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Old 08-28-2012, 11:51 PM   #1
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Unlevel floor, front door sticking. It bothers us but not sure what to do


My house is very old, about 90 years. Still on the original red clay tile foundation that has some issues--mortar crumbling, walls bowing in about an inch, and it appears that the front where the wobbly floor is has sunk a little bit. My beam is in two sections attached to the chimney and held up by wood columns.

I'm told that this type of foundation really shouldn't be braced with wall plates or ibeams because it is susceptible to cracking. I know that eventually a full foundation replacement with new floor will be necessary but right now that isn't financially possible.

Is it possible I could straighten and support the wobbly main floor with a new steel beam and metal support jacks? The unevenness isn't extremely severe, just extremely annoying. I'm not really sure who to call to help me with this. I've had basement/foundation contractors over before but they just want to sell me all of their wall repair products (which I've read aren't good for the type of walls I have).

Would a new beam be risky? Could it help with the floor unevenness buying me some time until I can afford to replace the foundation? Thoughts feedback and suggestions appreciated. Thank you.

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Old 08-28-2012, 11:57 PM   #2
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Unlevel floor, front door sticking. It bothers us but not sure what to do


Not sure how anyone here would know how to fix it or even guess without even a picture.
Any real contractor should be able to know what to do.

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Old 08-29-2012, 11:43 AM   #3
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Unlevel floor, front door sticking. It bothers us but not sure what to do


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Old 08-29-2012, 11:53 AM   #4
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Unlevel floor, front door sticking. It bothers us but not sure what to do


You do have a mess there. One of those so call column should be in a book on how not to build a column.

Looks like you may have ballon framing.
So anything you do in the basement of going to effect the rooms above.
Not going to want to hear this but it would be best to hire and engineer to come up with a better plan to support all the old beams.
Looks like some may have tryed changing or adding the 6 X 6 beam and made a mess of it.
It needed to over laped and be supported down to the floor on a footing and be sitting under that vertical post. Not just supported by those stacks of 2 X's.
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Old 08-29-2012, 01:01 PM   #5
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Unlevel floor, front door sticking. It bothers us but not sure what to do


I'm actually told that I do NOT have balloon framing, I have conventional. I can post some pics to confirm that if it would help. Just tell me what to get the pictures of.

Shape is simple and straightforward, no bump outs or anything. I think the dimensions are 34 x 24 (I might be slightly wrong, but I'm very close).

One company bid to replace the wood beam with a steel one (comes in 8ft sections) with steel support jacks (in new footings) every 5 ft. Is that reasonable? Would it still be smart to get an engineer? What would be the benefit? I can call the engineer if something goes wrong and they have to pay to fix it?
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Old 08-29-2012, 11:00 PM   #6
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Unlevel floor, front door sticking. It bothers us but not sure what to do


Yeah, I'd say get a friendly engineer 5' on on center for posts seems crazy. Maybe you could put posts up next to your foundation walls so they would be free standing. Steel posts on new piers. You would have to cut your floor and dig down for these. It's gonna cost some money.

I don't see any problems except building temp walls to hold your house up, lol!
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Old 08-30-2012, 12:19 AM   #7
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Unlevel floor, front door sticking. It bothers us but not sure what to do


What about the 5' is crazy? Too much? Too little? It's a pretty small house remember.

I'm looking at somewhere between $3-4k for the main beam and the posts ballpark. I don't have balloon framing so I don't understand the need for temporary walls.
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Old 08-30-2012, 12:40 AM   #8
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Unlevel floor, front door sticking. It bothers us but not sure what to do


What's going to hold up the floor joist while the old beam and horrible coloumns are removed and replaced? Temperary walls.

An engineer can size the beams and coloumns not just guess at it.
He also would know the soil conditions and frost level to size the footings needed for the load being carried.
If the beam is wide and strong enough you can use far less coloumns.
Not sure what someone was saying about steel beams 8 ft, long and coloumns every 5 ft. Makes no since to me. There needs to be support under the joints.

I thought it might be ballon constrution because in your first picture it looked like a vertical beam near the ceiling. On second look it looks more like someone just stuck a wooden block in place for a shim.
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Old 08-30-2012, 12:59 AM   #9
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Unlevel floor, front door sticking. It bothers us but not sure what to do


Quote:
Originally Posted by joecaption View Post
What's going to hold up the floor joist while the old beam and horrible coloumns are removed and replaced? Temperary walls.

