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  1. #1
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    Default Soil covered vapor barrier

    I viewed a crawlspace that has been flood by a plumbing leak 1 year ago. The soil has dried out; however the plastic vapor barrier is now covered with 1 to 6 inches of soil in some areas.

    I am doing a termite inspection. Would it be reasonable to require new plastic to be installed over soiled vapor barrier?

    Thanks,

    Chip Roberson


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  2. #2
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
    A.D. Miller Guest

    Default Re: Soil covered vapor barrier

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip Roberson View Post
    I viewed a crawlspace that has been flood by a plumbing leak 1 year ago. The soil has dried out; however the plastic vapor barrier is now covered with 1 to 6 inches of soil in some areas.

    I am doing a termite inspection. Would it be reasonable to require new plastic to be installed over soiled vapor barrier?

    Thanks,

    Chip Roberson
    Chip: I would. You can't see the vapor retarder and so you can't tell its condition. Replacement is the only feasible alternative.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Soil covered vapor barrier

    Require replacement? Maybe recommend replacement if it is damaged. If the original vapor barrier is in tact and not damaged, I would just recommend removing the soil currently on top of it.


  4. #4
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Soil covered vapor barrier

    Not that I think any vapor barrier is doing you any good what so ever. It is more than likely not. All it does is make a nice little tent to hold moisture in the crawl. The want is to get rid of the moisture. If you have limited ventilation under the home for the crawl then add some. If you have a dry crawl (you do. You said it was dry now) then you don't need it at all and more than likely have adequate ventilation.

    Like I said. Is that piece of plastic really doing anything at all??? I doubt it and doubt if it is even necessary.


  5. #5
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Soil covered vapor barrier

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    Require replacement? Maybe recommend replacement if it is damaged. If the original vapor barrier is in tact and not damaged, I would just recommend removing the soil currently on top of it.
    Nick: The typical installations I've seen are poor with insufficient laps and holes everywhere. This is before someone deposits dirt on top. Removal of the dirt is likely to damage it even more. Better safe than sorry.


  6. #6
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Soil covered vapor barrier

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    Not that I think any vapor barrier is doing you any good what so ever. It is more than likely not. All it does is make a nice little tent to hold moisture in the crawl. The want is to get rid of the moisture. If you have limited ventilation under the home for the crawl then add some. If you have a dry crawl (you do. You said it was dry now) then you don't need it at all and more than likely have adequate ventilation.

    Like I said. Is that piece of plastic really doing anything at all??? I doubt it and doubt if it is even necessary.
    Ted: You appear to be overlooking the fact that soil moisture wicks up through the soil into the crawl space even if you do not have what would be considered "excessive" soil moisture. Additionally, and thanks to the Global Warming which most of the dittoheads on this forum refuse to acknowledge, you are operating in a Hot/Humid building climate now. Just a couple of years ago we were in a Mixed/Humid climate.

    Even in the Mixed/Humid milieu we were "ventilating" our crawl spaces with hot and humid air. So what little drying potential was realized from having crawl space ventilation was negated by the nature of the ventilation medium itself. That, among other reasons, is why Joe Lstiburek, PhD. has been petitioning folks for decades to stop building ventilated crawl spaces.

    It reminds me of when Stanley Marcus (of Nieman Marcus fame) hired Frank Lloyd Wright to design a house for him in North Dallas. Wright designed one of his modern monstrosities replete with walls of glass sliding doors with no screens. Marcus asked him if he'd ever spent a summer night in Texas, if he had lost his mind, and to change the design. Wright refused, and Marcus found someone with a bit more common sense to do the job.


  7. #7
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Soil covered vapor barrier

    Mr Miller

    You are not falling into the hype and pump of some PHD gentleman are you.

    Almost every closed crawl I have seen needed ventilation. Although the ideas might be sound the actual application of the complete barrier system is almost laughable.

    In my experience, yes, my experience, All, yes I said ALL, crawls should be ventilated. Almost every single crawl that was not ventilated that I have been in needed ventilation and had concerns.

    In a perfect world with perfectly conditioned (type) of soil and with perfect building practices some, perfect grading, full gutters, yes, some crawl could be sealed off.

    Contrary to what most think there is nothing wrong with drawing fresh, even if humid air, thru a crawl space.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Soil covered vapor barrier

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    Nick: The typical installations I've seen are poor with insufficient laps and holes everywhere. This is before someone deposits dirt on top. Removal of the dirt is likely to damage it even more. Better safe than sorry.
    If the original barrier is in tact and has no damage, there is no harm in attempting to gently remove some dirt and see what the membrane looks like. At worst, you find out it is damaged and needs to be replaced. At best, you see the barrier is fine and does not need replacement.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Soil covered vapor barrier

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    Mr Miller

    You are not falling into the hype and pump of some PHD gentleman are you.

    Almost every closed crawl I have seen needed ventilation. Although the ideas might be sound the actual application of the complete barrier system is almost laughable.

    In my experience, yes, my experience, All, yes I said ALL, crawls should be ventilated. Almost every single crawl that was not ventilated that I have been in needed ventilation and had concerns.

