If you have a crawl space in your home, you probably use it as storage for all sorts of household items, such as pictures, rarely used clothing, old paperwork, etc. If you’ve got precious items in there, you need to make sure the space is as warm, dry, and clean as possible so that the items are kept safe.
Dampness is a major danger in storage spaces, so a lot of people look to dehumidify them. This also protects the crawl space itself, making sure that no mold forms within the space. However, you might be wondering whether you can get the humidity too low, and what dangers this poses. Can a crawl space be too dry?
Can a crawl space humidity be too low? A crawl space can be too dry, and this may cause a variety of problems. You may find that dry rot starts to form in the crawl space. You might also suffer from nosebleeds, especially if the rest of your home is dry too. Some kinds of viruses and bacteria need dry conditions to flourish, so you may get sick more often.
What Happens If Your Crawl Space is Too Dry?
If your crawl space is too dry, you might notice quite a few different issues. Some will affect you directly, and some will affect the crawl space and other aspects of your home. Dry rot is probably one of the biggest problems that you might encounter, and it’s a serious danger to your whole home.
Dry rot, as the name suggests, occurs in dry conditions. Several types of fungi are referred to as dry rot, and these fungi attack wood. They eat the parts of the wood that increase its structure and strength, which can obviously cause major problems in your home.
If the dry rot eats the wood in your crawl space and gets into other parts of your home, it will do serious structural damage and could make your home unsafe. It will compromise wooden beams, supports, etc., so it needs to be avoided at all costs.
It only thrives in fairly dry conditions, although it needs some moisture to be present in the wood. If the wood’s moisture level is over 20 percent, it is vulnerable to dry rot, especially if the relative humidity level is low. Be cautious about your humidity.
What Other Problems Can a Dry Crawl Space Cause?
A really dry crawl space can lead to other issues too. Some kinds of viruses and bacteria flourish in these spaces, and this could lead to you getting sick more frequently and more easily. Lack of moisture in the wood can also compromise its strength, and this could cause structural damage.
Wood that has less than 5 percent humidity tends to shrink, and this causes it to weaken. This decreases the structural strength of your home, so it can be very serious, and possibly even dangerous. If your crawl space is too dry, the rest of your home may be too dry as well, and this needs addressing.
It’s thought that between 40 and 50 percent of the air in your main home comes from the crawl space, so issues within the crawl space will spread to the household quickly. You may find that wooden structures in the rest of the home shrink and warp, and you also might find that you get ill regularly.
Some people also notice that very low humidity levels lead to nosebleeds, nasal discomfort, and skin problems, so it’s really important to be aware of this and take steps to address humidity issues in the crawl space if necessary.
How Humid Should a Crawl Space Be?
Obviously, you don’t want your crawl space to be wet, as this will also cause mold issues and structural problems, as well as spreading fungal spores through your home and potentially making you sick. You therefore want your crawl space to be balanced, and its humidity should be between 45 and 55 percent.
You may want to get a hygrometer so you can measure this regularly, and make corrections if the level is climbing or falling. It is likely to fluctuate from season to season, but it should not be significantly lower or higher than this, or you’ll start to find issues occurring within both the crawl space and your main home.
What Should You Do About Low Humidity in a Crawl Space?
Low humidity in your crawl space can be harder to tackle than high humidity, although it’s a rarer problem. You can install a humidifier in the space and run it whenever the hygrometer shows that the humidity levels are too low. You can also check the humidity in your main home and see whether there is a problem here.
Good air circulation may help too, so consider using a fan to push air through the crawl space. This will minimize the appearance of mold, which likes undisturbed air.
Often, correcting issues in the main home will correct dryness in your crawl space. However, if this doesn’t work, you might want to get in some experts to assess the space and determine what’s going wrong and why. They may be able to recommend further steps you can take to slightly increase the humidity without making the space too wet.
If you are going to use a humidifier, make sure you are closely monitoring the humidity levels. If you increase them too much, you will risk many other problems, including rot and mold, bacterial infections, and insect infestations.
Insects such as dust mites breed in damp conditions (as they need moisture to drink), so adding too much humidity to your crawl space could make it hospitable to all kinds of different pests. You need to keep the humidity level balanced, and a good company should be able to offer you advice on how to do this.
A crawl space can be too dry, although this is not a particularly common problem. You should use a hygrometer to measure the humidity in your crawl space and make sure it stays around 45 to 55 percent throughout the year. If it drops or rises significantly, you will need to take action to rectify this and rebalance the humidity.