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Old 01-19-2010, 06:28 PM   #1
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Crawl Space Pier is Near Failure


The crawlspace of my house built in 1955 is in good shape, and the house only has one problem inside that I see. The problem appears to be slight buckling of hardwood floor over an area where a pier is located in the crawlspace. The pier is now 5" from the edge of a large hole dug many years ago by previous owners. The hole was dug so you can enter the access door and then stand up in an area about 10' by 10' and 33" deep. The pier in danger is 12" by 12", brick, and is about midway of the crawlspace front to back, and in the last 4th of the house side to side. I need to stop the soil from coming loose around the pier! No one has looked at the situation yet, I would like to know what may be done without a professional foundation repair, if possible.

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Old 01-19-2010, 08:40 PM   #2
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Crawl Space Pier is Near Failure


Picture would be nice!

"then stand up in an area about 10' by 10' and 33" deep." ------ one of you standing up in there, too.......

Be safe, Gary

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Old 01-20-2010, 10:38 AM   #3
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Crawl Space Pier is Near Failure


Weight travels through soil from the bottom of the pier at a 45 degree angle. If you dig into the area under the angle you create problems.
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Old 01-20-2010, 10:48 AM   #4
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Crawl Space Pier is Near Failure


IF I understand this correctly: Once you enter the underside of the house via the "access door", there is a 10' x 10' x 33" hole underneath the house? I have to ask- -Why would someone dig a 10' x 10' x 33" deep hole underneath a house? Unless, , there was some extensive work to be done in one spot underneath the house and standing up would be the most comfortable position to do this work. But then, someone had to dig out all of that dirt. Unless, , it was dug out when the foundation was being prepared, for some reason. David
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Old 01-20-2010, 11:43 AM   #5
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Crawl Space Pier is Near Failure


I'm with Thurman - the previous HOer would have needed a pretty good reason to remove between 10,000-15,000 lbs of dirt in that space.

That being said, I never underestimate the ability for a previous HOer to do something downright bizarre.
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Old 01-20-2010, 03:32 PM   #6
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Crawl Space Pier is Near Failure


You really have a few options. Either fill the hole in to a point where the soil under the pier is encased and can't shift, or temporarily support whatever load is being carried by the pier and remove the old pier. Dig down to undisturbed earth and create a new footer, then built a new pier on top of it. You may be able to build a new pier farther from the hole, but without seeing your situation, I can't recommend that. A site visit by an engineer would be the best bet. You already have a problem with buckling of a floor, so you are into some serious jacking and shoring.
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Old 01-21-2010, 09:52 AM   #7
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Crawl Space Pier is Near Failure


My suggestion is to get two hydraulic jacks. Flank the pier with the jacks and take the weight off. Use 40 lb bags of sac crete to buttress or shore the side of the hole. Then use a 4' level to level the floor. Shim the pier off. You can do this yourself, Good Luck!

Last edited by DangerMouse; 01-28-2010 at 11:00 AM. Reason: Advertising
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Old 01-21-2010, 10:20 AM   #8
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Crawl Space Pier is Near Failure


O.K., Rick--let's get serious now. I'm not an Engineer by any means. I've done much work under homes in my area and every now and then I see something and say "Well now I've seen it all", then something new comes along, like this. I have seen one similar circumstance close to this. A brick pier under a home built in 1921 was just sinking straight down, for no known reason. A new pier had been built on top of four railroad ties used as cribbing right next to the old pier and looked to be holding up pretty good. In your case my first concern would be the dirt giving way as the pier is 5" form the edge of the h0le. The choices seem to back-fill the hole with good compaction to prevent the edge from breaking down--not a good option. Place some type of wall against the edge of the hole near the pier, another wall against the opposite edge of the hole and some type of bracing between the two to prevent the edge near the pier from breaking down. This could be done with pressure treated lumber for ground contact. You state that you're floor is "buckling". To me this means the floor is raising upwards. Is the floor actually raising upwards or is it "sagging" at the point above this pier? Good Luck, David
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Old 01-21-2010, 12:23 PM   #9
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Crawl Space Pier is Near Failure


Saw a "Holmes on homes" with something exactly like this.

