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mapweb 11-15-2007 02:12 PM

Leveling floors with piers and beams: Lessons learned?
Hello Everyone!

This is my first post on a great forum. I have read every post regarding floor leveling, house jacking, piers and beams. I have learned a lot from everyone's post, so thank you for that.

I am attempting a project similar to previous posts. I have a 1910 home and none of the floors are level. The house is supported with piers and beams that have seen better days. The floor joists are not much better. I only want to make things sound and a little more level.

Here's the situation.
There are 3 beams of 2x6 (doubled up in the center), floor joists are 2x6, and piers are 4x6 (some original and some poorly replaced). It's a dirt floor with some good and some make shift footings.

My Paint masterpiece :D

Here's the plan.
1. Level the entire beams one at a time using jacks and jack posts.
2. Once the beam is level, sister 2x6 to both sides.
3. Pour footings for new posts.
4. Install new posts one at a time then move to the next.
5. Replace existing posts where needed (using a jack posts on each side of it during the replacement process).
6. Remove the jack posts.
7. Repeat on the next beam.

Alternative plan.
Do the same as above except on the outer 2 beams, support them using a pony wall since the basement is only dug out in the center with cement ledges leading to the foundation. This wall would sit vertically against the foundation ledge and on top of a freshly poured slab the entire length.

Here are the questions.
  • Are there pros and cons to piers vs. pony wall?
  • How much can you jack the beam each day without cracking it?
  • What type of jack is best? And what rating?
  • How many jacks do you recommend?
  • Nails or bolts for sistering? And liquid nails?
  • Pour my own footings or buy pre-made?
  • Should I jack the (soon to be) sister beam into place so it's tight to the joists?

Advice from anyone that has done this before...
  • Any lessons learned?
  • Anything you'd do differently?
  • Any tips or tricks?

Thank you everyone for sharing your experiences and knowledge. I am happy to be a new member and look forward to your replies.


glennjanie 11-17-2007 09:25 AM

Welcome Michael:
You are taking on a really big project; I'll try to answer your questions in order.
The Pony wall has continous support rather than spots.(Good)
They will take up some space in the basement. (Con)
I would never move a single jack point more than 1/4"; distribute the load to more jacks and you can go 1/2" at a time. Yes, it is a slow and tedious process and we are not concerned about cracking the beams so much as the walls and the roofing.
I use hydraulic jacks; 4 to 8 ton capicity.
One for each 8' of beam, maybe 6 to begin with.
Try to consider 2 X 8s for sistering, use PL400 adhesive and penumatic nailing. Hitting nails with a hammer causes too much vibration and may crack walls.
Pouring your own footings will compensate for minor discrepancies in the digging; setting pre-cast is too tedious.
Yes, I would attempt to jack the sister beams in place; that way we all come along together.
Lessons learned; a collapse could cost a life, procede deliberately and with much caution. Listen for popping and cracking noises.
Use a 1/2" steel plate on top of the jack to keep from imbeding the jack in the beams.
Do differently? I would charge about twice as much as before.
Tips and tricks; dig away some of the powdery dry dirt on top to get better bearing. Set the jacks on a 4 X 6 X 12" block of wood (lying on its side) to spread the downward pressure over more ground.
I would try to level one whole beam at a time; you may have to level it some and move to the next beam to keep everything in harmony above; then come back to the first one. Have a helper in the house with a 4' level or a shorter level tapped to a perfectly straight 2 X 4. Make sure the helper stays right above you and has no competeing noises to distract them. Tie a rope around your leg or waist to prepare for the worse case. Wear some old coveralls that you can put back on the next day and not worry about getting dirty.
Proceed with caution; you are working under several tons of weight.

mapweb 11-21-2007 01:25 PM

Follow up question for Glenn...

First thanks for the reply!

How do you glue the sister beam when it has to be placed against the existing beam and jacked up 1/4" per day? Won't the adhesive setup before I get things level (several days later)?

I was going to tack the sister beams into place, jack the beam to level, then set it with more nails and possibly lags bolts every 16". Is the adhesive necessary?


glennjanie 11-22-2007 09:00 AM

I would do all the jacking first and then the sistering.
You can move a beam 1/4" at a time, rather than a day.

ayankle 07-17-2008 06:49 PM

doing the same....maybe
I am trying to lvl just the back 1/3 of my house as I have 1 or 2 joists that have sunken over the 100 years the house has been around. I was approaching this with caution, of course, as I do not want the house to fall apart while I am attempting this. However, I will be replacing all of the flooring and sub floor above the joists after it is level.

I had read that it was ok to leave the jacks in place and build the additional piers around the jacks, I don't mind because this will still be thousands cheaper than hiring someone to do it. My question is, for the footers, is it not good to use pre fabricated footers? I was thinking about spreading the weight out with about 5 jacks across 40' of joists, and just putting the jacks on top of pre fabricated footers. Then raising the jacks 1/4" per day until level. Then I was going to build my permanent piers around the footers and jacks. Would this work?

glennjanie 07-18-2008 05:00 PM

Hello AYankle:
I would not try to use pre-fab footers. I recommend 12" to 16" blocks of 4 X 6 laid flat to jack from and then pour footers and install piers of concrete blocks or concrete bricks (blocks measure 6"w x 8"h X 16"long, while bricks measure approximately 3"w X 2"h X 7"long and are solid) then finish off with oak wedges.

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