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Old 03-18-2011, 10:45 PM   #1
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Supporting sagging joists


Hi, I am starting the first of several projects on my house. It was built in 1989. There are 3 areas where the interior doors are sticking and I need to level the floor. There are no foundation cracks, so I suspect the joists are sagging. The house has a crawl space that varies from one end about 5 ft to as little as 18" from the dirt.

In two areas (downstairs bathroom and master bedroom doors), I think I either need to sister joists or use pole supports.

Is there a sound way other than pouring footers to support the poles if I use them? Digging the holes and pouring the cement will be a pain since I will have to carry it a long way. Which way would you recommend (post or sistering)?

Thanks alot.

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Old 03-19-2011, 06:00 AM   #2
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Supporting sagging joists


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Hi, I am starting the first of several projects on my house. It was built in 1989. There are 3 areas where the interior doors are sticking and I need to level the floor. There are no foundation cracks, so I suspect the joists are sagging. The house has a crawl space that varies from one end about 5 ft to as little as 18" from the dirt.

In two areas (downstairs bathroom and master bedroom doors), I think I either need to sister joists or use pole supports.

Is there a sound way other than pouring footers to support the poles if I use them? Digging the holes and pouring the cement will be a pain since I will have to carry it a long way. Which way would you recommend (post or sistering)?

Thanks alot.
It would be good to confirm the sagging joists before you get imaginative solutions to a problem that might not exist.
What are the joist sizes?
How far do they span?
What grade lumber are they?
What lumber species are they?
It could be that the doors were just not installed correctly.
Ron

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Old 03-19-2011, 06:37 AM   #3
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Supporting sagging joists


Do you have proper ventilation and vapor barriers in the crawl space?
High moisture level in the crawl space will speed up your joist failure.
I would consider insulation, vapor barrier and ventilation installation a priority.
Also check the over-all dead load(your hall and master bath configuration and location)
around the sagging area. Like Ron said, you maybe dealing with just the door install.
Use long levels on affected area to determine if there is real sagging issue.
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Old 03-19-2011, 07:09 AM   #4
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Supporting sagging joists


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Originally Posted by Ron6519 View Post
It would be good to confirm the sagging joists before you get imaginative solutions to a problem that might not exist.
What are the joist sizes?
How far do they span?
What grade lumber are they?
What lumber species are they?
It could be that the doors were just not installed correctly.
Ron
First, thanks for the response. The joists are 2x8 I believe. The span is about 14 ft and they are on 16" centers for the bathroom, I would have to check the bedroom, but there is an area on 12" centers as well. There is no support beam in this area.

The lumber grade I do not know. The lumber is pine.

I am sure it isn't just door installation as this is a problem that has started to occur over a few years. I am also seeing a gap developing in the crown molding. I also have a crack developing in the drywall at the joint around the door.

Oldeye - I have plastic down throughout the crawl space and have for about 15 yrs. The coverage is almost 100% of the area. It is only exposed around the edges where the termite folks retreated my house a few years ago, about a 1 ft perimeter.

As far as humidity, it's not low, but not extremely high either. I have it checked annually with the termite inspection. Last year it was around 15% and some of that is due to the AC system in the area (August inspection). I have to unclog the drain periodically. In the fall/winter and spring, it drops to under 10%.

It has what is supposed to be proper ventilation (at least that is what the humidity guy from Terminix said) when he inspected for high humidity. About 7 yrs ago, one inspector reported 40% humidity all over, so Terminix sent him out to look at reducing it. He took readings and got 12%, so he attributed it to the guy being new and not knowing what to do. Plus, there is no active mold.

I was considering a fan on the crawl space door, but the house is long and an L shape, so it won't pull from the far corners.

I intend to go under there this weekend and start looking for sags. I may get a lazer level to help since it is difficult to string along some of the areas.
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Old 03-19-2011, 03:11 PM   #5
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Supporting sagging joists


While you are down there, check for any plumbing or condensate leaks.
Make sure that dryer vents or any other type of vents are not leaking in there.
Since you have plastic down, you should be able to spot them easily.
Again, you want check carefully near the bathrooms and kitchen area
where you will have potential for leaks and heavier dead load causing
sagging. Once you find the source, the repair is easy.
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Old 03-19-2011, 04:28 PM   #6
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While you are down there, check for any plumbing or condensate leaks.
Make sure that dryer vents or any other type of vents are not leaking in there.
Since you have plastic down, you should be able to spot them easily.
Again, you want check carefully near the bathrooms and kitchen area
where you will have potential for leaks and heavier dead load causing
sagging. Once you find the source, the repair is easy.
Thanks Oldeye. Yes, unfortunately I have to be very diligent on plumbing. The house has the polybutyl line and I have had several connections let go. Not the piping itself, but substandard crimps at the joints.
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Old 03-19-2011, 04:58 PM   #7
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Supporting sagging joists


Marty,
The poly pipes are rated as 15-year pipes and asides the premature joint failures, the pipes will fail from within.
The failure rated will depend on your public water chemistry and volume of water flow through the pipes.
The issue is the corrosion from within which results in hairline cracks. The fine mist/spray from these cracks
will take a longer time to show up as leaks and can cause rot and mold damage by the time the failure is noted.

Good thing is that you have a crawl space rather than a finished basement. You will be able to see the leaks
when you are down their. The joint failure is more frequent with the exposure in the crawl space. So good and bad.
Assuming they are 22 years old and the house was occupied continuosely, leaks are a likely concern.
I would consider replacing these pipes.

