Anyone use CleanSpace (encapsulated crawl space) on their home?

September 1, 2006

I live in the south where relative humidity is commonly in the 90's during the summer months. I've been in my home for about two months now. My crawl space varies from 4.5 feet to about 10 feet in height, so I never thought I'd have to worry about moisture issues.

I have my downspouts directing water 10 feet away from the house, down hill. All the dirt is sloped away from the house at a decent grade, so rain water does not run up to the house. I haven't had running water in the crawl space despite a few weeks of very heavy rain.

Despite all this, I have a tremendous amount of mold growing on the floor joists. The crawl space is vented with the required amount of vents (code), but the air just doesn't move much under our house. The sun hits the front of our house almost all day, but we have a courtyard garage, so the sun never really warms up the crawl.

I got an estimate today from a company that seals the space and puts in a humidifier unit to keep moisture levels below mold-condusive levels. The price quoted was almost $6000. I'm willing to pay if it stops the problem and helps with the air in the livable part of the house, which I imagine it would.

Next week I'll be getting estimates from other companies in the mold remediation business to see what they have to say, but I imagine that sealing the crawl space might be the best solution in my situation.

Any opinions/comments?


Comments (83)

  • oatlord

    scottw57: Where did you purchase your materials, especially the door? I've seen some places online that sell the DIY stuff, but never found a place to purchase the door.

    terecia: Any updates? Did you figure out what was causing the problems?

  • cantputonweb_gmail_com

    Hi folks,

    I'm currently in the process of doing a "Do-It-Yourself" encapsulation right now using materials bought from yourcrawlspace.com. I'm about 60% complete and, while it takes a bit of work to develop the method for attaching the material to the walls, it is easy work and does not take as long as you would think.

    Background: This is for an old ~1200 sq ft. farmhouse cabin that I use as a vacation home in the North Carolina mountains. It is at least 50 years old and likely much older. The house was renovated about 7 years ago and had substantial rot on the hill side of the house where the dirt is only 8-12" inches from the joists (it is 6' high on the other end). Humidity under the house is currenly 85% and the insulation is soaking wet and has visible water droplets near all the exterior walls. There is mold growing quickly in these areas - I put a workbench down there a month ago and it warped and the wood has mold growing.

    Regarding cost, I had a quote from a CleanSpace contractor and it was reasonable based on what I have read online - $5600 including the commercial-grade de-humidifier.

    I have gone with 16 gauge material for both walls and flooring for most of the area and then done one 40 foot x 12 foot area in 24 gauge where I have my workbench and store yard equipment / kayaks. Total cost for all materials including vapor barrier, tape, and adhesive tape for attaching to walls was about $1100. I've purchased a non-commercial grade 70-pint dehumidifier with low temp capability for about $200 from Amazon and will see if that does the job before I upgrade to a commercial unit like others have listed. Those seem to run about $1000 and I'm not ready to commit that kind of money to a dehumidifier until I see that the lower cost units won't do the job.

    Installation is reasonably easy as long as you have good access to the area. I have some areas that only have 16-18" clearance and those areas are tough but do-able with access tunnels.

    I'm taping most areas to the walls which seems to be holding but I have used furring strips in some regions where the walls are quite wet or access is an issue.

    I will post more after I see how well the system works. I'm desperate to get the humidity down as I'm very concerned about the mold growth and wood deterioration. Not sure how the previous owner lived there and didn't seem to have this problem - he had the crawl space vented....

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  • brendalb57_yahoo_com

    In Sept 2010 I had my crawlspace encapsulated. It cost me several thousand dollars. It looked very nice. BUT...within about 2 weeks after the project was finished I had this horrible odor in my home. I could not stand to be in my home. The odor caused my eyes to water, difficulty in breathing, dizziness, upset stomach, body aches. After many phone calls and excuses the company kept giving me, they removed everything and gave me a full refund. The company admitted they had used a different cheaper type of caulking to install the product which apparently gave off obnoxious gases. All I can say is this made me very sick and the smell about killed me. It took several days to get the smell totally out of my house. The entire episode was a nightmare.

  • oatlord

    Odd, yesterday this site said I wasn't a member. Today it had me automatically logged in.

    Anyway, Brenda: What company did you use and what materials did they use to do this work? Did they say anything about venting the soil underneath the plastic to outside of the crawlspace?

    Thinking about doing the DIY route for this myself soon.

  • brendalb57_yahoo_com

    I am from Ohio. It was a well known company from the Columbus Oh area. The material used was the clean space liner. They also used many tubes of caulking. There was no problem with the liner as far as I knew. The problem was the caulking the company used to seal the clean space liner to the side walls of my crawl space. The caulking was purchased from a different supplier from what they had used in the past(at least this is what they told me). The caulking gave off a horrible odor. They first laid a brown varigated type plastic material on the crawl space floor, then layed the clean space liner on top of the brown padded plastic. The clean space liner was then installed/caulked up the side walls of the crawl space. They also had installed a Sani Dry dehumidifier. They removed everything they had installed and the smell/odor I had throughout my house is now gone.

  • scott_gibson7_hotmail_com

    Check with your local Orkin Pest control branch to see if they offer the same service. Some of them do.

  • fourseasonspest

    Please do not use Orkin. They are double the cost for their service.Please get bids from reputable companies.I have worked for them in the past selling encapsulations.

  • Nena4

    Just wondering how these Clean Space encapsulations have worked out after a few years. I am currently researching something to do with my crawl space. Whenever it rains it gets really wet and stays wet for a long time, causing humidity and mold. I live in California but in a high water table area, and the crawl space only has about 18 - 24 inches of clearance.

