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Old 05-08-2008, 09:14 AM   #1
CatfishXpress
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Default Need Ideas .... Digging Under The House

Part of my wood frame house was built with very little clearance between the ground and the wood. I need to dig it out to create more of a crawlspace.

So far I have been laying on my belly using the little shovels like women dig in their flower beds with. As you can imagine this is very slow going and I have quite a ways to go.

I'm open to any and all suggestions, particularly any power tools that would make the job go faster.
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Old 05-08-2008, 09:54 AM   #2
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Default Re: Need Ideas .... Digging Under The House

I've seen them shore things up and excavate a basement under a house with Bobcats...

Probably not what you were looking for, though.
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Old 05-08-2008, 09:57 AM   #3
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Default Re: Need Ideas .... Digging Under The House

I've thought about that but I was hoping for something a bit cheaper.

It may come to that though.
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Old 05-08-2008, 10:04 AM   #4
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Default Re: Need Ideas .... Digging Under The House

If you are serious about getting something you can stand up in, I'd say that would be the only way I'd consider doing it. If you're just looking for something you can crawl through rather than "slither" through it would be overkill.

Make sure you know where the foundations are. I've also seen a couple cases where someone over-excavated and had a foundation wall cave in.
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Old 05-08-2008, 10:11 AM   #5
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Default Re: Need Ideas .... Digging Under The House

The way you are doing it is the way my grandmother got a basement under a farm house sitting on rocks.
Youngest kids first with little pails. When to hole was deep enough the older kids with bigger pails. When the hole started getting close to the rocks grandpa brought in some long bridge timbers to jack toe house up enough to get the weight off the rocks and out they came. Formed the walls, poured the concrete and set the house down.
Seven kids got it done during summer vacation.
This was before the days of indoor plumbing and the heat was stoves in every room so there was no pipes to worry about.
If you donít have a neighborhood full of kids looking for a few bucks, I would look for some kind of belt style conveyor that you can throw the dirt onto as you dig. Something like the belts you see at loading docks when they donít use pallets..
A friend of mine used a grain elevator but he had problems with rocks getting stuck in the chains. An auger would be out for the same reason.
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Old 05-08-2008, 10:37 AM   #6
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Default Re: Need Ideas .... Digging Under The House

I don't need enough clearance to stand under, I just need room to crawl.

I'm just now getting far enough under the house where getting the dirt that I'm digging out from under the house is a problem. The short term solution is to spread a tarp and pull the tarp out every so often and dump the dirt off of it.

I usually try to do things myself, but maybe this is a job that I need to hire out. Due to work restrictions I have a limited amount of time at home, and I had much rather spend it doing something else.
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Old 05-08-2008, 10:41 AM   #7
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Default Re: Need Ideas .... Digging Under The House

I had a few guys tell me about digging a basement out by hand. My dad tried to talk me into that on my first house. BS!!! The ground under there was hard as concrete. So I had a guy come, shore it up with super heavy duty telepost and he got under there with a dozer that had a bucket on front. Dug out one half, laid up the foundation, dig out the other half. If you have the room and are really serious about it, shop around and talk to different people. What you need is an access hole to get a piece of equipment in. A small Trackhoe can get you deep enough on the outside to work from, have someone cut a hole through the foundation for access where you can stand, and find a farmer willing to come off of a conveyor that has an electric motor. Start digging. Or if you can run a skidsteer, all the better and cheaper. But you have to have a little construction knowledge and a lot of common sense If you have clay, you can get the center dug out before having to start to shore the outer walls as you would have to stay 4' or so from the edges. If you had an access hole they have the skidsteers that you walk behind that is considerably smaller but not sure of the name at the moment.
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Old 05-08-2008, 02:43 PM   #8
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Default Re: Need Ideas .... Digging Under The House

other than the small shovel and pail thing you need a conver belt of some type, the tarp thing is not a bad idea but you cant really get a bunch of weight on it or you cant pull it out. Less you hook it up to the tractor or the truck or something, and then unless the ground is supper smooth under it will rip where the heavy portion of the load is.
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Old 05-08-2008, 02:57 PM   #9
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Default Re: Need Ideas .... Digging Under The House

a friend of mine bought a HUD fixer house and as parts of the work he needed to 'restore' the clearance under the house (space between the ground and the floor) to prevent termite problems.
he used hoe's and the hard metal rakes to drag the dirt tward him and into the 'utility basement' area.
once there the dirt wad hauled out in buckets

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Old 05-08-2008, 03:36 PM   #10
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Default Re: Need Ideas .... Digging Under The House

Depending on the soil conditions, a rotary hammer with a clay spade (hammer only mode) would help in breaking up the soil.

