Q. We recently brought out our patio cushions that we stored in the crawl space over the winter only to find everything damp and musty smelling. Is there something we can do so we can use our crawl space to store our seasonal items such as patio furniture, summer toys and Christmas decorations?
A. Crawl spaces were actually not designed for storage or living space, but rather an area for electrical, plumbing and heating. If you would like to store items in the crawl space there are some modifications that you should make such as applying a moisture barrier and installing adequate ventilation. Musty odours and white powder substance appearing on the concrete indicates high levels of moisture that need to be addressed first.
If you have a dirt floor in the crawl space, cover the floor with 6-mil polyurethane moisture barrier and seal with acoustic adhesive. New homes have a rough towelled concrete skin coat over the polyethylene giving a firm hard surface. In either case, before any storage is put in place you need to lay strips of lumber down on the surface to allow air movement underneath and eliminating any direct contact with the floor surface.
Make sure that the crawl space is adequately ventilated in the spring but make sure these vents are closed and well sealed in the winter. Also, consider installing a humidity control system to move the moist air outside, go to www.humidex.ca for more information on these units. You can contact the HouseSmart Referral office directly for a company that specializes in Basement and Crawl Space moisture issues at 604-542-2236 or 1.888.266.8806.