  • natlowell_comcast_net

    The explanation done by Cynthia Freeney that is on the search engine below this link tells the whole story on this very important topic. I've watched this uneccessary and destructive tactic of ruining peoples' "making moisure" since I got into the business of entering crawl spaces and basements for a living in 1987. Since then I've seen the building codes worsen with the seemingly good intentioned era of energy saving, actually ruining peoples' homes along the way. Sad but true... I see the "before and after" results of proper repair of bad insulation situation.. Here's the deal. 1- Get rid of all insulation in your floor joists. 2- Decide on one of three ways to seal your dirt floor, concrete, plastic with gravel or the plastic methods shown on these sites..3- Use rigid styrene on the inside of concrete walls. Use either rigid styrene or spray styrene in all perimeter box sills and any foundation vents... By doing this you will likely not need a dehumidifier at all and your crawl will become totally reformed and naturally dry and warm in winter and cool in Summer.. This is an epidemic in the Northeast and should become a local building/health Dept issue...

  • 18grazplace_comcast_net

    This is a great site. So confusing trying to decide what to do. I recieved a quote today from a local company in MA. 8-10K to encapsulate and install sump pump and drainage. Seems very high but they seem very reputable. Mold issues were taken care of but water still coming in. Years ago we put Neutocrete down and now it is nothing but dust that makes us sick to be around. Once moisture gets in, it is useless.Company says they will come seal it for 1600$. No thanks. still not sure what to do. thanks for all the tips. what did we do before the internet?

  • oatlord

    Nat: Are you saying that encapsulation shouldn't be performed? Also, which link are you talking about? I don't show any links below these posts.

  • georgex123_aol_com

    for all of you wanting clean space it is wonderful. i work for a company that installs it and if you think you are paying too much for the product then you have to stop and think the company you hire must make money and their employees have to be paid and the price of the material is not cheap also each employee has to take a class before they are aloud to install it. so if thats not enough then try installing it its not easy and its not just some plastic on the ground it a three layerd material with a reinforced twin woven in then treated with a chemical that prevents mold from growing on it. the dehumidifer takes the moisture out of the air then the sump pump sends the water out of the house. for all that it should be priced around 6 dollars per sq/ft.

  • brickeyee

    I had an estimate oncer from a a 'Clean Space' franchise.

    It was about 25% of their cost to purchase a sheet of EPDM (a lot tougher than the thin plastic they use) and cover the dirt and then secure it to the foundation.

    I can crawl around in a 3 foot space an awful lot to save over $4,000.
    A few tubes of EPDM compatible caulk,some 1x lumber, and Tapcons finished everything.

    Once it was sealed up nothing much else was required.

  • jtstup_yahoo_com

    Hello, I found this thread very interesting, especially since it was started several years earlier.
    I am considering encapsulating my crawlspace in our home which is in a flood zone in Eastern NC. Although we have no evidence of termites, they tend to be a problem in this area of NC. I have gotten several quotes to encapsulate the crawlspace by sealing the foundation vents, installing a new vapor barrier, and installing a dehumidifier. However, none of the contractors specified putting the vapor barrier on the walls. When I questioned them, some said it was unnecessary, while others said it provided a better opportunity to inspect for termites. Does anyone have any info on whether putting the vapor barrier on the walls is necessary in this environment?
    Also, has anyone been successful in making the flood doors somewhat airtight?
    I appreciate any info you might provide

  • jamesrgeib_yahoo_com

    Original poster here. If anyone had any questions for me, my new email address is jamesrgeib@yahoo.com

  • jamesrgeib_yahoo_com

    @ brickeyee. One can certainly save money doing it yourself. Please post where you found material tougher than the 20 mil poly liner that cleanspace uses. I could find nothing nearly as strong in stores or on the Net. Building supply employees just looked at me funny when I said 20 mil!

  • oatlord

    @ James Geib:

    I haven't purchased anything yet, but I got a quote from Cleanspace and then got a sample of the 20 mil that you can buy from:


    And they were almost identical. I plan on buying my material from that site when I'm ready to tackle this project.

    Someone might have a better source though.

  • coonwendy_sbcglobal_net

    We liked CleanSpace but do not use Michigan Foundation Systems, there price guarantee is only if they can beat the others and if not they simply never get back with you, so I would think their work is the same very poor good -luck.

  • Woodyboy

    While searching for an HVAC contractor to replace a split system located in my crawl space I decided it would be the best time to add some insulation to the sub-flooring when the system and duct work was removed.

    What an education in spray foam insulation did I gain by getting the varied opinions of the contractors offering the service.

    Just for a point of reference I am located south of Atlanta about 40 miles, between Macon and ATL. The portion of my home setting on a crawl space was built in 1942 and has 7 foundation vents that open and close with temperature variation.

    The floor area ws about 1500 SQ ft, the walls about 600 SQ ft.

    After having 6 visits from HVAC contractors and receiving quotes from 4 of them. I decided to replace the original split system with another split system in the same location.

    One contractor was only willing to install a package unit that would require a 42" x 22" inch hole knocked into my foundation. Two independent partis assured me this would not compromise the structural integrity of my home, but my main concern was creating access for water to get into my crawl space in the event of heavy sustained rains. Not to mention this would require a dehumidifier for the crawl space encapsulation as well.

    Contractor A - Inspected the crawl space and offered to apply a closed cell spray foam (Foametix)insulation to the sub-flooring after the old unit and duct work was removed. It was his opinion that you were only concerned witht he conditioned space from your feet to the ceiling and the closed cell spray foam would resist the weather conditions and mold.