To get the soil out, build a wood sled with a tow rope at each end. Use one rope to pull it into the crawl space. The other could be tied to your truck or lawn tractor to pull the loaded sled out without a lot of effort on your part. Use ramps as required.

Start by digging a pit large enough at the entrance to comfortably sit up and use the rotary hammer. Expand the hole straight in to give the sled access. Work each side of main "trench" so that the sled is always lined up with the access point.

I'd consider hanging some temporary lighting strings with cages like you see in commercial construction sites. You won't get the heat from a halogen worklight and the light is always overhead.
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Old 05-08-2008, 04:05 PM   #11
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Default Re: Need Ideas .... Digging Under The House

Watch some of those old army movies where they dig tunnels to break out of prison camps. Should give you some ideas
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Old 05-08-2008, 05:28 PM   #12
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Default Re: Need Ideas .... Digging Under The House

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Watch some of those old army movies where they dig tunnels to break out of prison camps. Should give you some ideas
Yes..."The Great Escape"!

I suppose you don't need to hide the dirt you're bringing out, though.

A guy I know did a similar crawlspace using a couple of Radio Flyer wagons to haul out the dirt.

He first dug out a "haul road" in the center from one side to the other, and then worked out from there. He used a couple of long ropes with carabiner clips on each end to pull the wagons in/out.

Like using a pull rope for cable in conduit, and pulling in another rope in with the cable. There was always a rope under the house, extending out both sides.
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Old 05-08-2008, 08:57 PM   #13
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Default Re: Need Ideas .... Digging Under The House

I know a lot of the utility companies now use an air-knife to dig holes to locate utility lines and use a large vacuum to suck the soil out with. There is a whole industry dedicated to this. I am in the same boat as you. I would like to increase the vertical height of my "crawl space". Right now it’s about 12-14 inches, but would like to make it close to 16-18 inches. I am thinking of using my 90-gallon vertical air compressor and a shop vac with a HEPA(I pan on cleaning the filter versus replacing it) filter to suck out the soil broken up by the air lance


Here is a commercial one:
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Old 05-08-2008, 09:58 PM   #14
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Default Re: Need Ideas .... Digging Under The House

Go down to the local labor pool on the city street corner. Get a couple of those guys who don't speak any english and they will dig it out for you very cheaply. Just keep them in tequila and tacos and everything will go just fine...LOL
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Old 05-08-2008, 11:16 PM   #15
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Default Re: Need Ideas .... Digging Under The House

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Go down to the local labor pool on the city street corner. Get a couple of those guys who don't speak any english and they will dig it out for you very cheaply. Just keep them in tequila and tacos and everything will go just fine...LOL

Yea and they might already have experience digging tunnels.
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Old 05-09-2008, 12:22 AM   #16
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Default Re: Need Ideas .... Digging Under The House

Thanks for all the replies, it always helps to get a different view point on things.

I guess I'm hoping for some kind of miracle but it just keeps coming back to the fact that I have some hard work ahead of me.
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Old 05-09-2008, 08:19 AM   #17
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Default Re: Need Ideas .... Digging Under The House

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Yea and they might already have experience digging tunnels.
I'm betting they have more experience hopping fences....
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Old 05-09-2008, 09:35 AM   #18
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Default Re: Need Ideas .... Digging Under The House

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Go down to the local labor pool on the city street corner. Get a couple of those guys who don't speak any english and they will dig it out for you very cheaply. Just keep them in tequila and tacos and everything will go just fine...LOL
This is certainly a stereotypical comment, but there is a lot of truth to it. I had my house leveled about a year ago, and a group of maybe 3 or 4 guys had 12 holes about 4 feet deep dug in about a day (by hand). I had never seen anything like it. They were digging machines!!

A similar group of guys dug a really clean trench about 3 or 4 feet deep, and about 50 feet long, to replace the main sewer line at my bro-in-law's house.

Find some guys to do the digging!! They need the money and you need the work done fast so you can move on to more important things.
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Old 05-09-2008, 10:31 PM   #19
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Smile Re: Need Ideas .... Digging Under The House

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Yea and they might already have experience digging tunnels.
Made me laugh out loud. Keep it up. That was funny.

Cheers!

Jim
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Old 05-09-2008, 11:29 PM   #20
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Made me laugh out loud. Keep it up. That was funny.

Cheers!

Jim
I don't know, some of those comments may be considered slightly offensive to those of us who are of Mexican descent. Personally, I'm not that sensitive, but I'm just sayin'
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