Let me know what you find down there.
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Old 03-19-2011, 05:22 PM   #8
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Supporting sagging joists


The addition of joist bridging may assist in achieving your goal. Assuming this is not already in place.
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Old 03-19-2011, 05:30 PM   #9
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Marty,
The poly pipes are rated as 15-year pipes and asides the premature joint failures, the pipes will fail from within.
The failure rated will depend on your public water chemistry and volume of water flow through the pipes.
The issue is the corrosion from within which results in hairline cracks. The fine mist/spray from these cracks
will take a longer time to show up as leaks and can cause rot and mold damage by the time the failure is noted.

Good thing is that you have a crawl space rather than a finished basement. You will be able to see the leaks
when you are down their. The joint failure is more frequent with the exposure in the crawl space. So good and bad.
Assuming they are 22 years old and the house was occupied continuosely, leaks are a likely concern.
I would consider replacing these pipes.

Let me know what you find down there.
It's on the list! I will limp it through for a couple of years, then swap in pex, a manifold system with shut-off valves and new piping to the 3 bathrooms and kitchen. Only one bathroom is on the second floor, so it shouldn't be too bad. In this area, due to the water, copper is not recommended. My water isn't as bad as most, just high manganese. It shows up as black soot in the toilet reservior and I have to flush the heater a couple of times a year.

I had the line to the house fail as well, you guessed it, polybutyl. I intend to replace all 400' of that as well... I dropped about 40,000 gals in a month before I knew it. I had a credit on my water bill one month and owed $350 the next.

At least the house doesn't have aluminum wiring.

So, this year's projects are joists correction, new windows, vinyl siding (the house is brick, so just the gable ends, shed dormers, sofit and fascia). Then it's roof, Heat pump units and then plumbing.
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Old 03-19-2011, 05:38 PM   #10
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The addition of joist bridging may assist in achieving your goal. Assuming this is not already in place.
That's a pretty good idea. Especially, if I am able to sister joists, adding this would be beneficial. And, no, it's not there.
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Old 03-19-2011, 06:39 PM   #11
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You seem to have everything planned out.
At least you know where you are headed.

I am surprised that your muni water suppy contain manganese(or iron and manganese if you have the black sludge).
Most common method to reduce or manage manganese is chlorine and chlorine is a prime enemy of Poly pipes.
I have heard about PEX pipe failures, also. So research a bit for your area. I like to think that the PEX pipes
are better alternative to CPVC pipes in light of their ease of installation and value.

Good luck with all your projects and keep us posted.
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Old 03-19-2011, 08:24 PM   #12
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You seem to have everything planned out.
At least you know where you are headed.

I am surprised that your muni water suppy contain manganese(or iron and manganese if you have the black sludge).
Most common method to reduce or manage manganese is chlorine and chlorine is a prime enemy of Poly pipes.
I have heard about PEX pipe failures, also. So research a bit for your area. I like to think that the PEX pipes
are better alternative to CPVC pipes in light of their ease of installation and value.

Good luck with all your projects and keep us posted.
Thanks again. This is the year I am finally going to really go after it all. The kids are grown and out of my way, so I can finally remodel and have it last. I promised my wife I would fix the floor, install windows this year at a minimum. But, I also want to do siding on the second floor and then roof. That way, the new roof won't be walked on doing other work. Right now, I am up there every year replacing broken shingles and the material now making it to the gutters says I don't have long.

As far as Manganese, the water is a community well, managed by a local utility, not a municipal source. I am the first off the system, so I of course, get the most of the manganese. The water is pretty clean as they have an elaborate filtration system that even uses charcoal filtration, so the use of chlorine is at a minimum. They installed the filtration system to remove 1-2 dichlorpropane, a carcinogen that was used in growing tobacco, very common in this area. The water reporting reqt's are quite strick and require testing/publishing every 3 months.
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Old 03-20-2011, 07:24 PM   #13
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Supporting sagging joists


Ok, after cleaning the yard all day I finally was able to go under the house for a look at the joists. I wanted to look at the easiest one to access first which is the second bathroom downstairs.

I found a cracked joist on a knot in the wood. I used a level and before the crack the joist is level with the ones around it, but after the crack it hangs down about 1/8". FYI, the area is 2x8's on 12" centers, some are on 8" and you can see the one that is cracked is about 2" away from a doubler. Also, there is a lot of stuff there (water heater, ac unit, support beam).

Here are some pics, let me know if you think this is likely the problem. If you do, what would you recommend I do to fix it?
Attached Thumbnails
Supporting sagging joists-cracked-joist.jpg  
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Old 03-20-2011, 08:15 PM   #14
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Supporting sagging joists


put a jack under it and jack it up level at that point and see if it solves anything upstairs
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Old 03-20-2011, 09:53 PM   #15
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Supporting sagging joists


Marty,
I agree with Jimmy.
If you are able to level it with a jack under it, that is the quickest and the easiest.
It appears that the added dead load and that unfortunate knot caused the settlement.
Seems the architect designed for the load but the lumber used may not have been the best.

If things level up, you can do a permanent support with concrete footings and 3 inch adjustable metal
posts (you can screw up or down to level out) with 6 inch H beam section below the affected joists.
The concrete footing varies but for support add ons, minimum should be 16 inches round by 12 inches thick,
below the frost line. So you need to measure accordingingly.
You could pre-fill this and sink it down below the post in a plastic or metal bucket and then set the posts
in them to harden. Obviousely you will need two of these to rest the H beam on them.

If you want to use lumber, try the laminated joists. They are a bit more expensive but grading is strict due
to engineering requirements. You can use two treated 6 x 6 instead of 3 inch metal posts. The laminated
or regular joists can be bolted through (two, staggered). Use metal shims to level up.

Or you can just leave the jack in there with adequate footing and joist support members.
If it works well and you do not plan on selling your home, no one will ask you.

I am glad that you did not see any water related problems down there!

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