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2 crawlspace issues. Need advice


flapbreaker
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Ok, it appears that I need to have a perimeter french drain installed on the inside of my foundation. THis is according to an inspection from a drainage company I had come out to see if they could help me with adding some gravel to help support some support pads that were placed right on a drop off. I thought that if I could get a company to put tons of gravel to "shore" up the "cliff" these are placed on that I'd be good to go. Well, the drain guy said water is just oozing out of these drop offs and that a inside perimeter drain would dry up and stabilize the clay. And that I wouldn't need to add any gravel to shore up the drop off. I'll attach some pictures to help explain what I'm talking about.

Concrete pads with the gap I'd like to fill with gravel.

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This is a low point drain that's about 10" above the base of the foundation. In the wet months there will be about 10" of water there. THis is a 4'x6' nook area so that would be the surface area. The rest of the crawlspace has moisture under the bearier. It's kinda squishy.

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I guess my question would be if I do the drain, would those support pads pass inspection just because they clay will be dry? I still feel like something should be done about this. Any ideas? (house is 9 years old, flag lot with neighbors graded toward our property).

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Those concrete piers may be ok if they're buried deep in the soil - I'd say an additional 36-48" lower than the lowest visible portion of the concrete. But then again, I'm not engineer. Just commenting that exposed piers are not necessarily bad if they're driven down deep enough.

Photo resolution is bad in the 2nd photo, but it looks like the bigger problem is there isn't enough soil at the base of the footings in that corner.

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The concrete pads just set on the ground. They are not burried.

It inside drain I was refering to was a french drainage system that goes around the inside perimeter of the foundation and then drains out that drain that is in the picture. They would lower the drain valve as it is too high. Also they would add gravel in that area too.

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Originally posted by flapbreaker

Ok, it appears that I need to have a perimeter french drain installed on the inside of my foundation.

Yep, you do.

THis is according to an inspection from a drainage company I had come out to see if they could help me with adding some gravel to help support some support pads that were placed right on a drop off. I thought that if I could get a company to put tons of gravel to "shore" up the "cliff" these are placed on that I'd be good to go.

No offense, but that's a dumb idea. It'd be simpler, easier, cheaper and more effective to do some minor excavation. Remove those pads and cut away the soil below them, then cast new pads at the bottom of the cliff. Put in longer posts & some lateral support and you'd be good to go. You could use the excavated soil and the discarded pads to fill the low area and make your not-so-low point drain into a true low point drain.

Well, the drain guy said water is just oozing out of these drop offs and that a inside perimeter drain would dry up and stabilize the clay.

He's right. They've already begun to fail. Trying to shore them up would be folly.

This is a low point drain that's about 10" above the base of the foundation. In the wet months there will be about 10" of water there. THis is a 4'x6' nook area so that would be the surface area. The rest of the crawlspace has moisture under the bearier. It's kinda squishy.

Squishy isn't good and exposed water is downright bad. Do you need to know why? (It's a serious question.)

I guess my question would be if I do the drain, would those support pads pass inspection just because they clay will be dry?

Nope. Not from me.

I still feel like something should be done about this. Any ideas? (house is 9 years old, flag lot with neighbors graded toward our property).

  • Fix the exterior grading. Slope the soil away from your house in all directions.

Excavate and lower those precipitous pads to the bottom of the cliff. Add longer posts and add lateral bracing.

Use the excavated soil to fill the low area. At the same time, have the drainage guy install his perimeter drain. Insist that he line his trenches with filter fabric, and fill them with drain tile and clean drain rock -- not gravel.

I live in nearby in Gaston, I'm a past president of the Oregon Association of Home Inspectors and I've been inspecting houses around these parts since '92. If your pictures are accurate, the above bullet points are what I'd recommend if I were to inspect that crawlspace.

Who's the drainage contractor?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Jim, I really appreciate your thurough reply and suggestions.

My idea of backfilling the cliff with gravel actually came from an inspector that I had come do a "structural" inspection. In retrospect it does seem silly.

I like the excavating idea. Is it safe to just remove a support while you dig out or do you have to brace things first? Also, what type of contractor would do this type of work and who would you recommend?

The drainage company is Larson's plumbing. A nice guy named Egon came out. I'm not dead set on using him. I actually have tried to get Ability plus drainage out but so far they have been too busy to come out.

I didn't think it would pass inspection even with dry clay. Funny how sometimes your gut feeling is right. Thanks again for any insight.

