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Creepiest crawl space?

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DanHolohan
DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,565
What's your creepiest crawlspace story?

I once installed a lot of Heatway rubber tubing in the crawl space under Al Levi's old house on Long Island. I wanted to see what that was like. Once was enough for me.
Retired and loving it.
Roohollah

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,635
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    Rerunning the main power feeds (400 amp 480 3 phase) from the power vault in the street to the new main switchboard panel backstage... under the lobby and auditorium floor of a movie theatre in Torrington which had gotten flooded out. No light. No power. Not quite enough room to stand. You didn't want to crawl. Odd noises in the distance. Once was enough.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Dave in QCA
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,565
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    Gulp.
    Retired and loving it.
    Intplm.
  • Paul Pollets
    Paul Pollets Member Posts: 3,658
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    Ran into a nest of copperheads face to face while installing radiator piping in a 350 year old Dutch home in Kingston, NY. I set a new record for reverse gear to get out of there. I got the helper to finish the work. He wasn't afraid of snakes. Didn't enter another crawlspace for 10 years after that.
    HVACNUTCLambDave in QCA
  • GroundUp
    GroundUp Member Posts: 1,955
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    Dragging preinsulated underground piping through underneath an old shady motel when I was a puppy. Everything from condoms, to syringes, to animal carcasses in varying stages of decay. And SPIDERS, I hate spiders. Still have nightmares 15 years later
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,605
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    A vacation home owned by a trophy hunter. He put all his overflow stuffed animals in his crawl space. I was doing some work down there and was on edge anyway working around all the stuffed critters with only a flashlight when out jumps the biggest packrat I've ever seen. I never went back.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,565
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    You guys are making me itchy. @Paul Pollets is that what sent you west? ;-)
    Retired and loving it.
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,565
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    Yikes!
    Retired and loving it.
  • Noel
    Noel Member Posts: 177
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    Not my experience personally, but this qualifies...
    Erin Holohan Haskell
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,829
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    3 years ago, me and my helper went in one to repair steam condensate leaks This "crawl space" had dirt up to about 18" of the joists. The usual rocks, nails, wiring broken light bulbs etc. They had "ditches" in the crawl space about 3' deep where the condensate returns were. Problem was the ditches were not wide enough we crawled in about 40' looking for the leak and found it. Had to back out couldn't turn around.

    The leaking steam and the dust kicked up crawling around was making it hard to breathe. Once we found the leak we ended up pulling up part of the floor to get access without crawling all the way in. That at least gave us some light and air to breathe. Once the floor was up i went in with a sawzall down through the floor joists and cut the old stuff out. Once I got jammed in their I couldn't turn around to get out!!

    I was about done at this point. My helper (30 years younger and skinny) went in and I cut pipe and handed him pipe and fittings and he Mega Pressed it back together and we got out of their as quick as possible.
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,565
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    I’m running!
    Retired and loving it.
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,565
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    Gag!
    Retired and loving it.
    Larry Weingarten
  • RickBlackford
    RickBlackford Member Posts: 6
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    Had to replace 120' of terra cotta supported on concrete block. Some joints had broken, sewage and spider webs everywhere. 5' wide 4' high, laid down plastic and strung lights. Never want to go in there again. I've got pictures, you don't want to see them.
  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 3,113
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    Was asked to return to a job that my helper at the time and another mech had started a few day earlier ,I should have realized I was being set up .when we arrived I knew it was crawl space work and the home was a 100 year old Dutchy all crawl space . My helper /partner knew the drill had the lights set up very quickly so I jump up on a 7 ft ladder rolled on my back either back or belly no room to roll over and enter the crawl space I yell at him to plug the lights in as I get further into the crawl space of he does and as they go on about a couple of hundred cave crickets start jumping on my face I reversed ejected out of there I was quite pissed he had a great laugh knowing there’s not much that I hate but cave crickets are my kypronite .he had a great laugh they had set me up the previous day all knowing my total hate for cave crickets . It was one of the worse crawl spaces about 10 to 12 inches hi and poured concrete nice and moist just like those cave crickets love .i had and have been in tighter and worse crawlspaces but those cave crickets are the worse and still are my kypronite to-this day are able to draw my power down like a switch on a light . I ve been in under ground piping trenches and mech chases hundreds of ft long but the cave cricket crawl space ranks #1 in terrible memories of past crawl spaces . Any one who know them usually hates them alien bug from outer space . Once in a blue moon I ll run into my old helper and he always laughs about it to this day and that was like 20 tp 25 years ago good gags never die just get funnier long as your not the blunt of it . Peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,565
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    @clammy I can just see you in there. It's good you can laugh now. Thanks.
    Retired and loving it.
  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 3,113
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    I wasn’t laughing back then if I remember correctly I think I put my helper in a knee lock and pounded him a bit but this was back when such behavior was normal in the pecking order of things and men where men not some thing else less manly lol . Now a days I believe most of the good fun ribbing and nonsense is all gone every body takes every thing way to serious ,without all the gags and possible cruelty it’s seems like work . I now mostly work alone so I don’t get to gag as much as I used to but occasionally I work w some old buddies and like the Olympics it’s a competitive sports where some ones always looking for the gold in getting a laugh at some one else expensive . Peace and good luck clammy . Hope all are healthy and safe mr H
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 4,736
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    Has anyone picked up more claustrophobia as they aged? I used to crawl like a rat into tight spaces. Not anymore.
    Gary Wilson
    Wilson Services, Inc
    Northampton, MA
    gary@wilsonph.com
    GroundUpflat_twin
  • Big Ed_4
    Big Ed_4 Member Posts: 2,827
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    Yes I have . I use it to send in the younger thinner guy :)

