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Old 11-28-2009, 11:11 PM   #1
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Would this be ok to do?


I have a crawlspace under my garage which is accessible through a small opening (A) in the main crawlspace. Originally this was closed off and not accessible but there was apparently some freezing issues due to the air not being conditioned down there, so it was opened up and a heater was added. I must keep the air in there above freezing or I risk freezing up the foundation. At least that's what the home inspector told me.

I am wondering if it would be safe to 1: make that hole a big bigger (heightwise) and 2: add another opening where shown, without affecting the structural stability of the house or garage. The garage is a concrete slab with a big concrete beam in the middle under it. This beam rests somewhere in the chimeny area but is most likely held by the wall under it - the wall that the entrance is in. I'm guessing it's an I beam with cement around, but not sure.

The garage wall (not seen - is above) is cinder block, and I am guessing it sits right on top of the slab and not on the wall shown. The wall shown ends at the height of the crawlspace and the walls/floor of the house is held by it.

The reason I want to add another entrance is for convenience of cleaning as well as better air circulation. I could put a fan on one side blowing air in, and it would force some of the air out. It gets very humid in there so it would help push less humid air in and get the humid air out and I could place my dehumidifier at the opposite end. I'm hoping to also cut down on the spider webs in there by doing this. Right now it's very closed in. I can put a fan/dehumidifier at the other end but it will do no good without new air coming in.

Not sure what tools I'd need to break through cinder blocks but I'm guessing a good hammer drill bit will do, and a hammer. Eventually I want to make a frame around the opening with a screen door that can be closed. I'd also want to open up the top more so I can pass ducting/wiring in there eventually. Probably a small header then the door would be just below. Since it's pretty cold in there I could even make use of that in the summer if I can circulate the dehumidified air through my ducts, but that's a whole other project.

Think there would be structural issues with me doing this?

*Edited pic, was inaccurate
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Would this be ok to do?-new-entrance-sub-crawlspace.jpg  


Last edited by Red Squirrel; 11-30-2009 at 11:45 AM.
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Old 11-29-2009, 08:05 AM   #2
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Would this be ok to do?


So you have a crawl space under the garage ?
I'd be very hesitant to remove any walls
Do you have a better pic of opening A showing any support on either side ?

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Old 11-29-2009, 12:27 PM   #3
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Would this be ok to do?


Here's some more pics:

Entrance:


(from inside)


Inside:








The weird thing is, the wall you see is not holding the slab up, if it is, it's doing it sideways somehow. I see some rebar in the brick if I look up, but that would not be strong enough to hold a whole slab up would it? Normally the slab would sit ON the bricks not beside it. Unless the beam is doing all the work along with the front and back of the garage, and the other side. The garage floor is slighly lower then the end of those bricks. The chimney is maybe playing a role in the support as well.

If you want more specific pics I can go take them, those are ones I already had. I still need to find the queen of that spider colony. :O

Last edited by Red Squirrel; 11-29-2009 at 12:33 PM.
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Old 11-30-2009, 08:18 AM   #4
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Just realized I did my diagram slightly wrong. The garage extends more (upwards, in the pic). Don't think it really matters but I'll edit it when I get home, and take more pics.
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Old 11-30-2009, 11:45 AM   #5
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Would this be ok to do?


I'm always a little concerned with taking blocks out
In the 1st opening there isn't really anything supporting the blocks above the opening
If the wood sill/rim joist above is doubled then that is supporting the wall above
But anytime you take something out without putting in support you can have a wall sag over time

I think I'd be inclined to leave it & insulate the exterior walls with rigid board
Ground temp down 4' or so stays around 50-55
So it should stay above freezing once insulated

Is that PVC for Radon removal ?
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Old 11-30-2009, 11:49 AM   #6
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That PVC is exhaust for the central vac. I don't think radon is a problem here.

And yeah the blocks above the entrance are not really supported other then by the other blocks on the sides. It's weird really, I can't figure out what is holding the slab up on that side, since the brick wall is holding up the house and not the slab, by the way things look. There's a whole full size cinder block wall on top of the slab too so whatever is holding it has to be fairly strong.
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Old 11-30-2009, 01:44 PM   #7
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I'm not an engineer but it could be that the slab is supported primarily by the beam and the front and back walls. Think of the way floor joists run when supported by a mid span beam (The side walls really don't support the floor except for their function as a beam support). It may be that the common wall between the two crawl spaces is not carrying the slab except by carrying the midpoint beam (it may also be carrying other loads). So additional openings might be feasible. I sure wouldn't open it up without having an engineer look at it.

Rather than focusing on the frozen crawl space under the garage first substantially increase the insulation of your garage above it and get good sealing insulated garage doors. Then insulate the interior of the exterior crawl space walls down to a foot or so below grade (don't insulate the underside of the garage slab if you are successful keeping the garage warmer). Even up North a well insulated attached garage can stay above freezing most of the year. That way you have a more comfortable garage, easier starting cars and it will keep your house warmer as well. And no need to burn energy to keep your footers from freezing too.

Don't insulate all the way down the interior of the exterior crawl space walls to over the footer as that will reduce the amount of heat getting to them from the house. Just insulate far enough down to block cold intruding from outside above grade.

Your humidity problem is likely due to or aggravated by the central vacuum exhaust pumping humid house air into the crawl. Vent it outside if possible.
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Old 11-30-2009, 06:15 PM   #8
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That's actually the plan, to insulate the garage eventually. Right now it's uninsulated. Right now I'm actually storing my dad's car for the winter but next summer I can always make it a project to insulate it all if I have the funds. I eventually want to run a sub panel in there and turn it into a shop as I've always wanted to get into wood working.

I am also guessing that the slab is supported mostly by the back and front walls as well as the beam. Then the side walls support the beam.

This probably varies from region to region, but how much money would I look at for getting an engineer to check something like this out? One of the other reasons I want the entrance is for easier access/view as well as to run a light socket for permanent light in there (I usually just use a flashlight or haul an extension cord and light) so even if it's not for the cold issue I want to do it provided it's safe. I can probably make use of this cold to cool my server room once I build it too, so I'd probably run the duct from the new entrance.

And never thought about hot air coming into it from the shop vac pipe. I might move that. Not sure why they chose to run it there anyway, guess it was the easiest path. Do I even need an exhaust for a central vac?
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Old 11-30-2009, 06:41 PM   #9
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Any time you remove blocks to create an opening you need to install a header, just as you would if you installed a door or window in a wood framed house. The difference is with block, you normally use steel (or cast iron in the old days) header, more commonly called a lintel. No matter what you call it, you need one, and the size is a function of the load and the span.
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Old 11-30-2009, 08:17 PM   #10
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Some good ideas: However, unvented crawlspaces aren’t recommended in certain locations. For example, a warm crawlspace in an extremely cold climate may eventually melt the perma-frost beneath the home, allowing the home to sink into the ground. Also, when homes are built in high water table areas (near rivers at the bottom of steep valleys, for example), it can be useful to seasonally vent the crawlspace to allow for drying after flooding. From: http://www.eere.energy.gov/buildings...s/db/35379.pdf

And: http://www.advancedenergy.org/buildi...l%20Spaces.pdf

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Old 12-01-2009, 11:54 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Holzman View Post
Any time you remove blocks to create an opening you need to install a header, just as you would if you installed a door or window in a wood framed house. The difference is with block, you normally use steel (or cast iron in the old days) header, more commonly called a lintel. No matter what you call it, you need one, and the size is a function of the load and the span.
That makes sense, and I'm guessing leaving 2-3 layer of bricks above would not really count as a header. Also wood probably would not cut it right? I was thinking of using 2x6 PT lumber to create a frame around the opening and add a small screen door so I can keep the spiders from coming out, but I'd probably still need a steel header which would have to be held by the bricks around the opening. Would be tricky to add that in after the fact.

Another thing I was thinking for circulation is just run a dryer hose or ducting all the way to the end and push/suck air. Would probably work too and be much simpler and safer.
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Old 12-02-2009, 08:53 AM   #12
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You could also use PRC lintels. We also used to cast them instu, although this is not so common now.
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Old 12-02-2009, 09:29 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Squirrel View Post
That makes sense, and I'm guessing leaving 2-3 layer of bricks above would not really count as a header. Also wood probably would not cut it right? I was thinking of using 2x6 PT lumber to create a frame around the opening and add a small screen door so I can keep the spiders from coming out, but I'd probably still need a steel header which would have to be held by the bricks around the opening. Would be tricky to add that in after the fact.

Another thing I was thinking for circulation is just run a dryer hose or ducting all the way to the end and push/suck air. Would probably work too and be much simpler and safer.
Red, I really think that the amount of money you'll spend just to add heat to this area for the winter would be better used buying insulation for the garage. Even a modicum of insulation in the garage will help tremendously. You're losing a lot of house heat through that garage/crawl design.
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Old 12-02-2009, 02:27 PM   #14
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Yeah I want to do that next year. I unfortunatly can't do it this year.
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Old 12-02-2009, 04:54 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Squirrel View Post
Yeah I want to do that next year. I unfortunatly can't do it this year.
Hey Squirrel not trying to sidetrack you but be careful with that light, man that looks scary.

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