Crawlspace trap door

House Repair Talk

Help Support House Repair Talk:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

Ron Van

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2019
Messages
1,236
Reaction score
2,279
Location
Alabama – Left California 2020
Our house that we bought in 2020 was built in 1970 and added on to over the last 52 years. There are 2 crawlspaces with 2 separate access doors. Both are outside and go through the foundation. Here is the one.

IMG_3798.jpg
It is pretty nice (size wise) and not a problem but the one I'm concerned with is this one.

IMG_3799.jpg

It's much smaller. I can fit through this opening okay although it is a belly crawl to get in there. The extension cord coming out of the opening powers a series of LED shop lights to make it easier to work in there.

The problem I have is the HVAC. It was installed some time after the original house was built and the main duct (which is quite large) runs straight across the original house cutting the crawl space half in two. I can not crawl under it, so to get to the other side (where I want to work) I must crawl around the main HVAC duct, which is quite a distance and not an easy task. A day of crawling back and forth (to retrieve a tool or part) is exhausting. I figure it is 75 ft in each direction. Part of the journey is accomplished on all fours but some of the journey is a belly crawl to get under stuff. Doing this while carrying parts and tools makes me quite sore at the end of a day.

Crawlspace trap door 005.jpg

The house I grew up in as a kid had a trap door in a closet to access the crawlspace and I'm interested in learning more about the pros and cons of having a trap door inside the house.

Crawlspace trap door 008.jpg

Do they still install access doors inside houses these days?

Is there a problem with it?

How are they sealed against cold/hot and other stuff?

Does anyone have examples and/or pictures?
 
Last edited:
I don’t see any problem with a trap door to access the stuff right at the area you need to. I have never built one as have always had basements but would build one in a heartbeat rather than make that crawl even once.



I built kind of one into a closet to access the backside of the shower plumbing in my old house in a closet.



I would make it just one joist bay wide and just frame in a ledge and drop in a piece of sub-flooring in and then attach the finished flooring to it to match.



When you mentioned it the first thing I thought of was the one Walter White built in his house in Breaking Bad to repair his plumbing and ended up stashing his money down there. The trap door played a big part in the show.



Go for it.
 
I don’t see any problem with a trap door to access the stuff right at the area you need to. I have never built one as have always had basements but would build one in a heartbeat rather than make that crawl even once.
Yes, I'm thinking, unless someone comes up with a solid reason why not to...I'm going to do it! That means crawling under there, the long way, one more time to drill a small hole up through the floor right next to the joist to get a precise location for the access hole. It's a hardwood floor, so I want to make a nice cut so I can reuse the hardwood to finish the cover.
I would make it just one joist bay wide and just frame in a ledge and drop in a piece of sub-flooring in and then attach the finished flooring to it to match.
Yes, I agree. I think what I'll do is make my cutout to the outside of the existing joist so my door will rest on the old existing joist and then sister a 2x6 outside of the existing joist to support the old existing floor.

1676297688050.png

When you mentioned it the first thing I thought of was the one Walter White built in his house in Breaking Bad to repair his plumbing and ended up stashing his money down there. The trap door played a big part in the show.
I never got around to watching Breaking Bad, however, I know it was hugely popular.
Go for it.

Thanks for the encouragement!
 
Yes I like the idea of where to cut the opening and that will give you the max wiggle room getting in.



Every year you get older you will thank yourself for doing it.
 
have always had basements but would build one in a heartbeat rather than make that crawl even once.
Luckily, When I redid our kitchen, there was a huge rotted spot under the kitchen sink that my Grandson fell through. It created an access hole right under the sink that was pretty handy for plumbing the new kitchen.

IMG_0662.jpg

This picture actually tells a huge story. You can see the original Galvanized drain line in the wall. The trap arm was cut through 3 framing members to go around the kitchen window.

The trap arm rusted out, which I imagine caused a lot of the water damage, so they replaced it with a PVC "S" trap (which is against code these days).

IMG_0596.jpg

There was quite a bit of water/rot damage back there which created a nice access hole for me. It was also a nice way for rodents to get around ;-(

I ended up replacing several studs and the sill plate with PT wood as well as the subfloor. I put a smaller 3/4" plywood patch in the subfloor after installing support for it and then put the larger 3/4" plywood piece to bring the floor up to it's original height. I waterproofed the entire area with kerdi tape and aqua Defense (like Red Guard).

IMG_0690.jpg

I had the sheetrock off all the kitchen walls which gave me the chance to rewire the kitchen and the rooms adjoining it. It's a huge bonus to have modern wiring in the kitchen since most of the circuitry in the house is in the kitchen.

IMG_0722.jpg

I took this picture this morning to show the kitchen's current status. I guess an access hole in the closet should be easier than this job...I hope!

Note: We ended up replacing the aluminum frame window(s) with Marvin dual pane, fiberglass frame windows.
IMG_3807.jpg
 
Your work looks great. If you are like me I get people all the time saying would you like to do my kitchen or whatever room they need. I tell them heck no I would have hired mine done if I could have found anyone I trusted to do it right, and doing it myself wore me out.



I really respect those that do quality work as a profession. Doing it day in and day out is not a easy task.
 
Your knees will thank you. Plus now you have a space to hide the money.
 
It looks so good that I started to add one then remembered I built on a slab.
 
I built a 2x6 frame (double thickness) around the hole. Most of that frame is under the existing floor and 1" sticks out for the trap door to sit on. I cut a 3/4" piece of plywood to replace the subfloor slats. I pried the hardwood off the old subfloor slats and installed the hardwood on my new piece of plywood. The trap door is about 1/16" of and inch thinner than the original flooring which will be perfect to put a thin gasket of some kind under it to seal it up.

IMG_3865.jpg


IMG_3866.jpg

IMG_3867.jpg
 
Leave the hole exposed. That will keep you sober!
 
Back
Top