Garage pits have quickly replaced lifts in home garages all across America, and for good reason: they’re generally safer than lifts. Most of the time.
We’re going to take the safest possible approach to construct this, and address some of the, ahem… pitfalls of making a garage pit.
What is a Garage Pit?
A garage pit is an alternative to electronic or hydraulic lifts.
They allow you to underneath the car without hoisting it up on any machinery.
Garage pits are generally six feet deep. This allows you to stand in the pit and look upward while working on a vehicle without having to scrunch down and crane your neck.
While usually deemed safer than hydraulic lifts, garage pits can act as emission depots. If you have a vehicle or generators on in your shop, exhaust fumes can gather in your pit like repository.
We’re going to plan ahead in our step-by-step tutorial to avoid this becoming an issue with your own garage pit.
Benefits of a Garage Pit
- Safer Than Lifts: Lifts can fail. A hole in the ground is what it is: a hole in the ground. There are still safety concerns to address, but they are arguably easier to handle and less dangerous than lift safety issues.
- Faster Setup Time: What’s so difficult about going down a six-foot ladder? Nothing. Hydraulic lifts can take 2-3 minutes depending on the age and efficiency of the unit. There’s practically no wait time outside of your own physical capabilities.
- Fewer Upkeep Costs: Most garage pits have nothing electronic about them. You’ll just have to go over it once a year to check for ladder rung rust and general structural integrity, which are easy to remedy if you should need to fix them.
Why Should You Dig a Garage Pit?
Garage pits are no easy task. In truth, it’s easier to install a lift system since it’s already built.
Digging a garage pit is hard labor, but the benefits of it over a lift system give it value.
Easier doesn’t mean better. Garage pits are permanent fixtures. If you ever needed to repair one, it would be vastly inexpensive compared to replacing electrical components in a hydraulic lift.
Garage pits allow you to work on the underside of your car or project vehicle with ease.
In the pit we’ll be building, you have everything you need: ample lighting, air ventilation, and plenty of room to work.
Step-by-Step Guide on Digging Your Own Garage Pit
Let’s dig a pit.
This is the most effective, long-term, low-maintenance solution that we could devise while still having all the benefits of high-end garage pits.
In this, we will address visibility, breathability, and safety.
- Get a jackhammer and a shovel. You’re going to need a hole that is about 30” W by 72” L by 72” D. Six feet long, six feet down, two-and-a-half wide (internal dimensions). This means you’ll need to dig an extra 2” on each side to account for the bricks we’ll be using for the wall. The average shoulder length of an adult male is about 18.3”, so we’ll have plenty of clearance.
- Break up the concrete. You’ll be breaking 34” wide and 76” in length for the walls. Each brick that we’ll be using for the wall should be 2” wide, which is going to help us create a steel cover for the top of this.
- Flatten out the ground at the bottom. You’re going to need a ladder to get back out. The ground should actually be an extra 6” deep (78” in total) to account for the concrete we’re going to pour in. Flatten out the walls to the best of your ability.
- It’s time to lay concrete. Pour it in, and do your best to smooth it out. It’s a difficult task, so you can either leave it a bit rough, or you can use a diamond grinder to smooth it out later if you wish.
- Begin laying the base of the brick wall. Measure everything out to the best of your ability. You’re going to make this 2” lower than the floor of the actual garage when you’re done. Periodically, you can either pour concrete between the dirt and wall, or you can just fill it back in with dirt.
- Once your brick wall is where it needs to be, let it dry. Consider running a grinder over the walls to smooth it all out later.
- Around the rough edges of the top, lay a bit of concrete and smooth it out so you have a perfect 34” x 76” area. You want this to look like a finished garage when you’re done, not a hodgepodge.
- After everything has had time to dry, we’re going to focus on lighting and ventilation. If you’ve seen DIY pits before, you might find that people are flicking switches near the door that activate lights down below. We’re not sure if you have time for that, but we wanted a quicker solution that wasn’t too much of a hassle. Grab metal mounting brackets and four 24” LED lighting strips, and place them along the length of your garage pit. Install the brackets, affix the strips to them, and run the cables along the wall so they aren’t in your way. You can use small metal hooks here to manage the cables.
- Next, get a portable air filtration system with a wall mounting kit. You’re going to put this on the “bottom” of the pit, or the wall that you will not be climbing down. Mount this, run the cable so it’s aligned with the LED cables.
- These cables should all meet at the end of the air filtration system. When you pop the top off of your garage pit, these should be accessible so you can just plug them into a power strip extension cable and get straight to work.
- Clean out the bottom of your pit and make sure everything feels right. Next, we’re going to install the ladder rungs.
- On the only remaining blank wall, you’re going to install some ladder rungs or a full steel vertical wall mount ladder. Get one without rail extensions, and be prepared to cut and smooth out the top. Most of these are 10-12 ft and higher.
- Secure your ladder to the wall so that it ‘s 3-4” below the garage floor level.
- It’s time to make the cover. We wanted to make it as sturdy as possible without being too heavy to lift by yourself. You’ll need enough steel plating (½” thick) to cover 67 and 3/4” x 151 and 3/4” (two sides of one big plate). In the center, you need a 1” thick solid wood panel. Attach steel to either side and ⅛” aluminum angle sheets to all four edges of the plate. Cut a circular hole in the center on one side to use as a handle. This should lay flat on the cover and rest on the lip when the garage pit is not in use to avoid falling or injuries. If done properly, this should be sturdy enough for you to stand in the center without risk of injury.
Tying it All Together
You’ve got the tools, the insulated workspace, and the knowledge to perform rapid and accurate repairs on your car.
Now, you’ve got the safe space to get it done as well.
Garage pits are vastly safer than lists, and with this inexpensive DIY garage pit, you’ll be on your way to an enhanced, optimized garage that’s prime for car repairs.
Don’t be surprised if your buddies ask you to.Last updated on: