Exposed footers

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  #1  
Old 08-31-12, 09:57 AM
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Exposed footers

Hi all,

I recently closed on a house that for the most part is in good shape, however there are 2 things id like to get taken care of asap

1) due to soil erosion in the crawl space there are some sections of exposed footers. The inspector said I would have to address it, but wasn't overly concerned. My question is this: can I backfill the footers myself or is this about more than just covering them with dirt? Should I hire a contractor?

2) there is a horizontal crack in the block foundation. 18" long and 4 1/2" wide at its widest point. Again, can I use a polyurethane sealant, or a quickcrete like product, or should I let a contractor handle it? As with the footers, the inspector wasn't overly alarmed, but said it should be addressed.

Thank you in advance for your advice!
 
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Old 08-31-12, 10:01 AM
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Welcome to the forums

Can you provide some pictures?
http://www.doityourself.com/forum/el...-pictures.html

Why is there erosion occurring in the crawl space?
 
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Old 08-31-12, 10:06 AM
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Hi Mitch17,

Thanks for the quick reply! I just closed and Comcast is coming tomorrow to set up Internet. I will be able to post pics then. Can't post them from my iPhone.
 
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Old 08-31-12, 10:09 AM
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I had to read your post twice - erosion around a footer happens fairly often on the exterior side but don't think I've ever heard of it inside the crawlspace..... or is this structure just setting on piers without the perimeter underpinned with a foundation wall? Also it would be helpful to know what area you live in and how deep the frost line is.
 
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Old 08-31-12, 10:15 AM
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Hi marksr,

Im pretty much parroting what the inspector said about soil erosion. It could be something else. I live in Nashville and have no idea about the frost line or whether the foundation is on piers or not, but will attempt to find out. Thanks!
 
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Old 08-31-12, 10:33 AM
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Frost line is 5-8 feet below surface. According to what I can find on google, all residences in Nashville that have a crawl space or basement are pier and beam. The perimeter is a concrete block wall. The following is copy/pasted from the inspection report:

[COLOR=rgb(100.000000%, 0.000000%, 0.000000%)]Several sections of thefooter are showing throughout thecrawlspace. There has been apparent soilerosion from certain areas around thefooter. The footer should have an adequateamount of soil present to give the footerpressure and structural stability.Recommend adding soil all around the footerand foundation to a proper slope forstructural stability. [/COLOR]
 
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Old 08-31-12, 11:12 AM
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Frost Line

I live in Nashville and have no idea about the frost line or whether the foundation is on piers or not, but will attempt to find out. Thanks!
Frost line is 5-8 feet below surface.
If your are in Nashville, TN, recheck your frost line info.
 
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Old 08-31-12, 11:26 AM
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Re checked and found a survey map that says frost line is 12 inches below surface. The 5-8 feet measurement was taken from an article on foundation repair in Nashville.
 
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Old 08-31-12, 01:42 PM
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Whew!! I'm not too far south of you and ours is 12". From what I read in the inspection the inside of the crawlspace was not backfilled to the footer. Not too uncommon. I am assuming "crawl" means crawl (around 4' or less), and not a stand up area.
I am more concerned with the 4 1/2" wide x 18" foundation crack We'll wait on pictures on that one, too.
 
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Old 08-31-12, 03:46 PM
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Hi Chandler,

The ceiling for the "crawl space" is roughly 7 feet high. I'm 5'9" and can stand up straight no problem. Floor is dirt with a vapor barrier. As soon as I have Internet tomorrow. I'll post pics.
 
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Old 08-31-12, 03:59 PM
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Oh, gee, you have a basketball court! I have been in crawl spaces where you go in on your back and your nose touches the floor joists. Not for the faint of heart or scardy cats. We'll wait on the pix.
 
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Old 08-31-12, 04:07 PM
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I just relocated here from New York, and have lived my entire life in apartments, so all of this, so I'm calling it a crawl space because that is what the inspector and real estate agent called it.
 
