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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
hey. new member and first post here. short of the long; we bought a 120 yr old house 2 years ago. we knew it was gonna be work. we knew they had a bowing foundation wall they repaired, ancient electrical, horrible plumbing, and has had 2 additions- one in 1914 and one in 1958.

I've really enjoyed my growth as a DIYer but i don't know where to even begin fixing what I found yesterday. it doesn't make sense.

we're remodeling our kitchen and it's my first project of this scope... by far. we pulled up the flooring down to the old asbestos tile (hard stop), ripped out the cabinets, and knocked out the soffits. got it down to the old plaster walls (or lath in a few places) in 2 days. I knew going in that our floor isn't level. wasn't too worried about it until I noticed that the soffit running the direction of the slant was built with the grade. from the outside wall it was 15" tall and tapered down to 14" over an 80" length. the kitchen was added in 1914 and they dug out a second half of the basement. soffits were all newer construction though. probably 70's or so. idk.

so I take a closer look in the basement and suddenly I see the steel I-beam with a jack post right around 80" from the outside wall. steel I-beams didn't become a thing til the 60's so this beam had to have been put in after the original 1914 addition to replace a wooden one. it runs the length of the house and so should be one piece, right? but it's not. it can't be. because that first jack post at 80" is sitting under a full split in the steel I-beam. which means it had to have been installed as two. I guess they didn't weld or bolt the two pieces together though. so now there is a 1/8" to 1/2" gap sitting on top of the jack post plate and that isn't attached to the beam either. it's one of those older adjustable hollow ones which also aren't up to code anymore.

what. can. I. do? we can't drop $10-20k on this right now in the middle of a kitchen demo. but I can't throw on subfloor, flooring, cabinets, etc without at least jacking these two beams back up, right? which means also replacing the jack post with one that is to code and also bolting the two beams together, right? anyone ever run into or hear about anything like this?
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Framing Contractor
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You can try jacking that up, but do it slowly and carefully. Steel beams are spliced all the time. We are required to weld or bolt them together, but I have seen many older ones that weren't, and they held up well. I would also be concerned with the footer underneath the post. A loaded post can't just be sitting on the old concrete floor. Look below and see if there is evidence that the floor was cut, and a new thick footing was poured.
 

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You may need to get a structural engineer involved, but I think in theory you could use gusset plates to tie the webs together and the bottom flanges. IDK what you could do about the top flange other than welding. Unless maybe you use gusset plates on each side of the web below the top flange, with fasteners far enough away from the joists to be able to make the connections. Maybe @HotRodx10 will see this thread; he's a bridge guy.
 

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Hammered Thumb
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Looks like they cut it on site, deciding to go down the stairs rather than push in 1 piece from the outside. It's fine to splice, as long as the joists sitting on them are keeping them from moving laterally. I would want bolts through to a lally column before I would worry about a web plate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
You can try jacking that up, but do it slowly and carefully. Steel beams are spliced all the time. We are required to weld or bolt them together, but I have seen many older ones that weren't, and they held up well. I would also be concerned with the footer underneath the post. A loaded post can't just be sitting on the old concrete floor. Look below and see if there is evidence that the floor was cut, and a new thick footing was poured.
ok, so it is somewhat common to join two I-beams? i've had a lot of trouble finding anything online related to my situation. plus, I just can't see a reason as to why they would've used two beams or why they would choose to join them 6.5 feet from the end instead of somewhere closer to the middle.

it looks like a weld seam split under tension but i'm not a metal worker. i know it's obvious there is visible rust and corrosion due to literally years of unmitigated leaks from under the kitchen sink that i've fixed, but somehow i just can't imagine water/rust causing that split. what do you think?

as for the footer, there is a plate bolted to the cement but i do not see evidence of anything having been cut away for a deeper setting. it's almost as if this jack post was made for temporary use only but was never replaced and i wonder if this old basement slab was ever made to support that kind of weight/pressure. maybe that's why the post is in this spot? it would be the approximate middle of the second basement slab poured in 1914, so maybe it was their attempt to dispurse the load evenly over that slab?

thanks for the insight. much appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Looks like they cut it on site, deciding to go down the stairs rather than push in 1 piece from the outside. It's fine to splice, as long as the joists sitting on them are keeping them from moving laterally. I would want bolts through to a lally column before I would worry about a web plate.
considering i'm DIYing this if at all possible (within reason and safety, of course), and since i don't see evidence of any cuts for the footing either - would you suggest propping it with some 4x4s, removing the current post, pouring a footing and then setting a permanent post? or would it be better to just bolt the existing post into the beam as-is?

