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Old 08-15-2012, 03:16 PM   #1
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Leaning Porch Column


I have a problem (don't we all) with a large Pennsylvania stone porch column.
It's severely leaning to one side, being caused some believe by the water line being replaced years ago (too closely) to the column. The water line replacement causing some unsettling, and as a result the lean is to that side.

Some fundamentals on the situation:
The house was built in 1936, we have lived there less than a year.
The rear, main column is 30"x30"x93" tall.
The front smaller column is 20"x20"x34" tall
The footing I believe was poured in two pieces (who knows why) and is quite large, measuring 40"x82"x12" thick

I've spoken with about 7-8 contractors and foundation people about the job to be done, and no one wants the work. I did speak to one foundation guy who proposed helical piers, but after talking with the companies engineer, was deemed not impossible, but not recommended. Others have recommended removing all three of the columns, and replacing them with something simpler/cheaper with a proper footing Others have recommended taking the column apart, laying a proper foundation for it, then rebuilding it. My wife and cannot afford the replacing or rebuilding options.

I am left with few options.

One approach I am contemplating is this (I have attached an image to aid in visualizing):

-Dig and pour concrete in 3 or 4 form tubes dug to the frost line (about 40" here), they would be about 6" from the side of the column that is sinking.
-Drill 3 or 4 1.5" holes 20" deep into the side of the footing on the side of the columns that is sinking.
-Drive 1.5"x3' steel bars (rebar?) into the 20" holes so that 16" of the bar is sticking out and in-line, and over hanging the concrete footings.
-Put 1 bottle jack on each tube footing and start lifting equally on the 3 or 4 steel bars.
-Encase the bottle jacks and extended 16" steel bars in concrete that would rest on the tube footings.
Attached Thumbnails
Leaning Porch Column-img_20120713_110514.jpg   Leaning Porch Column-img_20120713_110631.jpg   Leaning Porch Column-img_20120815_120546.jpg   Leaning Porch Column-img_20120815_124758.jpg   Leaning Porch Column-img_20120815_124809.jpg  


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Old 08-15-2012, 03:35 PM   #2
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Leaning Porch Column


I wouldn't tackle the job as you proposed it seems like a long shot to work as with all the settling and the fact that you are trying to jack up a whole side of a foundation and porch load. If it were me I would temporarily support the porch and R&R the whole column and footing. I don't know why the engineer that looked into this said it was that difficult of a repair. Seems pretty straight forward to me on what needs to be done. Anything short of replacing the footing is a bandaid. That's quite a leaner you have.

It seems you are trying to avoid the inevitable with your idea.

Not trying to be rude, but why did you buy the house if you didn't have the money to fix the column? Again not trying to be mean as I don't know your situation as to why you can't afford to do it.

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Old 08-15-2012, 03:58 PM   #3
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Leaning Porch Column


Thanks for you take on it, and don't worry, I wouldn't take anything personally from someone I don't know

We bought the house knowing about a slight lean in the column, but this has been a really dry summer so I thing the dry clay soil is making it worse. As to the financial situation, it was basically the only house in a fantastic neighborhood, that we could afford. We realize it's defiantly a fixer-upper, and that over the years we could tackle a few things at a time. This, our first year, we've already changed the roof, as well as a new heat pump and upgraded duct work. All that say, we don't have the money at this time.

So, what do you think would be the actual weak point in my plan?

thanks
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Old 08-15-2012, 03:59 PM   #4
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Leaning Porch Column


I agree with the previous poster,use temp supports for the roof and replace the column and footing,only way to go.
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Old 08-15-2012, 04:09 PM   #5
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Leaning Porch Column


One of the problems with replacing it is that I would have to replace the leaning one, as well as 2 others. Big $
If you mean replacing it, as in rebuilding it, do you mean careful dissemble, create footing, then resemble with the same stone? In relation to that, I have a bit of a problem, in that city is very strict about their older homes maintain their look.

As for the plan I have, what do you point out as the shortcoming?

Thanks
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Old 08-15-2012, 04:24 PM   #6
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Leaning Porch Column


If you attempted to jack it up as per your sketch, wouldn't the bars bend if you had the jacks too far out? You would also have to jack very evenly.

Alternatively, the upward force might fracture the concrete. Remember that all the shear will be taken on the edge of the concrete, where the bars are embedded
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Old 08-15-2012, 06:05 PM   #7
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I understand totally you desire to buy in a good part of town. Just was a curious to see why you bought with this problem and no current means to fix it.

What I don't understand is why you think that you would have to replace the other two columns. They don't appear by your pictures to be settling or leaning. And it seems that if you couldn't match the other two columns on a rebuild you could veneer the other two columns with the same new material you use on the old leaning column.

Personally, if I were in your shoes I would either find some means of borrowing the money (bank, family etc) or I would shore up the column by some means temporarily until you can save for the funds to do it right.

In regards to your plan, it just seems like a long shot to work in my opinion.

