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Inadequate Crawlspace

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robertri

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I have a very tight crawlspace that needs to be lowered to at least 24". It's very hard clay so a tool to break it up would be a great idea. Anyway, I've been researching and it seems to be common practice to excavate an external opening and dig out from there. However, I was wondering if I could pull up the floors (which need to be replaced due to mold issues anyway) and access the area from above. One problem I see is getting around the floor joists to dig. Would I be able to move them out of the way (remove/replace them) as we go or is that a bad idea? Are there other concerns I need to consider? Its not a very large area and it has deep footings so I don't think 2 feet down will destabalize them.
 

nealtw

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Leaving the floor joists in place and digging is inconvenient but very do able. As most houses have the outside walls sitting in the floor, removing them could add more trouble than it's worth unless you are going to replace them anyway. Then your idea of one at a time would be fine. For tight spaces and hard dirt a small jack hammer or a large hammer drill is the tool for cheating.
And welcome to the site.
 

beachguy005

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You might want to also consider raising the house up. I had house movers raise one up 7 feet over its foundation and added a walkout basement. At the time I was surprised at how little it cost.
 

robertri

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I have heard of vacuums that can suck up dirt but I have no idea where to find one. It would seem to me that this would be very convenient in a situation like this.
 

bud16415

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Is the crawl space totally enclosed on all sides and water tight. If not is the grade such that going down 2 feet will not create a wet area. What are your reasons to want to go deeper is it just to gain access to pipes etc for repairs. Sometimes people just dig out enough to get to where they need to be.

Could you post a few photos of how your house is constructed.
 

robertri

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Here are a few pictures of the good side. The other side is even lower and inaccessible. It is totally enclosed. No vents. No access points.

IMG_3177.jpg

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IMG_3171.jpg
 

slownsteady

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Bud brings up a good point; how's your drainage now and how might it change if you dig? I guess you can't insulate unless you dig, though.
 

robertri

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I can't be certain if there is any major water intrusion since I can't get inside, but the outside has a decent grade. I suspect that most of the moisture is just coming from the raw earth and without any ventilation, this moisture builds up to create an environment conducive to molds etc. Mold isn't the only problem though as I need to get down there for other reasons. Can't even fit in there right now. I am really curious about so-called vacuum excavators to move the dirt.
 

nealtw

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The side in the photo has already been worked on, extensively.
You have our sympathy, there is no easy answer.
 

nealtw

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In more than one photo , you can see the ends of floor joists where there should be no ends, looks a little like new have been sistered on to old.
 

nealtw

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When I was young I worked hooking old houses to the new city sewer line and had to dig trenches under houses to work on the plumbing, really neat when the old system had backed up and leaked, black slime, great fun.:(
 

slownsteady

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You're going to want to make sure you don't disturb the footings. I'm just now wondering if you need deeper footings if you remove some dirt.
 

nealtw

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You're going to want to make sure you don't disturb the footings. I'm just now wondering if you need deeper footings if you remove some dirt.
Frost protection is the first concern but he can leave the dirt around the edges for that protection. Then he would only worry about the access point.
 

bud16415

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Can you post some photos from outside showing the shape of your house? It looks to be a fairly simple building design. Before I started digging I would entertain the idea of raising it up a couple blocks. I don’t think that’s a DIY project but getting a cost couldn’t hurt.
 

robertri

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The foundation walls are deep as can be seen in the attached pic. The pic also shows other issues with the older part of foundation. Open to comments on that as well; whether we need to build a retaining wall or some sort of support for the older foundation walls. Bunch of problems I am sure.

New_Old_Foundation_defect-water_penetration-1 (1).jpg
 

nealtw

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Some times you can rent the right equipment for moving dirt.
[ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhvnUKMAr1I[/ame]
 

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