How to Go into a Crawl Space Safely

South End Plumbing, Heating, & Air Expert Tips

How to Go into a Crawl Space Safely

Have you ever been in your house’s crawl space? For some plumbing, HVAC or electric work, it might take venturing down there. If you need to go into the crawl space, there are safety measures you should take. A little prep, common sense and help will help you go into a crawl space safely. If the DIY job is successful or not, that’s another question.

Examine the Crawl Space

Before going into a crawl space, there’s a little bit of checking and homework to do ahead of time. Messes and debris shouldn’t be allowed to build down there near the entry door or anywhere under a home. If it has, clean it out before doing anymore work. Trash piles can have broken glass, animals, bugs, mold, nails and other stuff which could cause injury or a bigger problem to deal with. There could be sewage, standing water or other nasty mess.

If you’re thinking mold or other pollutants could be in the crawl space, wear an N95 mask while in the small, enclosed space. If you can see large amounts of mold or smell chemicals, gas or other fumes, do not go into a crawl space and get a professional to address the problem. An HVAC technician or other professional will test for gas, fumes, chemicals, oxygen and more before working in a crawl space.

Get Prepared

You need to think about safety before going into and working in a crawl space. Clothing, gear, help and back-up are necessary ideas.

Wear appropriate safety clothing and gear, like a polyethylene jumpsuit, a hardhat, a light, properly hard boots, safety glasses and pads. The right protective equipment is necessary since an injury while in a crawl space might be very difficult to deal with.

More valuable suggestions include have a phone with you, not for games or music, but for help if needed. Have an extra flashlight or very durable light source. Have water with you to avoid sudden dehydration. Crawl spaces can be hot and humid, so dehydration can set in faster than you expect. Have a partner. The partner can be there working with you, or staying outside but near the crawl space, within easy hearing distance. A technician will have a partner with them for all crawl space work.

Be Aware of Contaminants

You’re in a dark, damp, frankly pretty darn nasty, confined area. You could run into mold, spores, bits of fiberglass from insulation, corroded pipes, splinters, even animals and animal waste. If there’s anything that smells gaseous, chemical, moldy or excessively awful, you should get out.

It’s important to wear the right respiratory N95 or P100 mask and protective gear overall. Respiratory problems and sudden symptoms are the worst, most frequent problem reported regarding crawl space injuries or accidents. You need to keep this not only out of your lungs but off your skin as much as possible.

Keep the Exit Clear and Easy to Get to

As part of cleaning up any garbage or debris piles before you start, make sure the path back to the exit is always clear, easy to see and easy to get to. Having help here is the best piece of advice.

If you normally have cardboard, tools, old cans or anything else in the crawl space, move them away from where you’re working and the path between you and the exit while working. Keeping anything in a crawl space isn’t advised since it can flood, animals can get down into it or other contaminants can get on it and then you use whatever the item or substance again.

You can vacuum standing water with a wet-dry vac or sump pump. If it’s overly humid, but with no usual standing water, you can use a floor drain or dehumidifier in a crawl space. This may help a great deal versus mold.

Creepy Crawlies

Here’s one more reason to wear the right clothing for the job in a crawl space. Exposed skin is susceptible to bugs, some harmless, some quite harmful.

For instance, a brown recluse spider is poisonous. It can’t bite through sufficiently thick clothing or fabric.

Spiders love hiding places where they usually aren’t disturbed. They can be in cardboard boxes. Some insects like damp, moldy areas. Some like hot and humid places. A lot of bugs, rodents and so on like weeds, wood or a load of garbage.

After going in and coming out of a crawl space, check yourself all over for bugs, spiders, ticks and scratches or bites. It’s less likely to be an issue if you had the right clothing on, put not impossible.

Structural Hazards

Homes are designed and constructed from the bottom up. Crawl spaces have supports and structures designed for what’s above them. The structures in a crawl space are not built for much movement. The foundation is supposed to be stable and not move. Too much movement can cause bowing, cracking and issues with joints.

Before going into a crawl space, check the structural situation as much as you can. Look for bowing, rotting or falling hazards.

Don’t Run or Store Gas Devices

You should not use, and shouldn’t even store, any gas powered devices, generators or tools in a crawl space. For some examples, lawnmowers, gas cans or pressure washers shouldn’t be kept in a crawl space.

Some homeowners have gas furnaces that are not sealed systems and  run with an open flame. This is a huge safety hazard potentially if gas or fumes are exhausted into the air and ignite from the flame in the furnace. This is a fire or explosion hazard.

At South End Heating and Air we specialize in HVAC and furnace repair, call us for a free consult. We’ll evaluate your system and help make recommendations for optimum value. After all, we want to keep you cool all summer long and warm in the winter. Just schedule a visit with one of our technicians to talk about how we can help with your heating needs. Would you like to learn more options our techs can help you with? Give us a call 704-684-5339.

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