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Old 02-23-2011, 07:31 PM   #1
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Twisting I-Beam & Floor cracking around post


Good day. I am preparing to finish my basement and have two problems to solve (more to come, but only 2 here now). First, a steel I-beam runs the width of the house in two segments with a lam beam spanning the gap. The gap is there for HVAC ductwork. One of the I-beams has a twist such that the post supporting it is out of plumb by about 1 inch over it's 7'6" length. Is this a problem, and if so, what is the solution?

Second, the posts are all resting on the concrete floating floor, not through the floor to a footer. One of the three posts has cracking around it. Assuming there is a foundation/footer below each post, I am tempted to cut the floating slab around the post to allow it to ... float. This 14 year old home in Colorado is built such that the concrete floor floats independent of the foundation. Seems to me the floating floor should also float around the posts as well. Thoughts/recommendations?

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Old 02-23-2011, 08:47 PM   #2
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Twisting I-Beam & Floor cracking around post


You need to post some pictures, because the condition you describe is quite unusual. I have never seen a steel I beam twist in a residential setting. If it has in fact twisted, that would be an indication of unusual stresses, and certainly needs to be investigated. You stated that the twist in the beam has caused the post to be out of plumb; it is possible that the post is out of plumb because of foundation issues, and the movement of the post has caused the beam to shift.

As for the footings, I don't think I understand what you are proposing. Apparently the posts are resting directly on the floor, causing cracking in one case. If you remove the floor in order to allow the post to rest directly on the (presumed) footing below, you would need to extend the post the thickness of the floor, a non-trivial problem. Unless the post actually does extend through the floor onto the footing, or perhaps there is no footing. I would start by verifying that there are footings, which will require hammering out the concrete floor so you can see what the post is resting on. Then you can install a new footing if the existing one is too small, or not deep enough.

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Old 02-23-2011, 10:13 PM   #3
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Twisting I-Beam & Floor cracking around post


Here are two photos. One shows the twist in the I-beam and out of plumb post. The second shows the cracking around a different post. The out of plumb post is NOT the one with the cracking slab beneath it. Only one of three posts has the cracking concrete. The posts rest on the floating slab. The slab, divided into approximately 10x10 sections, is independent of the foundation due to the expansive soil. My hope is that the posts are resting on the concrete slab which is poored over the footings.

I've seen a copy of the foundation blueprint. It indicates there are pillars under the posts. The posts are bolted on the slab and do NOT go through the floor. All the neighbors I know have finished basements so I can't see their posts/slabs to know if they have the same issue.


Twisting I-Beam & Floor cracking around post-basement-001_crop.jpg

Twisting I-Beam & Floor cracking around post-basement-003_crop.jpg
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Old 02-23-2011, 10:25 PM   #4
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Twisting I-Beam & Floor cracking around post


Looks like that post does not have the proper footing under it for the floor to be cracking.

As for the twisting I think something needs to be added to prevent the twisting. Perhaps some sort of diagonal supports.

This would be a good project to consult a structural engineer.
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Old 02-23-2011, 10:53 PM   #5
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Twisting I-Beam & Floor cracking around post


Well first off we use those 3 Ĺ’’ adjustable type columns and it is installed upside down with the “H” plate welded on the wrong side. Second, you mention you have a floating floor slab. In our area we have a concrete pad made to support column supports like the one you have and they are typically 3’ x 3’ square and 3’ deep to pass the frost line and then a 4’’ concrete floor is poured over the pad and covers the threaded rod on the adjustable column. Now the reason you have cracking in your floor is because you have a floating slab which is probably 4’’ thick and shifts thus putting pressure on the columns connection thus twisting the beam and causing it to crack at the bolted area.

My suggestion would be to jack up the area with another column(s), remove the existing column which will bring the beam back into shape then dig for a concrete pad make sure when the pad is poured it is at least 4’’ lower than your existing floor and install a new adjustable column the right way and poor your new concrete flush with existing floor and your good to go with no more problems.
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Old 02-23-2011, 10:59 PM   #6
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Twisting I-Beam & Floor cracking around post


Perhaps no footer, or perhaps the floating floor is pushing up (CO expansive soil). But this post is in the middle of the house. It has been a dry fall and winter so I don't see the soil getting wet and expanding under the house. But one never knows.

I have considered cross bracing the I-beam. I wonder if the block of 2x lumber between the I-beam and the floor joists is too narrow and contributing to the problem?

I have contacted a couple of structural engineers, but want some knowledge before they recommend solutions. I'm also going to call the local building department and see if they are helpful.

Any idea if the builder, after 14 years, (still in business) has any liability here?
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Old 02-23-2011, 11:11 PM   #7
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Twisting I-Beam & Floor cracking around post


When you say footer? Are you referring to a concrete pad which I have mentioned? What I see in your case is that you have no pad because the column is bolted above ground and into your existing concrete floor.

Cross bracing will only cause more problems because you havenít corrected your existing problem. Your best solution would be to contact a local structural engineer to assess your problem and give you a solution.

