My Off The Grid Project – Painful Faswall Crawl Space Fix

Being that I’m in the sticks it would have been difficult to pore a slab, and a place where it can get pretty cold in the winter so I decided to go with a crawl space. I did this for two primary reasons: 1) As I said above, it would have been really difficult and expensive to pore a slab. 2) I wanted to have easy access to pipes and plumbing if anything ever went wrong. Great idea, well if my contractor would have done it correctly. So what started out as a great idea turned into a huge fix as I outline below and show in this video.

Here is a brief overview of all the issues I found and had to correct:

I noticed a problem with water leaking into the crawl space over the winter, so I knew something was incorrect, but wasn’t sure what. When we were trenching for electrical and gas pipes I decided to dig up a spot and take a look. First thing I noticed was my contractor wrapped the outside of the crawl space with garden weed barrier, trust me this is in no way how to protect or seal a crawl space. Matter of fact my new dirt guy who does this for a living and myself had never seen this before. Needless to say, since he was already there with the excavator I decided I better dig the entire thing up again. I guess I should have mentioned, my former contractor filled all this in before I could inspect his work, now I know why.

Once exposed I found that the outside of the crawl space had not been sealed properly. Faswall brick has and instruction manual on how to do this, but I guess that was just to difficult for him to read and follow. He decided to spray tar on a very porous brick that could not be sealed using this method. He also failed to do any proper sealing of the base brick to the footings, so I could see cracks and gaps that went straight into the inside of the crawls space. Basically no water tight integrity at all. Then all the remaining crawl space exterior brick joints had not been sealed as per the Faswall instruction manual.

Even after I asked several times about the crawl space venting, there was none installed. You will see in the video the huge problem this created after the fact. I still have problems with numbness in my hands from all the hammer drilling this required to bore holes for proper ventilation per county code.

Due to laziness or complete incompetence, he moved my septic line from the original location, thus screwing up the proper slope needed for septic drainage. This had to be completely redone.

Then to top it off he installed the drainage pipe, with very little or no slope, pretty much making it useless. Not to mention part of it was a used piece of pipe probably from another past job. Yep, I can’t make this stuff up!

To be honest I was very lucky that I decided to dig up and expose the exterior of crawl space when I did. If I wouldn’t have more in likely, and in a very short time moisture trapped in the joints would have frozen during the winter and started to crack and destroy the structural integrity of the bottom of the house.

This was not only an expensive fix, but a very labor intensive one. I had to come up with my own solution, as there was nothing off the shelf (just like the windows) that I could use.

In the end it took 4 weeks or so of work to get this thing where it should have been to begin with. Again this is valuable lesson on how sub-par work by a contractor causes a huge headache time wise and financially. I can only imagine what would have happened if someone with no background in construction or DYI would have faced down the road in this same situation.

Below are some picks I took during the process:

Sealing Faswall Crawl Space

Proper Sealing Faswall Crawl Space

Fasall Crawl Space

Faswall Crawl Space Ventillation

The odds are you will never encounter this issue, but if you do you now know how to fix it 🙂


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