Maybe I'm missing a lot of the problems you are facing because I'm just looking at a couple of pictures and aren't there to see every angle, but it sure doesn't seem as complicated as the contractors are making it out to be. A lot of work YES, but complicated...not really.
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Old 08-15-2012, 06:26 PM   #8
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Leaning Porch Column


I'm with most of the other posters, I see know reason to mess with any of other coloums. One thing that worrys me is why were the footings done the way you suggest they were.
Someone had to know there was going to be trouble if they really are that big and that thick.
That drawing you posted is just silly and would never ever work.
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Old 08-15-2012, 06:43 PM   #9
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I forgot to say in my previous posts, that's a nice home you've got there, good curb appeal.

Good luck with your decision.
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Old 08-15-2012, 06:52 PM   #10
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Leaning Porch Column


The most logical explanation of the lean on the column is that it is settling unevenly. This can be verified very simply by making a few careful measurements with a builders level, a laser, or a water level. Once you confirm that the column is in fact settling, you can then move on to designing a solution.

I am going to guess that none of the contractors "want" the job because you are unable to afford to pay any of them a realistic price to remove the old column and footing, place a new footing, and install a new column that matches the appearance of the old column, which you state is a requirement of your town. Clearly that is a lot of work, not especially difficult, but time consuming and does require stone work skills. In this economy, there is generally a contractor available to perform work at a reasonable price.

As to your proposed solution, I concur that it is unlikely to be effective. It appears from your post that the settlement is continuing, and possibly accelerating. Installing concrete piers at some distance from the leaning column, and attempting to install steel rods to support the column, is going to have no effect on the settlement. So you will be relying entirely on relatively thin rods in bending to support what is a relatively heavy load. In addition to the rods bending, the rod supports could lean as well, which would allow the settlement of the concrete footing on the leaning pier to continue.

I understand you are short of funds, many folks are. If you have the skills, you may be able to demolish the old column and footer yourself, excavate to suitable soil, place a new foundation, and reinstall the stone for the column support. Of course you ABSOLUTELY need proper temporary support for the roof should you do this, improper support could lead to catastrophic failure of the roof with possible injury or death, so if you are not absolutely confident you can install bombproof temporary support, find someone who knows exactly what to do to help you. By the way, make sure you discuss this project with the building inspector first, you may need a permit.
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Old 08-15-2012, 07:18 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zeffer111 View Post
One of the problems with replacing it is that I would have to replace the leaning one, as well as 2 others. Big $
If you mean replacing it, as in rebuilding it, do you mean careful dissemble, create footing, then resemble with the same stone? In relation to that, I have a bit of a problem, in that city is very strict about their older homes maintain their look.

As for the plan I have, what do you point out as the shortcoming?

Thanks
Yes to dissemble remove old footing,then reassemble,and the look will be the same to satisfy the city,the shortcoming with your plan is that it is a band aid approach and will eventually fail.
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Old 08-16-2012, 09:07 AM   #12
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Leaning Porch Column


temp support to raise/hold the roof and possible floor support too? demo old column, salvage/reuse old blocks to rebuild with. Pour new footing a little bit higher to help old blocks fit back in. Contact your towns' historical department to approve the work...

trying to raise/support the old columns will be a crumbly mess and most likely will not work
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Old 08-16-2012, 10:55 AM   #13
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Leaning Porch Column


I can understand the short on money situation, that is why you are here to find a solution to your problem. I do have a question, in that first picture, is the cedar tree there leaning in the same direction as the column?
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Old 08-16-2012, 11:13 AM   #14
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Ha, you are right, and I never really noticed it before. The cedar IS leaning the same as the column.

Couple of additional points:

The bars would be larger than standard rebar, I would try and source 1 1/2" bars.

The bars would only be carrying the load during the lift phase. They, and the jacks would be encased in concrete once the column is level. They tube footings would be dug down to the frost line, so I don't see how they would not be more than stable.

As for the contractors, and not being able to afford them. Only one of them even gave me a price. It was $3500. They simply didn't want the job. I am still trying to find someone to do it.

Can someone make a guess as to the amount of man-hours it would take to dismantle, pour footing, and reassemble?

In the meantime I am trying to come up with a plan B, hence my McGyver type solution.

Thanks for the input.
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Old 08-16-2012, 11:23 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zeffer111 View Post
Ha, you are right, and I never really noticed it before. The cedar IS leaning the same as the column.

Couple of additional points:

The bars would be larger than standard rebar, I would try and source 1 1/2" bars.

The bars would only be carrying the load during the lift phase. They, and the jacks would be encased in concrete once the column is level. They tube footings would be dug down to the frost line, so I don't see how they would not be more than stable.

As for the contractors, and not being able to afford them. Only one of them even gave me a price. It was $3500. They simply didn't want the job. I am still trying to find someone to do it.

Can someone make a guess as to the amount of man-hours it would take to dismantle, pour footing, and reassemble?

In the meantime I am trying to come up with a plan B, hence my McGyver type solution.

Thanks for the input.
one of the main problems with trying to do the re bar is the undermining of the ground around the column as it sits now,lots of digging etc...
Another major concern is that the old column will not hold together while drilling and what not and either way you need to support the roof load with temp supports. it will be less work and correct to demo, pour strong footing, and re build...

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