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svoelkel 11-17-2009 07:11 PM

Ideas for leveling floor support beams
I need to level the floor on one end of a single story frame house that is 30x30. The space has two beams spanning its length, each made of two 2x10s with 2x4 ledger boards attached. These beams are 48 apart and support the walls of a hallway above and at least some of the weight of the roof since the roof is not built with trusses. Both of these long beams are sagging due to failure of the metal support columns that are rusting away and due to poor footings under the failing columns. Presently the sagging beams are supported by 3 metal posts each. In addition to these beams sagging, many of the floor joists have cracked near the ledger board so that the floor sags from the outside cinder block walls to the center beams as well as along the beams. I am going to need to lift one beam about 2 inches at its lowest point and the other beam about 1 inch and then raise the joists back into position against the sub-floor.

First question - What would be the estimate of the weight of the structure I described. I had one contracter friend suggest assuming 10001b/ linear foot so about 30,000 lb of weight

Second question I had originally planned to raise and level the two center beams and support them with new columns and then jack up the floor joists, sister new joists were needed and add joist hangers on all. This will be a huge amount of labor because I will need to custom cut sections of 2x6 filler board to nail between every set of joists above the ledger to have something to attach the joist hangers to. There would be 4 to make between every joist because I have this problem on the outside joists as well as on the 48 joists between the two main beams under the hallway that is above However, someone suggested using sections of 10 channel iron under the beams so that when I raise the channel iron it will catch and raise the sagging joists as it also raises the beams to level. The thought is to place a 4 section of channel iron above each new support post so that at least that much of the joist raising would be taken care of as well as to distribute the load along the surface of the beam. Does this sound feasible?

GBR 11-17-2009 09:46 PM

Hire a Structural engineer to evaluate and give a solution in writing. Money well spent.
You have partial roof loads, partial floor loads and seasonal snow loads to figure. Add to that beam loads, pier sizes and thicknesses, to rebuild or replace the materials that are structurally failing now.
Be safe, Gary

svoelkel 08-12-2012 11:43 AM

Thanks for the advice.

I hired the engineer and got the load specification. I spent 6 months under the house (luckily can stand under there) jacking up the main beams back to level while using temporary jack posts, then poured 10 new footings, and installed 6x6 posts for permanent columns and then had to jack each floor joist individually back to level and sister a new 2x10 along side since most had failed. While working there I realized how bad the ventilation system leaked so replaced that as well. After leveling it all I was able to install hardwoods upstairs. Saved about $10,000 compared to the estimate just on the leveling and plus learned a lot about the house.

nealtw 08-12-2012 02:03 PM

Nice to see you took Gary's advice and job well done.

Crawl_Space_Fun 12-07-2012 03:46 PM


How did you find the structural engineer you worked with, how long did the process take, and how much did you pay the person?

BridgeMan 12-07-2012 06:41 PM

He said the process took him 6 months. Finding a structural engineer is as simple as looking in the yellow pages, or even doing an online search specific to one's local area. Always check the engineer's credentials with the appropriate licensing agency--there are a lot of "engineers" out there who never took the text, and have no business practicing engineering. Expect to pay anywhere from $100 an hour, and up. More if he's with a large firm having a ton of overhead.

svoelkel 12-10-2012 07:23 PM

I just looked for a local engineering firm. At the time, business was slow and he came out, did the measurements and wrote a report on live load estimates etc. May have charged $500 total but for the peace of mind it was worth it. He just confirmed the numbers and plan I already had.

I took my time jacking up the house, raising it 0.25" to 0.5" per day hoping to minimize cracking upstairs. A crack developed over each header in the finished space above but they were not bad and easily patched. I was incredibly slow since I was working an hour or two at night and on weekends and learning as I went and accumulating tools as needed. A more experienced and confident person could probably have finished the sistering of joists in a week while it took me months. Some nights I spent most of my available time staring at the joists coming up with a plan. It as really more simple than I thought and would not hesitate to do it again. Being a stand up work space made it easy and if it were a true crawl space it would have been much harder.

I know I did a much better job than would have be done by the contractors because I sistered every joist after seeing how bad they were (I believe the original joists are stamped #3 fir which someone told me is very poor quality lumber). The bids only include repairing a couple joists.

I would recommend it for a homeowner project since it is not rocket science (you just need to know the strutural specifications). Not to take anything away from people who do this for a living because it is hard work and the speed and efficiency of a pro is incredible. I later hired an excellent framer to help me with some remodeling and he completed in a week what would have taken me months to complete if I had finished it at all.

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