Since most people already consider crawl spaces to be “BIG BLACK HOLES,” it will probably surprise most of my readers (considering my reputation for loving the “adventure” of crawl spaces) that the thing that gets me the most “unglued” in there is: holes.
Especially the big black bottomless type.
For me, there is nothing more un-nerving than to be feeling my way across the plastic ground cover and feel “NOTHING” under the plastic.
Water under the plastic—-feeling like a giant waterbed—–is not uncommon and that is fairly simple to deal with. You either back up and leave—-or you go around it.
It is those holes you come upon that seem like “Black Holes” in your crawl-space-universe—-until you peer over the edge with your flashlight and discover snarling vermin, the ground only inches away or water 20 feet down. The water-20-feet-down type holes—-as in abandoned wells—CAN FREAK A PERSON OUT!!! Yup!
Other types of holes are: abandoned septic tanks with collapsed covers; abandoned cisterns full of junk automobile parts, water, and rat carcasses; abandoned basements full of old water heaters and bug infested furniture; and, holes created where stumps have rotted away.
I just love that feeling of adrenalin as I visualize being swallowed up by any one of these versions of holes.
Another type of hole is where with every knee placement—–with every hand placement—–the ground underneath collapses 2-3 inches. This happens when the top layer of dirt is riddled with rat tunnels. These kinds of holes you get used to, but they can FREAK YOU OUT at first—-but not as much as the ones you think might be “bottomless.” I am just grateful when the rat tunnels are covered with plastic to minimize the mold and asbestos-laden dust that would otherwise billow up around you.
The following picture was from a crawl space at a recent inspection.
Even when you can see them ahead of time, they can still be unnerving, because you still don’t know how deep they are and you don’t know if it is hollow under where you are laying—-but just hasn’t collapsed yet!
Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on what you are into) this one was only good for a small adrenalin rush.
I know that there really is no such thing as a bottomless pit, but it really doesn’t have to be very deep to represent a difficult scenario for the “Search and Rescue” crew——assuming of course you remembered to fall into the hole with your cell phone.
I think my worse nightmare would be falling though the cover of an old hidden septic tank full of raw sewage, drowning my cell phone, if not myself.
These ARE the REAL reasons they pay us the big bucks.
Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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