Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Crawl


Oregon is a rainy spot and historically most homes were built without basements here. Most homes have crawl spaces that are extremely restrictive for doing any work under the house. It can best be described as spelunking on ones belly or back. My home was built on the ground in 1925, but has since been elevated with an added foundation. There is a vapor barrier on the ground and one can actually kneel in most of the confined spaces.

Most homes on the hillside in Astoria have a basement. Most would be considered as day-light basements. Clever engineering with drainage tiles and interior sump pumps make it all possible.

I really miss having a basement. Just having a set of stairs to access the furnace and under-floor plumbing would be dreamy. I’ve done my best under the two additions I built. I dug them out deep and added a lot of lights and outlets, but it’s the old portion under my sunken living room that is hard to access.

I recently made the crawl to pull some network cable under the living room. It wasn’t pleasant at all. I’ve spent a lot of time under that section of the house as a wire monkey. I’ve run speaker wires, satellite cable, TV cable, phone wire and a heating duct. Each time I hope will be my last. I really feel sorry for people that make a living crawling under people’s homes. The few service people that have been under my house said that it wasn’t bad compared to where they usually go. Many crawl spaces have rodents in various stages of life or decomposition. Some have families of raccoons and skunks and cats living in there. Some don’t have a vapor barrier and the ground is wet and muddy.

A plumber friend said the worst part of his job is working on sewer pipes in a crawl space. He said it would make a vulture vomit.

7 Comments:

Blogger Beth said...

After reading this, I realize I take for granted our spacious basement - another entire floor of living space.
I also realize it would take an extreme emergency to ever get me into a crawl space.

4:58 AM  
Blogger darev2005 said...

Our house was originally built back in the 40's, burnt down twice, rebuilt and added on to at least three times. Some of it you can kneel up in but one of the additions they never dug down so there's only about six inches between the ground and the joists. If anything goes wrong in that part I'm gonna have to pull up the floor to fix it. Nice.

8:35 AM  
Blogger weese said...

we have a very small crawl space with access only from a hatch outside the house.
i had never even seen this space (after 20 some odd years) until some rodents moved in.
we have since moved them out...but now we need to add a vapor barrier and reinsulate.
now you know... we do almost everything around here ourselves.
but boy would i love to hire out this job.

8:45 AM  
Blogger Zoe said...

My brother, who is a plumber in Alaska, would agree with your plumber friend.

I think I'd have a difficult time living with out a basement. It would be so strange.

12:40 PM  
Anonymous Ginger said...

My husband went on a fire call to a house where Grandparents were keeping their grandson in a larger section of a crawl space under their house...one he calls a "habi-trail house"...full of junk...more commonly known as a hoarders house w/ little pathways throughout. My husband noticed a small door in a corner of a partial basement...when he looked inside to check it out for a presence of smoke/fire, he noticed a dirt floor w/ a small bed, an end table w/ a small lamp, and some kids books and toys (I know, I was horrified when he told me). Beyond the space for the child was the narrow crawl space for the upper section of the house...dark, damp, and a pungent smell of mold. He quickly alerted his Lieutenant...the authorities were notified.

On a funny note: My contractor would not go under my house until I fumigated the ginormous spiders...he would take pictures of them before he scrambled out from under the house w/ a scared look on his face...I don't blame him...they were huge...made me laugh.

4:17 PM  
Blogger g said...

plumbing, hvac, and my most favorite hated crawlspace chore - insulation.

i grew up in a house with a full basement. it flooded every winter. had my bedroom down there. dad finally put in a drain system around the house after i moved out.

6:42 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Beth, un fortunately I have to go down there four times a year to clean the furnace filter.

Darev, I feel for you, Brother.

Weese, fortunately the new insulation doesn't seem to sluff much glass dust like the old stuff, so you can do the job without damaging your lungs. It would be best to pick a weekend and it will go quickly with two of you working at it.

Zoe, where you live you need one just to be safe during tornadoes.

Ginger, Pretty sad and one can imagine how much of this is going on that no one ever sees. Also you must have some moisture under there or they'd have nothing to eat. Moisture attracts life.

g, I guess that a leaky basement can be more annoying than having a crawl space because you think about it every time it rains. I only think about the crawl space when I have to go down there or when I need a blog topic.

5:57 AM  

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