Wet crawl space unsafe to enter © Daniel Friedman at InspectApedia.comHow to Dry Out a Crawl Space & Keep it Dry
Home page: 10-steps to crawl area cleanup, dryout, mold, insect damage, rot cure

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This article describes ten steps needed to get into, inspect, clean, and then dry out a building crawl space and keep it dry.

We add advice on how to keep the crawl space dry and clean so that this process doesn't have to be repeated.

This step by step crawl space entry, inspection, cleanout, dryout and keep dry guide explains how to get into or inspect a crawl space even if there is no ready access, how to assess crawl space conditions, how to stop water that is entering the crawl area, how to dry out the space, how to clean up and if necessary disinfect or sanitize the crawl space, and how to keep out crawl space water and moisture in the future.

We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.

How to Dry Out a Problem Crawl Space, Remove Mold, Rodent Debris Unsafe Materials

Junky crawl space © D Friedman at Damp or wet crawl spaces or basements are often a source of health and structural problems in buildings. Wet areas beneath the occupied space invite mold contamination, insect attack, and structural rot and may also contribute to bacterial hazards.

Keeping these spaces dry and clean is not difficult if we address the steps needed in the right order.

[Click to enlarge any image]

The crawl space shown in our page top photo was in our opinion not a readily accessible area because of flooding. This decision is made by the inspector on the scene, not by anyone else. The crawl space shown at left was tight and so junk-filled it could not be entered either.

Ten Steps to a Clean, Dry, Safe & Sanitary Crawl Space

We break down a thorough crawl space dryout and cleanup process into these steps - presented here in order as a series of crawl space dryout and cleanup and waterproofing articles:

  1. CRAWL SPACE ACCESS: Enter the crawl space. If there is no crawl space access door, make an entry if necessary; if there is no space to get into the crawl space, outside clues might justify making inspection portals through the foundation wall or through an interior floor.

    Watch out: Crawl space entry procedures are discussed

  2. CRAWL SPACE INSPECTION Crawl Space Conditions: look first for unsafe conditions, second for conditions affecting the structure
  3. CRAWL SPACE WATER ENTRY STOP the crawl space: find and fix the sources of water entry or high moisture.

    Separately our series of basement dry out, clean up and leak prevention articles begins
    at BASEMENT LEAKS, INSPECT FOR where you will find still more details about how to find and stop the sources of water leaks into building basements or crawl areas.

    Watch out: if the crawl area has been wet by a sewage spill, backup, or burst waste piping, the area is unsanitary and may be hazardous to enter withouit proper protection. See CRAWL SPACE SEWAGE CLEANUP.
  4. CRAWL SPACE DRY-OUT: details of get rid of crawl space water & high moisture levels; remove crawl space water, moisture, dampness that is already there.

    At CRAWL SPACE DRYOUT PROCEDURE we describe the steps necessary for rapid crawl space dryout.
  5. CRAWL SPACE DEBRIS: get rid of crawl space debris. Junk left in the crawl space makes inspection and cleaning difficult and can support mold, rodents, hold moisture, etc.
  6. CRAWL SPACE CLEAN UP: clean or remove mold from crawl space surfaces; remove unsanitary dirt, rodent droppings, dead animals, etc.
  7. CRAWL SPACE SANITIZERS: Cleaning or sanitizing the crawl space surfaces including the floor. When should we use spray disinfectants, sanitizers on crawl space surfaces? What about sealing wood surfaces?
  8. CRAWL SPACE MOISTURE BARRIERS Crawl Space Moisture Control. Crawl space interior measures to keep water out: sump pumps, dehumidifiers, drainage, plastic or poly moisture barriers on the floor and walls.

    Also see our other crawl space dryout and safety discussions beginning

    at CRAWL SPACE GROUND COVERS where we describe crawl space venting, crawl space poly over dirt, and crawl space heat, to illustrate current best-practices in keeping a crawl space dry.
  9. CRAWL SPACE WATERPROOFING: steps to keep water out of building crawl areas
  10. CRAWL SPACE DEHUMIDIFICATION: how to dehumidify a damp crawl space. Tips for most effective use of a dehumidifier, suggestions for using a fan to improve dehumidification speed & area coverage.

CRAWL SPACE REINSPECTION: Inspect the crawl space periodically to make sure your crawlspace dryout measures have been effective. How often do you need to inspect the area? It depends ... on site conditions and building history.

At least once a year you should look for any new leaks such as a leaky plumbing drain or an outside water entry problem. If you have been having trouble keeping water out of the crawl area, you should check more often until your confidence is restored.

Watch out: for steps 1-7 above, in some conditions, dust containment, negative air, and more protective gear or help from professionals may be needed.

Also see MOLD CLEANUP - MISTAKES to AVOID for a master list of the principal ways that people foul up mold cleanup projects.

How to Enter, Inspect & Assess Crawl Space Conditions for Water or Other Problems

Accessing the crawl space © D Friedman at

Hazards in some crawl spaces include breathing moldy or unsanitary air, getting poked by a rusty nail, stirring up a hornets nest, getting shocked or electrocuted by unsafe wiring while crawling over wet ground, crawling through unsanitary water from burst waste piping, kneeling in unsafe pesticide chemicals left by an ignoramus, and the occasional spider, rodent, snake, or even trapped raccoon.

Wear appropriate protective clothing, use a good light, and don't work alone.

Take a thorough look in all areas the crawl space itself for water and dampness and for unsafe or unhealthy conditions such as

  1. Water: puddles, water stains, signs of prior leaks or actual crawl space flooding, as well as odors that indicate mold or dampness
  2. Moldy crawl spaces: start with a careful visual inspection for mold or mold suspect materials. Keep in mind there may be hard to see or even "invisible mold" such as moldy insulation
  3. Wet insulation or inappropriate insulation materials (we don't use fiberglass or other fibrous insulation materials in wet or damp areas)
  4. Rodent or other animal feces or droppings or urine, or smells from dead animals
  5. Unsafe building materials such as falling or loose asbestos pipe insulation, construction debris, rusty nails
  6. EFFLORESCENCE SALTS & WHITE DEPOSITS - these white deposits are a great indicator of where moisture is penetrating a foundation


Continue reading at CRAWL SPACE DRY-OUT PROCEDURE or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see CRAWL SPACE DRYOUT FAQs - questions and answers posted originally at the end of this article.

Or see these

Crawl Area Dry-Out Articles

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