Bellingham Home Inspector (King of the House) -- Cover that Crawl Space

Home Inspector with King of the House Home Inspection, Inc
It seems so simple but this is something that is wrong so much of the time in Bellingham and Whatcom County. At most houses, there is an entry into the crawl space. We hope that there is a door or cover on that crawl space entry. Now the animals -- cats, raccoons, possums and rats -- would just as soon that you kept it open. We inspectors find some unpleasant surprises in crawl spaces that are open and fair-game to animals.

However, the most common problem I find, involves crawl space covers that are inappropriate. They will be made of wood or a composite wood, resting flat on the hatch. The wood is rotten from the continual moisture. Or maybe they are wood and resting in contact with soil, again we have rot. Sometimes there is wood, like decking boards, with gaps and water enters the crawl space from gaps in that cover. When there is a metal well at the entry, a professional metal cover is made to go with the well. The problem is, sometimes that cover is bunged up. In the photo below, this cover keeps the raccoons out, but there was plenty of room for rat entry to allow their activity in the deep dark corners of the crawl space.

Having a good crawl space cover seems like such a minor thing, but failure to have a proper cover can lead to water entry and damage from pests to the flex ducts, insulation and other important components that are down in the crawl space.

Steven L. Smith

Bellingham WA Home Inspections

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Steve Hoffacker
Hoffacker Associates LLC - West Palm Beach, FL
New Home Sales Trainer, Aging-In-Place Instructor


I hope your rabies shots are up to date with all that crawling around with the vermin. :)


May 01, 2009 11:04 AM #1
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Half the time these look more like water collection systems.

May 01, 2009 11:56 AM #2
Carol Culkin
Reece & Nichols - Leawood, KS
Overland Park

Steve - Failure to have the proper cover can probably be detected by the nose upon gining access inside the house. For some reason, I seem to be showing a lot of homes lately that smell moldy from the moment I step inside.   

May 01, 2009 02:20 PM #3
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

I just had another one recently. Plywood, delaminating.

May 01, 2009 04:34 PM #4
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

My worst crawl space experience was a black widow bite.  It made me woosy and my eyesight blurry for about 2 hours.  My client was a very nice female who called my wife and then the hospital.  They told her not to let me drive for 2 hours.  And she wouldn't!

May 10, 2009 07:36 PM #5
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Steven L. Smith

Bellingham WA Home Inspector
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