According to NAHB analysis of the Survey of Construction (SOC), about 14 percent of modern homes incorporate a crawl space beneath the structure. However, most people give little thought to what’s going on in that dark, claustrophobic zone and have even less desire to venture there themselves.
Nevertheless, on occasion a homeowner may need to inspect crawl space conditions or service personnel may require access to HVAC ducts, electrical wiring, or plumbing commonly routed there. For those reasons, it’s important to be aware of crawl space safety and what hazards that may lurk there for your own protection, as well as to inform others of potential danger.
Questionable Air Quality
A confined crawl space receives minimal fresh air circulation and no sunlight. This damp environment may support growth of toxic mold, fungus, and bacteria. Airborne spores and microorganisms are easily inhaled and may cause severe allergic reactions and illness in susceptible individuals. A face mask or other breathing protection should be standard equipment when working in a crawl space for any length of time.
Some creatures call your crawl space home and aren’t welcoming to visitors. The range of common troublesome inhabitants include snakes, rodents, wasps and bees, ants, spiders, and skunks. If you encounter any of these or others, or see evidence such as nests or droppings, leave the area and call an exterminator.
Sewer pipes routed beneath your house may leak into the crawl space. This may be a major pipe rupture or ongoing chronic leakage you’re not even aware of. Raw sewage is considered a Category 1 biohazard and contact with it must be avoided, as should inhaling fumes.
Wiring routed through the crawl space may be hazardous if contacted, particularly when the space is wet or flooded. Wiring with deteriorated insulation, open junction boxes and loose drooping, wires present a potential shock hazard. If the area is wet or inundated with water and safety status of wiring is unknown, consult an electrician before entering the crawl space.
Ultimately, you should contact a professional trained in crawl space safety. To schedule necessary HVAC maintenance or repairs, contact Beyer Boys.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Antonio, Texas area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).