Pea gravel in a crawl space

Not sure if this is the right place to post this question, but here goes.

The house I just moved into has a serious problem with water in the crawl space. I have pumped it out with a shop vac (yeah, I’m about ready to die) but I have since bought everything I need to install a pit and a sump pump. (more pain and agony)

However I was wondering why someone would put pea gravel on the dirt and then cover it with plastic. Does the pea gravel encourage mositure to rise?

Also, when I get the pump all hooked up, is it O.K. to run the electricity to a outlet in the crawl space (not yet a GFI) by using the shortest heavy duty extension cord I can find, untill I can afford an electrician to run it to a dedicated circuit?

Many thanks in advance and I think this forum is great…


Crawlspaces can be problematic depending on your part of the country. Here in the Carolina’s with the high humidity, clay soils and sometimes rising water table, it becomes conducive to fungi and can in fact lead to deterioration of wood components and insulation falling down.

Builders make various attempts to deal with the moisture by either putting gravel, rock dusts, sand etc and cover with 6 mil poly. If its really bad sometimes interior french drains are installed as well as power vents.

The problem with many of these systems is that it does not deal with the moisture effectively which can be a problem especially those with breathing problems or immune system deficiencies.

I have done encapsulated systems which are highly effective and energy efficient.
This type of system is slightly more expensive but in the long run pays for itself not to mention the overall health benefit.

Let me say that encapsulated systems should be installed by a professional… I have seen numerous companies that are doing it wrong.

Anyway, to answer your electrical question…because the crawlspace does have moisture inside same the receptacle needs to be a GFCI. Extension cords used in the manner you describe often have a tendency to become permanent…running a dedicated line to the pump (with an alarm) is warranted and I am sure can be accomplished inexpensively. Get some quotes from a licensed electrical contractor.
I suspect it will range anywhere from $75 - $150.00 depending on if you have any existing GFCI circuit and the amount of wire needed.



Are you just now finding out about the moisture problem? Did you have it inspected before you bought it?

I’d get the sump hooked up, cover the ground 95% with 6 mil. poly and see what happens. Have the moisture content in the wood checked by a termite inspector (or home inspector)…set up an annual termite inspection in July or August when humidity conditions are the worst. If the moisture content is < 20% and there is no standing water, you may be OK without the expense of encapsulation. There are a lot of factors that contribute to moisture in the wood and insulation deterioration. The overall height of the crawl space and ventilation is one of them. Low crawl spaces filled with HVAC ducts suffer the worst problems.

So as not to have to crawl in dirt or mud and to help limit the amount of moisture evaporating out of the soil. Any moisture condensing on the plastic will drain back down through the pea gravel.

Rick, nobody wants to say it’s OK to put yourself in danger. You can get extension cords with GFCIS incorporated into the cord- pretty inexpensive.


My first questions are…

How is the water getting into this crawlspace?

Is it a high water table or is it seeping in from the exterior?

David, that’s pretty difficult to figure out, don’t you think, during the limited time of a home inspection.


It’s his own house. So why is it limited? He lives there…

Many thanks to all that replied. In all honesty I used to own this house some 16 years ago. I gave it to my wife in a divorce. Due to her health conditions, she was not able to keep up the maintance or the payments.
I took it over from her just two months ago, not realizing all the problems, I just did not want to see her lose it in foreclosure.

Anyway, in regards to the mositure in the crawl, it is now much worse than that. There is one spot in the middle, about 15 feet from the foundation, where a actual hole was made from the force of the water. The ground there is higher than around the foundation. This week end after draining it again with a 6 gal Shop-Vac and carrying the water out doing a duck walk, about 30 times, I started digging out the hole to enlarge it in order to place a sump pump and pit. The deeper I dug, I could push my hand down and feel water. ( I wish I could send some one a few pictures in order to get your ideas of what is causing this and get some more recommendations)

The reason I was asking about the extension cord,is I am not sure if I want to keep in where it is or not. Also, This house has drained me dry aleady. (No pun intended) I know nothing about electrical work. That is why I wanted to use and extension cord since there is already an outlet down there. Not GFI, just a standard one. The pump will not run in automatic mode, but it will using just the one wire alone.

I think I will check out the extension cord with the GFI built in, as mentioned above.

Thanks again to everybody, and if someone could explain the mysterious hole in the ground, please let me know.

My bad. Forgot about that.