Charleston South Carolina is a wonderful place to live. It is deeply steeped in history, beauty, and offers a very relaxed easy pace with enough going on culturally to keep life well-balanced and fun.
The majestic oaks, the Spanish moss, the salt marshes that fill the air with plus mud smells at low tide not only bring a sense of richness in history, they are also a constant reminder that we live in the low country.
The low country gets its name from essentially being almost at sea level. The humid climate in the summertime and the periodic rains we receive, coupled with our marshy surroundings can create issues in a crawlspace. When we are touring homes with clients are watchful eye is careful to consider the crawlspace while walking through.
Take the air-conditioning system for example. It is not uncommon for homes built on a crawlspace to have tubes of ductwork running underneath that provide heating and cooling. While this setup is certainly not a showstopper, it is best to have ductwork in an attic. In two-story homes this may in fact be the case, but from an engineering perspective it’s also necessary to have ductwork in the crawlspace in some cases.
Picture a cold Coke can straight out of the cooler. Now take that same Coke can and place it in your front yard. In less than a minute condensation forms. It sweats. The same thing can happen to your ductwork in a crawlspace. This is where 90% of the issues are found when purchasing a home. The crawlspace ductwork sweats, moisture levels rise, and fungus can grow.
There are number things we can do to remedy this:
- Make sure that the vents along the crawlspace are all open and provide an airflow.
- Replace the duct work if it is old and ensure that it is well insulated.
- Install a vapor barrier on the ground to prevent ground moisture from seeping in.
- In some cases, encapsulate the crawlspace and completely climate control it with a dehumidification system.
So how can we tell all the things while showing the home? Well, we are not home inspectors but we have seen enough transactions to sense if problems will occur when the inspection happens. If their moisture issues underneath the house hardwood floors tend to cup. They become a bit concave and can be felt when walking across them, or by looking at them in just the right light. If we see cupping floors, we can pretty much guarantee that either there is an active problem, or there has been one in the past.
Again, no need to run away from this. Part of what we do is help clients understand these things that can come up, be aware of them with eyes wide open, and design away to overcome these issues if the rest of the house fits the bill and you decide it’s the right purchase for you.