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Old 08-31-12, 04:56 PM
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Wellllll, welcome to the South!! People say we talk funny.........God talks like we do, so you're in good company Yeah, different world from NYC apartments to more spacious digs with your own walls, huh? Keep us posted and let us know if we can help.
 
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Old 09-01-12, 01:01 PM
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Thanks chandler!

Ok so I have uploaded 6 pics - first 2 are of the crack, and the other four are of the exposed footers. The inspector didn't seem very concerned with the crack (didn't even put it in the inspection report). He said I should get it taken care of, but didn't give me a vibe of "Don't buy this house - it's going to fall down around your ears". He seemed way more concerned with the footers, which did end up in the inspection report. If it helps to figure out what is going on, the doors in the house don't close as smoothly as they should - you need to give a slight upward lift to close them - not a lot of upward pressure, but definitely a bit. Thank you everyone for taking the time to help out a first time homeowner - it is very appreciated!
 
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Old 09-01-12, 01:12 PM
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Your door closing issue might not be related to the foundation. I'd try tightening up the hinge screws [on the jamb side] maybe even replacing a few with longer ones.

When you bring in fill for the footer, make sure it's clean - you don't want anything that would attrack insects. Not sure what would be best with the foundation gap. I'd probably just try and stuff if full of mortar but there might be a better fix. Wait and see what some of the others say
 
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Old 09-01-12, 01:17 PM
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Thank you marksr - I'll take a look at the hinges and I'm glad the footer issue is something I can do myself without having to pay a professional. Interested to see what others have to say about the crack. It seems like most DIY products (or at least the ones you would use with a caulking gun) don't recommend use if the crack is more than 1/2 " wide.
 
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Old 09-01-12, 01:26 PM
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Ya, that's not the type of crack you would use any type of caulking with.
Most things that need to be done around the house can be done diy. It's mostly a matter of time, tools and knowledge...... and there is usually someone around here that has the knowledge
 
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Old 09-01-12, 01:45 PM
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You should only have a 5' headroom in your crawl. Someone dug it out to make it have more headroom. Technically you should put dirt in the space that will cover the foundation, to cause equal pressure from inside as you have outside. It will reduce the headspace. I would fill the crack with concrete patching compound or hydraulic cement.
As Marksr said, make sure all your doors have the inside screw removed on the top two hinges, and replace them with 3" screws. That will help correct any sag you have in the door itself by attaching itself to the subframing.
 
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Old 09-01-12, 02:42 PM
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Thanks chandler! As far as filling in the crawl space - the door to the crawl space isn't a hatch - its a regular wood frame door that opens inward - as if it were a full basement (added pics to better describe it) - can I fill in the crawl space and just leave a small section unfilled so that the door can open or will that mess with the integrity of what I'm doing? In other words, do I have to fill it in so that the ceiling is only 5 feet high and then have a new doorframe and door installed (as well as concrete blocks for the 2 foot high section starting at the ground where there would no longer be a door)? Just asking because if I did that, it would fix the obvious grading issue as well.
 
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Old 09-01-12, 03:20 PM
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No. As I stated in my first post, having exposed parts of the footing is common, although it is best to have equal pressure from inside to outside. If it is functional, now, then I would move onto other areas that need attention. Is the floor poured at the doorway? Just curious. Yes, you need to attend to landscaping, especially where that wall of water will hit your basement entrance. If you do any backfilling, be sure to use perf pipe at the foundation, an elbow where it meets that basement wall and allow the water to exit well past the basement entrance. Do that on both sides. Gradually slope the landscaping away from the house. I am sure you will get to that and ask more questions, so we're here.
 
