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How to fill under basement stair/bulkhead door unit after the base washed out

How to fill under basement stair/bulkhead door unit after the base washed out

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  #1  
Old 08-16-11, 07:34 PM
wgc
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How to fill under basement stair/bulkhead door unit after the base washed out

A previous owner installed a basement stairwell / bulkhead door unit, attached to my foundation by four huge bolts, one at each corner. It's been tight and dry until this past spring. During a combination record rains and town drainage issue my back yard turned into a swimming pool, and I started getting water in through the bolt holes.

For the last couple years I noticed chipmunks living underneath the stairwell. This summer I had yellowjackets in the old tunnels, so I need to do something.

After getting rid of the yellow jackets, I started poking a stick into the chipmunk holes, then I poured in some sand, then some gravel. Every time I added material to fill the hole, it got bigger! Now I realize that the soil has washed away from almost the entire slanted side under the stairwell. At the surface, under the top step, I can reach a hand in, but I can see down at least four feet, it's the width of the stairwell unit, and the gap gets wider farther down. Now I know why I got so much water in my basement, but I'm also worried whether the stairwell unit has enough support. Is my foundation in danger if that doesn't have enough support? What can I do about it?

My only idea is to keep pouring in gravel or some other grade of stone, and maybe get an iron bar to pack it in as much as possible, then eventually cover with topsoil. Does anyone know whether this approach will work to keep the water out, keep the stairwell unit supported, and keep the chipmunks from digging more tunnels? How would replace all the washed out material? With what?
 
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Old 08-16-11, 07:53 PM
wgc
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I don't know if there is a brand stamped anywhere, but the stairwell unit looks like this Bilco PermEntry unit:
PermEntryŽ Basement Entrance - Detail information for PermEntryŽ Basement Entrance

If you look at the brochure at http://www.bilco.com/downloadpopup.a...quirements.pdf , it looks like quite a bit of the "backfill" area has washed away. It says
Properly backfill and compact excavation area with clean, suitable fill and/or stone.
but doesn't say anything about how to do it properly or the tradeoffs of fill or stone, or what stone.
 

Last edited by wgc; 08-16-11 at 08:06 PM. Reason: add another link
  #3  
Old 08-17-11, 06:40 AM
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I am most concerned what washed away the soil in the first place. It either got washed away somehow or it was never properly back filled in the first place. That's a lot of dirt to disappear and would take a fair bit of moving water to carry it away.

With fiberglass in ground swimming pools I've seen them use water to help settle the sand in around the pool. I wonder if you could do the same. You could pour sand in the hole and flood it with water, letting the water carry the sand in deeper and help compact it. Just keep repeating until the area is filled.
 
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Old 08-17-11, 07:43 PM
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there was a lot of water

There's no doubt about it: we had a LOT of water. It was something like three days of record rainfall, along with a storm sewer blockage. There's no question about what washed away the fill.

Maybe I'll try your idea if I don't have others but when this happened I had to clear a lot of water and crud out of my basement and I really don't want to do that again.
 
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Old 08-20-11, 07:50 PM
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not gravel and a broom handle

Well, I figured I could get some gravel from my home center and pack it in with a broom handle, but no luck. After another 150 lbs of gravel, a broom handle is still not long enough to reach the bottom.

At least the hole is now open enough that I can tell the stair unit is braced with pressure treated wood underground, so it's not just pulling on my foundation.
 
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Old 08-21-11, 06:09 AM
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You'd save a bundle if you buy the gravel in bulk. That pressure treated wood is not going to last forever. I think you should dig down a bit to give yourself a decent access hole and try to keep filling it in.
 
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