Rotten floor joist under walker-in shower

Discussion in 'Framing and Foundation' started by zerokreap, Apr 8, 2017.

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  1. Apr 8, 2017 #1

    zerokreap

    zerokreap

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    So, I bought my first home back in 06, then moved to a new city in 10. I was unable to sell the place for what I needed (was not going to pay someone to buy the joint), so it became a rental property. It pays for itself and then some with rent each month. So I'm ok with the arrangement, though it is not ideal considering my proximity to the property (I live about 95 miles away).

    The house was built in 1925, with a 650 or so square feet addition added in the late 1950s. The problem I am having is in the 1950s addition.

    Right after moving into the place, the walk-in shower was clearly in need of some attention. The floor was cracking along grout lines, but it didn't look horrible. Called a tile guy in, he said I likely had a leaking shower pan that needed replacement. So I had him install a new shower pan using one of those pan liners that goes up the wall, which he said would "never leak." At the time, he also said that there might be damage underneath the house, but that there was no obvious structural damage...no bounce or troubling unevenness in the floor. Anyway, I am fairly certain that shower pan he installed has performed quite well since...and is not currently leaking. However, it would seem that there was considerable damage done before the new lined pan was installed. Specifically, a floor joist was soaking in water leaking from the pan for quite a while...maybe years.

    From what I see under the house, it looks like the joist actually bent fairly significantly, before eventually breaking in the not too distant past, thanks to rot. I have never seen a bent joist...I wonder if it is a testament to the older growth lumber that would have been used at the time. It would take quite a while for a timber to bend like that, no?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    As you can see, I have hard water, which has caused some calcification on the foundation wall there, as well as the wood subfloor and joists.

    [​IMG]

    Those two joists in the pic (to the right of where the rotten joist sits) have the hard water staining, but they don't seem to have any rot...I poked them substantially with my screwdriver to check for weak spots. Then again, perhaps there's no way that the integrity of the timber isn't compromised, considering that we can see that the water has definitely been in contact with the wood at some point. And, to my untrained eye, it looks like maybe those joists were sistered at some point to shore up the wood compromised by prolonged contact with water?
     
  2. Apr 8, 2017 #2

    zerokreap

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    If I think back to the state of the walls and pan when I moved in, in terms of cracking and other signs of movement, I would say the main joist in question was bent when I purchased the place, and perhaps only broke sometime in the past few years after I had the pan replaced. I say this because there was a time when, all of a sudden, it seemed like the room was settling more than usual. The place is well-built, but on soil with high clay content...so water, or lack thereof, can cause quite a bit of movement in piers. So I was used to some movement and cracking in walls. This just seemed a bit extreme for that particular room.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    You can see the floor has dropped about a half inch since the replacement pan was installed. Most of this movement occurred in the last year.

    [​IMG]

    The shower sits in the right-most 4' of the other side of that yellow wall there, with the laundry room on the other side.

    [​IMG]

    There's some obvious "cross-bracing," if that's the right word, that was done at some point. Perhaps additional evidence that the problem was "fixed" at some point in the (perhaps distant) past. It looks like it might have been done after bending in the joist had occurred, but before the break. So perhaps it was done when the pan that I replaced was installed. Who knows...the work looks pretty amateur though.

    I would really love to do this work myself, and save a ton of money...but I need some more experienced folks to give me their opinions. I have not done any foundation work before. However, having carried out other big jobs on my houses, as well as my cars, I doubt it is completely beyond me and would love to give it a shot. Of course, if you more experienced folks think this is best left to professionals, I can pony up the money and save myself a lot of time....I definitely have other things I could be doing for my day job.

    I would like to think that I have two options...that I can either do some good bracing with screw jack posts on the joists on either side of the broken joist, or lift everything a touch more, cut out the rot on the joist, and sister up a new one. Unfortunately, if I am going to really fix that joist, I am going to have to go through the shower pan and subfloor to get to it. There is currently just not enough room to do it any other way...there's about 14'' right now in the crawl space where the joist is. I would love to avoid that for a few more years if possible....so as to get a few more miles out of the money I spent to have the current lined pan installed.

    Like I said before though, those other joists might already be compromised, even though there's no rot. So maybe the only good decision is a full repair of all three of those joists?

    By the way, on the other side of that wall with hard water staining that is running under the shower, there is another 15' of good joists...no rot or anything.

    Any thoughts?
     
  3. Apr 8, 2017 #3

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    So the brick wall is the original outside wall of the house?
     
  4. Apr 8, 2017 #4

    zerokreap

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    Perhaps. The original outside wall proper is another 10 to 12 feet the other direction. On the pic showing the laundry room, it is the wall on the far left that you can't really see (with the door opening into the other room). I think that foundation wall might have been an outside support for a small or storage room that was converted into the bathroom with the walk-in shower. I'll see if I can post some more pics.
     
  5. Apr 8, 2017 #5

    slownsteady

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    Forget sistering, there's not enough good wood there to save. A bit hard to tell from the pix, but it looks like the broken "joist" is sitting on top of that wall and it looks like the wall has settled quite a bit. Footings and short jacks may be the best you can do; Footings being the most important part. How long are the joists?
     
  6. Apr 8, 2017 #6

    zerokreap

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    [​IMG]

    In this pic, you can see the original outside wall to the right...the rotted joist would be to the left, outside of frame.

    [​IMG]

    Here, you can see that wall, atop which the rotted joist sits, but from the laundry room side.
     
  7. Apr 8, 2017 #7

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    If the shower isn't leaking now the tile guy did a good job, structure not so much.

    That joist that is bent, I think it took lots of water, lots of weight and lots of time. What you need to figure out is if that is a bearing wall, Is the wall directly above it beside the shower.
     