    Since the crawl space would be clear and accessible the original quote was $3150 dropped down to $2700

    Contractor B - Looked in the crawl space door and did perimeter measurements, then offered to apply 2" of Icynene spray foam to the crawl space foundation walls along with a 12 mil crosslinked crawl space liner. $2709

    My request for references was never acknowledged, even though they informed me they recalled doing two jobs in my town, they could not recall where. Luckily for me I contacted the company that has provided my annual termite inspection for the last 12 years and they gave me the name of a man who had his 2600 sq ft. crawl space sealed by the same guys. With in a few months there were unbearable "gas off" odors from the Icynene and the entire spray foam application was removed and resealed by contrractor D for $22,000 Ouch! None of the liner was sealed with tape, mastic or caulking.

    Contractor C - Provided a crawl space inspection and offered to; remove debris, rehang air ducts, 10 mil white vapor barrier on the floor, 10 mil clear vapor barrier on the walls attached with pressure treated strips and some form of fastener, seal foundation vents, with all work done after new HVAC was installed. 20 year warranty for described services due to defective workmanship. $6889

    Contractor D - Provided a thorough crawl space inspection identifying a somewhat below average amount of mold. Not dangerous black mold, but mold was present.

    His proposal is;

    Mold Remediation

    Pre-treat walls with anti-microbial solution Kills mold but does not remove wood Stains

    Apply Permanent Structure Guard to Exposed Framing, subflooring, and all wood structures

    Crawl Space Encapsulation

    Ground preparation, debris removal, and cleanup Treat ground with anti-microbial solution Installation of permanent molten polyethene(with diamond reinforced skrim), crosslinked, white crawlspace liner attached with power nails/mastic to all walls and piers Seal Walls and piers with 2 part liquid contact adhesive (non-degradable) and bonded to thick butyle mastic tape and liner two inches below sill plate. (best permanent seal available)All seams sealed with 4 inch white Crumply Adhesive Tape
    Installation of foam padding under liner (500 mil) at access
    Door to major utilities Seal liner to or underneath plumbing, wires, ducts, water heater, Air handler, etc.
    Using additional adhesive sealants where needed
    Totally seals dirt from house and foundation Vents will be foam sealed in appropriate time after installation At this time 4 inch supply duct can be added to condition Crawlspace

    All pricing includes proper containment procedures and usage of Personal Protective Equipment for the duration of project.

    XXXXX Systems will guarantee mold will not return to treated areas with Structure Guard for 25 years. It is our belief that mold at the residence is permeating from around the foundation, in this case the crawl space due to moisture and dirt exposure over time. It is possible that unforeseen conditions exist in other areas, for instance, behind wall cavities where mold could be present. However, it is our opinion that the improvements recommended in this estimate will have a very positive effect in reducing mold for the entire home. These improvements are designed to retard future growth of mold. In any case, XXXXXX Systems agrees to retreat any of the previously treated areas for the lifetime of the structure with Structure Guard, except in conditions of water leaks or flooding, at no charge.

    Structural 25 year guarantee applies to all encapsulated liners, tapes, and sealants Guarantee does not include physical damage to material due to misuse or unusual physical intrusion. Furthermore, XXXXX Systems guarantees that condensation will be eliminated From all water pipes, ductwork, air handlers, wood subflooring, and insulation
    An exception to this is any case of leaky pipes or defective plumbing fixtures, including water heaters or any source of flooding.

    He has requested three days to complete the job.

    $4800 for encapsulation + $875 for mold remediation = $5675

    In reality my intention was to add some energy efficiency to my crawl space by spray foaming the floor, but it lead to having 4 contractors come out and give me their advice. I learned something with each conversation and spending a significant amount of money to protect my HVAC investment and hopefully create a better atmoshphere in my living space.

    The project should start in a couple of weeks witht e first phase being the removal of the old HVAC unit and duct work. To follow with the encapsulation of the crawl space, then finishing with the installation of the new HVAC system an duct work.

    E mail me and provide a contact number if anyone would like to discuss my experience. I would be happy to let you know how it goes. I will try and make an update to this thread as well.

  • damuriajashi_hotmail_com

    So I got a quote from a clean space contractor. They were very professional, and did a thorough inspection.

    My crawlspace is 450 sq ft and requires about 5 feet of wall coverage.

    It includes a perimeter drain system with a sump pump, a dehumidifier and the plastic along with a cushiony mat to help with drainage that will go under the plastic.

    They quoted me $7800 (but only $7000 if I signed TODAY... no pressure tho). They made it seem like engineers would be installing the crawl space system. Turns out they simply have an engineer on staff (one of the line items is $950 for engineering services).

    I spoke to my regular contractor who had told me that he would be able to do it for $4000, he told me that the materials would cost about $2500 (I have to buy the materials and get them to my driveway) and he would charge about $1500 for the labor unless something screwy popped up (I've dealt with this guy a long time and he's honest). I would have used the basement system guys if they were below $5000 but a $3000 difference was simply too much to ignore no matter how expert they are at installation. This stuff simply doesn't seem complicated enough to warrant that sort of premium for expertise.

    As an aside: It turns out that the mil in 20 mil doesn't mean millimeter (one onethousandth of a meter), a mil is one onethousandth of an inch. So 20 mil is 20 one thousandth of an inch or 2 one hundredth of an inch. Mils are most commonly used to measure paper thickness, an average sheet of paper is 10-15 mils. Hunh, learn something new every day.

