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lateracer 02-11-2013 12:37 PM

Can I Dig Out My Crawl Space?
I live in a 30's built home with Pier/Beam Fdtn in Atalanta. I think I have about 12-14in of crawl space between the ground and the floor joists.

I would like to have about 36" of crawl space to tackle some projects like insulating floors, vapor barrier, cross bracing floor joists, rodent control measures, etc.

I'm concerned about how much, if any, dirt I can remove from around the piers. Any advice on which direction to start?

Gary in WA 02-11-2013 01:02 PM

Fig. 3, shows a 45* angle from the footings to allow for the load transfer to the ground. I wouldn't go less than that, IMO. I dropped grade in my crawl from 6" under joists to get work access also. Use plenty of lights, short-handled shovels, dust masks, gloves, long-sleeved shirts, hats, long-handled garden rake, rig a wheeled low trolley box or a couple of plastic snow sleds with double ropes (one each end) and use two teenage boys if you have them, works great...


oh'mike 02-11-2013 07:19 PM guys can help you.

HomeSealed 02-12-2013 08:52 AM

+1... Just be prepared for misery, lol.

ddawg16 02-12-2013 09:20 AM


Originally Posted by oh'mike (Post 1115275)

Yep...the crew from "The Great Escape"...great movie....

Did you know that Steve McQueen did his own MC stunts....except for the jump.,...they just wouldn't let him do that one....

ddawg16 02-12-2013 09:21 AM


Originally Posted by HomeSealed (Post 1115590)
+1... Just be prepared for misery, lol.

That is an understatement.....

Oh, and don't forget the beer cost....that type of project is typically the type you do while having a 'cold one' near by. You could go through a lot of beer.

md2lgyk 02-12-2013 10:17 AM

There is no way I would attempt such a thing. The beer cost would be prohibitive.

stadry 02-12-2013 01:01 PM

gimme a call,,, i'm in e cobb, largely retired, & would take a look w/you,,, where's your nearest amigo employment agency ( gas station/st corner/apron-vest store ) as that's a lotta dirt to move,,, i'd feel much better if you poured conc collars about the beams prior to excavation :thumbsup:

i won't charge you but thought i did read something about BEER :drink: ? ? ? ? ? ? :party:then again, i may be mistaken

lateracer 02-12-2013 03:31 PM


Originally Posted by itsreallyconc (Post 1115800)
gimme a call,,, i'm in e cobb, largely retired, & would take a look w/you,,,

Will do. Really appreciate the offer. I'm not ready to start my dig, but I'll reach out to you when I've got a better idea of what the project would look like from start to finish. I still have a few things to sort out (like where the dirt will go) and I haven't crawled around under the house enough yet, so I need to get to know the battle field a little better. I suspect I may have a french drain in the center of the house, which would probably require some kind of consideration from a project plan.


Originally Posted by itsreallyconc (Post 1115800)
i'd feel much better if you poured conc collars about the beams prior to excavation :thumbsup:

On the same page with you for this one. Using the 45 degree rule and assuming the footings are 6 feet apart, I would be limited to a series of 2ft wide trenches between the piers. Doesn't sound useful or safe...more of a way to improve my odds of crawling through rat turds.


Originally Posted by itsreallyconc (Post 1115800)
i won't charge you but thought i did read something about BEER :drink: ? ? ? ? ? ? :party:then again, i may be mistaken

My beer to $$ in lieu of payment rate is pretty generous, although I have been known to eat(drink) the profits.

Amazingglazier 02-21-2013 11:02 PM

You would be surprised where you could put the dirt! Saw a family by my shop underpin the entire house to make a full basement apartment with 2 spanish guys and 5 gallon buckets, spread the dirt in the yard, you would never notice , neither did any inspectors or code enforcement guys! Was amazed reminded me of that movie "shawshank redemption" never saw a wheelbarrow and every block delivery went thru the basement window in like an instant, truck would drop the blocks and cement one minute and poof it was gone, lol! Have fun!

RWolff 02-24-2013 01:55 PM

I've done that under my kitchen which was original a back porch on this 1930 house.
It had a foot tall crawl space and a brick chimney in the corner of the house.
I wanted the chimney gone, so that was pulled out first, and that gave me access to the space.
I had to dig out the area by hand, about 8-1/2' wide, 15' long, and 6' down, hauling the dirt out in 5 gallon buckets took all summer.
The joists were resting on squared off logs that probably came from an old railroad depot next door that was demolished around 1920, they were pine, about 12"x12" 8' long simply laid on some flat rocks on the ground, all of those were rotten inside.
I removed all of those, and dug down around the perimeter inside 2 feet deeper, put gravel and a drain tile to a sump pit in the corner, poured a footing and built a concrete block wall to 3-1/2"- 4" below the undersides of the joists, fileld the cavities of the blocks with styrofoam pellets, the back side of the block walls 1" celotex, and plastic sheeting, and then a strip of aluminum sheet wide enough to cover the tops of the blocks and bend over the sides an inch, 2 layers of 2x6 on top for the plate, and then the joists rest on that.
Now I have a utility room for storage shelves, washer/dryer and furnace.
The dirt removed covered up a gravel loop-te-doo part of the driveway in the backyard the previous owners had, they didn't want to back cars out the driveway so they just drove in a circle around the backyard and out LOL.
The dirt removed covered that all with about a 5" layer and the grass grew once seeded there. You can't tell there ever was a driveway there now.

The plan view CAD shows the space dug out, the dark areas are concrete foundation walls. I added a window at grade level. The dark blue square is a sump pit, the dark red is where an 1880's era 12" clay drain pipe went under the house from the old railroad roundhouse, it is one of two pipes that dont appear on any city or county maps, and the section under the house was taken out in 1930 to build the house.
The pipes long out of use still collect ground/rain water from the 30 acre field above leaking into every joint and crack, and since it was terminated in my basement by removing the pipes there in 1930, most every spring I had hundreds of gallons of water an hour coming in when the snow melted!
After a few years of that I decided to rent an excavator and dig the damn things 50 feet out to the property line in back, plug the ends at both sides with concrete, and fill the hole back up with dirt.
No further water has come out since I did that 4 years ago, but the three sump pits are still here with the pumps.
It was thought the lines went to the below grade engine turntable pit for drainage, and a couple of large water tanks, it goes a couple hundred feet out in the field where the roundhouse once stood, and under my house, the road and no one knows where from there, maybe creek.
The top of the pipes are about 6' below grade, made of 12" diameter 12" long clay sections butted up to one another with no mortar.

Fix'n it 02-24-2013 02:23 PM

NO beer for me, while i am working. the job would come to an abrupt stop. i just set the beers around the work site, so i can see them. that makes me work faster.

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