What would you do with this crawlspace?

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Old 07-31-16, 12:46 PM
J
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What would you do with this crawlspace?

Long story. It is my mother's house. My parents bought it in '79. They were young and didn't know much about houses. The inspector missed a lot. I wasn't even born yet. Former owners did a lot of work themselves.

The short version is that there is a gas water heater and an HVAC system in a swimming pool-like hole in the crawlspace, basically. The hole is 15' long, 4' wide and 3 to 3.5' feet. Cinderblock retaining wall. Dug out by the previous owners because the FHA made them remove the water heater from the kitchen and put it in the crawlspace, which was all of 2.5' tall everywhere at that time.

Water heater at one end (sitting on the dirt floor in the hole ), HVAC system in the middle (elevated about a foot on some blocks) and pumps at the other end. An "open" sump where the water basically runs across the top of the floor in the hole and falls into an open hole where it gets pumped out. Obviously, very bad. I'm trying to find a solution to this.

I could get some cement blocks and have a new water heater put in by a plumber. I've researched the water heater sizes and I could get up to 2.5' elevation on the water heater. No problem. That's most of the way up the wall and out of the hole. The HVAC system, on the other hand, cannot be elevated. It only gets a foot max where it is at, and it is already at it. They should have hung it horizontally (it is horizontal capable) when they put it in 4 years ago. They didn't want to. I've had that company come out and take a look. They want $2,400-$2,600 just to flip it sideways and hang it. They replaced the previous system that flooded due to being on the cement slab only (no blocks), so they knew that there were water issues. Seems like a waste of money for a 4 year old machine to be flipped at half of the cost of the entire system. I don't want to replace it with a new one. She wants to move at the end of the year or beginning of next year. I don't think the pics do the size of the machine justice, however. It is big. Yet the HVAC people say that it is a "smaller" system, oddly enough. That moisture in the air isn't good for the system, of course.

When it rains a lot, water from the yards sinks into the dirt and eventually comes out of the wall, since it it is about 3.5 feet below the ground outside. I think water builds up halfway up the wall or a little more during the worst 3-4 storm systems.

I'm pondering getting dimple board/sheet drain, attaching it to the inside of the wall somehow and going all the way around. The sump hole at the pump end would be dug out a little deeper, then a foot deep (the max I could get anyway) of some kind of drainage rock/gravel brought in to cover the dirt floor of the hole and also fill the sump hole. The gravel would go around a proper enclosed (perforated) basin in the current sump hole and hold it in. It would also keep the ground from eroding away like it is doing now around the sides of the sump hole. New submersible pumps w/backup. I couldn't really cement over the gravel or anything like that with the elevated water heater there and/or the system there for fear that water might rise up and go on top of the cement where it couldn't get into the closed sump basin. Granted, putting gravel in would take up more space for the water to go, so I'm also a little worried about that.

If it comes thunderstorms and heavy rains on and off for 3 days, the pump would come on every 10-15 minutes. During constant heavy rains with saturated ground, it would come on every few minutes or even stay on constantly during a downpour, until the rains stopped. I'd say maybe 40-50 gallons per minute.

I'm changing the gutters already, installing downspouts that go further away and doing a lot of stuff. Not going to bother with paying for regrading the yard, which is sloped a bit towards the house. The water gets pumped a good 20-25 feet away from the house.

I'm also in the process of adding new vent grates around the outside of the house. Existing ones are too "open" and let far too many insects in. I'm going to fumigate the whole crawlspace soon and shut out most of the bugs and spiders. This stuff should have been taken care of long ago. Pondering filling in those cinderblocks with extra gravel (would keep the dirt from eroding out of the wall like some has done) and smoothing over the top of the holes with cement.

Got any advice for me? Does it sound like this would work?

Scary photo of what I'm dealing with:

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  #2  
Old 07-31-16, 01:06 PM
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Build a utility closet on the back of the house for both and fill in the hole underneath. Yes, a lot of work but it wouldn't be a constant water problem.
 
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Old 07-31-16, 01:40 PM
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I've considered pulling the a/c unit and water heater outside into some kind of building...but the HVAC people mentioned that it would be an enormous undertaking and that they'd have to punch a huge hole through the foundation of the house (probably causing collapsing issues) in order to run the ducts. Then there's the heat loss that the ducts would have between the point of going under the house and the building. There's no heat/air in the crawlspace otherwise. The main concern being in winter when the pipes could freeze over and burst. With the system as-is, it basically keeps it cool down there in the summer and warm in the winter (thus keeping the pipes in good shape). I'd have the same issue with the power going to and from the water heater.

So I'm a bit iffy on pulling them out completely...and everyone that I've suggested the idea to got big eyes and looked at me like I was crazy.
 
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Old 08-16-16, 12:53 PM
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could you convert the HWH to a tankless system which will just hang on the cinder wall? that would get it completely off the floor and the units are pretty compact nowadays... is it a single story home? could the HVAC be moved into the attic???
 
 

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