Straightening Racked Walls
My house has a fully detached two-car garage that we estimate to be about 80 years old. The side walls of the structure are noticeably racked – about 3” over the 10' run of the walls. Both are racked by the same amount in the same direction (leaning toward the rear of the garage). There doesn’t seem to be any outright structural failure causing the problem – I believe the (apparently original) weather-beaten clapboard siding has simply loosened up and allowed the framing to “relax” out of square (there was originally no diagonal bracing in the walls; a previous owner added some at some point, but I suspect this was done after he noticed the same problem to prevent it from worsening). My plan is to attach a come-along diagonally between the header at one end of the wall and the footer at the other end using some steel brackets, pull the wall back square, and add a tightly-fit, let-in diagonal brace, then repeat on the other side. It’s a simple (albeit tedious) plan, but I have a couple uncertainties that I’m hoping someone can speak toward:
-Would it be better to do both walls simultaneously (little pull on one side, little pull on the other) than to do one at a time? I’m leaning toward doing one at a time so that one wall can provide some positive resistance while I pull the other, keeping me from pulling the whole thing “just a hair too far” and suddenly slumping the structure in the other direction. The walls are open on the inside and it has horizontal sliding barn doors so I’m not too concerned about maintaining a gradual, symmetrical pull, but I worry that pulling one wall too far past the other may impart a “twisting” force that could cause other problems.
-Is a let-in diagonal brace worth the extra effort? My thinking is that this will be stronger than a simple nailed-over brace because it allows the studs to bear on the brace itself, instead of just putting shear stress on the nails that attach it. It occurs to me that this will also create stress points in the studs themselves, however, where they’ve been notched to let the brace in. I’ve considered loading the joints up with a construction adhesive during assembly to help “fuse” the joint together in an effort to ensure full contact at the joint for maximum stress distribution– any reason this may be a bad idea?
-Once the walls have been straightened and cross-braced, is that alone enough to hold them true (since the existing sheathing is apparently no longer up to the task?) The garage will eventually be resheathed and sided, but I’d rather wait on it until the whole house gets new siding a few years down the road.
-Am I correctly estimating the required force to be something that could be attained with a come-along? There is a floored loft in the garage, but the joists run perpendicular to the walls in question, so I'm not really pulling directly against any framing members.
Sorry for the long post, but if I'm going to pester people for advice I'd like to provide as much info as possible...I have to imagine this is a fairly common problem with older structures and I'm hoping someone else has been through it who might have knowledge to share.
I believe the tool your going to use comes in various sizes and/or capacities. Just make sure you have one that is up to the task. When they fail, somebody can get hurt.
Don't even Try to do 1 side then the other....
Don't worry so much about going Too Far......
It'll go the other way, darn near Twice as far as it is now, before it just Falls.....Probably Farther....
By the time you get it nearly back to Plumb,... You might even want to pull some other diagnals to bring it even Truer....
Slow'n Easy'n Evenly...........
The Sheathing is what's going to hold it together.... Braces just hold it, til it gets there....
Along with some Chain, Maybe Rope, a hyd.Jack or 2, Hammer, BFH, Screwgun,+ screws, etc....
I would cross brace the front and back walls before you start jacking the sides. That will prevent any unwanted twisting motion and force the side walls to move in a linear motion, plus they are probably constructed the same way and need braced anyhow. Use come-alongs heavy enough for the job. or double them as posted previously. Jack both sides together. When you have the tension off of them, remove the old bracing as it will hinder your process. When you have it plumb screw 2x4 bracing in a "V" to the inside. Since you plan on installing new sheathing at some point, I would not "let in" the bracing. Once the sheathing is installed on the outside, you can remove the bracing. Since I haven't seen the situation, I will say that this building didn't sag in a matter of hours, so you may want to take some time to bring it back. I once jacked a house around and took a whole summer to get it back in place, one click a week until it was plumb. That gave everything a chance to resettle. What i am saying is that slow and steady is better. On the other hand I jacked a garage much like you described in a matter of a few hours. Not being on site to see everything, I am going to stick with the slow pace. Keep a close look at the joints where wall studs meet the top and bottom plates. You may need to pursuade them a little if the nails start to pull. Good Luck.
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