Crawl Space Safety Tips: How to Move Around a Crawl Space Safely
As a homeowner, if you have to navigate a crawlspace then you know that safety is a number one priority. Unsecured crawl spaces can create many hazards, here’s why it’s so important to inspect the often neglected parts of your home.
Avoiding Contaminants in Enclosed Crawl Spaces
Soil and mold spores are just a few contaminants that may be lurking in your crawl space. If your crawl space is insulated, you may also have fiberglass particles floating around even if you can’t see them with the naked eye, in addition to fecal matter from various rodents and possible fumes from old paint or lacquer products.
Whether you’re going to be moving things around or doing any digging, it’s very important to protect yourself by buying a respirator mask and a protective containment coverall suit from your local hardware store.
A P100 filter is a great option to filter out any unwanted particles, but at a minimum make sure you at least using a 3M work mask. Respiratory issues are the number one problem when navigating crawl spaces and keeping any allergens out of your lungs and off of your skin is a good health tip to follow.
Keep Entrances and Exits clear of Debris, Storage Boxes and Water
When moving around a crawl space, your goal as a homeowner is to be a crawl space ninja! Avoid storing paint cans, old cardboard boxes or trash debris around points of entry or exit. This is especially important if you have flooding issues with standing water or incoming heavy rains. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you’re literally boxed in, no pun intended.
Keep your crawl space dry and clear by removing any standing water with either a sump pump or wet/dry vacuum. You can assist in removing excess moisture with a dehumidifier or a floor drain. Do NOT use exhaust fans because they can blow unsafe particle contaminants around in enclosed crawl spaces.
Protecting Yourself Against Insects and Brown Recluse Spiders
In case you didn’t know, brown recluse spiders love cardboard storage boxes. They may think it makes a nice cozy home or just a cool place to hang out, either way try and avoid storing cardboard boxes in crawl space areas and instead opt for hard plastic airtight storage boxes. Not only is wet cardboard a harbinger for growing mold, they attract insects of all sorts. Also remove any construction materials, weed or woodpile overgrowth and rocks. Spiders look for great hiding places.
If you know you’re going to be working in a crawl space, cover any exposed skin with long sleeved pants or clothing. Brown recluse spiders cannot bite through clothing as their fangs are too small to penetrate. Also seal plastic store bins with an extra layer of tape to prevent insects from crawling inside. Shake out any clothing or shoes after going inside a crawlspace and be vigilant when grabbing items or reaching into dark places.
Watch out for Structural Hazards
Homes are always built from the bottom up and homes with crawl spaces are no different. Homes with crawl spaces have perimeter supports, as well as individual pier footers underneath the home which are responsible for carrying the floor loads.
The footing are there to support the homes weight with minimal movement. In another words, the foundation of the home is to be stable with no movement. Movement can create cracks, structural weakness and bowing of floor joints.
Many things can create movement of the foundation such as pier supports settling and rotting of wood. Before entering a hazardous crawl space, make sure you diagnose structural hazards properly before exposing yourself to potential danger of falling joists or internal collapses.
Keep Gas Powered Appliances and Equipment out of Crawlspace Areas
If you’re in and out of your crawlspace to grab equipment such as gas powered pressure washers or lawnmowers, there are few things you should know. At no time should there ever be any gas powered equipment, appliances or stored gas cans in a crawlspace.
Some homeowners have gas furnaces that are not sealed combustion units and feature and open flame. This is a huge safety hazard if gas vapors or fumes leach out into the air and are ignited by the open air flame in the furnace and can result in fire hazards and home explosions.
Safety navigating home repairs and maintaining crawlspace areas can reduce potential injury to both yourself and other family members.