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Old 06-06-2014, 08:22 AM  
JohnCisco
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Default Old Foundation Fix

Background
House built in 1920, I purchased in 2006.
Lathe and plaster walls and ceiling, hardwood floor.
28' x 30' 840sqft
crawl space is maybe 18"
Single story

When we bought the house we knew it would be a fix it up and ran into financial issues and just recently are at that point to do the fixing up. The foundation needs fixed before I move onto everything else. It is a concrete foundation not stone, so I'm not sure if it was concrete from day 1 or replaced at some point.

There are 2x8 floor joists that span 30' and spaced 2', single pieces and they are truly 8".
There is an old brick chimney in the middle of the house that is disconnected in the attic. The center of the house is the high point and the floor drops 4" in each corner of the house and about 2.5" to the exterior walls between the corners (so the corners sag the most). The one exception is there is a spot that drops 3" within about 3' in the middle (front to back) of the house. Under the house in this spot it goes from having a support to not having any support on the next joist, so they span all 30' without middle support.

My thought is to take 4x6 timbers across the front, middle and back of the house and level the place. My thought is every 4' use a floor jack with the 4x6.

My biggest concern is how to do the footings? I can tear up the floor inside the house, get an auger, go down 3', pour concrete, etc but that's a massive undertaking and I'm not sure it's necessary. I live in Missouri and the soil is extremely dense clay. Because of the lack of space in the crawl space I would have hand tools is all if I don't rip up the floor.

Could I take a 16" x 8" x 4" concrete block rated at 1,900 PSI, use a floor jack with a 4" x 4" base and space them every 4', lift/level the house without putting a big footing under it?

I can manage enough to dig out maybe 6" of dirt for each footing to get the soil level for the pad but there just isn't room to do much more than that.

It's a 1 story house, joists are spaced 2' which is why I was thinking every 4' with the jacks/footings.

Is this a viable solution or without a deep footing am I just asking for trouble?
Putting in a lot of jacks though to disperse the weight and being 1 story and low traffic, the logical part of my brain says it's plenty strong. That and I can check every few months especially early on and adjust those jacks as needed. I'm not looking for another 100 years on the house, but why not another 20?

Pricing everything looks like well under $1,000 for material as long as I don't bust any windows or plumbing.

Foundation company came out and refused to fix the foundation this way or with steel or anything. The only way they'd do it was with hydraulics down to bedrock and was going to run me $40,000. With an 840sqft home that's almost 100 years old, that kinda money makes no sense. I'll knock down the house and build a new one.

thoughts? Suggestions? I'm sure someone has done something similar and can lend some advice.



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Old 06-06-2014, 09:06 AM  
nealtw
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Welcome to the site.
The footing should be as deep as the frost rating in your area. where I am the bottom of the footing has to be 18" below ground level and in some places that might be 48".



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Old 06-06-2014, 09:21 AM  
bud16415
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Welcome and nice first post.

What’s the frost depth where you live? Is the house skirted around? Insulation between floor and ground below? The supports that are there now what are they like? And how deep do they go down?

Some photos might help also.

If the corners have dropped that much is the siding slanting and the roof following along all original. Any work that had been done along the way that adjusted stuff like that will bend the wrong way when you start jacking things up.

Do you fear it is going to keep on moving or is it the sloping floors are hard to deal with?

You will get some great advice here and if you follow the project on here as you go I’m sure the experts here will show you the way.

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Old 06-06-2014, 10:09 AM  
JohnCisco
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Thanks for the replies.
The current foundation/footings, I have no idea how deep they are.
Frost line where I live is 24".

There is currently no insulation under the floor, in the crawl space, or even the exterior walls. That's part of the plan though, level the floor, insulation under the house, new walls, wall insulation, attic insulation and new roof.

I'm not worried that the foundation is still moving, it drives my wife nuts that you can see the wave in the floor because it's hardwood floor. If I throw down carpeting, that would hide 95% of the wave throughout the house. I'd rather everything be straight before tearing down the lathe/plaster walls and ceilings and go about all that work.

I've been told the center of the house didn't sink because it didn't experience the freeze/thaw that the perimeter did. The center of the house has that chimney.

The siding is a little bowed but not bad at all. It's 4" from the center of the house to the corner. From corner to corner on the perimeter there is at most a 2" variance (more like 1.5"). Corner then up 2" to the center then back down to the next corner. So 1.5" over 15' eyeballing it you can see it if you're looking for it. It's also wood siding if that makes any difference.


If my memory is right, there are a couple footings you can see 1 in this picture but they used 2x4s to give the middle of the house support. This was done before we moved in. Some damage on the rim joist on the right. The only water lines and drain lines in the house are at the far end of this picture. At least they are all in one spot and not a lot of them should I need to replace


This shows at some point long ago they doubled up 2x4s for support in the middle of the room and just used rock to support it. To the left, where this doubled up 2x4 no longer has any support under it, the floor joist on the end has simply bend the 2x4 and sunk. This is where we have a roughly 3" dive in our hallway. From the hallway to the exterior wall (14') the drop is just 1".


This is looking across the front of the house. My thought being to run the 4x6s as close to the foundation as possible with the floor jacks, level it off and then I can take care of the interior walls, ceilings, roof, and insulation.