    In a perfect world with perfectly conditioned (type) of soil and with perfect building practices some, perfect grading, full gutters, yes, some crawl could be sealed off.

    Contrary to what most think there is nothing wrong with drawing fresh, even if humid air, thru a crawl space.
    Ted: You're hallucinating.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Soil covered vapor barrier

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    If the original barrier is in tact and has no damage, there is no harm in attempting to gently remove some dirt and see what the membrane looks like. At worst, you find out it is damaged and needs to be replaced. At best, you see the barrier is fine and does not need replacement.
    Nick: I can see an inspector gently removing the dirt from the typical 2500 s.f. crawl space. Thanks for the visual.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Soil covered vapor barrier

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    Ted: You're hallucinating.

    Well yeah know. I did find these mighty good tasting mushrooms the other day. They did make me feel kida good. Never saw this particualr variety though. Maybe I should watch what I eat


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Soil covered vapor barrier

    You should call for the owner to remove all the plastic and then reinspect the sub-structure. and if you don't find anything. your done move on.

    plastic in a sub-structure is a bad idea. everytime.

    fix the ventilation problem. in 30 years of inspecting i have never sold a plastic job and i never will just fix the ventilation and let the dirt have some air.

    The next inspector can just do and inspection and not required the seller to remove the plastic to complete the inspection

    Best

    Ron


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Soil covered vapor barrier

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    Ted: You appear to be overlooking the fact that soil moisture wicks up through the soil into the crawl space even if you do not have what would be considered "excessive" soil moisture. Additionally, and thanks to the Global Warming which most of the dittoheads on this forum refuse to acknowledge,

    Even in the Mixed/Humid milieu we were "ventilating" our crawl spaces with hot and humid air. So what little drying potential was realized from having crawl space ventilation was negated by the nature of the ventilation medium itself.
    .
    Dittohead Here,

    Global Warming = NO
    *Man made

    Ventilated Crawl = Dependent on the Climate the home is in.
    *ventilating a Crawl Space with Hot, Moist Air means more moisture going in than coming out.

    Vapor Retardant = Yes

    * gently removing the soil on the buried visqueen ??????

    Why not just install new vapor retardant over the current Crawl space area.
    .

    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

  14. #14
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Soil covered vapor barrier

    "ventilating a Crawl Space with Hot, Moist Air means more moisture going in than coming out. "

    Where do you guys get that from.

    Mass, Florida, Texas. Do not see the need in any of the states I lived in. (SEE NOTE AT BOTTOM) I have seen crawls with constant high moisture or water problems. Hello. Fix it. Don't just cover it up with plastic. Oh, I am sorry, visqueen, you old fart Billy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I wen dontoe duh sto anda bodd sum visqueen!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have always hated that word. Isn't that a world war 2 (No, I am not that old) word ???? Or just a tech talk bulcrap word. Is that even how you spell it?

    It is not saturating the wood. The wood may have a higher moisture content, sometimes, but not overly saturated. It will dry as the cooler dryer air comes thru *With proper ventilation*

    Most crawls do not and should not have a vapor barrier. There is no need. Unless of course you live in a swamp and if that is the case I suggest you move. If there is that much moisture under your home then you need more than a moisture barrier and you are going to have problems anyway.

    Again. I suggest you move. If you can't afford to move leave a candle burning under the curtains ans rebuild, with a slab, or in a drier area.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Soil covered vapor barrier

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    "ventilating a Crawl Space with Hot, Moist Air means more moisture going in than coming out. "

    Where do you guys get that from.

    Southface Home Page
    . Oh, I am sorry, visqueen, you old fart Billy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I wen dontoe duh sto anda bodd sum visqueen!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have always hated that word. Isn't that a world war 2 (No, I am not that old) word ???? Or just a tech talk bulcrap word. Is that even how you spell it?
    Visqueen Building Products
    .
    .
    ...
    * click on the Pretty picture Ted.

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    Last edited by Billy Stephens; 02-04-2009 at 05:52 AM. Reason: edit quote format
    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

  16. #16
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Soil covered vapor barrier

    [quote=Billy Stephens;71761]
    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    "ventilating a Crawl Space with Hot, Moist Air means more moisture going in than coming out. "

    Where do you guys get that from.

    Southface Home Page
    [quote/]

    .
    ...
    * click on the Pretty picture Ted.
    Southface needs to do an about face. THEY NEED TO GET OUT AND SEE THE WORLD NOW AND THEN.

    They do the ground work in Georgia and then weight for it to pour rain for a few days and then they pour their foundation and frame the deck immediately, over absolute saturated wet red Georgia clay that when covered up never dries out and they wonder why they have to cover it with plas.... oooops, *visqueen* especially when they never have proper ventilation. oH YES. wHEN IN fLORIDA i WENT TO aTLANTA AREA TO FIX UNGODLY AMOUNT OF SCREW UPS. pOOR BOYS JUST DUN KNOW ANY BETTER.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Soil covered vapor barrier

    I can hardly follow all the banter and inuendo in the thread but.... up here in soggy Oregon, crawls without a vapor barrier for prolonged periods have a greatly elevated instance of wood destroying insect infestation.