I'm gathering I should not try and jack it back up an inch due to the possible unknown damage that could result from raising it that much. i've read that DIYers shouldn't do much more than a 1/2 inch raise. I just don't know what would be more damaging to the existing structure; the 1inch lift or letting it stay slanted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
You may need to get a structural engineer involved, but I think in theory you could use gusset plates to tie the webs together and the bottom flanges. IDK what you could do about the top flange other than welding. Unless maybe you use gusset plates on each side of the web below the top flange, with fasteners far enough away from the joists to be able to make the connections. Maybe @HotRodx10 will see this thread; he's a bridge guy.
awesome. thanks for the tip. i'll ask you the same i asked another commenter - you agree that trying to jack it up the 1/2 - 1 inch to make the beam ends meet is not the best way to go? just secure the existing post to the beams and the beams together where they are now?

thanks again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Looks like they installed the steel beam in 2 pieces because of access problems. It would help to clean the sides of the webs and weld on splice plates.
i've never welded. i'm guessing this isn't something a novice should attempt? lol
 

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Hammered Thumb
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I can't throw on subfloor, flooring, cabinets, etc without at least jacking these two beams back up, right? which means also replacing the jack post with one that is to code
I thought you came to that conclusion and are doing this, which you should while it's easy now, harder later and you'll regret it if you don't.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I thought you came to that conclusion and are doing this, which you should while it's easy now, harder later and you'll regret it if you don't.
i'm just trying to get a good understanding of what is within the range of a DIYer in this instance and what is "acceptable." yes, i came to the (novice) conclusion that a level floor/house is best, but i still just want to clarify that my novice conclusion is absolutely necessary in this situation. that's all.

because i do worry what a full 1 inch raise will do to a house that's been sitting on this slant for probably close to 2 decades at least.
 

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Just go slow, 1" over a couple weeks. Will make your life easier when flooring and installing cabinets, and other gut work on other floors and doors and such yet to come.
Assume from your signature line you have a couple bottle jacks laying around
 

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Framing Contractor
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Your not gonna get 1". That will cause more issues than it solves. It is an old house. Raise it a little, then wait for a day and try a little more. You will be able to tell more with your ears than your eyes. I would definitely prop it, cut the floor, excavate, and pour a new footing.

It is common to 2 piece a beam, and the splice will generally be called out at the post. On a few occasions, we have had engineers call out the splice just off the post by 8", but there is always an engineered, bolted connection there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Just go slow, 1" over a couple weeks. Will make your life easier when flooring and installing cabinets, and other gut work on other floors and doors and such yet to come.
Assume from your signature line you have a couple bottle jacks laying around
thanks. that was my next question; the pace. and yeah, i think they're on the shelf next to my bottles of jack. probably gonna need both.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Your not gonna get 1". That will cause more issues than it solves. It is an old house. Raise it a little, then wait for a day and try a little more. You will be able to tell more with your ears than your eyes. I would definitely prop it, cut the floor, excavate, and pour a new footing.

It is common to 2 piece a beam, and the splice will generally be called out at the post. On a few occasions, we have had engineers call out the splice just off the post by 8", but there is always an engineered, bolted connection there.
i'd hope to at least get 3/4" out of all this work on the way but anything is better than nothging, and it sounds like i have a pretty good idea of how to tackle this now. thanks again for the direction.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
quick follow up for those who shared their knowledge and/or are interested. only one of the 4 posts looks like it was properly footed. and the bottoms of all 4 have pretty noticeable rust and corrosion. guess i'll prop up the entire beam, replace the post under the split first and jack it up bit by bit which will give me time to replace the other 3.

in the meantime, anyone got a kitchen i can borrow? 😩
 

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This is not a split, it’s clear evidence of a flame cut. If it was split, the two edges would be a perfect mating fit ... what you have is a gap with missing steel from the flame. Rusted bases ... pictures? Surface rust is not a deal killer. Wire brush and rustoleum paint.

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You're getting some good advice. Jack up small increments over a few weeks. Watch that the beam doesn't fall over when you lift the floor. It will become loose. You could always level the floor from above if the slope is too great for your liking. As for the splice, You don't have to weld it. You could rent a magnetic drill and drill holes in it then add a splice plate. The gap in the beams is just a lousy flame cut. It's not a structural issue. Send photos of the posts at the floor if there isn't any significant cracking it may best to leave it alone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
This is not a split, it’s clear evidence of a flame cut. If it was split, the two edges would be a perfect mating fit ... what you have is a gap with missing steel from the flame. Rusted bases ... pictures? Surface rust is not a deal killer. Wire brush and rustoleum paint.

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Sorry just saw your comment. Valentine's "day" apparently includes any work holidays just before or after so I was MIA for any follow-up.

I will add pics of the post bases tmrw and either tag you or just send you a msg.

If I understand you right, you're saying that it was 1 piece that was cut with a torch - probably to fit it in or because of weight who knows - and that once they had the two pieces set, they did not weld them back together? Because I would think they would at least attach them together with a tie plate or weld them back together because obviously this is a weak point that is causing the floor to sag.

my thought was that these two beams were at least welded together at some point and the weld got weakened by rust or whatever and split which then we can the floor. But if what you're saying is they were never reconnected after they were cut then that would mean the floor was never even in the first place. Which would explain why the cabinets were built the way they were, but also just seems really effing stupid and lazy of the people who put in the beam(s). What's the point of supporting your whole floor if you're not going to make it level?

Which then brings me to another thought; if the house has never been level should I even try and raise it at all?

Thanks
 
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