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  1. #1

    Crawl Space Conditioning

    Hello-
    I have somewhat of a unique crawl space issue and have been told many “correct ways” to take care of it. I am very eager to find out your opinion. I have a small fishing cabin in the Colorado Mountains. Wells are extremely expensive and difficult to drill where I am located. Because of this I have a water cistern (holding tank) under the house and haul water in. Therefore, all of the water and plumbing for the house is confined to a pretty small area under the house. The house is built on caissons about 30” off grade. Currently I have to winterize the cabin and drain the tank if temps are below freezing. In Colorado this ends up being a large amount of the year. I would like to close off under the house, creating a crawl space, to prevent my holding tank and waterlines from freezing. There is only about 200 sq ft that needs to be insulated. I am going to use concrete block, vapor barrier and rigid foam insulation to create the crawl space. So, my question is how to keep the crawl space from freezing. The cabin has a completely new electric system with new electric baseboard heaters (no central heating) which were just inspected last week. I will leave the house at 45-50 degrees while I am not there. I have heard…

    1. “Keep the insulation between the floor and crawlspace. Install a few light bulbs in the crawl space. Keep the crawl space unvented. Its an alpine desert so humidity is a non-issue.”

    2. “Remove the insulation in the floor. The heat from the house should be enough to heat the crawl space.”

    3. “Connect the house with the crawl space. Use a duct or two so air can circulate between the crawl space and house.”

    4. “Connect the house with the crawl space with ducts but you need an inline fan. Then vent the crawl space to the exterior.”


    Thanks! I know there has to be a “best way” and appreciate your insight. -Will

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    4,900
    i would put a baseboard heater in the crawl and leave all else the same
    We really need change now

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    Northern Wisconsin
    Posts
    2,039
    Quote Originally Posted by learyw View Post
    Hello-
    I have somewhat of a unique crawl space issue and have been told many “correct ways” to take care of it. I am very eager to find out your opinion. I have a small fishing cabin in the Colorado Mountains. Wells are extremely expensive and difficult to drill where I am located. Because of this I have a water cistern (holding tank) under the house and haul water in. Therefore, all of the water and plumbing for the house is confined to a pretty small area under the house. The house is built on caissons about 30” off grade. Currently I have to winterize the cabin and drain the tank if temps are below freezing. In Colorado this ends up being a large amount of the year. I would like to close off under the house, creating a crawl space, to prevent my holding tank and waterlines from freezing. There is only about 200 sq ft that needs to be insulated. I am going to use concrete block, vapor barrier and rigid foam insulation to create the crawl space. So, my question is how to keep the crawl space from freezing. The cabin has a completely new electric system with new electric baseboard heaters (no central heating) which were just inspected last week. I will leave the house at 45-50 degrees while I am not there. I have heard…

    1. “Keep the insulation between the floor and crawlspace. Install a few light bulbs in the crawl space. Keep the crawl space unvented. Its an alpine desert so humidity is a non-issue.”

    I'd keep the insulation. Light bulbs have a very short life and unless you're going to be there often I wouldn't trust freeze damage to a "consumable" item.

    2. “Remove the insulation in the floor. The heat from the house should be enough to heat the crawl space.”

    Only if you like cold feet.

    3. “Connect the house with the crawl space. Use a duct or two so air can circulate between the crawl space and house.”

    Only if you want to live and breath what will find a dark, basically unventilated space a nice place to grow in.

    4. “Connect the house with the crawl space with ducts but you need an inline fan. Then vent the crawl space to the exterior.”

    Same as 3.
    Thanks! I know there has to be a “best way” and appreciate your insight. -Will
    First thing to consider when making this nice (warmer than outside temps) space is what else is going to appreciate you building it. The list includes anything with more than 2 legs that can fit through small cracks or can dig.

    With that said I would design and build the space with 100% coverage of walls, floor and ceiling access to keep out squatters. Coverage material to be of a type that can't be chewed through. Lay a good, thick vapor barrier on the ground before covering floor with insulation and ...... a thin pad of concrete (to keep out the diggers)? Even in a dry climate the ground will wick in moisture from snow and rain and the crawlspace dew point will always be close to condensation temp unless you heat it 12 months out of the year.

    I'd install two baseboard heaters (because they're not that expensive) with separate controls, setting one slightly above the other, both on their own breakers. One fails for whatever reason, the second takes over.

    Don't forget to make the hatch from the cabin to the crawlspace big enough to get replacements of whatever you have down there through. I say hatch, because an access from outside means access! And once you have it all nice and sealed up, heated and insulated you just made yourself 200 sq ft of nice storage too!

    If your water storage is not sealed, make sure you seal it and if it needs a vent, vent it to the cabin. Moisture is a crawlspaces worst problem no matter how it gets in there.
    Use the biggest hammer you like, pounding a square peg into a round hole does not equal a proper fit.

  4. #4
    Thanks! Is there a safety concern installing a baseboard heater in a crawlspace? Should I put concrete board behind it and above it? Ive never seen an electric baseboard in a crawl.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    Northern Wisconsin
    Posts
    2,039
    As always, follow all manufacturer's installation recommendations and check with local building codes.

    I'm not an electrician, the only baseboard heaters I install use hot water.
    Use the biggest hammer you like, pounding a square peg into a round hole does not equal a proper fit.

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