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

    GW
  • psb75
    psb75 Member Posts: 863
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    The bear...is a good one. But Clammy's cave crickets have me "creeped -out" for sure!
    Crawl spaces are the "fate" of those who remain "skinny and willing." Makes me think of the Little Feat anthem: 'Willin':

    "I been warped by the rain, driven by the snow
    I'm drunk and dirty, don't ya know
    And I'm still, willin'
  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 3,113
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    I still get into some pretty tight spaces being I’m a few years younger then some of the guys I team up with but I find that I can’t see a thing and that as time goes on it just seems to get darker and darker more shadows no matter how many led lights still can’t see crap and if the writing gets any smaller on stuff like t stats and controls I ll need Braile to figure it out what goes where ,it tough getting old but the memories of all the hi jinx’s and tragic comedies that occurred w a side order of helper beatings where just as common as rain in the spring before pc crawled into every ascent of society .i really miss when men where men and there was a line between blue and white there where gin mills and strip clubs that where nasty but enjoyable , white never dared question what we did they took one look at us and wanted no part of what we where about , we where always on a mission mostly to complete any task no matter what ,we where a tough group of sob taking names and numbers and leaving a wake in our dust . I miss those old days and some of my gone brothers who went way to early but will never be forgotten by me .i always tip one in honor of those guys ,some where from a era not written about in the history books and will be written out of it and forgotten for sure . Peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
    SuperTechLarry Weingarten
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 2,083
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    Crawl space under a large commercial kitchen.
    The largest of four grease traps recessed through the floor into the crawl space had sprung a leak. This thing was so big, six grown men could stand side by side with room to spare. Smell !??
    And there was so much piping in the way you couldn't get to the thing. Could also be called a crouch space. The crawl space floor pitched from two feet to about four feet. with no easy access. Dark with so much in the way its hard to describe. And did I mention the smell??
    The smell of death from the leaking grease trap. And in the tight quarters that it needed to be replaced was unbelievable in how bad the smell was from the leaking .
    @GW I was never claustrophobic before this, but I have been since. I don't go into crawl spaces any more.
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,565
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    Ugh!
    Retired and loving it.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,941
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    @Intplm. sometimes it is time to go for the open procedure...
  • george_42
    george_42 Member Posts: 121
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    years ago I had to go into a crawlspace where I could not turn around , had to repair frozen line. they put ropes on my ankles to pull me out. never again George
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,458
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    I have been in to a lot of crawlspaces where I had to take the notepad and pen out of my pocket to get in. You get pretty good at using your toes to pull yourself back out.
    Around here there are not many spiders other than daddy long legs. When I was in Portland, we would find one and it would be an unusual find. But around here, they are common. I was working on a broken pipe under a mobile home, with the usual insulation hanging down in your face, and garbage and wet ground everywhere. So, I am laying on my back, with a foot of clearance to my face, turn on my flashlight, and there are about 50 daddy long legs right above. They get really agitated when you fire up your torch to fix the leak. I have found it is best to just roll your lips in and just get it done! They apparently are a very poisonous spider, but aren't able to bite you. But, you agitate them, and man they are musty smelling.
    Rick
  • Big Ed_4
    Big Ed_4 Member Posts: 2,827
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    You always find something dead under trailers ..

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

    ZmanSolid_Fuel_Man
  • SeanBeans
    SeanBeans Member Posts: 520
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    After hurricane Sandy there were some really bad crawl spaces. We did a house with two new duct systems and boiler re pipe. We were back far into the crawl space and I saw a face looking back at me.. it was a dead possum I couldn’t get out of the any faster than I did
  • dopey27177
    dopey27177 Member Posts: 887
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    Here is the one that beats all.