They reinforced the floor joists with a spanning beam at the end, hand dug out much of the crawlspace with about 2000 buckets of dirt, poured an 8in slab on that with a perimeter wall around the rest, and added a couple of 2x4 brace walls underneath to support the floor joists. A foam vapor barrier was put between the concrete and wood.
A lot of work.
Since the floor had been leveled on the inside, the header of the brace walls was a single 2x4 on its side so it would follow the contour of the sagging joists.
Not the cheapest/quickest solution, but it worked.

You might also consider digging two new holes and using a beam. The essential places are where the load-bearing walls land.
Jack it incrimentally over months/years.
(edit: I'm no expert so differ to their expertise and hire a proffesional)

Last edited by Stillwerkin; 01-21-2010 at 12:43 PM.
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Old 01-23-2010, 11:13 AM   #10
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Crawl Space Pier is Near Failure


OK-- not really sure why the previous homeowner dug out the crawl space...a matter of knuckle head syndrome. But while I worked undeneath my house putting R-19 insulation in the floor joists, the 10 x 10 x 33" hole at the access door allowed me stand up and move around without having to leave. Kind of nice then, but don't need it now. The buckling of the hardwood along the line inside the two rooms is about lined up with the pier underneath, but if anything I would think the floor would be falling slightly, not humping up like it is doing. As I walk in my bare feet, i feel the hump and the wood curling upward slightly.

I think the building of two walls, one at each opposite end of the hole, with treated wood between sounds good. But how do I get that much pressure applied to the front wall, the one against the hole's edge only 5" from the pier?

I could also go along with the idea of jacking up the house, but I feel like if a placed a jack beside the pier in question, the soil underneath the jacks will crumble further, and the pier is going to come out sooner.

If i used bags of sacrete against the wall, would this be enough pressure to keep the soil in place? How much weight do you actually need against the soil?

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Old 01-03-2012, 04:43 PM   #11
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Crawl Space Pier is Near Failure


It has been a very long time, so if you are not on this DIY site any longer I won't be able to talk with you. But thanks to all who replied to my situation: GBR, pyper, Thurman, Leah Frances, Maintenance 6, Sonya AFR, and Stillwerken.

I eventually called an 800 number in my yellow pages for foundation repair work specialist. He came out with is official looking metal clipboard and went under the house to look at the brick pier that is 5" from the edge of the big hole in the dirt. After some discussion, he was onto me about sealing the crawlspace using their new product, and address the hole by placing a permanently installed post next to the pier but standing in the hole. He then proceded to quote me a little over $12K to do this work. I told him I would get back to them later, received a call from their HQ in some other state up north, and I could not get rid of them fast enough.

The 10' x 10' hole is still there, but the crawlspace problem still needs attention. I think I may have someone install the post to support the floor joist right next to the pier. Maybe for $1000 or so. Not so sure about doing this one myself, not because of danger but because i might screw with the floor or walls by jacking.

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Old 01-03-2012, 05:12 PM   #12
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Crawl Space Pier is Near Failure


Have you checked the hole for dead bodies.......and I am not saying this as a joke.
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Old 01-03-2012, 05:13 PM   #13
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Crawl Space Pier is Near Failure


Quote:
Originally Posted by ol rick View Post
I eventually called an 800 number in my yellow pages for foundation repair work specialist.

The 10' x 10' hole is still there...
but because i might screw with the floor or walls by jacking.
Go back to the Yellow Pages but this time look for "structural engineer"
A few hundred should get you an inspection and a prescription for repair work on a neat drawing you can show to potential contractors (and to the County if needed as well) as you compare their *apple to apple* prices to do what YOU want/need to have done.

hth
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Old 01-03-2012, 05:24 PM   #14
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Crawl Space Pier is Near Failure


Just set a new post standing on a concrete footing at the bottom of the hole, right next to the old one. $50.

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