The short answer is yes. If you live in a humid climate and have a dirt layered crawl space then you need at least a vapor barrier. If not, you are exposing your floor joists and sub floor to moisture that could lead to mold and eventually costly repairs if left unattended.
This is a tough question without looking at the property, but the most common reason for water pooling under a house is poor gutter drainage. You need to make sure your gutters are clear of leaves and debris so that the water only exits out the downspout. Also, gutter downspout extensions can make a huge difference for many home owners. (see: do I need gutter downspout extensions)
Most likely, your crawl space has not properly been cared for and mold or termites have been able to flourish. When there is moisture under your house, mold is then allowed to grow and floor joists then begin to rot. Under a load, these rotten floor joists can no longer hold up and begin to sag and bounce. It is important to have a moisture barrier down to keep mold from growing and also a good crawl space specialist will remove any discarded wood from under the crawl space before laying a barrier to prevent termites from being attracted to the area.
We recommend a crawl space encapsulation. It completely seals off the soil from the rest of the crawl space, by taping all the seams, extending the barrier up the foundation walls, installing insulation on the foundation walls, and closing all the vents. Then with a dehumidifier installed, mold and other wood damaging organisms don't have a chance to grow.
There is a big debate on this topic. Some new houses are being built now without vents, while some still use vents. Now our goal is to keep all the moisture out of the crawl space and leaving the vents open allows the humid air to enter the crawl space. The easiest way to describe it is this; You control the climate in your house and keep the humidity out by keeping all the windows and doors closed. Now open every window in your house and all that humidity and moisture is now in your house. That is what you're doing when you leave the vents open in the crawl space. But you need to control the moisture within your crawl space before you close the vents or you could be doing more damage than good. A crawl space encapsulation in recommended before closing your vents.
The most common reason I find why home owners have standing water under their house is no gutter downspout extensions. All the water from the area of your roof is coming out those gutter downspouts and if they don't direct the water away from the house, then you have hundreds to thousands of gallons of water soaking into the ground and through your foundation.
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Western KY and Southern IL