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Old 03-06-2013, 03:22 PM   #1
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Basement floor of old house is in rough shape


I have a hundred year old house in Iowa with badly cracked basement floor. I think it's likely the original floor and it is thin.

It is annoying because we have the washer and dryer downstairs and we are constantly dealing with the dust and dirt from the ground.

Basement height is a little over six feet. If I were to replace the existing floor with a new thicker floor (I'm guessing it is 2" now and the new one would be 4") then I would lose some clearance. If I put drain tiles, 4" of pea gravel and 1 or 2" of foamboard insulation and a vapor barrier, I would lose a lot more and I wouldn't be able to use the space anymore.

My foundation walls do not have footings as far as I can tell. They're clay block walls. Is it possible to dig out that much soil 6-7" without compromising my foundation walls?

Or would I be better off just patching up small areas and forgetting the drain time vapor barrier and insulation?

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Old 03-06-2013, 03:25 PM   #2
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Basement floor of old house is in rough shape


IT's entirely possible the "original" floor was just dirt, and someone poured a half-ass slab on top of that at some point down the road.

If it's truly just a basement that you use for laundry - and don't plan on making into a living space - I would just build something to put the laundry on, lay down a small utilitarian / outdoor "carpet" or something leading to that area, and be done with it. We have a similar set up, and our washer and drier are just on essentially a homemade / large pallet to keep them off the floor (also for water reasons).

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Old 03-06-2013, 10:37 PM   #3
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Basement floor of old house is in rough shape


That may be my only option depending on how much lower I can dig for the new floor. Do you know how I could find that out? Would I want to hire an engineer for that determination?
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Old 03-06-2013, 10:44 PM   #4
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Basement floor of old house is in rough shape


You could always lower but how is the water table in your area? You probabky have to leave some dove off the the foundation walls not to disturb it unless u plan in bracing it. I replaced part of my basment floor and its fine. No foambord or just gravel. If its dry its dry.

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Old 03-06-2013, 10:49 PM   #5
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Basement floor of old house is in rough shape


Water table isn't a problem. I recently had a new beam put in with new footings dug out. The footings were fairly deep. May a foot and a half? I don't need to go that far. Ideally I'd like to get 3-4" of pea gravel a vapor barrier and 2" of foamboard under a new reinforced 4" floor.
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Old 03-07-2013, 08:58 PM   #6
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Basement floor of old house is in rough shape


Go for it and post before and after pics. Sucks to move all that dirt out from the basement. It will probably be well worth it. New slab. Level floor and a little warmer too. Good luck.

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Old 03-08-2013, 07:24 AM   #7
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Basement floor of old house is in rough shape


from under the house go against the foundation wall and dig an exploratory hole to see just how far down the foundation goes into the dirt, you can even use a piece of rebar to poke on an angle if dirt is soft. that will tell you a lot about the wall. If you were wanting to dig down 4' or something like lots of people want to do in the basement then you would be compromising the foundation walls in a big way but putting a slab on top should not be a problem
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Old 03-08-2013, 09:00 AM   #8
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Basement floor of old house is in rough shape


It feels like there's another foot but I can't say precisely. I'd like to do 3-4" pea gravel, 2" foamboard insulation, and a 3" reinforced floor
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Old 03-08-2013, 12:05 PM   #9
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Basement floor of old house is in rough shape


You may not dig below the bottom edge of the foundation except by maintaining a 1:3 slope inward. So to lower the floor by six inches below the foundation you would have to limit your digging to 18 inches in from the foundation wall (and an 18 degree slope up from there to the foundation) which of course reduces the available floor area.

Someone with experience can excavate lower than that by doing it about two feet of horizontal distance at a time, building support (underpinning) for the foundation, then moving on to the next two feet, and so on.

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