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Old 01-24-2013, 11:55 AM   #1
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The stringer on my stairs is pulling away from the wall/ studs.


Hi there. I live in an old house that was renovated on the CHEAP back in 2003. They added a second floor at the time. The stairs are at the back of the house and run along the back wall up to the second floor master suite.

We had noticed that the stairs were pulling away from the wall (We had painted the risers and trim together, and this has separated at least a quarter inch.)

I went under the stairs to take a look, and it seems that although they did something right in using a 2x4 between the stringer and the wall studs, the 2x4 itself was incredibly poorly attached and is in fact almost not attached at all in places. As you can see from these pics, they used multiple large nails in trying to hammer it diagonally with the stringer already attached (?) into the studs. In other words, instead of just attaching the 2x4 with horizontal nails that should be invisible from below with the stringer attached, they unsuccessfully hammered the nails in diagonally from below.

In the pics you can even see (maybe) that a couple of the studs are split from all the nails, and all the visible nails are bent slightly downward as the stairs dislodged from the exterior wall.

By the way, the 100 year old studs are as vertical and level as can be-- it's the studs that were installed in 2003 when the house was redone that are all off level. The studs on that particular wall are pitching off to the left from bottom to top when looking at the stairs head on (used a level.)

Any thoughts on this? Is this bad enough to worry about at this time? Let me know if you need any more pictures, and I'll gladly take more.

Thanks in advance!!
Attached Thumbnails
The stringer on my stairs is pulling away from the wall/ studs.-imag0755.jpg   The stringer on my stairs is pulling away from the wall/ studs.-imag0756.jpg   The stringer on my stairs is pulling away from the wall/ studs.-imag0757.jpg   The stringer on my stairs is pulling away from the wall/ studs.-imag0759.jpg   The stringer on my stairs is pulling away from the wall/ studs.-imag0761.jpg  



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Old 01-24-2013, 12:24 PM   #2
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The stringer on my stairs is pulling away from the wall/ studs.


The first two pictures are too close to have any idea of what we are looking at. Can you provide some general area shots so we can see what those boards are doing?

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Old 01-24-2013, 12:25 PM   #3
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The stringer on my stairs is pulling away from the wall/ studs.


If it were mine I would drill a small pilot hole through the stringer and 2X4 spacer and lag bolt it back to the wall. Shooting some good grade construction adhesive in where possible before the lag bolts might help also. Chances are if left as is, your stairs could become bouncy and do some squeaking.

Don't place the lag bolt high on the stringer, you could pop off the part the treads sit on. JMHO
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Old 01-24-2013, 12:48 PM   #4
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The stringer on my stairs is pulling away from the wall/ studs.


Thanks. I added pictures that give an overall view and indicate where the closeups were taken.


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Originally Posted by danpik View Post
The first two pictures are too close to have any idea of what we are looking at. Can you provide some general area shots so we can see what those boards are doing?
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Old 01-24-2013, 01:05 PM   #5
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The stringer on my stairs is pulling away from the wall/ studs.


Ok, so they don't need to be jacked up or anything? Thanks for the response btw!


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If it were mine I would drill a small pilot hole through the stringer and 2X4 spacer and lag bolt it back to the wall. Shooting some good grade construction adhesive in where possible before the lag bolts might help also. Chances are if left as is, your stairs could become bouncy and do some squeaking.

Don't place the lag bolt high on the stringer, you could pop off the part the treads sit on. JMHO
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Old 01-24-2013, 01:09 PM   #6
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The stringer on my stairs is pulling away from the wall/ studs.


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Originally Posted by georgiabiker View Post
Ok, so they don't need to be jacked up or anything? Thanks for the response btw!
From what I could see in the pictures, it didn't look like the stairs were sagging, just pulling away from the wall.
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Old 01-24-2013, 03:31 PM   #7
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The stringer on my stairs is pulling away from the wall/ studs.


Good to hear. Thanks! I added more pics. Also the stairs are not level - the tilt is very slight but away from the wall.

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From what I could see in the pictures, it didn't look like the stairs were sagging, just pulling away from the wall.
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Old 01-24-2013, 04:13 PM   #8
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The stringer on my stairs is pulling away from the wall/ studs.


Is the landing at the top of the stairs unlevel also check to see if the first step off the landing is the same level as the landing, then check a step about midway up the stairs and also the first step at the bottom of the stairs. If that first step at the bottom is unlevel check the floor there to see if it is unlevel.
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Old 01-24-2013, 04:34 PM   #9
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The stringer on my stairs is pulling away from the wall/ studs.


Ok, I somewhat misspoke. The stairs are tilting down towards the wall on the left in that picture. The top 5 or so stairs are very level, then they get more unlevel, and the one on the bottom isn't as unlevel as the one about 5 above it. Also the stairs at the top are even level front to back (towards the riser) while the ones at the bottom angle a lot downward towards the riser, if that matters. I tried to check the floor but it is slate (and uneven) so no dice on a really good measurement.


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Is the landing at the top of the stairs unlevel also check to see if the first step off the landing is the same level as the landing, then check a step about midway up the stairs and also the first step at the bottom of the stairs. If that first step at the bottom is unlevel check the floor there to see if it is unlevel.
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Old 01-24-2013, 04:47 PM   #10
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The stringer on my stairs is pulling away from the wall/ studs.


You may pull the stringers tight to the wall with long thin lag bolts but you will probably have to remove the nails with a catspaw. Otherwise they will bind between so it will not tighten up as much. Without risking a lot of refinishing I wouldn't try to re level too much. If anyone came to visit me and brought a level to check my stairs I wouldn't invite them back.
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Old 01-24-2013, 04:53 PM   #11
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The stringer on my stairs is pulling away from the wall/ studs.


Haha, you're hilarious! I wouldn't either. Ok, I've never used lag bolts (first house and while I've done a lot, including installing a fence from total scratch it hasn't included lag bolts) but I will look it up and get to it. Thanks so much and good to know that when we have *very* overweight guests (as we do sometimes with short term rentals of our place) that they won't be tumbling under the house from the steps.

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Originally Posted by Duckweather View Post
You may pull the stringers tight to the wall with long thin lag bolts but you will probably have to remove the nails with a catspaw. Otherwise they will bind between so it will not tighten up as much. Without risking a lot of refinishing I wouldn't try to re level too much. If anyone came to visit me and brought a level to check my stairs I wouldn't invite them back.

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