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Originally posted by flapbreaker

Jim, I really appreciate your thurough reply and suggestions.

My idea of backfilling the cliff with gravel actually came from an inspector that I had come do a "structural" inspection. In retrospect it does seem silly.

Well it would get the job done, but it'd be a heck of a lot of work. If your inspector had to actually do the work himself, he'd probably come up with an easier way after a short period of thoughful consideration.

I like the excavating idea. Is it safe to just remove a support while you dig out or do you have to brace things first?

It depends on what the supports are supporting. I'd be safe and install some temporary support.

Also, what type of contractor would do this type of work and who would you recommend?

Try Jason Rau at 357-4497. (I have no business or personal relationship with him -- never even met him. But I've seen his work and it's good.)

The drainage company is Larson's plumbing. A nice guy named Egon came out. I'm not dead set on using him.

I know nothing at all about them. But I've never, once, seen a plumber do a good job of crawlspace drainage.

I actually have tried to get Ability plus drainage out but so far they have been too busy to come out.

Then wait. They're very good. I also recommend John's Waterproofing at 364-3978.

I didn't think it would pass inspection even with dry clay. Funny how sometimes your gut feeling is right. Thanks again for any insight.

Yes, I always listen to my gut. (Of course, the unintended consequences resulted in my having to buy a new belt this week.) Those pads are just too close to the edge. It's too bad you can't make the builder come back and do this work.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Jim,

The builder was Vista northwest. Not sure if you've ever heard of them. I doubt that after 10 years I could get them to fix anything but you never know huh?

I'll give agility a call. I also have someone from Denali construction coming out to assess the situation. It will be interesting to see what they want to charge for revising the supports. I suppose if I was brave enough I could do it myself. My only consern would be making sure that I provided adequate support while I remove the posts. I'll try the guy you suggested as well.

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Update:

I had a general contractor (Denali construction) come out and take a look at my support pads. He agreed that the best solution would be to remove the posts and dig down to the same level of the cut. I thinks he can re-use the concrete pads and just put new posts up. Sounds good to me but I'm no engineer. He said he could lower the low point drain to an appropriate height. Any problems with re-using the concrete pads?

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Originally posted by flapbreaker

Update:

I had a general contractor (Denali construction) come out and take a look at my support pads. He agreed that the best solution would be to remove the posts and dig down to the same level of the cut. I thinks he can re-use the concrete pads and just put new posts up. Sounds good to me but I'm no engineer. He said he could lower the low point drain to an appropriate height. Any problems with re-using the concrete pads?

Those suckers probably weigh close to 300# each. If he want's to move them, great. At least he'll have gravity on his side. I don't see a problem with it as long as he can get them to bear evenly on undisturbed soil. It'll probably be easier than hauling new concrete down there.

As for lowering the drain, he'll have to make sure that the entire line retains enough fall to drain properly. That'll probably involve excavating the yard. It still seems easier to me to fill the low area in the crawlspace.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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  • 2 weeks later...

So I had John's waterproofing come out and give me a quote. They seem to have their own phylosophy on waterproofing a crawlspace. Not sure how much of it is necessary but here's the low down.

They will trench 6-8 inches around the inside perimeter of the foundation. Then they lay the cloth cover flex pipe. They don't fill in the trench, they leave it open. Then they install something called a "cleanspace" liner. It's basically a very thick plastic liner. I'm not sure that leaving the trench open is a good idea but I'm not an expert. Any thoughts???

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Originally posted by flapbreaker

So I had John's waterproofing come out and give me a quote. They seem to have their own phylosophy on waterproofing a crawlspace. Not sure how much of it is necessary but here's the low down.

They will trench 6-8 inches around the inside perimeter of the foundation. Then they lay the cloth cover flex pipe. They don't fill in the trench, they leave it open. Then they install something called a "cleanspace" liner. It's basically a very thick plastic liner. I'm not sure that leaving the trench open is a good idea but I'm not an expert. Any thoughts???

Their cleanspace liner is basically a swimming pool liner.

They're offering you more solution than you need. But, heck, if you never have to think about this problem again, maybe it's worth it.

FWIW, if there's good drainage of the soil, regular old 6-mil poly with the edges overlapped works just fine.

I'm not thrilled about the idea of leaving the trench open. Over time, there's a risk that the trenches will collapse and settle. They you'll just have tile in a sock in mud. I'm not sure how well it will work then.

What did Ability Plus say?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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