    I can just about promise you that a crawl with no vapor barrier for 50 years will have wood beetles on at least the north side of the structure, likely more.

    I'll concede that different parts of the country have very different conditions and characteristics. But, to just globally throw out the need for a vapor barrier ever is extremely negligent.

    Below is a picture from yesterday's inspection. No vapor barrier.... some newer wood in the picture. I always love the claim from other inspectors, bug treatment guys and contractors that beetles won't infest new wood....

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  18. #18
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Soil covered vapor barrier

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    I can hardly follow all the banter and inuendo in the thread but.... up here in soggy Oregon, crawls without a vapor barrier for prolonged periods have a greatly elevated instance of wood destroying insect infestation.

    I can just about promise you that a crawl with no vapor barrier for 50 years will have wood beetles on at least the north side of the structure, likely more.

    I'll concede that different parts of the country have very different conditions and characteristics. But, to just globally throw out the need for a vapor barrier ever is extremely negligent.

    Below is a picture from yesterday's inspection. No vapor barrier.... some newer wood in the picture. I always love the claim from other inspectors, bug treatment guys and contractors that beetles won't infest new wood....
    That is about any poorly maintained home. In any part of the country. Beatles, termites, carpenter ants, fifty year old home with or without vapor barrier.

    That vapor barrier has nothing to do with it.

    If a crawl has a moisture problem then there should be proper drainage, no matter what it takes, around the perimeter. Drain the water away from around the perimeter. Evne if it is a complete French drain. If that does not dry the soil under the home enough.... Move. gutters, slope etc. etc.

    Moisture, soil, wood, equals treat and maintain to keep those termites and such out. Why do you think all new homes a pre treated of some kind. All homes need it


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Soil covered vapor barrier

    Yes, as a Washington State Licensed Structural Pest Inspector I would recommend a new vapor barrier be installed.


  20. #20
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    Default Re: Soil covered vapor barrier

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    That is about any poorly maintained home. In any part of the country. Beatles, termites, carpenter ants, fifty year old home with or without vapor barrier.

    That vapor barrier has nothing to do with it.

    If a crawl has a moisture problem then there should be proper drainage, no matter what it takes, around the perimeter. Drain the water away from around the perimeter. Evne if it is a complete French drain. If that does not dry the soil under the home enough.... Move. gutters, slope etc. etc.

    Moisture, soil, wood, equals treat and maintain to keep those termites and such out. Why do you think all new homes a pre treated of some kind. All homes need it
    I'm going to say this is the different area thing I mentioned. Even a relatively dry crawl space up here has some moisture and has a good chance of bugs. Arguing against a vapor barrier is bad advice. Good advice is all of the things you mention to keep water away. The vapor barrier is just one more line of defense.

    It's like saying you are a good driver and have air bags so you're not going to wear a seatbelt. The plastic is minimal in cost, easy to install and has no downside.

    Again, things might be different in your part of the country. Unless you've spent a lot of time inspecting buildings in my area and can prove otherwise, you should really trust me on this. I'm not trying to tell you what happens in Texas because I've never inspected there and have no idea. 75% of the houses I inspect in Oregon have crawl spaces and I've been doing this long enough to establish some very distinct patterns.


  21. #21
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Soil covered vapor barrier

    Ted, Ron and Billy: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." - Albert Einstein


  22. #22
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    Default Re: Soil covered vapor barrier

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    .
    Ted, Ron and Billy: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." - Albert Einstein
    .
    Swallowing ( falling for ) the Hype with out proof is Smart ?

    * or just following the flock ?
    .

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    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
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  23. #23
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Soil covered vapor barrier

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Stephens View Post
    .
    Swallowing ( falling for ) the Hype with out proof is Smart ?

    * or just following the flock ?
    .
    Billy: Following the flock that is falling for the hype over and over and over and over - like your animated GIFS - they are repetitiously ranting their dittohead mantras.


  24. #24
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    Default Re: Soil covered vapor barrier

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    Billy: Following the flock that is falling for the hype over and over and over and over - like your animated GIFS - they are repetitiously ranting their dittohead mantras.
    .
    Thank You.
    .



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    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
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  25. #25
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    Default Re: Soil covered vapor barrier

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    Ted, Ron and Billy: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." - Albert Einstein

    You received the same email I did I see.


  26. #26
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Soil covered vapor barrier

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    Ted, Ron and Billy: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." - Albert Einstein
    I keep going to the bank each week.

    I'm must be loosing it

    Best

    Ron


  27. #27
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Soil covered vapor barrier

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Bibler View Post
    I keep going to the bank each week.

    I'm must be loosing it

    Best

    Ron
    Ron: Which one, blood bank, left bank . . . . .?

    If you meant a financial institution, the reason for your multiple trips is clear - they are closing at a faster rate than you can anticipate. Besides, begging at these banks will do you no good - they've already spent their bailout money on officer raises.

    Try the $perm bank. I hear they believe in give a little get a little.


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