As per your builder it is very unlikely they will come back after 14 years because they usually warranty their homes for approximately 5 years for any defects and home settling issues.
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Old 02-23-2011, 11:40 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by epson View Post
When you say footer? Are you referring to a concrete pad which I have mentioned? What I see in your case is that you have no pad because the column is bolted above ground and into your existing concrete floor.
Perhaps I used footer incorrectly. I am talking about foundation peers under the columns. I have a copy of the foundation plan that indicates 30" deep foundation peers under each column. If the columns are there, the builder then pored the floating concrete floor over the top of the peers instead of isolating the peers and attaching the columns directly to them. I think the floating floor is rising while the weight of the house is holding the column to the peer beneath leading to a cracked floor.

If so, can I simply use a concrete saw to cut the floating floor away from the column/peer? Is the concrete floor remaining between the peer and the column strong enough? It is 14 year old concrete that I believe is very hard.

Thanks all for your insights so far. I searched for others with similar problems and didn't find any.
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Old 02-24-2011, 12:01 AM   #9
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Twisting I-Beam & Floor cracking around post


How wide are the peers? It should say on your plans. If they are there then the concrete guy your builder used poured the floor over them. So, to answer your question, if you cut around the column you will have to:

1) Support your beam with temporary column(s)
2) Un- bolt the column from floor and un clip the column from beam.
3) Cut out the damaged concrete and remove.
4) If there is a peer/pad there it would be lower than you’re existing floor cut out if not then you will have to provide one.
5) You will also require a new column as your original one will be short.
6) Re-install new column with correct height. Remember the threaded part should be below your finished concrete floor max adjustable height should be 3-4’’ that way it will be in bedded and covered in your floor.

Again I would consult with your local structural engineer on your situation.

Last edited by epson; 02-24-2011 at 12:21 AM.
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Old 02-24-2011, 07:20 PM   #10
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Twisting I-Beam & Floor cracking around post


I talked to the building department today. The inspector indicated the builder is liable for the foundation for 15 years. The home's final inspection was in Sep 1997. I've got a phone call and email into the builder. Hopefully, the company will fix the problem in short order.

The inspector was surprised this builder hadn't pored the floating floor around the columns, with the columns resting on foundation instead of floating floor. "They've been doing it that way for about 20 years..." Well, not in this case.

Lots of internet research suggets some states or areas allow the adjustable posts (such as here) while others don't.

Thanks again for all the info. I'll post updates as I get them.
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Old 02-25-2011, 08:31 AM   #11
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Twisting I-Beam & Floor cracking around post


Hope the builder does come back and fix your problem and it all works out for you.
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Old 02-25-2011, 09:27 AM   #12
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Twisting I-Beam & Floor cracking around post


It is unusual, as you have discovered, to bolt the column directly to a slab which is poured over a pier. The more common technique is to connect the bottom of the column directly to the pier. That said, there is no evidence that the pier itself has moved, assuming the contractor actually built to plan. The cracking in the floating slab may be a minor inconvenience, your structural engineer will let you know based on tests they will perform.

The more difficult issue seems to be that the I beam is not plumb (hence the twist). This seems to be because the top of the I beam is connected (although not very well based on the photo) to the wood beam, and the bottom is connected to the post, and the two do not line up plumb. The question is whether it was built this way, or whether either the beam moved, the post moved, or both moved. This is not obvious, but unless the photo is an optical illusion, that I beam is well out of plumb, which is not a good situation. You definitely need an investigation by an experienced structural engineer, hands on, to determine what moved, how much, and what the solution is. This is not an over the internet type of problem unfortunately.
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Old 02-25-2011, 10:19 AM   #13
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Twisting I-Beam & Floor cracking around post


At first glance, it looked like the cracking was in line with an inadequate, round footing, something like a sonotube, Then I realised there was an expansion joint almost directly under the post. Was this beam put in after or is it part of the original building? Either way, you need to put in an appropriate footing for the post/s and correct the I-beam twist at the same time.
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Old 02-25-2011, 09:38 PM   #14
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The builder responded that their warrantee ends at 8 years. Our internet search of Colorado state law supports the builder. I haven't had time to talk with building inspector again to find out if he mispoke or if there is a law holding the homebuilders to 15 years on structure issues.

I noticed there is a 2x4, on the top of the twisting I-beam. It doesn't seem substantial enough for the task of supporting the floor joists. Additionally, I can see fine cracking around two of the other three posts. The cracking suggests round piers. Most troubling, the one under the twisting I-beam does not seem to be centered on the pier, though the cracking there is microscopic and does not seem to be a factor in the twisted I-beam.

The I-beams are 4x8". The most twisted, shorter I-beam is about 5/8" out of true over the post (as seen in the picture). The end over the outer foundation wall is basically plumb, perhaps 1/32" out of true opposite way.

The second I-beam is also out of plumb, about 3/8". Its column is out of plumb about 1/4".

I'm hoping to get the building inspector out to look at it. Perhaps I can find a way to get the builder involved. I also plan to get an engineer evaluation.
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Old 02-25-2011, 10:29 PM   #15
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If the warranty period is over the only way the builder will come back to fix your problem is if you are willing to pay him to fix the problem. The only thing the building inspector will tell you is
1) Yes you have a problem.
2) If he is sure that in your area the builder is liable for 15 years for foundation issues then he should bring supporting documents so you can forward them to your lawyer.
3) He will tell you to contact a structural engineer so he can assess your situation.

The long and short of it is you will probably have to pay:
1) The structural engineer for his service and any drawings that might be required.
2) For a permit if required.
3) Someone to do the job correctly.
4) The structural engineer again to sign off that the job was done correctly.

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