500 and $15,000 to install a full crawl space encapsulation system, including materials and labor. The average cost will likely be somewhere around $5,500 and is determined by factors such as materials, size of your crawl space, and its general accessibility.
The next section will break down all of the costs involved so that you will be able to work out where you can save money effectively, and how best to allocate your budget.
It’s sometimes possible for you to complete some of the work yourself, or to pay a professional to do it in stages. In that instance, you can use the breakdowns below to better plan out your project. The section ‘Completing the work yourself’ (below) also has material costs in case you wish to plan out projects without labor costs involved.
One of the most important steps in the process is to seal exterior vents and any air leaks – this will ensure that the crawl space is fully encapsulated. Vent covers are available in hardware stores or online for $15 to $22 each, and installing them is extremely simple.
The role of a sump pump is to remove any water that does manage to accumulate within the crawl space. Installing a sump pump will cost between $650 and $1,800, with an average cost of around $1,100. If you buy a submersible sump pump, then there may be additional labor involved to dig the pit in which it operates – this will place the installation costs at the higher end of the range.
If you have already had your crawl space encapsulated and need to have it repaired, it can be extremely expensive. To repair the insulation of the space can cost $300.
The overall cost of repairs to encapsulation systems can be between $1,500 and $15,000; which depends on the extent of the damage, as well as whether the moisture entering the crawl space has damaged other parts of your home (such as furniture, fixtures, and fittings).
In some cases, it’s possible to buy an ‘all-in’ package from a company that provides crawl space encapsulation. This is usually a preferable option if you have little or no experience or simply want a bottom line price. The table below gives an outline of the costs involved.
Cost Per Square Foot
$2 - $4
$1,500 - $4,000
$3 - $7
$3,000 - $8,000
$5 - $10
$5,000 - $15,000+
It is possible to perform some phases of the crawl space encapsulation process yourself. You can definitely cut costs going this route, but depending on your experience you may be sacrificing quality and effectiveness of the isntall.
If you’re going the DIY route, you will need only to pay for materials. The below costs are a breakdown of materials (i.e. what you would pay if you were to install and fit the materials without professional help).
An insulation board – along with a vapor barrier – is the most fundamental part of the encapsulation process. For a rigid, 2-inch thick foam insulation board, you can expect to pay $26 for a 4×8 foot sheet.
It is crucial that you use vapor bond tape to hold the barrier in place – regular duct tape will not be able to withstand the moisture involved, and will render the entire project pointless if it fails. For a 4-inch vapor bond tape, you will pay around $50 for a 180-foot long roll.
A sump pump is trickier to install without any prior experience. Since you need to make sure it is correctly installed, you should – if in doubt – use a professional. However, if you are able to install it yourself, you will pay between $60 and $170 for a pedestal unit, and $100 and $400 for a submersible unit.
The submersible unit will require you to also dig a hole in your crawl space in order to sink the pump. For a look at top sump pumps available, see our guide on Best Sump Pumps.
A dehumidifier is part of the ongoing arsenal of keeping a crawl space free from moisture. To buy a professional-grade dehumidifier (which you will need to do to ensure long-term dryness) will cost between $800 and $1,200.
Although it’s possible to complete a lot of the work yourself, there are likely to be some parts of the process that you simply cannot do yourself. Below is a breakdown of the costs involved if you were to hire a professional.
|Crawl space |
|$100 - $250|
|Drainage and |
|500 - $4,000|
|Foundation repair||$2,000 - $15,000|
|$1,000 - $3,000|
|$1,200 - $4,000|
|Sealing vents and |
|$150 - $450|
|$1,500 - $2,500|
Crawl spaces are, by definition, not usable spaces in your home. Unlike basements, which you can convert into TV rooms or recreation rooms, crawl spaces are too low to be spaces for your family to enjoy. That may make the idea of spending money on upkeep less tempting – particularly when you’re looking at a bill in the thousands.
However, as with so many aspects of home improvement, you need to consider the cost of not doing the work. A crawl space that is not encapsulated can leak, can fill with water, and can cause major structural damage to your home. If that does happen, a steep charge suddenly looks a lot less daunting.
If spending the money is still not an attractive prospect, then it is perhaps better to think of it as an investment. By encapsulating your crawl space, your home’s value will increase, as prospective owners will know that the property is safe for them to buy, and they won’t be stuck with moisture problems in the home.