    Back in the day when I was a plumber employed by the New York City Housing Authority most of the buildings had crawl spaces.

    The crawl spaces were used as dumping grounds for all kinds of assorted trash. The housing authorities exterminators constantly had to treat the crawl spaces for rats and other types of vermin. Cockroaches, water bugs, silver fish, spiders and other creepy crawlers.

    The only staff that actually crawled into the crawl spaces were plumbers, electricians and exterminators.

    My first real nasty experience was at Smith Houses under the high rise that housed the community center. This situations was caused by a maintenance man from the emergency service section on a Sunday night. Rather than clearing a stoppage on a back to back Toilet riser he knocked out the clean out plug and the soil stack. this resulted in 32 toilets and bath tubs to empty there waste into the crawl space.

    My helper and I was assigned the job to clear the stoppage.

    This job became highly political as the health department closed down the center due to the foul odors from the crawl space entering the community center.

    The crawl space was 3 feet high at the entry point with a foot of water throughout.

    My first move was to shut the water supply to 128 apartments followed by pumping the waste water out of the crawl space.

    We got the water level down to to about 6" and proceeded to bring in the sewer cleaning cables. What we found was all the light bulbs back in the tumbrels were burnt out.

    As we went in with flash lights we changed the bulbs and proceeded to rod out the stopped up lateral line from the stack.

    Brought in a fire hose from the standpipe to blow out the lateral line. what we found was there was another stoppage on the house drain.

    At that point I decided to find the house trap and remove the clean out plug from the house sewer side of the house trap.

    That being done all the water eventually drained from the crawl space. Before we rodded out the house drain and house sewer we found many dead rats, cats dried poop and lime that was used prior to kill the odors and kind of sterilize te crawl space.

    Need I tell you working in a three foot high crawl space with the earth soaked in sewage and other debris there is no way one could stay dry or retain some semblance of clean.

    I cannot in words explain that 10 hours of work in that crawl space, so. close your eyes and just imagine.

