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InOverMyHead 08-16-2008 09:28 AM

Bilco door installation???
I live in a small Cape Cod with a narrow interior basement stairwell. I want to move my washer/dryer into the basement and just have access to the base ment for larger objects, like another freezer.

I have pretty much decided to install a bulkhead door. I don't have the cash to pay someone to do it so I am doing it myself. I plan on pouring an exterior landing, building up the exterior walls of the pit with some sort of block, cutting the whole in the foundation and installing a door. I may go with a cap stype door that will require me to build up the exterior walls with a pitch. I have a 34" wide window in the place where I need the door.

How do I do this? My questions are this?

What kind of footing do I need under the pit?
Can I put a drain under it that filters down into crushed rock?
What kind of block should I use for the walls?
And most importantly, after I cut the foundation how do I sure up the opening?

I am going to get my plan together and watch Craigs list for the required material. I just missed a new 55" Bilco steel cap style door (does not have the triangular sides on it) for $225...

I will be extremely grateful to any and all advice. This is my first posting to this site...


glennjanie 08-16-2008 05:31 PM

Welcome Rich:
First off, are there blocks over the window? If so, you will need a longer lentil to support them after you cut your opening.
Typically, there will not be any blocks above the opening, in which case you can simply cut the wall opening without any additional reinforcement needed.
You will need your pit to have a drain or sump and sump pump to evacuate the rains that come in the pit. Your footing should be at least 8" thick and 16" wide with 2 #4 reinforcing bars continous.
I would recommend a concrete floor in the bottom of the pit and landscaping blocks that interlock to hold the dirt back on both sides. They can be dry stacked and are easy to reposition later, in case of erosion or movement of the dirt.

handyguys 08-18-2008 07:44 AM

You can get pre-fabricated stairs/walls that are formed for standard sizes of Bilco doors. The may take some equipment to install (bobcat or something). They bolt to basement wall and are caulked. Will need to dig a pretty big hole.

inspectorD 08-19-2008 08:40 AM

Tough job
These are a big issue with leaking. Water pressure is tough to beat. I use professionals, around here.

handyguys 08-19-2008 09:34 AM

Good point - Mine has a french drain below that draws water to a dry-well. The caulk used is was a heavy duty stuff. It looks like what is used in joints on commercial masonry construction. The face where the pre-fab steps attaches to the foundation was liberally coated before bolting it on then more of the caulk was applied to the joints and troweled smooth. The Bilco door is also caulked and bolted to the prefab steps and properly flashed where it meets the house. No water in 4 years.

InOverMyHead 08-19-2008 05:16 PM

So Glenn,

You bring up some interesting insight. The existing window is 34" wide and the top part of the window frame is mounted into the wooden plate running along the top of the block of the foundation. So I DO NOT need a lenlit or some sort of support? Please tell me that you are some sort of engineer and this is a hard fact.

Second, on the pit drain. How would I tie in a sump pump on an exterior drain? Would a good layer of rock under the drain work like a french drain?

I hear what you are saying about the footing with rebarb. But my last question is about the wall. Don't I need to tie the walls of the pit into the foundation? How stable will the Bilco door be if the pit walls move? Or will the footer in the foundation prevent that?

The vision is starting to firm up in my head and you already have me feeling that I can do this.


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