  • stealth_yahoo_com


    I've been doing a lot research on this and it seems
    insane to pay someone upwards of $15K to do what amounts to
    sealing up some vents, putting down and sealing to the foundation walls some heavy plastic, adding a fan to introduce warm air to the crawlspace and adding a fairly inexpensive de-humidifier and your looking at maybe $2500 in materials tops for a 1500sf crawlspace.

  • jimmyt11222

    I had the CleanSpace system installed about 9 months ago.
    We've also had a strong smell described in some of the other posts. Was anyone able to figure out a solution other than ripping everything out?

    Right now we're blowing the smell out a vent in the side of the house. as soon as our fan shuts off the smell comes back.
    It has also started to travel up the heating pipes and our radiators on other floors are beginning to give off the same odor.

  • lostinit

    This sounds like a nightmare. I was really interested in the Cleanspace solution and admired Larry Janesky's thesis on Crawlspace encapsulation. However, after having the Cleanspace company provide me a quote of 14k for 1500 sqft I was dismayed. I don't see why someone needs to be paid 14k to clean up a crawlspace, put in thick sheeting and install a sump pump with dehumidifer. I'm sure I could get that done for half at least. Still waiting around for the hopes of a non-cleanspace company that will do the same thing for much less.

    As far as the smell issues that concerns me as well. I'm guessing since there is no ventilation in the crawlspace the radon or whatever gases are coming in thru the air opening in the floor or venting systems. Probably no way to have a perfectly encapsulated crawlspace without some issues.

  • danjanousek11

    Yep - I bought one - I was told on the day of closing that the joists needed to be fixed and new insulatiion. The owner paid me 5,000 and reduced the price of the home for 5,000. But this clean space I put in smells at certain times of the year - it smelled real bad (vinyl or other fumes) for about 1 year, but actually I discovered one problem today. Because of the stacking affect the smell permeates the upper floor when cool air begins to enter the crawl space in the fall that pusheds air up, or during winter off and on. This can be reduced or eliminated by keeping the floor above the crawl space really warm (like grandmother's house). This helps put pressure out and keep the crawl space air from flowing rapidly upstairs and infecting the house with the dirt smell. I just returned from a walk after putting some space heaters on and it smells better. I hope this is a long term solution. We should have sprayed and caulked all of the joists, cracks and re-sealed the taping. Now I have insulation in between the joists without spraying on some poly on joists and underfloor surfaces first.

  • darby1976

    I am new here. I came across the site searching for answers to why my sealed crawl space has an awful odor and is making my entire family sick.
    I had Cleanspace company in SC install a sealed crawl space system. Prior to the installation(4 days) the sales rep. fogged the crawl space with a product called Wetmax.
    After the product was applied to remove any odor and mold, the sealed crawl space was installed.
    I was told that the smell would be gone in 2-3 days. It has been a month and a half and the smell is just as strong.
    I had the system installed to reduce the condensation and possible future mold issues. The results that I got are a home that my family can not live in together.
    My windows have been open for 2 weeks allowing me to stay in the home. My children and wife have stayed out of the home or in a garage/play room area that is not aboce the crawl space area.
    I also hired a CIH to get his opinion on what the issue is. He believes that it is the fogging agent that was used based on the chemistry.
    All in all, we have spent about $10,000.00 on the system, test and Dr. bills.
    There has been NO help from the company who installed the system.
    I am looking for anyone that may can help point me in a direction for help.
    An attorney at this point sounds good, but I do not have the money or time to enter a legal battle.
    I am at the point of selling my 5 year old home.
    Any ideas?

  • oatlord

    Found this link awhile back about the odor issue:


  • SpringtimeHomes

    Darby, Iam very sorry for your problems, that sounds like a very frustrating situation. The link oatlord provided is interesting and brings up two other possible sources for the odor but it sounds like you probably have it right.

    I might try opening back up a couple vents on opposite sides of the house to each other and installing a fan blowing out from one of them. It should dissipate over time.

    I would also be very aggressive in seeking remediation from the company that did the spraying. Try having the local news station do a story on it.

    What did the CHI recommend? I can imagine that painting the sprayed areas could be an option.

  • CrawlSpaceMoist

    Oh so many opinions here.
    1. the walls being covered in poly - the State Codes i've seen typically allow a sealed crawl to have the poly only on the floor OR up the walls. Typically, since brick, mortar, and concrete block can release humidity into the crawl, you'll get a much more efficient system covering the walls too.
    2. Smells - hard to identify. insulation that's gotten moist and drying out can release horrible smells. In some circumstances the poly used will 'offgas' and release a chemical/plastic smell. Also, if during the install any organics (bark, leaves, sawdust, etc) should have been removed from the crawl floor prior to the poly being place. If not, you now have a wet area with many moldy things beneath it. Sealed Crawls are amazing, but a single acorn trapped under a poly can put out a horrible smell
    3. cost - telling someone you have a 1500 sf house does not give enough information, nor does quoting pricing of materials. This can be an extremely labor intensive process to do CORRECTLY and per code! Be sure to get advice from at least a couple of reputable contractors in your area (angie's list, NARI, or BBB are good resources) and make sure they're explaining all the issues they're addressing. If you have water moving beneath your home, sealing the crawl is HIDING the issue, not addressing it.
    (although $14k for a 1500 sf home seems high...)

    and, on a personal note, use a contractor who specializes in this work. The 'termite guys' getting into it seem to have trouble identifying the issues, and their quality is questionable in areas. You don't want a poor job that looks 'okay' and then pops up in an inspection when you go to sell as not meeting code.