    Jake

  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,565
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    Jake, I think you win. :#
    Retired and loving it.
    kcopp
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 5,887
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    You couldn't pay me enough.
    kcopp
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 2,083
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    Crawl spaces should be out-lawed. Against code.
    SuperTechkcoppSolid_Fuel_Man
  • flat_twin
    flat_twin Member Posts: 353
    edited April 2020
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    While under a newly setup modular house running telco wiring, I heard a big "kawoosh" as someone flushed the toilet. There was no soil pipe, it just dumped into the crawl. Fortunately I was 20' away. No one heard me hollering and they were quite surprised when I told them to get their contractor or plumber back ASAP.
    Finding pairs of eye reflecting back at you when you shine your flashlight around the crawl space is always startling.
    The one that scared me the most was hearing what I thought was a vacuum cleaner over my head while I was fishing interior telco wiring thru the floor in a modular house. Turned out to be a hornets nest in the pre fab insulated floor. When I got outside and watched the exterior wall, I could see the hornet traffic flying in and out of a crack in the masonry.
  • Tim McElwain
    Tim McElwain Member Posts: 4,629
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    Working as a service man with the gas company. With all the summer homes in Rhode Island crawl spaces were typical every day. The worst time however was in the fall when folks who had there furnaces in crawl spaces wanted them started for the winter. By that time the sand fleas had set up residence. They would jump all over you and those suckers bite. Thank goodness for RAID!
  • Dale_3
    Dale_3 Member Posts: 58
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    You guys are bringing back memories (bad ones) from about 20 years ago when I used to frequent crawl spaces a lot. @clammy mentioned the cave crickets -- I'm right there with you. Beyond scary creatures.......... One of the most troubling spaces got labeled "Flat Cat". We found two skeletons of cats and I had the pleasure of rolling over and finding "flat cat." This critter was a flat as a pancake but still had hair on the top side. Not a nice site. To top things off it's picture was still on the refrigerator. Weird nasty crawl space job. I don't miss them at all... Enjoyed the stories.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,829
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    I think Jake @dopey27177 is the winner as well
  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 3,113
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    I ll agree jake is the winner on nasty poop crawl space . I ll do and deal w a lot of stuff but on a crawl space w crap I’m out got to draw a line some where . It all comes w the territory but aside from crawl spaces how bout just bad house cleaning ? I ran out of a few and had to scrape my shoes off not to dirty the world . I remember many years ago my boss was taking myself and a partner to a hot air replacement job he guaranteed it would be the fastest we ever did and he made the comment that we would be scrape our shoes before we left the house and he was right . We jackedthe old one out slammed in the new one and had it going in about 2 hours w a new supply tranny and a return drop and yes we scrape our shoes off before stepping on the side walk . To give u a idea when I went to change the thermostat it seemed very low like at nipple height I’m 5 7 w lifts as I looked wondering why so low I realized my head was by the top of a door jam I realized I was standing on about 1 1/2 ft of news papers and garbage ,scratched my head installed the stat and scraped my shoes as we left . Record time job unfortunately our service department went back less then a month or so later to replace the heat exchanger had holes in it maybe due to the dog urine and crap all over the basement I guess the hi ammonia fumes may have really shorten the heat exchangers life span the old one had been pissed on for 20 years and fell apart to a blower motor and heat exchanger and a big pile of pissed soaked rust nasty .as we attempted to get up and outta the house . The place stunk . Sometime the crawl space ain’t to bad ,at this point in my life when there that dirty I just say I have to get a bigger screw driver and leave , it makes absolutely no sense to expose yourself to the filth plus will they ever appreciate a quality install or repair when living like a pig I highly doubt plus I’m not there to clean there mess so I can work .Peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
  • george_42
    george_42 Member Posts: 121
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    once after draining the boiler to do a repair,I had to tell the owner that I could not bleed the radiators because I could not find them under the trash.
  • jimshaw
    jimshaw Member Posts: 3
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    Several years ago we cut through the floor of the bar area in a 100+ year old country club club in Minneapolis during a remodel job. When we got it open it was discovered that the cast iron sewer was completely gone and the drainage from the locker rooms and the bar were flowing through a "grand canyon" type of ditch until it found its way back to the where the cast iron was still present. As I peered into the abyss, it appeared that the ground was moving but it was simply thousands of cockroaches.
    That was probably the most memorable
  • Jackmartin
    Jackmartin Member Posts: 196
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    The worst crawl space I have ever worked in was for Andrew Manarski school. I would never have imagined a school board would allow an abomination like that crawl space to exist six inches from youngsters learning their lessons. The crawl space had walk ways dug into the earth to allow you to go from front to back. The condensate tank was spraying out water ,the traps were so bad. The water condensed on the ceiling of the space and everything was a wet sloppy mess. I was sent down to figure out what they could do to end their " rain problem" so I had to locate all the traps and try and figure out which ones were passing so badly In the end I told them to retrofit the whole mess in the summer. I was curious why all the fibreglass pipe insulation was , ---- well chewed looking. The caretaker told me why and I still get the willies. The crawl space had almost no lights so you had to use a flashlight and of course you only saw a far as the beam went. The caretaker said didn't you see the rats? In my innocence I said what rats? He told me the crawl space was lousey with them and that is why it had such a strange odor, rat poop. They had been trying to get rid of the rats for years and the suckers just got used to the poison and they were way to smart to be trapped. Luckily, I was the supervisor of the HVAC CONTROL shop so I gave the job to a person who disliked me as much as I had no use for him. He was a temporary guy on for the late spring into late fall, I don't think he has forgiven me yet, he never came back the next year. No loss. Stay Well and Be Blessed Jack
  • Big Ed_4
    Big Ed_4 Member Posts: 2,827
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    My memory of my worst crawl space was an old cottage , I was sent there for odor call .. The old lady directed me to the boiler room entrance on the side of the cottage .. All the land scape and grass was overgrown .There was plywood covering up a brick well and the entrance . I pulled the plywood out though the tall grass to expose a nest of snakes . They slither is all directions and I ran away . Holly cow , and once I regained my breath , I asked again " is this the boiler room ?" " This is the only way to the boiler " She repeated .... I was poking around several minutes with a stick making sure nothing moved and buying me some time to build up some coverage . Just to make sure I Sprayed the area with a full can of SpeedyClean .

    I had to drop down the shallow well to the small entrance Peering in with my Eve-ready flash lite. I can see the boiler sits in a pit ,more like a fox hole , about 15 feet in .Water was dripping from leaky pipes in the far corner .. It was a duck walk with a bucket to the boiler . I was slowly making my way through with eyes in all directions looking for anything that moves being shaken by the snakes . Waving a radiator brush in front of me to clear the path of spider webs . . The cobwebs were thick, like in the movies but covered with soot , Ah Nothing like the smell of fuel oil and a puff back at the end of the day .

    I felt like Indiana Jones passing by relics of the past , with used boiler parts and oil filer cartridges scattered about ..

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

    Solid_Fuel_Man