An engineer can size the beams and coloumns not just guess at it.
He also would know the soil conditions and frost level to size the footings needed for the load being carried.
If the beam is wide and strong enough you can use far less coloumns.
Not sure what someone was saying about steel beams 8 ft, long and coloumns every 5 ft. Makes no since to me. There needs to be support under the joints.

I thought it might be ballon constrution because in your first picture it looked like a vertical beam near the ceiling. On second look it looks more like someone just stuck a wooden block in place for a shim.
The beams they sell come in 8ft sections. A steel support jack would be cast every 5 ft. It wouldn't rest on the foundation, they would sit inside the walls.

I guess an engineer wouldn't be a bad move. I've googled for an engineer. Should I just be looking at a structural engineer? I'm getting quite a few hits and it's overwhelming.

And did you have to say HORRIBLE beams? Kind of funny, yet sad (for me) at the same time.
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Old 08-30-2012, 01:15 AM   #10
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Unlevel floor, front door sticking. It bothers us but not sure what to do


Should be looking in your local yellow pages or asking your local build inspector for referances.
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Old 08-30-2012, 06:55 AM   #11
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Unlevel floor, front door sticking. It bothers us but not sure what to do


if you hire someone to do the work, make sure to get a building permit. then the building inspector will check their work. without a permit you are on your own ....

as Joe said, a professional engineer can determine the proper loads the beam must support, including any point loads, verify your soil bearing capacity, determine footing requirements and spacing of steel columns and welding requirements.

typically you need a professional engineer to prepare drawings and certify steel beams as there are no span tables for steel beams in the building code. typically anything not in the building code requires design/certification by a professional engineer or architect.

Good luck!
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Old 09-10-2012, 09:55 PM   #12
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Unlevel floor, front door sticking. It bothers us but not sure what to do


Just an update.

I have an engineer coming out on wed to help me design a plan. He told me what the ballpark cost is going to be and it's pretty reasonable.

What really scares the hell out of me is the effect that this project will have on the rest of the house. I don't know much about these things, but wouldn't straightening out the floor cause some stress and cracking on the walls, beam in the attic, and the windows and doors above?

I'm afraid to start down this road but I know some things will have to be done. I'll post another update after I get a professional assessment.
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Old 09-11-2012, 03:54 PM   #13
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Unlevel floor, front door sticking. It bothers us but not sure what to do


Stratergery; just had to say that that column you have in the first pic. is absolutely brilliiant. It must break all the rules and doubtless would give building inspectors the frighteners. But it seems to work and goes to show that untrained people can often come up with a bonkers, yet workable, solution!
DIY at its best! (and stretched to the limit!)
Good luck with your project, by the way.
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Old 09-11-2012, 06:05 PM   #14
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Unlevel floor, front door sticking. It bothers us but not sure what to do


Don't be to concerned with the 'collateral' damage around the house---

Some may and likely will, 0ccure--

But that thinking is like a crippled man worrying that his clothes will no longer fit when he is made whole and straight again.
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Old 09-12-2012, 03:26 AM   #15
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Unlevel floor, front door sticking. It bothers us but not sure what to do


Wow that first column something else. And so is having wood supports in the middle of a chimney stack.

Just. Wow.

Looks to me like that beam was already failing and then they added more support columns because the telepost (metal pipe column) wasn't doing it's job. I've seen those metal pipe supports before in older houses... I implore you to get them replaced... They rust out, which causes all sort of bad things to happen above.

I agree you want an engineer to come out, you are looking at replacing those beams and support columns at the very least. And the others are right, to do that right you are going to need to put a hole in your floor and dig out a big enough footing for some proper support columns.

Doesn't need to be steel IMO, no reason a piece of engineered lumber couldn't be used, and will be far easier to work with.

Anyway, avoid the temptation to follow the tradition here and rig something together with un-secured columns and beams. That basement is a disaster waiting to happen - that beam to the right on the first photo, it doesn't even look like it's connected to the "support" below it, looks like you can see paint on the underside of the beam between it and the 2x4. Which means, even IF that sort of column was something that wasn't a disaster, the beam isn't even resting on it and therefore none of the load from above is being transferred...

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