conditioned+crawlspace, gutters, Plans, water+problems

Crawlspace

Our house sits on a crawlspace. One plumber commented that it’s a “nice huge crawlspace big enough that you can crawl around on hands and knees”.
My expectations for a crawlspace is that it should be dry. It’s under the house, protected from rain. Water shouldn’t be going there. Reality isn’t meeting with my expectations. Every time it rains our crawlspace becomes a mud pit under the house.
Water evaporates into the crawlspace air. Settles on woodwork, condenses on galvanized pipes. Generally doing the nasty corrosive things that unchecked moisture does. The under-the house moisture then wafts its way up into our living space. It’s condensing on the single pane windows, dripping onto the wooden window sills and rotting the wood. We have spots of green and white mold growing on the newly-installed-by-the-previous-owner unsealed baseboard. We also have spots of black mold growing on the plaster of our un-insulated exterior walls.
Uncontrolled moisture is evil.


Problems:

  • Dryer vents into the crawlspace. Bad for so many reasons (original rant in a post on Restore|House blog). The obvious fix is to vent it properly. We have the tools.. we just haven’t had a dry spell where we can get under the house to setup the venting (that and we’re both kind of freaked out by the idea of messing it up while putting a hole in the house).
  • Gutters improperly installed. Our roof is a gable with another gable sticking out of it. Sort of like a cross gable.. but not entirely. I’m totally without clue as to what it should be actually called. The only piece of gutter on the entire house was installed by Mr. O across the front of the house.. it has a downspout.. that pours water out at the foot of the walls. Bad bad bad.
    My plan is to install a gutter across the back of the house and the west end of the cross gable. These will dump out into a downspout. Then I want to use either an on-site drain system to move gutter water away from the crawlspace or I’m toying with the idea of using rain barrels and a cistern. A cistern would capture the rain water we get during the winter and allow us to use this to water our lawn during the summer. Two birds, one cheap and effective stone. Still considering.
  • lot improperly graded. From my readings, the property should drop 1″ for each foot out from the house.
    • Southside, Front – On the front of the house I think it’s close to right. The yard just needs to be tweaked.
    • Eastside, Right – There’s just a little bitty dog run here about 4 foot wide. I think it’s basically level. I’m thinking we’ll pull the rock out of here (to use for the onsite-drainage) and regrade this slightly.
    • Northside, Back – The back yard is mostly level.. no grading at all. That and about 2 ft from the house, there’s a huge concrete slab (ghetto patio) that is raised 2″ from the ground and (I think) graded the wrong direction. Mr.O strikes again.
    • Westside, Left – This is the side that has the driveway. The concrete work is all wonky here and runs right up to the side of the house. At the side of the house, the concrete dips and water pools here everytime it rains. Bad bad bad. I want to get rid of all of this concrete and redo the drive entirely. Not only is it graded the wrong way.. it’s a major PITA to open the gates to move cars into/out-of the yard. The bottom of the gates grate on the driveway.

Random gutter links:

If all this doesn’t fix the situation.. then I guess we’re going to have to consider conditioning the crawlspace.
Concerns with a conditioned crawlspace:
Problem: Water heater may back draft and cause unacceptable levels of CO2 in the house.
Solution: Move water heater outside (as is planned) or replace with on-demand water heater(? CO2 problems?) or replace with sealed combustion water heater.
Problem: Humphrey, the cranky furnace, may back draft and cause unacceptable levels of CO2 in the house.
Solution: No solution at this time. I’d like to replace Humphrey with a sealed combustion forced air system in the attic. I don’t have the $7000 to do it.
Random Conditioned Crawl Space Links:

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