If you’ve ever spent much time under your house, you’ll realize why crawl space safety is an important issue. About 14 percent of all residences constructed in the U.S. incorporate a crawl space beneath the structure. The cramped, dark zone may provide as little as two feet of vertical clearance—thus the “crawl” designation—and very often has only a dirt floor. Important systems routed through the space include HVAC ducts and insulation, plumbing pipes and electrical wiring.
While crawl spaces are generally not inviting zones to visit, HVAC technicians, plumbers, as well as electricians sometimes need to access the area to perform repairs or installations. Residents may also venture there to check on conditions or to retrieve items stored there. Here are some potential crawl space safety issues everyone should be aware of:
Because crawl spaces are frequently a damp environment with little air circulation, mold and bacterial growth may thrive. Airborne spores released by active mold growth as well as mold-contaminated dust may trigger allergic reactions and other symptoms if inhaled. Wearing breathing masks rated to protect against inhaling toxic airborne microorganisms like mold and bacteria is advised.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued warnings regarding exposed electrical wiring in crawl spaces. Working in the cramped, wet environment, particularly after heavy rain outdoors or a ruptured plumbing pipe, can present electrocution risks if exposed wiring is contacted. If there is any question about the condition of wiring routed through the area, do not enter a crawl space, particularly if conditions are wet. Call a professional electrician.
A crawl space may become contaminated due to a leaky sewage pipe under the house. Category 3 sewage is considered a toxic biohazard that may cause disease if contacted. Fumes may also be dangerous to inhale. If you suspect a sewage leak under your house, do not enter the crawl space yourself. Contact a qualified plumber.
To schedule professional maintenance with technicians trained in crawl space safety, contact the experts at Detmer and Sons.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Dayton, Ohio about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).