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Bobrobert 03-28-2008 01:07 PM

Looking for some more expert advice, especially from Tscarborough……
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Since Tscarborough helped me greatly on my brick wall repair project, which has yet to get underway, but will be in a few weeks, I was hoping maybe he would be able to give me his advice on another up coming “two” part project – my front landing and steps.

There are several pictures attached, but to explain; my front steps and landing is sinking into the ground, and this has been an on going thing for 20 years or the life of the house.

I don’t know if there is a footer under all this, but if there is it is sinking as well.

Most of the sink was in the first few years when I finally realized that the down spout drains were piped right over to the side of the steps. I re-routed those drains 10 or 12 years ago. But the steps continue to sink and I have to put a stop to that.

I am looking for some good advice on how to go about this.

My stoop has dropped about a one 1 & ¼ inch from the front to the back. It appears to have stopped sinking, and I probably could live with the way it is “IF” it sinks no further. I'd be interested in any thoughts on leaving it alone, or is it best to level the landing along with the steps.

I need to raise the steps up several inches where they meet the concrete walk, and a couple of inches where they meet the stoop. I think the pictures will provide you with a better description of what needs to be done than what I have written here.

Tscarborough will more than likely see the brick work as done by the same mason that laid the brick wall out back. I have a feeling that the corners are not properly done either. I also need to re-grout the seams in these steps at some point in the future.

I am capable of hand digging a hole and pouring footers if there are none. The problem would be raising the steps back up where they are supposed to be. I’m thinking there has to be footers, but at this place there is no way to be sure - get this - my “heat pump” concrete slab starting sinking and there was nothing underneath that. I had to jack it back up and put in footers to keep it level.

Any help, suggestions, tricks, advice, opinions, etc., would certainly be greatly appreciated.

Thanks Bob T.

Ron6519 03-28-2008 10:18 PM

The platform with the concrete cap looks fine. It should be pitched away from the house for drainage. Is there a gap where it touches the house? If it has sunk, it will have pulled away from the house at the top, near the concrete cap.
The steps will be very hard to pull up and stabilize. They are a bunch of individual components that will likely split apart if pressure is applied. You might be able to have professionals mudjack it into place, but I'm not sure you could do it with your array of homeowner tools.

Bobrobert 03-29-2008 12:44 PM

Thanks Ron......
Ron - The cap has not pulled away from the house at all, so it probably hasn't sunk. The pitch, like you mentioned, is probably by design. I haven't really noticed that sinking as much as the steps.

After looking at the pictures, I had a thought, scary I know......But what do you think about this?

The back left corner of the steps are pretty much where they should be. What if I made sure there was a good footer under that corner only. Then dug a round hole (~8 inch dia.) down at each of the other corners into solid sub soil (hard pan), and poured in some concrete with enough room left to place a cheap foundation jack under each corner, (Do they make a "cheap" or even "throw away" type screw jack?)

Then turn all three jacks very slowly trying to raise these other three corners at pretty much the same time. Do you think the steps would have a chance of surviving? Of course if there is an existing footer under these steps I'm probably really screwed.

It might be easier just to destroy the existing steps and buy a preformed set, or have a mason rebuild them new. I do not have any left over brick, but I know it's of type "808 Eisenhower." It might not be all that noticeable to build new steps out of new brick.

Thanks again.

Ron6519 03-29-2008 01:28 PM

You can rent the jacks at a local tool rental place. Harbor Freight also has them. The plan might work if the step unit stays together, otherwise it's plan ,"B".
Unless you're married to the brick staircase look, you can build a form and fill it with concrete and cap the steps with bluestone and face it with stone or texture the concrete. All the joints in brick lets water in sooner then a solid surface.

Tscarborough 03-31-2008 01:06 PM

Start digging! Both sides. on the down side, you will want to go deeper, deep enough to get a jack and some 4x4 jacking plates. Be sure and use something to spread the pressure of the jack along the brick. Once you have it jacked into position, shore it temporarily, remove the jacking materials and pour the holes solid.

Bobrobert 04-03-2008 09:26 PM

Tscarborough - Thanks for the post. I will give the jacking into place a go JUST as soon as my back get's "back" into shape.
I really love being 60.:no:

I have three projects that require some pretty good digging, and I just hope I can get through them.

Thanks again.

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