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Old 09-01-12, 04:07 PM
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The basement floor isn't poured at the entrance - just a dirt floor. I would love to be able to grade the yard - so far almost everyone I have spoken to here (here in Nashville - not here on this website) says my ONLY option is a retaining wall, which I think is beyond the scope of what I can do myself. Luckily, there is no standing water in the crawl space during rainstorms, and I spoke to a guy who runs an eco friendly hippie dippie sort of landscaping business who said as long as I don't have standing water, 2 dry stack walls and planter beds might do the trick (the vegetation pulling most of the water from the soil). I'll have to see about that - sounds a bit too good to be true, but if he's right, it would be less expensive and much more attractive than a retaining wall.
 
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Old 09-01-12, 09:33 PM
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Welcome to the world of home ownership. It (and this site) can teach you a lot, and bring satisfaction to your life.

You definitely need to consider retaining walls, based on what the pictures are showing. Dry-stack rocks, man-made blocks or even heavy treated timbers (RR ties) oriented perpendicular to the foundation walls would enable you to move water away from the foundation and the crawl space entrance (by tapering/sloping the top of the backfill behind the walls), while preventing any fill you bring in from eroding away. I would do 2 or 3 low walls on the left side, making for a terrace effect, while the more gradual right side might only require a single, slightly taller wall.

The large foundation crack should be repaired using concrete. It's relatively easy, just buying a few bags of Quikrete 5000 to mix and place into the cavity created by removing all of the unsound material that's there now. Pour it loose (meaning slightly wet), and build the outside form high enough to create a head of concrete for ramming into the voids. Taper the top exposed face to slope away from the wall.
 
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Old 09-02-12, 09:44 AM
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Thanks bridgeman45! I've been reading a lot about the proper way to fill that hole. May have to borrow some tools for the carpentry part (building the form), but other than that, it sounds like something I can reasonably do. The dry stack/retaining wall is something I will most probably have to job out.
 
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Old 09-02-12, 11:43 AM
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You would be doing yourself a big favor by gradually acquiring a basic set of tools. The convenience (and cost-savings) of having them when needed for the multitude of things always needing attention around a house is far better than being dependent on paying someone else to perform such tasks for you. And the tools you buy don't have to be new, either--shop around at garage or estate sales, where you can often find what you need at a small fraction of retail.

Regarding the retaining walls, paying someone to build them is certainly your call. But it's actually simple work, easily done by anyone with a strong back, a few basic tools (see the preceding paragraph), and a good pair of work gloves.
 
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Old 09-02-12, 11:53 AM
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easily done by anyone with a strong back
While a strong back helps, it's not a necessity, even a weak or worn out back can build a small retaining wall - it might take a little longer but there is a lot pride in being able to say "I did it myself"
...... and a true diyer never passes up an excuse to aquire more tools
 
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Old 09-02-12, 12:12 PM
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marksr, it all depends on the materials. I've got a few RR ties that I defy anyone with a weak back to work with (or even move, for that matter). They're called "lunkers" (result of absorbing excessive creosote) and must weigh close to 300 lb. each. The muscle-bound Wilco kid who loaded them onto my pickup grunted and sweated, sliding them off the forklift, and I was only able to pull them out by hooking up a chain to my garden tractor.
 
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Old 09-02-12, 12:33 PM
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Retaining walls up to three feet high can be built fairly easily with "hill holder" blocks available in several sizes from the mega-mart homecenters. That's what I would do in your situation and I DO have a bad back. Only critical part is the first course of blocks and looking at your picture even that doesn't look all that difficult.
 
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Old 09-02-12, 12:57 PM
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I agree that I have to slowly start building up my tool collection. I have a fair amount of hand tools (socket wrenches, hammers, screwdrivers, allen wrenches, c - wrenches, pliers etc), but it's power tools that I'm lacking in - especially carpentry related tools (circular saw, band saw, jig saw, horses etc). Just to get the hole job done quickly, I should be able to borrow carpentry tools for now so I can build a form, but I'll definitely check out some estate sales for power tools.

As for the dry stack walls, I think I'm mostly intimidated by laying the perf pipe - messing that part up and not having proper drainage. I can certainly dig a trench, fill it with gravel and tamp it till it's level - it's the perf pipe that makes me nervous.
 
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