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Old 09-08-2010, 10:40 AM   #1
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Crooked Porch Columns


Any suggestions on how to straighten these columns? (see attached picture) It's 100 + year old home and these are the original columns.

Thanks for any advice!
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Old 09-08-2010, 10:54 AM   #2
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Crooked Porch Columns


I cannot tell from the photo if the columns are crooked (not straight) or simply out of plumb. If they are straight but out of plumb, you need to determine if they can be reset plumb on the original foundations, or if the foundation is not properly located, either because it was always in the wrong place, or perhaps the roof above has shifted. This can be done using a plumb bob or a laser.

If the columns are straight but need to be replumbed, you need to temporarily jack up the roof above, then reset the columns plumb, installing a new foundation if necessary. This will probably involve reconnecting the top of the foundation to the roof, and may require a new attachment detail for the bottom of the column.

If the columns are in fact crooked, they must be replaced in order to correct the appearance, as I know of no practical way to straighten out a warped wooden column of such a size.

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Old 09-08-2010, 12:53 PM   #3
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Crooked Porch Columns


I'm guessing that you are asking about the wood columns, but, and I can't tell for sure from the picture either, it looks to me as if the brick piers are leaning, and that the wood columns are in turn leaning with them, but at the opposite angle. As a quick check, do as Dan suggested, hang a plumbbob from the porch roof, then measure back to see where the problem lies. I suspect that in the long run you will find that the brick piers have a failed or non-existant footing.
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Old 09-08-2010, 02:24 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by DexterII View Post
the brick piers are leaning, and that the wood columns are in turn leaning with them, but at the opposite angle.
That is correct. I'll check with a plumb.

Thanks.
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Old 09-08-2010, 03:09 PM   #5
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Crooked Porch Columns


Just from my old eyes, it looks like the left one is OK but the right one is really wacked out. If that downspout is perfectly plumb, you can really see it.
Looks like the gutter installer replaced that bottom column flange, there's one on the left column but not the right one.
If the porch deck itself level?
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Old 09-08-2010, 03:16 PM   #6
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Crooked Porch Columns


It appears that the right brick pier is out of plumb. The top looks to be a few degrees listing to the right. Get your piers straight first (if in fact this appearance is correct.) You might have the pleasure of reinforcing a footer from the looks of it. Note what the footer is also. Doesn't look old enough to be simple laid rock.
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Old 09-08-2010, 03:50 PM   #7
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Just from my old eyes, it looks like the left one is OK but the right one is really wacked out. If that downspout is perfectly plumb, you can really see it.
Looks like the gutter installer replaced that bottom column flange, there's one on the left column but not the right one.
If the porch deck itself level?
The left one is leaning slightly but not nearly as much or as noticeable than the right one. The gutter is straight, I'll have to check if it's plumb..... In comparison to the gutter, the picture does show what the column appears to be doing. Bowing where the wood meets the brick.
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Old 09-08-2010, 04:14 PM   #8
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Crooked Porch Columns


Going back to your original question,
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDood View Post
Any suggestions on how to straighten these columns?
, and based on what you have since said, I would definitely get someone like Dan involved, sooner, rather than later. It is very possible that the pier is simply leaning, again, due to a failed footing, or lack thereof, and that rebuilding it, which, of course, involves temporary support for the porch and roof, etc., will solve the problem. But, as mentioned, you don't know which components of the house and porch have or have not been affected, and it's a beautiful old house, and if it were to suddenly lean further, the cost of repairs would undoubtedly increase dramatically.
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Old 09-09-2010, 09:05 AM   #9
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Crooked Porch Columns


I have a few contractors coming out to give me an estimate to repair or replace the brick columns and reuse the round wood portion. For the most part it seems like these would need to be replaced. I'd like them repaired to keep the same brick and mortar that would match the house. What should my expectations be that the brick and mortar can be matched and what price should I expect? The brick sections are 12.5' tall and there are two columns.
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Old 09-09-2010, 10:53 AM   #10
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Crooked Porch Columns


Based on the gaps for the front porch near the brick
And the downward slope to the right of that green board
I'd say the brick has been sinking
So no way to guess how much is out of whack & what will be needed to properly repair this
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Old 09-09-2010, 03:20 PM   #11
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Only you or the contractor can determine if either the wooden columns and/or the brick piers should be replaced. You're right there, you shouls see if they are rotten or not.
Just looks from here like the footing has given way and the brick is leaning.
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Old 09-13-2010, 04:39 PM   #12
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Looks like I'll be doing this one on my own, which means no brick. Can anyone direct me to a DIY on footings and deck support? The frost line is 3' here in NJ, I imagine I'll have to go that far down. Since I'll be using lumber instead of brick, is a 12' distance between the footer and the roof too much for a 6x6 pressure treated column?

Any other advice is welcome.

Thanks
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Old 09-13-2010, 06:21 PM   #13
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You are into a relatively difficult structural problem, specifically determining the capacity of a structurally loaded column. The load on the column (the new 6x6 you plan to install) depends on the tributary area above, meaning the area of the roof the column supports, and the combination of dead and live load, which includes snow, dead weight of the roof, and live loads such as wind and seismic.

The capacity of a column is a function of the unsupported length of the column (you mentioned 12 feet), the eccentricity of the applied load, the amount of applied load, and the end conditions of the column. Determining what the minimum required size for the column would be is what structural engineers get paid to do. I suggest you hire a local structural engineer for your project, they can recommend a column size, attachment details, footing size, and connection detail. You are probably going to need this for the building permit (you are getting a permit, right?) anyway.
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Old 09-13-2010, 08:57 PM   #14
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Looks like I'll be doing this one on my own, which means no brick.
Only guessing, based on the the resignation that I detected in your comment, but I it sounds like the cost was considerably more than you anticipated. But, keep in mind, that this is a whole lot more than a typical DIY project. As Dan mentioned, there are a lot of forces at work, but even if you were to blindly throw them out, take a real look at what you have before contemplating undertaking this yourself. Even with no other considerations, how much does your porch roof weigh? How many timbers of what size will it take to provide temporary support, to ensure that it does not come down on your head? Or folding to the side? How is that roof attached to the primary structure, and what will keep it from simply pulling away and collapsing when the support is transferred from the existing colums to temporary ones, and back again? Your estimates may seem high at first glance, but there is a lot more involved than simply replacing some bricks and straightening some columns. Not being unsympathetic at all, but simply wanting you to think through the entire process, and proceed in a manner that keeps you safe.
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Old 09-14-2010, 09:54 AM   #15
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Crooked Porch Columns


I've called a few contrators (masonary and construction) to give me a price last week and no one gave me an estimate. I left messages with them this week and one called back saying it's above the level of work that he does.

I've temporarily supported the deck roof on my previous house and I've also installed headers to replace load bearing walls with success. My background is chem E. Not that this makes me a construction expert and I do take into account safety. I really want to preserve the look of this house by having the brick replaced. A majority of the homes on this street have the same problem.

I wonder what the chances after 100 years that the existing support is going to fail any time soon. The floor and railings really need to be replaced and I didn't want to replace all that without striagtening the columns.....

As far the load on the column, I was thinking of suporting the floor of the deck on footings and then resting the 9' of the 6'x6' on the deck up to the roof.

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