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Old 12-10-2011, 06:56 PM   #1
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No crawlspace access ... help!


We bought our 110 year old shotgun home last year. The furnace gave out this spring & was replaced via a home warranty. I've noticed as winter approaches that the air coming from the vents is rather cool (same as last year). The air gushing from poorly sealed seams around the furnace is rather toasty, so I assumed the furnace is not the issue.

The duct work is in the crawlspace. There is one access in the living room that is far too small for most people to enter through & several in the kitchen that are blocked by plumbing. I opted to stick a camera into all of the plumbing accesses as well as prying up a small plank of flooring in the living room with the same goal.

The furnace is in the living room, on an inner wall. The main supply *trunk* of the duct work runs from the furnace straight toward the back of the house. I noticed in the photos that the duct is not strapped to the joists (the metal hangers are still attached, but upside down touching the ground). The duct is at best sitting on the ground, though it appears to be an inch or two below the soil surface. The rust line is very visible. Round ducts branch out to connect to the vents. None of these smaller ducts are on the ground.

There is a gas line between the main *trunk* & the joists, so I assume this is why the duct is on the ground(?).. I also noticed that when the ducts were run to the additions in the back of the house, they cut through the joists under the fridge, freezer, & washing machine.

I know the duct work needs to be replaced. However, as there is no access to the crawlspace, & maybe a foot of space to work with... What is my best option to achieve this? I'm reluctant to dig out the crawlspace as I'm afraid the house will collapse (brick foundation, by the way). Would pulling the flooring up be our best option at this point? (Old hardwood without subfloor held in place only by tongue & groove, trim & 110 years worth of crud built up in the seams.)

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Old 12-10-2011, 07:01 PM   #2
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No crawlspace access ... help!


Have you looked in all the closets to see if there's a trap door?
Metal ducts should never be set in contact with the ground. A sure way to have them rust out.

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Old 12-10-2011, 07:33 PM   #3
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The *trap door* was in the living room in the only closet in the house. When we ripped out the closet we found it. That's the hole I referred to above that's too small for most people to enter. Plus, even if they did, with the network of ducts coming off the furnace right next to it, they'd never get anywhere.
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Old 12-10-2011, 07:44 PM   #4
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If thats the case how did you get the furnace changed? Also 110 years ago they did not have hvac so it was added but not installed properly (see posts about low bids). It sounds like you have to go through the phone book and find a hvac company that will do the job properly, get some estimates and make sure that they can give you an answer on what is wrong with the system and how it will be fixed.
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Old 12-10-2011, 07:49 PM   #5
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If the floors are that bad and there's no sheathing or insulation under there anyway then removing them would be such a bad thing and redoing the ducts, insulating the floors and installing Advantec subflooring and new floors would sure help out on the heating and cooling cost.
Digging out the crawl space will have no effect on the outside foundation as long as you left a few ft, and did not get to close to the piers.
While the floors are out I'd also have the place treated for termites, and if there's fungus or powder post beetles have them do a Boron treatment.
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Old 12-10-2011, 08:07 PM   #6
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When they replaced the furnace they simply disconnected the old one, made a sheet metal box *modification* to connect the new one to the return air vent above/beside it (as the new one is smaller than the 30 y/o model it replaced), added a small piece of sheet metal below to seal off a hole due to size difference also, & taped the new seams they had created.

To be honest, with the rather sizable gaps between the floor planks & the lack of space beneath the floor (plus the fact that the soil is smooth, no signs of anyone ever having crawled through it)... I'm starting to wonder if a previous owner removed the floor to install the furnace in the first place.

I've come to realize in the last year, that while it's nice to own a home, it can really suck too. Everything in this house has turned into a pain in the @$$.
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Old 12-10-2011, 08:19 PM   #7
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If you buy a 110 year old house all you can expect is to spend money on it as long as you live. I tell people the only thing that works in an old house is the owner.
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Old 12-11-2011, 04:12 AM   #8
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No crawlspace access ... help!


Quote:
Originally Posted by joecaption View Post
If you buy a 110 year old house all you can expect is to spend money on it as long as you live. I tell people the only thing that works in an old house is the owner.
LOL....I like that.....

Anyway...getting back on topic....

When we took out our old floor convection heater to install a new forced air HVAC, the guy suggested the floor....I HATE floor vents....

Ours is in the attic......is it possible to move your's to the attic?

If not....don't be afraid of the house falling on you....if it has not fallen now, it's not going to.

As you will learn, you start to clean out the crawl space so you can use it. I have slowly been hauling out dirt and rock to make more room....I have cardboard down in runners so I have something somewhat clean to slide on....

Over the holidays I'll be installing lights down there so I don't always need a flashlight.

Just get a set of coveralls....go for it....

Take a roll of the metal tape (not duct tape), knife and flashlight and get it done...have the wife turn on just the fan so you can find the air leaks....

You might also need some expanding foam to fill in some gaps where the duct meets the floor.

Remember, spiders are more affraid of you than you are of them (at least, that is what I tell myself)
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Old 12-11-2011, 09:54 AM   #9
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I would suggest that you would enlarge the present access hole in the living room.
This is usually a straight forward project. It may require cutting a floor joist and installing headers using joist hangers.
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Old 12-11-2011, 10:12 AM   #10
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Usually the access would be on the side of the house. Look for what appears to be a framed spot, board placed covering a hole, a fake window. If there isn't access, which there should be at this age, you will have to make one. If the flooring has been changed in the house, most likely the original scuttle was covered up.
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Old 12-11-2011, 12:18 PM   #11
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No crawlspace access ... help!


As for outside the house, the brick foundation was covered at some point with a concrete veneer. The front of the house is covered by a porch, the rear & part of the side are covered by additions.

We pulled the living room & front bedroom carpet the day we closed on the house (no closets remain) & it's now hardwood without sub floor. We've been under the carpet & vinyl in the bathroom & rear bedroom (additions). The only room we haven't pulled flooring in is the kitchen (vinyl over plywood over hardwood, no sub floor). The kitchen has 2 access holes that we've seen- under the fridge & washing machine- but allow access only to the tangles of pipes beneath them.

Making the existing LR hole larger, I see no issues with that plan. As for creating an access outside, how would we go about that?

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