Your Place: Warming up a chilly crawl space

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Q: What is the best way to heat the crawl space under my first floor?

The house is very old and has a dirt floor about three feet under the flooring, and the walls are stone. Total size is 15-feet-by-20-feet.

There is a basement that is also cold. There is a small opening from the basement into the crawl space.

I was going to have an electric baseboard unit added to each space, but thought I would check to see what you recommend.

A: Very expensive to operate is my first thought about such units.

I was reading a very interesting article at Green Energy Efficient Homes that addresses your situation, and I would recommend that you look at it, too, before you take any action.

Go to http://www.green-energy-efficient-homes.com/crawl-space-heater.html

Q: I have a single-family detached home. It is one story with an attic and no basement.

When it rains heavily, water seeps into the two bedrooms. I had a French drain put in, which cost me $2,400.

It seemed to have solved most of the problem until a recent heavy rain that caused water to seep again into the corners of the room.

Iíd like to know whether there is any other solution that will help.

A: If your house is in a place where lots of rain fell in a few hours, I would think that the French drain system, no matter how well it was crafted, just couldnít handle that volume of water.

It had to go somewhere.

Also, Iíve observed firsthand that French drains tend to get clogged with debris and need to be cleaned regularly, as do drains along the interior perimeter of basements.

Another thing we need to consider here: Because there was a problem that the French drain seemed to have fixed, you naturally linked the seepage in the rooms to it. But it could be that a roof leak has developed.

Or that a leak may have been part of the original drainage problem but didnít come into its own until that heavy rainfall.

Or it may simply be clogged gutters.

But if it is a leak, there is little doubt that future heavy rains will only make it worse.