I don't know if these pictures help any but that's what I'm working with as far as crawl space room.
Again, not worried about additional settling, just want things straight and level when I remodel. If it's slightly off it won't bother me, that can be hidden if necessary but I want it close to straight as possible.

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Old 06-06-2014, 10:43 AM  
bud16415
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Good input. I couldn’t see the photos in your post for some reason most likely security on this computer but I saw them by pasting the links. Feel free to download files right to this site if you want.

Those footing walls look like they were added at some point to me do you feel the same?

First to the correction to the building I’m sure you can get under there and start lifting the low spots my fears are that when you do things above will start moving along with what you want to move. Are you planning new windows and doors when you gut the plaster? I could see some of that stuff that has taken a set now breaking with a sudden adjustment. Are the hardwood floors something you desire to keep? The reason I ask is sometimes it’s better to level what you have now on the inside rather than moving it from below. I’m doing an 1890’s house that we are living in and bought last year. The kitchen was so cockeyed and so set it was easier for me to level the floor in the kitchen rather than lifting the whole house and causing untold damage other places.

The other thing I was wondering is there any way to come off the footings you have with beams and support the bad places rather than new posts without frost depth protection. I believe what you were told about the center being warmer might be correct and you could start the cycle all over going with some points below frost and some floating.

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Old 06-06-2014, 11:50 AM  
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Thanks Bud.
Hardwood floors, they're old/original and I'd hate to trash them, just something about it. But no I'm not married to them. It crossed my mind to make the floor straight inside and leave the foundation alone other than adding some support to those question areas in the pictures with rocks and any places that are a little bouncy.

Yea the foundation walls don't look like they're 94 years old. Neighbors that have lived there for 40+ years have said nothing has changed with the house other than new roof since they've been there. The stairway into the cellar is stone but the cellar itself is concrete, so whenever the cellar got the new concrete is probably when the foundation was done. If that's the case that was the early 60s.

New windows and doors when I do the walls yes.

In the 8 years we've been there, just the spot in the hallway has changed. Everything else is as it was when we moved in so the idea of any noticeable settling still to take place probably isn't going to happen.

Some extra support is necessary like I said but maybe level from the inside is the better route to go?

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Old 06-06-2014, 12:26 PM  
bud16415
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So you have 2x8’s that are 30 foot long??

How much of the 30x28 has a cellar under it? If I’m seeing the photos right there is a poured wall is that the cellar wall? Is there one on each end of the building?

The solution might be all of the above. Do a little jacking and then go inside and straighten it up the rest of the way. I’m sure those stones looked solid at one point but after a few winters of moving a little they started falling over.

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Old 06-06-2014, 01:05 PM  
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My dad built his house with four support posts under it on concrete blocks (not deep enough) while it was under constuction and it froze the whole house was up an inch sitting on the four posts.
I guess luck it wasn't bolted down.
I would set up all the timbers as you suggest in front of the foundation, as this will be temperary all you need is to spread the load on the dirt. Get some 1" plywood and cut them into 16" squares and put 3 under each jack.
For the centre, I have cut a hole in a foundation and dug a trench from one side to the other, alot easier today when you can use a small hammer drill as a mini jack hammer to break up soil.
The last spot nee the side foundation can be temperary as once you have it in place you can install a hanger for the beam right onto the foundation.
For the footing, 16"x24" will give you room for the jack and a perminent post to sit side by side. If you use 2 2x10 across the center you will only need 2 footing.
Before you start get your hands on some leveling device like a laser and so you can put a level line all around the inside of the foundation that you can use for a refference while you are lifting.
You want to have various thickness shims on and lift maybe 1/4" throw in a shim and move to the next jack. It is very slow as you go to give the house time to stretch and move back into place.

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Old 06-06-2014, 02:08 PM  
JohnCisco
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Bud-
The cellar is actually 10' out the back door, it doesn't go under the house in any way.
A side story... a year after we bought the place a really old man showed up at our house, wanted to see the place one last time before he died. Apparently his grandfather built the house and used to farm the area and he had a lot of memories spending his summers there. The cellar like I said has a stone walls and steps. The cellar itself now has poured concrete top and 2 walls. Floor and other wall still stone. He asked if we found the whiskey. We had no idea what he was talking about. Apparently when they dug the original cellar way back in 1920 they had a couple jugs of whiskey to celebrate finishing the house. Well someone apparently put the jugs down in the hole which ended up being the wall of the stairs and it got backfilled with dirt. It wasn't until they were done that they couldn't find the whiskey and weren't about to dig it up after all the work they'd just done.

No idea if that's true but it's an interesting story. Sealed jugs of whiskey from 1900.

Neal -
If I follow what you're saying, that's an interesting way of doing it. What I'm understanding is you're saying punch a hole in the middle of the foundation and dig out the crawl space? Giving plenty of room to work and get solid footings in?

I do appreciate the information provided here. If anyone else has anything to add please do but I'm starting to think that if possible I'll tie into the footings in the middle of the house, use 4x6s instead of 2x4s so the center of the house has some good support. And leave the rest. Go inside, put in straight floors, cut new doorways, and continue with my projects replacing walls, ceiling, roof, etc.

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Old 06-06-2014, 03:20 PM  
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No shortage work to straighten the house but everything else go so much easier once it is done. I have done both.



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