Area wells are required by the Uniform Building Code for two specific purposes: To provide for basement egress. To provide crawlspace access. We will discuss the latter. An area well is basically a u-shaped piece of metal with a mount flange on either side. It lays on its side in front of a window or crawlspace access hole. Its primary purpose is to prevent backfill, shrubbery, or landscaping from obstructing the crawlspace access. You can install a ready-made area well or you can build one. In either case, codes usually require that the area well be connected to, or served by, a foundation drain unless it is covered with a waterproof top.
- Dig down in front of the crawlspace access hole until you reach the top of the foundation footing.
- If you are planning on building your own cover or installing a manufactured top, there is no need to provide for drainage. Otherwise, follow the next step.
- Make sure that the foundation drain travels underneath the area well. If not, route perforated foundation drainage piping underneath it. Bed the pipe properly in drainage gravel.
- Measure the width of the crawlspace access hole.
- Purchase the proper size area well, allowing plenty of room for installing fasteners through the mount flanges into the foundation stem wall.
- Set the area well in place on top of the foundation footing, spacing it evenly over the crawlspace access hole.
- Mark the foundation stem wall where your fasteners will go.
- Remove the area well.
- Drill the proper size holes in the foundation stem wall with a roto-hammer and bit.
- Insert the concrete anchors.
- Install the area well, making sure that the holes in the mount flanges line up with the concrete anchors.
- Install the anchor washers and nuts and tighten them firmly.
If you are going to build your own area well, check the applicable building codes first to make sure your plans will be approved.
If you build your own cover or top for the area well, make sure it overlaps the sides and that it slopes away from the house. It should also fit snugly up against the siding or foundation stem wall.
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