  • damuriajashi

    FOLLOW UP from post June 28 2011:

    So I had the work done by a local general contractor contractor with stuff from a do it yourself kit. I had 450 sq ft floor and 5 foot high walls with 90 linear feet of wall space for an extra 450 sq ft. I bought a do it yourself kit with 60 mil 100% vapor seal for $2500 (with tape glue, 1200 sq ft of 60 mil 100% vapor seal, wall fasteners, drain pad, drain pipes, a sump pump and a dehumidifier, everything but the tools).

    I paid $1500 to clean out my crawlspace, grade the ground, dig the drainage along the edges, install the drain pipe, lay the drain pad, install the sump pump, lay the vapor seal, seal off the vents, put in an outlet for the dehumidifier (and a small light fixture), install a light switch and they even threw down some remnant outdoor carpet they had from a previous job to make it easier to crawl around). The job took a day and a half for two guys, most of the work was grading the ground and installing the drain system.

    Its not rocket science. The do it yourself kits come with instructions and if I was inclined to crawl around for a couple of weekends I could have done it myself.

  • Nancy_P

    This site is an excellent source with products and videos for all of you do-it-yourself people. You can use their experience to put together a material quote for your project as well. Send them a sketch (no blue prints) of your crawl space and include the following:

    Crawl space height
    Measurements of ALL walls
    Location of support piers or center foundation wall from the exterior foundation walls
    What Mil thickness you want (20, 16, 12 or 8)
    If you are having any water problems
    Any other obstructions in the crawl space such as furnace, water tank or oil tank

  • jjnv

    I am also interested in finding out how is your crawlspace a few years after you did the project.

    We are purchasing a house with crawl space issues. The crawl space is 50x25x2.5 ft. It currently has a tarp cover that does not work. The first floor hardwood has serious cupping issue due to the high moisture level below.

    I got five estimates so far arranging from $8k to $14k. 3 suggested encapsulation with dehumidifier, the other two suggested installing sump pumps and warned me about encapsulation.

    I am very confused. I'd love to know what worked long term for others.



  • sheryanne

    Hi. This discussion is very helpful. We're going to attempt to do this job DIY ordering everything from crawlspaceinfo.com. In addition to a crawlspace under my house, I also have a half basement with a concrete floor and brick walls, it's about 5 feet tall, we use it for storage and it has the water heater which has leaked in the past. On top of this half basement is an enclosed porch which we use as an office. The half basement gets damp when it rains, and when it storms with heavy rains, the floor gets wet. This is mainly because the entrance door to the basement allows water to creep in. We won't be able to do a vapor barrier on the floor of this basement. I was thinking about putting the plastic on the ceiling of the basement as a barrier. Does this sound like something that would help keep moisture in the basement and not escape into the room above? Any input would be greatly appreciated.

  • sonicfruits

    there are a lot of posts here I need to read, but I did do this, I added the fancy sump pump but not the dehumidifier. My cost was $3600 it would have been $4800 with dehumidifier...my crawl space is not that big.

    I have not been happy since day one, in my case it has made the smell worse. To me the whole thing seems flawed, the bad air down there has nowhere to go but up!

    I added a portable self draining dehumidifier at one point and drained it into pump but it rain constantly and doubled my electric bill..thats another story for another day...most likely a defective unit and I really did not have a moisture issue down at that time

    The smell has mainly been an issue downstairs and in downstairs bathroom. Usually more noticeable in spring and fall when HVAC is not running..this helped me realize a cool feature on HVAC unit 'circulate' that helped and once in awhile I would put a fan in window to suck air out of downstairs...we were getting along fine until recently I discovered a leak in downstairs bathroom. that has made the smell bad again.

    To add insult to injury, the crawl space was supposed to drain towards pump and a drain..the pump would has an alarm to alert you to flood..well that did not happen, and I had standing water/lakes down there....the water did not go , the job was not slopped right.....anyway I replaced insulation have been running fans and dehumidifiers and nothing helps...

    The only good thing I can say about all this is it did eliminate rodent problem that previous owners had, and the flood was fairly easy to clean up

    What is really frustrating is nobody can agree on what is best, advice varies by what they are selling basically...some swear it needs to be ventilated and some swear it needs to be closed....One guy says you need a radon fan, thats what he did for his customers who complained but one of the selling points of this is it block the radon gas...

    Another gripe is in my mind "encapsulation" means just that no air in or out..this crawl space they sell basically just does the floors and part of the wall so you still have stuff getting in via joints, a/c lines etc etc

    I know I am totally frustrated and for a guy with sensitive nose this is no fun....I am aslo considering putting a exhaust fan in that downstairs bathroom since that seems to be ground zero but again no one can agree if that will help or make it worse

  • LOTO

    I recently built a home with a 4' crawl space and it was less expensive to pour a concrete floor in it than to have someone come in and encapsulate the dirt floor....I had the floor poured and closed cell foam insulation sprayed on the rim joists and concrete walls and it makes a nice storage area too

  • pationi

    I have been reading messages off and on all day on this board and I am still confused. I have had an estimate of 13K, reduced to 11K if I sign up now, for clean space applied to 1400 SQ and up 3 ft of walls, good quality sump pump and dehumidifier, cleaning up debris and old, collapsing insulation. 3 days of labor. This is in Eugene, Oregon, where there is a lot of rain in winter and water has collected in my dirt crawl space. Estimate also includes closing all vents.

    I am nervous about the odor a number of people mention, so I have to be careful about the calking. I don't know how in-line that price is with today's prices, early posts are from 2006 for usually much less, also other parts of country.

    Can anyone help me with any of this? Doing it myself is out of the question, I am a 70-year-old woman who is claustrophobic and not particularly handy with home improvement projects -- no way am I doing it!

