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crawl space help???


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Hi there. We are purchasing a home and have just had the home inspection done. The crawl space has vapor barrier over the cement with obvious moisture under it. The owners had a problem with the perimeter drain but say it is fixed. Our inspector said to get rid of the vapor barrier but the home owners inspector told them to put it there. There was also substantial rot (3ft width) in two of the corners in the crawl space, rim joists, plates etc. It was completely dry though. We're looking for some info as I don't want any moisture in my crawlspace. Does anyone know what should be done? The house is 28 years old and the cement foundation does have an existing thin layer of vapor barrier under the top layer of cement. There are also two small cracks evident in the crawspace, and the perimeter drain is very suspicous. I'm thinking that if we fix the cracks, re do the perimeter drain and put a dehumidifier down there the problem will be fixed?? HELP? Thank you.

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Hi Julie,

It's a little difficult to advise you about that foundation without knowing what the terrain is like, knowing what kind of a climate your are in, or what sort of soils you have around your home.

Also, your description of the issue is a little confusing - especially since it sounds like two different home inspectors have differing opinions of what's actually going on.

It sounds like you have a crawlspace that initially had a poly barrier on top of which they've poured concrete and then later added another layer of plastic. Is that right?

How about answering these questions:

1. What king of terrain is the home built on, ie., the house is on high ground, on flat ground, at the base of a hill, set into a hillside with the hillside draining past it, etc?

2. Where do your gutters empty - next to the foundation or into a dedicated drain system that empties elsewhere?

3. How far below the siding at the perimeter is the siding graded? Is the rot at areas where soil or mulch had been piled against the house?

4. Are there foundation vents?

5. Are the "two small crack" vertical or horizontal? Are they extremely thin, like pencil lines, without displacement of the walls, or are they wider and tapering? Is water coming through them?

What do you mean by "the perimeter drain is very suspicious"? Which perimeter drain - the one at the footers outside (which can't be seen) or is there one at the perimeter inside the crawlspace?

Got any photos? You can attach them to your post.



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The house is on flat land and all around the 2.5 acres the land slopes down and away from the property. The gutters were moved out of the perimeter drain system and now flow onto the ground about 3 feet from the house. The soil is about 2 ft below the top of the foundation. There are many vents in the crawlspace. The cracks are pencil line thin (maybe a bit bigger) and run up and down. There is no eveidence of water on the walls. The fellow that came to look at the perimeter drain wasn't terribly concerned about them. The perimeter drains I am refering to is the one that goes around the base of the foundation and is made out of.... big O. They only unplugged the one corner when the fixed it and then moved the gutters. Apparently because fir needles where plugging them. The weather here is VERY wet in the winter and VERY hot in the summer. The soils are ??? I do know there are very acidic but thats all. lol. sorry. We have talked to several inspectors and everyone seems to have a different thoery. We're very confused. I hope this answers your questions.


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"There was also substantial rot (3ft width) in two of the corners in the crawl space, rim joists, plates etc. It was completely dry though."

That sounds like door or window leakage from above. Or, the soil is too high in those areas, the soil perhaps being above the exterior wall cladding.


Jerome, Rookie Inspector

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Julie, most of us inspectors need to "see" something. With words only, it sounds like someone did not do their job when inspecting this house. You should have almost no questions when you hand the check to the inspector. Have you recalled the inspector?

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