Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Completion.....At Last.

It's finally done. I've been working on it since May 2010 so this day is a long time coming. The crawlspace work is finally done.

In April 2010 I decided to check out my crawlspace since I hadn't been down there. So in the name of being familiar with the health of my house, down I went. There was fresh new plastic that the previous owner had placed down there when we bought the house. He had put it there because the home inspection turned up "conducive debris". That bascially means there was wood, insulation, etc., that is a breeding ground for insects, rodents and mold. We asked them to clean it out. The reinspection showed that things were great so I didn't think more of it.

At first things looked great, but after a while I found an area that was like crawling over a waterbed. Bad news. I kept crawling around to see if I could find any more wet areas. I did find one, but what I also found was that there was lots of stuff under the plastic I was crawling on. I started to do some more poking. What I found was all that "conducive debris" that had supposedly been removed. It turns out all the previous owner did was cover it with new plastic. Classy.

Now that I knew I had a problem I started looking into solutions. My first thought was to install drains around the outside of the house. This would have been pretty invasive and pretty much wrecked my yard, but I thought that was the best way to handle it. I had a contractor come out and look at it and I described my problem. He told me that in his experience it is more effective to put the drain on the inside rather than the outside. A good part of his work had been in crawlspace repairs so I put a lot of stock in his opinion. The problem was that his opinion came with a $4800 price tag. I figured I could get this knocked out for much cheaper so I decided to basically do what he said he was going to do. So away I went.

This is basically what I did:
1. Remove all the old plastic (it turned out there was three layers)2. Dig a 6"-8" deep trench around the inner perimeter of the foundation with a low catch basin in the front of the house
3. Install a drain pipe out the front of the house under the foundation to drain the trenches
4. Fill the trenches with a pipe and gravel
5. Repair insulation in the floor that had fallen down
6. Replace the plastic on the floor

Sounds pretty easy right? That's what I thought. Step 1 took almost a month. Now I started to question my judgement. This was a dirty part of the job. The underside of all the plastic was very muddy and there was some places that it seemed the various layers of plastic were holding more water than they were keeping out.

Then I moved into digging the trenches. I don't have a big house, but the perimeter adds up. I ended up digging around 160 feet of trench. I did it all with an hand shovel and a little pick. Remember, I only had 30" of height to deal with so I was doing all this on my hands and knees with a headlamp. Here's a picture of my tools. I'll get to the cart later.

The digging went very slow. I only did it a couple of hours at a time. For the first two months I was really good about working on it regularly. I figured that consistency was the most important.

Pretty soon I had to get the drain installed in the front yard because I needed to have someplace for the water to go while I continued with the digging. I wrote a blog about digging under the foundation and across my front lawn. Check it out if you missed it. As soon as I started having some trenches I noticed they started to fill with water in wet weather and the places that were wet before were staying dry. Things were already looking up.

Now it was time to get all that gravel in the trench. This was an interesting problem. Have you every tried to wheel a wheelbarrow into the crawlspace? It's not going to work well. Well I had to get about one and a half yards of gravel into the house. That's about 8 wheelbarrow fulls. Well, how many 5 gallon buckets does it take to fill a wheelbarrow? I don't know, and I don't want to know. All I knew is that the 5 gallon bucket was all I had to get gravel into the crawlspace. Here's where that cart came it. I had to make it small. It could be no more than 10" tall so it could fit under everything down there. I don't think I could have done this job without it. I could dump two 5 gallon buckets into it from the crawlspace access and then wheel it wherever it needed to go. nice.

At long last I got all the gravel done and it was time to install the plastic. I bought a plastic roll that was 200 feet long and I needed some specific peices cut. I didn't want to do that in the crawlspace so I took it over to the church to lay it out on the gym floor. It worked great.

Today, though, I finally finished it all. I saved myself about $4000 but it took about 19 months. You decide if I saved any money or not.

Here are some pictures that I hope you enjoy.

This is the crawlspace access from underneath.

This is a cleanout that I installed in case the drain under the front yard gets clogged.

I little while before taking this picture there was water flowing through this like crazy. I wanted to get some video to show what it was actually working, but you're just going to have to take my word for it.

I decided to tape up the seams between sheets so that water wouldn't flow on top of the plastic.

Here are just some photos from under the house so you can get an idea for the spaces I've been working in.

Good to be done. At last.


At 8:55 PM, Blogger Ben Cozzens said...

Good job Tom, the one great advantage (at least one) about doing things your self, saving money or not, is that you know the status of whatever you just did your self and when something goes wrong you usually know right where to go and how to fix it and that's something money can't buy.

At 9:19 PM, Blogger Haymonds said...

Wow. That is intensive and pretty incredible!! Now we know who we'll ask first if we ever have drainage problems under a home.....when someday we finally own one....:)

At 9:15 AM, Blogger Ashley and Dave said...

I would have gotten so stinkin claustrophobic I would have DIED! This is a crappy project- ew. Yay! For getting done!! I havent decided if it was worth the money you saved, that matters on how many man hours you think it took you total. but now with the money you saved you can go to HAWAII!!! ;)


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