  8. Apr 8, 2017 #8

    zerokreap

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    The wall above it is only about 4' and is shared by one side of the shower on one side and the left-most wall of the laundry room (in the previous pic) on the other.

    It runs parallel to the joists, so I was thinking that it wouldn't be load-bearing unless it was an original outside wall...but that's just my ill-informed guess at this point.

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    I just posted this pic, but here it is again, so that I can point out that the wall ends there on the left. At that point, there is a gap of about 3' where a few pipes run...the central beam runs just to the left of that opening....and a load-bearing wall in the old part of the house sits atop that beam about 10' further away from that break I mention on the left side of the wall in question. Other than it looking fairly built up for support, and that it might be an original outside wall, is there any way to know if it's bearing load?
     
  9. Apr 8, 2017 #9

    zerokreap

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    I take that back, the central beam of the addition runs across the leftmost part of the wall in question. The main beam of the original house is in line with the left side of that opening I mention.

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    In this pic, you can see that central beam for the addition, looking from the other direction. The drain for that walk-in shower is off to the left there. and you can see the opening in the wall from the other side there on the right....with the drain line from the laundry room running through there....that is also my route into the crawl space for the original house.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2017
  10. Apr 8, 2017 #10

    zerokreap

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    I'll need to take that exact measurement. If I had to guess, I would say 12-14 feet. Maybe I can ride down there tomorrow and take any new pics or measurements y'all think I might need to figure this out.

    Would I need to pour a footing, or could I just use an entrenchment tool and dig down 8 or so inches, pack the dirt if needed, and put a prefab footing in place? If I need to go with the more involved option of a poured footing, I will definitely need to go through the floor.
     
  11. Apr 8, 2017 #11

    nealtw

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    A load bearing foundation will have a wall sitting on it or floor joists that end on it. With a wall sitting on it or above it there may be ceiling joists that end on it and or support for the roof structure.
    If it was the original outside wall you may be able to tell just by looking at the roof.
    With a modern build, we call platform framing, the floor is built first then the walls are built on that.
    Older balloon framing, the walls were built and then the floors were added.

    I am guessing that you must have balloon framing and the floor may have broke loose from the wall. But that is just a guess.
     
  12. Apr 8, 2017 #12

    zerokreap

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    To be honest, I have not tested the pan yet. I just figured the damage would be much worse if it had been leaking for the last 8 or so years (after having been leaking for so many years before that).

    I was thinking I could run the shower with the shower head plastering the shower wall with water (there are currently open gaps on the perimeter of where the floor meets the wall. If the lining is leaking at all, I should see something after running that water for 20 or so minutes, no? I suppose I could also clog the drain and let the water fill up to where the wall and pan meet. I hate to do that, but worst case, one more day of leaking will not hurt.

    The place is currently sitting empty and I'm not going to put anyone in there until this is fixed, so I can do whatever is need to figure this out....and, like I said, I can just pay someone to get this done if it is just over my head.
     
  13. Apr 8, 2017 #13

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    I may be a little disoriented but it looks like one side has been lifted and a beam under it.
    The other side maybe can be fixed in a similar fashion.
    If the shower pan is rubber it may have stretched to fit:p and hopefully not lost.
     
  14. Apr 8, 2017 #14

    zerokreap

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    From what I have been seeing under there, I tend to agree with your assessment. I think the framing has fallen off the outside foundation wall of that addition on one side, thanks to the broken joist.

    [​IMG]

    In this pic, you can see the outside foundation wall just left of the drain for the walk-in shower (just out of frame). The wall in question, would also be to the right, just out of frame. I am looking toward that outside wall from the center of the crawl space.

    [​IMG]

    In this pic, we are looking further left on that outside wall....comparing with the pic above, you can tell the fraing has slipped down about 4 inches there toward where the joist is rotten.
     
  15. Apr 8, 2017 #15

    zerokreap

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    You're correct. As far as the shower pan liner, I would definitely rather be safe and redo it, if there's any question at all.
     
  16. Apr 8, 2017 #16

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    That far out of level should really show up in the house.
    If that is a bearing wall supporting ceiling or roof you need to make sure it doesn't need repairs too. But lifting the floor back in place doesn't look to hard.
     
  17. Apr 8, 2017 #17

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    I would do my best to attempt a lift and if the shower went back together, caulk it and wait a day and then test it for leaks. if it's good it's good.
     
  18. Apr 8, 2017 #18

    zerokreap

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    Well, there are cracks in several of the walls that open and close throughout the year, depending on rainfall.

    [​IMG]

    In this pic, we looking at the second bedroom, which has a bathroom between it and the room that's attached to the bathroom with the walk-in. That's actually the longest and craziest crack in the place. There is one that's a bit wider which is in the living room...on the wall closest to the room that attaches to the walk-in shower bathroom...just across the hall. Just through the door and to the right. Fairly long, and quite wide crack (below).

    [​IMG]

    Of course, in these pics, I had just finished some sort-term repairs on them...just using some Dynaflex 230.


    Also, the "flat roof" that sat atop the addition, was actually rather concave when I moved in...one of several major problems, like this joist, that the pre-purchase inspection missed...all of which had to be fixed rather soon after I took possession of the house. No to digress, but while I didn't do very well with that first house, there was so many problems that I learned a lot about what to look for...silver lining and such. Anyway that part of the roof had gone concave and was holding a ton of water and leaking, so I had a new pitched roof build on top of it and attached to the pitched roof of the original house.

    To jack that portion of the floor back up, would it cause any unwanted changes in the roof over the addition?
     
  19. Apr 8, 2017 #19

    zerokreap

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    That sounds reasonable.
     
  20. Apr 8, 2017 #20

    zerokreap

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    Like you mentioned, I can go with something similar to what's on the other side of the possible load-bearing wall we've been discussing...

    [​IMG]
     

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