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DoctorWho 06-07-2012 12:48 PM

Temporary columns for a not-so-temporary fix?
Hey guys, well I recently found out (via an engineer) that the under-structure of my Mom's house is in far worse shape than we had ever feared. Broken joists, twisted joists, joists that don't connect to sill, joists notched too much, main beam splitting horizontally, temporary columns (that have been there 25 years), no footings under columns, etc....

To be frank about this, there is nearly zero money to work with, I'm unemployed and my Mom can't get any kind of rehab loan (or any other loan at all). So, my question is would it be a worthwhile thing, to just go out and buy a bunch of temporary support columns/jacks and put them in the spots that need it most? I don't plan on tightening them too much, just enough so that they stop any further sagging/breaking but not so much that they start to lift anything up.

I don't know what else to do, I'm guessing we'd need at least $30-50k to put this right and probably lots more. I am just wanting to put our minds at ease for at least a few years until we can get some money together.

Sound like a reasonable plan given my options? Oh, did I mention that her home inspector missed all of these issues except for the temporary columns!

oh'mike 06-07-2012 05:22 PM

You have to do what you need---

Post pictures --we will do the best we can---Mike---

Fix'n it 06-07-2012 07:41 PM

there is an old saying = "gotta do what ya gotta do"

DoctorWho 06-10-2012 05:31 AM

lol, thanks guys, just wanted to know it wasn't a totally crazy idea. I will try to get some pics up in the next few days. I also plan on putting in cross-bracing since there's absolutely none currently.

I did some more research and found out there are "permanent" adjustable steel columns, of course the fine print is that they're only supposed to be used as secondary supports, but I figure that's what they'll be more or less, just shoring up what's already there.

joecaption 06-10-2012 07:50 AM

Cross bracing will do no good at this point.

Poring footings, adding beams of doubled up 2 X 8's sitting on concrete block piers to split up the spans.
Sistering any failing floor joist.

When you do get the money, your looking at cutting out all the subfloor to be able to replace all the floor joist and main beam.

There has to be a reason all of this stuff failed, insect damage, fungus on the joist, earth quake, something. Figure out what caused it before replacement.

DoctorWho 06-10-2012 06:37 PM


Originally Posted by joecaption (Post 940227)
There has to be a reason all of this stuff failed, insect damage, fungus on the joist, earth quake, something. Figure out what caused it before replacement.

None of those things are to blame, it's just because the guy who "remodeled" (I use the term loosely) in the 80's did a crap job. The house and joists are 112 years old, but when he changed the floor plan he didn't move the beams or ad enough extra support where he increased spans, so the weight has just fatigued them and they're starting to let go bit by bit. Our engineer gave us a good idea what's wrong so I know what the main problems are, just don't have the cash to do much about it.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, the other two floors are inadequate too. That's part of the reason I'd like to only use temp supports because eventually we'll need to relocate some walls upstairs to redistribute the weight of the house, and then I can just move the temp columns & beams to wherever the new walls will be. (or hopefully just put in proper columns with footings).

oh'mike 06-10-2012 06:41 PM

It's frustrating,trying to fix someone elses stupid work---

Stay focused on the solution ---you will get it---Mike---

terry603 06-10-2012 10:18 PM

lolly columns will be fine
the reason for not being allowed for code is not because they are unsafe,but,because they do not want unaware homeowners adjusting them to fix a high or low spot on a floor above

Evstarr 06-11-2012 12:45 AM

Make sure you use something to spread the load from the lally posts out if you don't know what kind of shape the basement floor is in. You don't want one or more of them just punching thru the floor.

DoctorWho 06-11-2012 11:23 PM

Thanks much for the word of support Oh'Mike! Pics are coming tomorrow! Finally found my camera. I do have a couple questions for you now though. I am pretty naive when it comes to lumber grades and such, so what should I look for when it comes to buying a good quality joist? My preference would be something I can get at Lowes since I have a credit card with them. I've been seeing a lot of that "Bluwood" stuff on TV that is supposed to prevent bugs, mold and moisture issues, but I have no idea where to get it, seems to be a Canadian thing from the searches I've done.

I frankly plan on just sistering ALL of the joists, it might be ambitious but they all have issues somewhere along their lengths, but my main reason is, as I said earlier, the loads aren't correctly being spread though the house, so I'd like each joist to be strong as possible to compensate.
Finally, do any of you know of a good DIY book that would cover this stuff? Most of the ones I've looked at just cover very basic home repairs, nothing structural.

DoctorWho 06-11-2012 11:28 PM


Originally Posted by Evstarr (Post 940746)
Make sure you use something to spread the load from the lally posts out if you don't know what kind of shape the basement floor is in. You don't want one or more of them just punching thru the floor.

Any recommendations? This is one of the things I've been wondering about. The concrete floor isn't flat, it is bumpy so I was afraid if I used wood it would just "smoosh", and if I used a piece of cement, it would just break because it wouldn't be flat. The current temp columns are just sitting on the bare floor! :eek:

oh'mike 06-12-2012 06:10 AM

You will need to punch an opening in the basement floor and dig footings.
That old house has a thin 'skin for a floor--it will not support a column.

sorry--No books to recommend---There must be old engineering books on the subject,but I don't know them.

Keep us fed with pictures,drawings and descriptions and we will do the best we can---

Remember---you are stacking every thing from the bottom---start with footings --add columns and girders (if needed--then move up to the next level---stacking on top of your new stronger base--

wkearney99 06-12-2012 09:14 AM

You might want to check around to see if you can find resources for getting engineering assistance for those with limited incomes. Perhaps local old house salvage places would be a good place to inquire? Habit and the like also?

I say this because you'd probably want to get a 'big picture' answer before you put in anything. It would really be a shame to have your interim efforts turn out to be in the way of the 'real' long term solutions.

Evstarr 06-12-2012 09:50 AM

I'd be thinking 1/2" steel plate for the temps unless you have engineering drawings showing where to set footings for permanent supports.

DoctorWho 06-13-2012 01:16 AM

K guys here's some pics.

This is one of 3 main beams, problem is that it runs parallel to the joists and it IS bearing weight, a lot of weight, the beam itself isn't touching anything on top, it's nailed to a 2x12 that is touching subfloor right next to the 2x8 joist. I have no idea how to jack around this thing when it's taking a lot of weight. If you note the white thing in the bottom to the left of the water heater, that is a big "stick", it's not even cut lumber, that is holding up the other end of the beam...nice.

I think this speaks for itself, this is where the beam in the previous pic, T's into the middle of a second beam running perpendicular to the joists. You can see the jack's plate is "cupping" or whatever it's called. I can't move this beam easily as it's fixed into the stone foundation on one end but I will add more supports for it.

Yep, about 1" of the joist is all that's holding it onto the beam here, same on other side.

Here's the link to my photobucket album with the rest of my pics, just took some general ones. In case you're wondering, I've had to rip out all the ducting for the furnace in order to access most of these areas, that "happened" to be hidden by the ducting.

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