  • sheryanne

    to pationi: I am no expert, I'm just a common person in a similar situation as you. I don't know if those prices are in line. I just wanted to jump in here and give you my opinion. I would have a hard time letting go of $11,000 or $13,000 for something like this. I also can't stand sales pressure, it makes me want to walk away. If they're willing to do it for $11,000 now, then they might give that price again in the future. If you turn them down, who knows... maybe they'll come back with $10,000. If it were me, I would take it piece by piece, first trying to fix the problem with water collecting in the crawl space. Fix that, then see what happens. I've dealt with a variety of contractors in the past. With some, you give them 5 things to do and they only finish 3 and you can't get them to come back for the 4th or 5th, like pulling teeth. I know not all contractors are like that, some are really good. But it's still a gamble. If you do move forward with these guys, I hope they do you right.

  • PRO
    Sealed Solution

    Great information ... #1 all case studies and the over 1000 homes that my Team has sealed their crawl and left a humidity/temp gauge in the crawl readable in your home has shown that within a day or 2 max that the crawl space levels out to the homes humidity level at 48%-60% and there is NO NEED TO BUY a thousand dollar humidifier!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. I used to hook up a "Track-It" AC Event Data Logger to their humidifiers once installed and the longest one ever ran was 2 weeks. Then it never turned on again. Most ran for 1/2 a day. Don't be fooled! I feel most companies dont seal properly by:

    1. Sealing the door air tight (like your homes doors)
      2. Don't seal the sill plate where major air and critters leak in and out of your crawl from.
    2. Don't hydro cement seal any below grade holes in your foundation walls for sewer/water/electrical.
    3. Don't seal holes in your band joists before covering it with insulation.
    4. Don't air seal good enough in the event later you will need a radon vacuum system
    5. Don't have a critter proof/suction proof drain.
    6. Don't take the plastic to the top of the foundation wall (or in NC to 3 in from top per code) This eliminates exposure to moist wet moldy area's made by moisture coming through the block.
    7. And the biggest thing ... very few if any power spray with mold remediation solution the entire crawl getting it back to its original clean and antiseptic beginning again.

      These are just a few points that consumers easily over look as they chose the big boys ... who have learned no matter what quality job they do their marketing will bring in the next so why should they do the maximum. Ask them ... if this was your home would you do these steps???
      So price shouldn't be the first concern ... the more thorough the process is key with having your crawl space done. And run from anyone selling you a dehumidifier. Now sump wells/pumps/drains are needed in very few homes but if they hold standing water they are very necessary, but not just for a damp crawl. Your air supply will take care of the humidity quickly and throughout the life of the home.
      As for internet screening companies for contractors like Angies List and Home Advisor ...etc anyone can post comments on the companies and contractors give the e-mail link to their friends and to their most pleased customers to get reviews... so it is not impartial...at all...save your $.
      Ask for their process step by step ... they might say that''s a trade secret ... tell them "Your not going to open up a sealed crawl company". Get the process in writing and verify if they did all steps. Ask upfront if another crawl space tech can review their work AND LOOK AT THEIR FACE. That's how you chose a quality company.
      How to not chose a sealed crawl company:
    8. If they mention a dehumidifier
    9. If they wont easily share their process in writing
    10. If they charge an upfront fee
    11. Do they seal good enough to easily attach a radon mitigation system behind their work.
    12. They never talk about cleaning the mold off your joists and your entire crawl. Or better yet they say they'll sponge it clean. Sponging misses 15% at best and looks good visually especially by the door area.
    13. If they ever say if you commit now you get a discount.

      Thee best way to chose is take a look at there LAST job. And see if they did all
      they promised you on their checkoff list on the process they were going
      to follow. If your older have your children or nephews or neighbors kid help with this.

      I hope this helps you make a quality decision for your sealed crawl needs.

  • PRO
    Sealed Solution

    PS...To save considerable dollars case studies in NC concluded that a sealed crawl with insulation on the crawl ceiling removed and insulated the walls with R-10 brought energy savings of 15.7% on average over 10 home study but 15.3% was found leaving the insulation on the crawl sealing and sealing crawl space. This should cut the investment in half. As a crawl space tech I can see doing that on a new home with a clean crawl space but to seal up all the old moldy insulation...cricket/mice/snake excrement + + + and not sanitizing your crawl would be an injustice to your potential air quality. BUT ... America is breathing that air now since 50% of your homes air is coming from your crawl space. You need to determine are you sealing only for the energy savings or your families long term health? www.sealedsolution.com

  • PRO
    Sealed Solution

    Mold doesn't come from a wet crawl space floor ... mold on your joists comes from your crawl ceiling being at 70 degrees and your crawl being 90 degrees and humid. Your ceiling and vent work .. etc will dew. Like a cold glass of water with ice sitting on your kitchen counter. The floor literally drips into your fiberglass which is against your joists passing the moisture to them. Mold starts grows at over 70% humidity.

    Don't be sold on the hype that you need a dehumidifier! Seal your crawl vents and cover your floor better and run the supply air through at 1 cfm / 50 cu. ft crawl (general rule). Put a remote humidity/temp that you can buy at Lowes for $20 and wait a few days and your humidity should come out to 45-60% ... leveling off at 55% ... like the rest of your home. Temp should be within 10 degrees of your 1st floor.

