There are two main categories of crawl space waterproofing systems, each of which works in a different way to do the same thing for your home—protecting your belongings and foundation from water damage. However, since each type of waterproofing system carries a set of distinctive benefits and drawbacks, understanding the differences between each type is essential to figuring out the solution that is the best fit for your home's situation.
Crawl Space Encapsulation
Crawl space encapsulation is the process of laying down a heavy-duty, waterproof layer throughout your crawl space. Most of the time, the liner is combined with either a series of drains, a sump pump, or both to ensure that any water that does enter your crawl space is quickly removed. The liner means that you can safely store items in your crawl space without worrying about damage, while the drains and pump ensure that water and moisture will be unable to damage your home's foundation.
The largest downside associated with crawl space encapsulation is the cost of having the liner installed. While the cost will ultimately depend on the type of material that you use as well as the size of your crawl space, crawl space encapsulation is not the ideal choice for homeowners with tight budgets.
Crawl Space Ventilation
As its name would suggest, crawl space ventilation is a type of waterproofing solution that makes use of constant air flow to remove humidity and moisture from your crawl space, preventing water-related damage from occurring. There are several different ways that this can be done. Vents directly to the exterior of your home can be installed, but this opens up the risk of allowing pests to move into your home, as well as letting cold air come in and cause damage during the winter months. Instead, you can install vents that allow your HVAC system to vent air into the crawl space throughout the year—allowing for moisture to evaporate and ambient humidity to be reduced without risking freezing pipes or pest removal bills. Of course, for particularly humid crawl spaces, dehumidifiers can be installed for a dedicated humidity-reducing effect.
The main draw of crawl space ventilation is that it is a fairly affordable way to reduce the risk of water damage in your crawl space when compared to complete encapsulation. However, ventilation simply does not provide the same level of protection against flooding, and any items stored in your crawl space are at risk of becoming damaged if water does manage to seep into the area.