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djbauda 07-16-2007 10:56 PM

crawlspace exposed to outside and damp
Hello. I have a small crawlspace attached to the full sized basement in my house. The basement has 7' ceilings. The crawlspace ceiling is at the same height as the basement but the ground level in the crawlspace is higher than my basement floor - I'd say there's about 3 feet of clearance. The crawlspace is accessible by what used to be a window opening in the basement wall. Above the crawlspace is a laundry room and a bathroom, sitting on a tile floor. I've noticed this summer that the tile floor has risen and the bathroom door now gets a little stuck on the floor. I thought that the humidity in the crawlspace might be forcing the wood to expand, causing the floor to push up. Anyway, during the day I can see daylight coming in from a corner in the crawlspace. Additionally, the floor of the crawlspace looks like a mixture of dirt and large chunks of concrete. There used to be insulation on the ceiling of the crawlspace but it looks like moisture has caused it to fall down (I guess due to weight). Since there is a large cast iron pipe going through the accessible area (window) I don't think any adult can fit in there. This pipe connects to my bathroom and laundry area. Does anyone have any ideas for how to address this? Will the pipe have to be temporarily removed so that the sill plate where the daylight is coming in can be fixed? What about the dirt floor? Isn't that bad for bugs and moisture? NOTE: I found a dead bird in my basement recently and I thought I smelled a little urine near the crawlspace. Maybe a cat or racoon has entered the crawlspace.

What type of company do I call in to address these issues?

Thank you!

Mike Swearingen 07-16-2007 11:25 PM

I would get a licensed General Contractor to inspect the crawlspace, and recommend solutions to the problems you're encountering.
The door may be dragging on the floor due to settling issues, and the floor may need to be jacked up a bit and reinforced or permanently braced.
You don't want any openings in your crawlspace or basement that will allow small animals in.
If you have a moisture issue, that needs to be addressed by better ventilation. I have a 10" louvered exhaust fan in my crawlspace door that runs 24/7 during all but freezing weather that keeps it fairly dry under my home.
Good luck!

Ron6519 07-19-2007 07:01 AM

You don't mention where you live, but if there was insulation in the bays before it would probably be a good idea to replace it. To cut down on the moisture coming up from the dirt, cover the dirt with plastic. I have the same set up. Crawl space with about 30" of space. When I moved in in '92 I covered the dirt with a 4 mil plastic and put R25 fiberglass batts in the joists.
If you're getting cats and/or raccoons in there you have more then "light in the corner" issues. Did you walk around the perimeter of the structure looking for openings?
Mikes' suggestions sound like a place to start.

djbauda 07-25-2007 11:38 PM

First of all, thanks for the replies. To answer some of the questions, I live on Long Island, NY. I can't inspect the outside because there is a deck surrounding the area where the crawlspace is. Well, I guess that I can pull up several boards on the deck to look from the ground.

The basement is from around 1950. I believe the crawlspace was added on some years later when the first floor was expanded, though I'm not sure of the dates.

I took a closer look tonight and it appears that one of the 2x8s running horizontally across from one sill plate to another has a major split in it. Additionally, the corner where the light is coming in doesn't have a full sill plate connecting to the other side. It looks like a section is missing, so I'm not sure how the structure is fully supported in that corner.

I need to get a general contractor in to take a look at it. I've had two different basement/waterproofing companies in who told me that I can address the issue of the crawlspace by putting a piece of plywood over the opening from the basement to the crawlspace. Obviously, that doesn't fix the problem - it's a pathetic solution.

Thanks for your help.

djbauda 07-29-2007 10:36 PM

Okay, so I had two different companies come in yesterday to look at the crawlspace. It turns out that about 8 feet of my bottom sill plate is completely rotted out. Additionally, I'm missing a part of the sill plate in the corner of the house. The rotted out wood is most likely due to both the water exposure and termites (termite stations were installed a year before I purchased the house).

It turns out that the split 2x8 I previously mentioned isn't really split. Due to the concrete it's resting on, 8" was apparently too much so whoever installed it basically cut the 2x8 so that it would fit properly on the concrete but also be level with the other joists.

The height in the crawlspace is only 1 foot from concrete floor to joist. Because of that, this has to be addressed from outside, so part of my deck has to be disassembled and part of the siding has to be removed.

The first company I had in won't do the work because it's just a waterproofing company. The second company would do it, but only if I also had them install a sump pump and dig out the exterior of about 15' worth of foundation wall so that they could tar it and waterproof it. I didn't like this company...they were just throwing multiple projects into the mix that I didn't request. It's a relatively small project so I think it is going to be difficult to find a company to do it.

Can I use pressure treated wood to replace the sill plate? I know that it shouldn't be used for interior spaces because of the chemicals, but does a sill plate count as an interior space since it is technically exposed to the inside (crawlspace, above is bathroom and laundry room).

Thanks for the help!

concretemasonry 07-30-2007 07:49 AM

crawlspace exposed to outside and damp
You can use treated wood for for the sill in your crawl space.

Treated wood is used universally for plates in finsihed basements every day. Iy must be used where wood is in contact the concrete that is in contact with the soil.

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