    Now my biggest concern with DIY'ers, yes I am a crawl space tech, is that they SEAL IN all that mold, dead animals, poop and urine that have collected their over the years. Its on their duct work, insulation, AC unit., sill walls...etc. I would HIGHLY reccommend before you seal to remove all your old xxxxx insulation and either replace that for 15.3 % efficiency or rigid board insulate your walls for 15.7% energy saving efficiency (numbers based on Advanced Energy's case study in the Southeast on sealed crawls)
    http://sealedsolution.com/the-case-study: I break down the 8 page study conclusion to laymen terms.
    Q. I am asked frequently ... if I don't replace my current insulation but just redo the parts that have fallen down by weight of water or critter wars... I will cut my Sealed Crawl bill in HALF?

    Q. Why doesn't everybody do this then?

    If you had mold ...everywhere...where every vented crawl space over 2 years has ... and poop all over the floor half the size of baseballs. Mice poop pellets and cricket poop black dotted all over your 1st floor living area.....WOULD THAT BE FINE FOR YOU?
    NOOOOOOOO... you'd know that that is a health hazard and you would clean that up!
    Wouldn't you?

    That's why you take the old insulation out and disinfect your crawl!

    I believe that America will see a mold awareness soon and that many ailments are simply from the crappy air that we've been breathing all our lives from vented crawl spaces. The govt states that America does not have mold experts enough to make this situation more aware. And like Lead based paint that started killing thousands a week discovered in 1905? that the govt didn't mandate laws to protect us till 1976?

    If you think your so smart Matt ... why don't more builders simply put sealed crawl spaces in every new home... it makes it more efficient and the air quality far better.... because the MLS only lists PRICE.... Not overall cost of owning a home. So you NOW would look past or not even see their home because it is $5000-$10,000 priced out of their "Range". So builders go cheap and simple so they will be in the New Home Buyers competitive search.

    All builders and Supers I know who built there home in the past 10 years have spray spray foamed their attics sealed and sealed their crawl. Its not even a question with them. And their monthly mortgage is higher than their neighbors...but their energy bill is less than half and FAR outweighs the little mortgage increase. So they live in their home for less and in a far healthier environment.

    http://sealedsolution.com/why-foam/   :shows the breakdown in savings vs insulation upgrade

    50% of your homes air (sealed crawl or vented) comes from your crawl space first.
    Sealed Crawl Homes: Warmer air rises and vacuum pulls the crawl air up and eventually it all goes out your attic.
    Vented home: Warm air comes in from the vents and rises after being under 70 degree cool air.
    Average 1800 sf home built before 2012 codes loses 2 good year blimps of air EACH day. That's called the STACK EFFECT. Its like driving around with your car windows down trying to condition your cars air. Closing your windows more and more makes it easier to condition your cars air...same with your home...sealing the attic (40-50% energy savings... Crawl sealing saves 15.8%)

    How much do you value your families air quality?

    CDC's #1 concern for homes is MOLD. http://www.cdc.gov/mold/dampness_facts.htm

    So DIY'er ... I want you as a client ... of coarse ... but some will always DIY it ... I care about your families health... research cleaning your crawl first! PLEASE!

  • mybridgeproject

    I am finally on the net trying to find information and others who share my complaint about the off-gassing of a CleanSpace. Our experience and advice is, Don't Do It !!!!!!

    We have a CleanSpace encapsulation system in 2 homes and sadly we had them both encapsulated back in 2007 and have had stinky unhealthy off-gassing issues from the beginning. The smaller older home built in 1964 has less issues with the off-gassing smell and seems to be somewhat tolerable particularly during the dry season. We open the windows a lot and run Honeywell air filters in most all of the rooms constantly, and this seems to help. However, the larger of our 2 homes that was built in 2005 has always had the most water issues due to no foundation waterproofing from the irresponsible builder, Eastland Construction, and it now has a horrific nauseating odor coming from the CleanSpace. It is especial rank during the rainy season. We have spent hundreds on doctor bills, inhalers, antihistamines, herbal supplements .... anything to ease my respiratory and other medical issues. After many fruitlessly attempts with the CleanSpace installer, Frontier Basements of Nash TN, we finally gave up. Lane, The owner claimed that "they could not smell anything" and further claimed "they had never had any other stink complaints before us", he said it was our cat (we didn't have one), said it was our dry p traps or our plumbing drains, said it was our septic system. ... he was dreaming up anything that he could to explain away the wretched cat urine and strong chemical smell other than admitting it is their faulty product and/or install. This putrid stink was emitting from every corner of both homes. When you would opened any closed pantry or cabinet, the stink would almost knock you down.

    After about a year of arguing and dealing with the denial of Frontier Basement and their worthless fake inspections, we finally hired a private contractor to install a soil gas mitigation system for both homes. He is a great guy and did his best to help us with a bad situation. At first, it did the trick. However, as time has gone on the smell has returned and continues to get worse and worse. We no longer have a "cat urine" smell but the strong chemical smell still remains. We had to move out of our house recently for home improvement repairs and moved in with family down the street. Ah!! Finally breathing normally with no headaches, dizziness, exhaustion, or sinus issues, ... oh, and guess what, NO Encapsulation here!

    Anyone who is seriously interested in a class action lawsuit should contact us. I am thinking just like Darby, an attorney is sounding like a great idea!

    Unless we find a viable solution, we will be ripping out the CleanSpace as one of our "home improvements", so for both homes, that's about 20k down the drain.

  • Sanford W.

    Clean Space is a retrofit system for existing vented crawl spaces or sealed crawl spaces that were not well designed when built. For new construction, it would be far better to construct an insulated, waterproofed and sealed crawl space with a vapor retarder under a concrete maintenance slab, and other detailing while the house is being built.

