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Old 10-13-2016, 06:30 PM   #1
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Strengthening floor for aquarium


Not sure if I need to just shouting out to some engineers that may be lurking about. House was built in 1890 so the wood is hardwood, not sure the exact species. The tank is going to be parallel to a load bearing wall with the first parallel joist around 19.5 inches out. The tank is 25 " wide. The joist in question is sistered, and runs a length of roughly 130" it has two lally columns on on the end and one at roughly 60" right at where the edge of the tank will be. The ground below the house is sand and uneven on the other end, making adding future lallys quite difficult. The tank full weighs 2400lbs. Any advice would be great.
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Old 10-14-2016, 12:02 PM   #2
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Re: Strengthening floor for aquarium


What size are the joists?

...and you are correct than an engineer is probably going to be your best resource.
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Old 10-14-2016, 02:18 PM   #3
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I didn't actually make that measurement, now I'm kicking myself. But I know they are not less than 2x8.
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Old 10-14-2016, 02:19 PM   #4
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Oh and the tank is 73" long
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Old 10-14-2016, 02:35 PM   #5
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Here is a crude sketch. I see where a column would be needed, but the floor underneath won't support it. It's sloped, and sand.
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Old 10-14-2016, 04:14 PM   #6
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Re: Strengthening floor for aquarium


I do not understand why you say the floor underneath the joist would not support a column. You say the "floor" is sloped sand. Do you mean the ground where you would put the column is sand? If so, why do you think sand would not support a column? You would need to install a concrete footing on the sand to support the column, but sand is a suitable material to install a concrete footing on.

As to whether or not you need a column, the correct procedure to determine if the existing framing can support the aquarium works like this:

1. Determine the exact dimensions of the framing, including height, width, and span of each member which will support the aquarium.
2. Determine the load on each member which will support the aquarium. You can treat the aquarium as a uniformly distributed load over the length of the aquarium (I think you said 73 inches). The rest of the floor should be treated as uniform loading based on your local building code.
3. Determine the maximum allowable stress on each member supporting the aquarium. The maximum allowable stress is a function of species and grade of the lumber. If you have no idea what type of lumber your supporting framing is, you will be forced to select a low allowable stress.
4. Compute the maximum bending stress on each supporting member, compare against the allowable stress. If the maximum bending stress exceeds the allowable stress, you need to increase the strength of the supporting framing, possibly by sistering another joist, replacing the existing joist with a stronger joist, or shortening the span by adding a column.

If this seems a little complicated, well it is. But the alternative of installing the aquarium and watching to see if the floor collapses is perhaps not so good. You can also assume that the joists will not support the aquarium, and install one or more supporting columns. That saves the cost of getting an engineer to tell you to add a column. Course you still have to design the column, footing and connections, but your building inspector may be willing to discuss standard practice for installing a column in your area.
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Old 10-14-2016, 04:50 PM   #7
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Yeah, the ground is sloped. This house still has quarter-round trees as supports to the foundation that still have bark on them. The joist in question is already sistered the entire length (~150") not sure the species of wood, but it's a dark brown hardwood. Doesn't chip easy.
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Old 10-19-2016, 09:46 PM   #8
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Re: Strengthening floor for aquarium


I think I would get 3 foot piece of treated 2x12. Lay it under the end of the tank and put a screw jack to support the joist. Nice thing about sand is it doesn't compact very much.
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