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strategery 08-10-2011 10:10 AM

100 year old foundation. 2 walls deteriorating.
I've taken a hard look at repairing these walls and I've gotten some bids. The clay block foundation is not suitable for anchoring I'm told, so they have recommended support braces that extend vertically from the floor joists to the cement floor (also in bad shape, but that's maybe another discussion).

Two of the walls have bowed in just about an inch and there's some water stains and efflorescence on the walls.

If I replace the two walls, it comes with a lot of benefits. I can damp proof both of them and put a sump pump in to prevent flooding in the future. I also can have 2 extra feet put in below so I can finish the basement someday with 8 ft ceilings. It will cost twice as much to replace the foundation than to repair it.

Is foundation wall replacement one or two at a time likely to cause problems upstairs? In my mind, the worst thing that could happen is that I could start seeing cracks in the walls and have doors sticking. Anyone have experience replacing one or two foundation walls? Did it cause any problems upstairs -- cracks, doors not closing properly, windows coming out of place?

BigJim 08-10-2011 01:03 PM

Could you post some pictures from inside and outside the foundation? It would help if we could see what is going on and where. Do the rafters sit on the wall above the bad foundation? Do floor joists for the second floor sit on the wall with the bad foundation?

One thing to watch for when supporting that wall, load bearing or not, is the outside band spreading or pulling away from the floor joist if they are attached to the band at the bad foundation. 100 years ago they did not have cement coated nails, so the best you have in way of nails are commons. "Common" (type) nails nailed into the end grain for that length of time will almost certainly lose any holding power it ever had. This is the reason I said be sure the outside band doesn't pull loose. (The old antique homes had solid ceils with the floor joists mortised in, not nailed)

We did restorations of antique homes built mostly in the early 1800s and have done exactly this replacement. As easily as you can screw the band tight to the floor joist where possible. If the ends of the joists are too bad to hold screws you will need to sister them as easily as possible as not to jar the band loose further. If the band is in bad shape then you do have your work cut out for you.

Replacing that outside band is tough and much damage (to you and the house) can result if not done correctly. If the band is in good shape here is what we did. First, a minimum of 30 inches back from the end of the floor joists you will need to build a support for the joists. ( we built support beams) Once that is done you will need to knock holes in the foundation at safe intervals (we went 4 feet) at the top of the foundation. We used 8"X8" lengths of timber supported at each end and horizontal and tight to the band. We poured the supports concrete pads below grade so we could just cover them up instead of removing them.

Be very careful at the ends or corners as you will have another band and foundation to deal with which will need support as well. The corners will for sure have a lot of pressure on them so beware.

Once all is secured, remove the old foundation, unless you have a basement, dig and pour a new footing, block up and go from there replacing all that needs replacing and reinforcing. Good luck.

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