  • hcurlin

    mybridgeproject, we also live in Nashville and are considering having work done by Frontier Basement Systems. Would you be willing to discuss your experience? My email is hcurlin@juno.com Thanks, Howard

  • tcufrog


    Out of curiosity I Googled Clean Space smell and found quite a few websites with complaints on them. I'm surprised there hasn't been a lawsuit yet if the problem is as widespread as it seems to be.

  • PRO
    Sealed Solution

    Great comments everyone...price ...can be between $2- $3/sf. Anything more is overkill. As to the smell of some companies poly ... there was a run 4+ years ago where a handful of manufacturers that made a poly that was white on one side and black on the other and was reinforced. 1 of 10 after several months to a year started smelling like cat pee and got stronger. I ripped out a handful of these crawl poly's. I wouldn't blame the sealed company's only because we all look for a deal on plastic to pass on to you ... and the odor doesn't start for awhile...that could be 400 crawls in 6 months for a handful of us. That's 40 of them stinking and 30 notice enough.
    About the DIY'ers ... I have DIY hardwood floors ... brakes... toilets...etc ... It takes me 6 months to get a diligent guy up and going on crawls where I can let him run and inspect his work after. I couldn't imagine the $ lessons learned that a DIY'er gets into. Just know it takes one really experienced crawl space tech and 3 new techs to finish correctly a 2600 sf sealed crawl using 50 labor hours. Know that 50% of your homes air comes from the crawl space so a poorly prepped sealed crawl can trap some pretty nasty mold.
    Dehu's: to use or not to use???
    Tests show that mold has not grown in sealed crawls that use a 4 inch air supply line per 1500sf with average height of 2.5 ft. Though the humidity reduces down in the South (Raleigh Area) to 68%-77% when sealed still leaves high humidity compared to the average homes humidity of 52%. But mold does not grow. Why? I can only guess ...
    A. Ground, where mold comes from, is sealed off
    B. Air is slightly circulating from the air supply line on your supply side.

    And a dehu wholesales $1000 average ... then install and electrical hardwire hookup and gravity fed condensation line. $1600-$1800 should be fair?? And that will take your humidity down to your chosen level ... most, I have found, chose 50%. Now here's the rub ... your dehu is taking up a chunk if not all of your energy efficiency that your conditioned sealed crawl gives to your AC system. So if you don't take the old insulation out and seal in the mold and the defication from the crickets, mice and snakes and you aren't getting any efficiency out of the sealed crawl ... then why invest $ at all??? No savings or better air quality.

    My recco: pull floor insulation, sanitize entire crawl for SUPERIOR lifetime air quality ... seal crawl and forget the dehu and gain 15.8% energy efficiency on new homes past 2008 ... higher efficiency for older homes.

    My pet peeve.... if a home has mold on the beams and evidence of cricket poop ... little black pellets all over the joists ... I wont seal it without pulling the insulation and disinfecting the crawl. But 95% of all companies seal the crawl trapping in ALL THAT MESS and that's there standard seal crawl practice. That should be criminal!!!

    Like all the contractors who knew back in early 1900's that lead based paint was killing children but kept using it because it was cheap ... until 1970's when a law was passed after ??? more than a million baby's past away. I feel mold in the crawl is that same issue that is slow to REAR ITS UGLY HEAD ... buyer beware ... short cuts can hurt you long term.

  • PRO
    Clean Space of Michigan

    Anyone use CleanSpace (encapsulated crawl space) on their home?Check us out at Sginaw Michigan www.CleanSpaceMI.com for Crawl Space Encapsulation.

  • rstillwater1

    We recently built a home in west Tenn. we have a partial basement and crawl space. We put down heavy plastic in the crawl along with styrofoam on the outside walls. We also brought the plastic up over the foam then poured concrete on the floor of the crawl. We love it. It is totally dry. We also have conditioned air vents in the crawl and basement. Floors are warm and basement is dry. Now we are going to pressure test the whole house to see how tight it is. Bottom line we heat and cool the WHOLE house. Our highest cooling bill so far has been $200 for all the electric used. Our home is about 3500 sq ft.

  • Ron Natalie

    I've got clean space in my crawl space (which is in the conditioned envelope). I've not had any problems. All my water problems have been from inside the envelope (I had a valve corrode and burst, but the CS membrane seems none the worst for wear.

  • Jorge Gaitan

    James, great forum you have created about CleanSpace here. I am a new home owner up in East Stroudsburg, PA and the floors are super cold at times. I had 4 companies come over and assess my crawlspace. Burke Constructions who is partner with Dr. Energy Saver, convinced me of cleanspace installation. my crawlspace is 2100 sf, and the price I got is 13k. he promised me that my electric bills will see a decrease as the house wouldnt be as cold as is now. I am not sure if its an overkill for us because our crawlspace as per all contractors is in great conditions (as far as humid and mold goes) they are too doing my 2 attics which brings the price up to 17k total. they are insulating the floors and closing all gaps.

    I want to ask you if you have seen a difference on your bills?

    I am schedule to have this done the week of april 10th. I will post video of before and after.

  • PRO
    Sealed Solution

    My BridgeProject... SOLUTION to that smell in your crawl>
    A. Pull all the plastic out and replace with a 10 mil...no single ply ever smells. 12 mil and up are 2 ply (black on one side and white on the other).

    B. Install a $175 UV Light with GRID that ELIMINATES unpleasant odors as it also kills 99.999% viruses, molds, viruses and allergens


    • Wholesale price is $175
  • rhonwyncounihan

    My BridgeProject...I am interested in sharing experience with Frontier Basement Systems, Clean Space, and odors. Rhonwyn

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