Ever wondered how to clean animal contaminated crawl spaces? Many homeowners don’t exactly expect to find uninvited houseguests living in their crawl spaces when they go to check insulation or trace some wiring. Finding out that a family of rodents, squirrels, or even raccoons have taken up residence in a part of your home can be incredibly frustrating.
An animal-contaminated crawl space tends to mean clean-up is required, and you might need possible damage repairs. Leaving them there is also not an option since they could cause potential safety hazards.
It leads to the question of how to clean a crawl space with animal infestation. Read to know more!
What Is A Crawl Space Cleaning?
Not all houses have crawl spaces. Usually, they are found in homes that do not have a basement or lack a solid cement foundation. They are found beneath the home’s floor. The entrance of these small spaces is typically located outside the house and near the base.
These entrances are small, hence the ‘crawl’ in its name. You can find quite a bit inside crawl spaces, including ventilation, plumbing, gas hook-ups, and electrical components. These crawl spaces permit these necessary home elements to be accessible in case they need replacing.
There is a tendency for many homeowners to ignore their crawl spaces — at least not until something goes wrong. Unfortunately, that could lead to a myriad of issues.
If your house has a crawl space, it needs maintenance and cleaning, but it can be expensive. Professional crawl space cleaning involves hiring a professional to remove mould, debris, and pests. They also look for leaks, remove vapour barriers, use a special vacuum cleaner, and encapsulate the crawl space to reduce humidity.
In addition, a professional can perform crawl space encapsulation. Crawl space encapsulation is sealing off a crawl space from the outside environment. This home improvement strategy can help to prevent pests and other animals from entering the crawl space. Furthermore, crawl space encapsulation can also help to improve the crawl space’s aid quality.
How To Clean Your Animal-Infested Crawl Space?
Many homeowners don’t inspect the crawl space under their homes. Due to that negligence, unwelcome guests are given a chance to make a home out of it. This crawl space is a safe space for them, with lots of space and insulation for making a bed.
If left unchecked for too long, your crawl space might end up severely damaged. So, if you find your crawl space contaminated with pests, what should you do?
Here is the general breakdown of how you can clean it:
Grab a flashlight and start inspecting your crawl space. Start from the back and move along until you reach the way out. Don’t just look around — check the area.
Look for pests and animal droppings, check for foul odours and inspect the ductwork and wood beams. If you find a family of pests and freeloaders settling there, find a way to evict them.
Check the infested area and determine the level of damage. The outcome of your inspection can depend on several factors, including the type of species, how long they’ve been living there, and where their nesting area is.
Wear Protective Gear
Ensure you wear protective gear like long sleeves, a respirator mask, gloves, pants, a hat, and goggles. The area is not sanitized and could potentially harbour diseases in feces that can make you ill.
Wear protective gear when brushing areas like flat surfaces with feces or HVAC ducts.
Clear Out the Crawl Space
Empty the crawl space. Ensure that the only thing left is the air trunks and heating. Now that everything is out of the way, you should be able to see better where critters and pests are coming in and out of the crawl space.
You will need to seal these passages or holes out. Note that rats can squeeze into a hole the size of a nickel.
Disinfect the Space
After ridding the infestation and cleaning the area, disinfect the crawl space with microbial. Doing so can kill germs and even deodorize the space. Most importantly, disinfecting can break the pheromone throughout the area.
If you deem the infestation out of control, it would be best to call in a professional. A professional crawl space cleaning service can come in and handle the cleaning and sanitizing of the space. Though, note that these services can be expensive.
Wait and monitor the crawl space over a few weeks to ensure that pests are sealed out and are not getting in. Search for evidence that they are not coming back.
You can replace the insulation if you want. You may also replace the moisture barrier on the ground.
What to Avoid When Cleaning A Crawl Space?
Knowing the “don’ts” in cleaning crawl spaces is also vital.
Don’t Install Many Vents
Too many vents in a crawl space invite more humidity. It creates more harm than good by making a moist environment where mould can live and thrive. Additionally, many vents give more opportunities for pests to find a way in.
Don’t Use Spray Foam
While foam insulation might help inside the house, it is a beast for crawl spaces. Using spray foams can trap moisture between the foam and the wall. When that happens, the moisture can seep through the foundation, effectively making a breeding ground for wood rot and mould.
Don’t Ignore the Drainage System
Water can collect within crawl spaces due to groundwater and rain. However, you shouldn’t let it sit or linger. Eliminate it immediately.
A good drainage system for crawlspaces effectively removes water from the crawl space and prevents it from accumulating. The most common type is a perimeter drain. A perforated pipe is laid in the trench and connected to a sump pump. When water seeps into the trench, it’s carried away by the pipe and pumped out of the crawl space.
Another type of drainage system is a sump pump, installed in a sump pit, a hole dug in the crawl space. Sump pumps are typically used in conjunction with a perimeter drain.
In addition to a drainage system, installing a vapor barrier in the crawl space is also important. A vapor barrier refers to a sheet of plastic installed on the crawl space’s floor, which helps prevent moisture from entering the area from the ground. You can hire a drainage contractor to properly carry out these drainage works.
Don’t Use Fiberglass Insulation
Fibreglass is not suitable for handling moist environments. Installing them in your crawl space means they’ll rapidly absorb the moisture until it becomes an incubator for mould. As an alternative, consider foam board or polystyrene.
Foam board or polystyrene is made of a material that’s unattractive and difficult for pests to chew through. This insulation material is a good choice for preventing animal infestations in crawl spaces.
Crawl spaces are vital parts of the house that require maintenance so the air in your home remains healthy. It would be a nightmare if uninvited guests built nests and moved in. If there is an issue with your crawl space, work is necessary to restore it to its prime and original shape.
Following the guide above can help you clean your animal-contaminated crawl spaces and even help keep pests out!