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To replace wood center beam with steel?

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strategery

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My living room floor sags a little and my front door sticks. I asked a foundation company what to do about it because it makes me nervous and they told me that they'd recommend replacing my old wood center beam with a new steel one with 3-5 support posts. What concerns me is that this is a house built in 1919 and it's a terra cotta red block foundation. I'm not an engineer by any stretch, but can my foundation handle a steel beam like this?

It would be nice to level my floor and hopefully get the front door working properly again, but I don't want to screw up my foundation necessitating another fix.

Also, when I had my house inspected a couple years ago before I bought it, my inspector recommended that I replace my wood beam support posts with steel ones. That's why I contacted the foundation repair company - to have those replaced and tell them about my floor sagging.
 

JoeD

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Why does it need to be replaced? Is it rotted ar damaged some how? Can't they just add the support under the existing beam?
 

strategery

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It's twisted and it's not as straight as it once was. I imagine they recommend the replacement because it's a better beam and it costs about the same as shoring up the old wood one? I don't know I'll have to ask.
 
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Why does it need to be replaced? Is it rotted ar damaged some how? Can't they just add the support under the existing beam?

:agree:I was just going to say the same thing-adding support should fix the problem.

Foundation tho, to me, sounds like the culprit here.

Get a 2nd opinion. My best rec-keep us updated
 

strategery

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Well my foundation guy came out today and measured and he said my foundation has sunk about an inch and a half on the front right where the floor is wobbly upstairs.

He suggested replacing the wood center beam with a smaller stronger steel beam supported by a few steel support jacks (footings poured underneath them). I can also put ANOTHER steel beam in with support jacks to help the straighten the floor but the cost for both of those would run about 5 grand.

My feeling is that I'm eventually going to have to do SOMETHING for a variety of reasons. I have an inferior foundation material (red clay terra cotta) and throwing more money at it is probably a waste. I'm eventually going to replace it.

Could I have the center beam replaced with a steel one and support jacks as a way to help the bouncy floor and maybe put off a foundation replacement for several more years? What do you think? Thanks!
 

oldognewtrick

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I would suggest calling a structural engineer and getting his opinion.
 

strategery

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I'm not sure where to start. Should I just consult the yellow pages for a structural engineer? There are several listings in my area but most don't have websites so I don't know their specialty.
 

oldognewtrick

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Call the ones listed, if they can't help, they should be able to refer someone.
 

BridgeMan

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It sounds like there are several different things going on here. A settling foundation, and a deficient main support beam. Without seeing any pictures of what's taking place, I'd be leaning towards replacing the beam first (IF it really requires replacement), and then deal with lifting and stabilizing the foundation later. I don't think the house is going anywhere.

A good engineer can effectively evaluate everything, and then prepare a prioritized report of what should be done.
 

strategery

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It sounds like there are several different things going on here. A settling foundation, and a deficient main support beam. Without seeing any pictures of what's taking place, I'd be leaning towards replacing the beam first (IF it really requires replacement), and then deal with lifting and stabilizing the foundation later. I don't think the house is going anywhere.

A good engineer can effectively evaluate everything, and then prepare a prioritized report of what should be done.
Ok so everyone agrees that the first thing I should do is hire an engineer to evaluate what's going on and then suggest a fix.

Anyone have experience on how much these things cost? If its likely to run under a thousand, I think I can afford it now. If a report is likely going to be significantly more, I may have to hold off a while.
 

nealtw

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I would get the engineers report first, you may find the the fix isn't all that expensive if you do it your self. Depending on what you have he may require a few 2x10s or engineered beams that can be done with a little help from a friend. Steel would be my last choice because they are hard to handle but you can discuse that with him.
 

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