Being a home inspector lets me witness a condition that pops up fairly often in Salem, Oregon, area: Water in crawl spaces. Home inspections do not allow me participate in diagnostics very often but sometimes I do get called out to diagnose where water is coming with my high-tech infrared camera.
Crawl space construction in this area is very popular for a few reasons. The two main reasons are; one: it takes less concrete, read- Cheaper. and Two: it puts the wood members of the house up off the ground when our high water table potentially allows water to bubble up from the ground. Ideally crawl spaces should not be wet however it is not a terribly uncommon issue in this area and the main culprit is the gutters and downspouts and what they are up to when they go underground.
Right after the foundation is poured, the underground piping is installed. This means that every other trade that is working on their part of the home has to step over the newly installed plastic pipes. Once the pipes are covered up, near the end completion of the home it is sometimes out of sight and out of mind.
The most compelling evidence I had for this condition was on a listed home that had an offer and a home inspection. The sellers called me out to try and locate the source of the water. After some trial and error per my suggestions the handy home owner disconnected the downspouts and shoved the garden hose down the pipe and filled the pipe with water. He went into the crawlspace and noted the water bubbling up under the foundation near his front door.
The door had a nice slab of concrete leading to the entrance so the home owner rerouted that troublesome pipe into a drywell near the perimeter of his lot and promptly dried up his wet crawlspace.
Diagnostics don’t always work like that but for years I have seen water in crawl spaces and a majority of the time I can find the gutter and downspout that is the contributor.
You can find more information on crawlspaces here: