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Old 03-11-2015, 02:31 PM   #1
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Crawlspace dig out


I have a very tight crawlspace that needs to be lowered to at least 24". It's very hard clay so a tool to break it up would be a great idea. Anyway, I've been researching and it seems to be common practice to excavate an external opening and dig out from there. However, I was wondering if I could pull up the floors (which need to be replaced due to mold issues anyway) and access the area from above. One problem I see is getting around the floor joists to dig. Would I be able to move them out of the way (remove/replace them) as we go or is that a bad idea? Are there other concerns I need to consider? Its not a very large area and it has deep footings so I don't think 2 feet down will destabalize them.
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Old 03-11-2015, 02:47 PM   #2
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roadway folks dig holes for sign footings using a high pressure power washer spray head and a large vacuum. if you could rent such gear it might be worth it, you could devise a shroud of some sort where the blasting and vac'ing are under the shroud.

renting shovel hammer and getting the crud out manually might be back breaking work, dirty, and slow. i have dug into concrete like dirt before with a small air hammer/chisel and would use my shop vac to suck the dirt out, just very time consuming, etc.

floor joists will for the most part be supporting the floor only up until any point where they cross over a footing or the like. you can cut them out (back) to open up the work space and then do a proper sister to put new ones back. in some cases you may be able to replace the complete floor joist (just one at a time though).

crawl spaces always bothered me from the perspective of "oh shiat, i need to do work under there?"

Last edited by concrete_joe; 03-11-2015 at 02:52 PM.
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Old 03-11-2015, 04:09 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robertri View Post
I have a very tight crawlspace that needs to be lowered to at least 24". It's very hard clay so a tool to break it up would be a great idea. Anyway, I've been researching and it seems to be common practice to excavate an external opening and dig out from there. However, I was wondering if I could pull up the floors (which need to be replaced due to mold issues anyway) and access the area from above. One problem I see is getting around the floor joists to dig. Would I be able to move them out of the way (remove/replace them) as we go or is that a bad idea? Are there other concerns I need to consider? Its not a very large area and it has deep footings so I don't think 2 feet down will destabalize them.
Ayuh,... A Pickaxe,....
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Old 03-11-2015, 04:23 PM   #4
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Only advantage to having the floor out would be you could then stand up more to do the digging.
No way would I be removing all the floor joist.
Many times we would buy a steel crawl space door and cut out a hole in the foundation.
We use masonry pans with a rope on each end, one to pull it in one for someone to pull it back out to dump.
Any commercial rental place should have an electric jack hammer with a bit shaped like a shovel, even a wide blade would work.
No way would I be using a Shop Vac for this one.
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Old 03-11-2015, 06:40 PM   #5
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Quote:
Its not a very large area and it has deep footings so I don't think 2 feet down will destabalize them.
More than one person has made that assumption and found later he was wrong. You need to know how deep the footing is, and then compare it to the new depth.

When you start digging, you want to start near the foundation or dig a test hole, to double check. I've seen foundations that were not installed per drawing and the bottom of footing was higher than indicated on the permit drawings.

If you pull the floor and "trench" in-between the joists, it is pretty easy to knock out the few inches of remaining clay under the joists.

Even a small area is going to produce several hundred cubic feet of clay to be removed. That is a lot of digging and a lot of weight to get out of the space without a lot of help.
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Old 03-11-2015, 07:03 PM   #6
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No easy task, but doable..
Elevators and dump trucks can be used for many things.......
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Old 03-11-2015, 07:24 PM   #7
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The footings and foundation walls go down about four feet. A trench was dug to investigate. I have consulted with professionals and they all agree that something needs to be done.

I expect this to be a huge job and one that I wouldn't even consider unless it was necessary. So going through the floor seems like it wi be hard but doable.
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