Monday, February 13, 2012

hellhole #3 - foundation issues

jambaloney here!

i would like to apologize for being absent for a while. i've been trying to get us ready for winter "on the fly" (it's febuary already ;-). we got behind and there was a lot to do, but i am happy that we finally feel a LOT safer and prepared than last winter. lots of milestones! some good pics!

however, this post is about a nice little discovery i made while reworking the basement for more insulation, appliances, general law and order etc.....

the beam that supports the joists for the 85 % of the upstairs floors is a bunch of 2x10s nailed together to make a big 6x10. this is supported on 2 concrete footings by a homemade, uh, thing. the end closest to the kitchen is pictured above. it is supported by a pair of 2x6s that go right to the floor and a single shim on a box that i think USED to touch the major beam. so this shim is the ONLY point of contact between the concrete and this half of the beam.


oh and below you can see how the "box" has been shifting and a space where there should be some contact in red, i immediately found a shim that fit and hammered it into the gap circled in red below :

this problem was finished true gonzo style with a 4x4 tapped in vertically to support the beam outside of the box:

here is another highlight, notice that the bottom fits nicely outside the "box", but resting on the section of 2x6 that is bolted to the concrete:

the 4x4 fit perfectly, not too snug as to move anything, but tight enough to spread more of the load. an hour later, i feel a bit better looking at the beam and it's extra support:

there is another load bearing wall at a right angle to this small wall. it is under some short joists that support the other 15% of the upstairs floor. the red circles below show places that have gaps between the wall and the joists:

yep, a whopping 6 out of 9 joists aren't in contact with the wall!! must make shims.....

because these are giving way...

to get the shims to fit, i used a 8 ton jack, a grinder stand, a metal sleeve and a 2x6 to raise each joist enough to get the shims in place, not too much creaking ;-)

the wall itself needed more support, so i added the 2x6s using the jack to raise the floor a touch... note the newly installed shims circled in red!

i added a total of three 2x6 supports in places where they would work best:

well, half of the upstairs floor is much better now... next post, the other side of the floor, here is a preview:

thanks for stopping by, cheers!!!


  1. Oh me, oh my! That was not a good discovery. Thankfully, you did find it and have the skill to put in shims.This must have been a cold job. Do you just own that jack? It does not seem like something that most homeowners would have around. When you walked around upstairs, did you have any indication that you had a problem--squeaky floors, unlevel floors, soft floors?

    1. it wasn't what i had started out working on that day ;-)

      every floor here is uneven and they all creak a bit - no help there. i had cleaned away some old shelving and there was the nightmare! i originally bought the jack for vandura, but that type of jack is excellent for raising floors.

      it wasn't that clod ;-))

      thanks for stopping in!!

  2. Wow! That's one heck of a project there!

    1. that was only half the battle, wait 'til you see what was next up!!

      cheers scifi!

  3. Glad you had sense enough to spot the problem. A lot of folks would have looked at it and never known what they were seeing.

    1. thanks Gorges!

      i thought it pretty obvious, but maybe that's after living here a year ;-))


  4. By the time you two finish with the house it would have been easier to tear it down and start from scratch. Can the white power wires be all free like that with out being in any kind of conduit??, or even zip tied together??

    Out standing job so far. Your friend Rob

    1. that has crossed our minds more than once, but i have said more than once that we put our faith in this little cottage so it deserves some love. nothing that is wrong here can't be fixed up, buttressed, reinforced, etc.

      it is all good practice for a future home if we build one.

      those wires should be anchored with staples or the like. i do tie down finished/permanent wires as i complete an area, but those wires you see there will have to wait until i re-do that area permanently.

      cheers buddy!

  5. Replies
    1. thanks stephen!!!

      glad to know you are on teh mend!!

  6. ohhhh nooooo. The poor Manor House. But I think I am with Rob...get yall a nice modular home put in, and keep the old place as extra storage.... Good Luck Guys!

    1. that's what kymber says on occasion;-)

      some day we may start a new one form scratch, but for now we just keep our little home under our wing and give whatever TLC is required. all good learning experiences one way or another!!

      thanks for stopping by!

  7. Don't feel too bad, I have seen lots worse. At least you have something to work with. Good job.

  8. Jamb,

    You are showing us most Contractor's chuckles at homeowner repairs. Mostly we use cedar shingles for those shims and drive them in tight. There is not usually any reason for a harder wood.

    In some of the remodels I have done what you have showed us would be considered "fine quality" work. LMHO!

    In spite of such things, those older homes often are far better anyway. Most all of the settling and drying out is well completed and once the corrections are done, further problems are limited. New construction uses green wood with LOTS of moisture to lose. Keep your eyes open for dryrot and termites if they are in issue in Cape they eat rocks??

    Regards to Bunny Ears. Home she feeling a little bit human again.


    1. Winston:

      thanks for the comforting words ;-)

      i hear what you are saying in terms of settling. there is more work to be done to provide additional support but the floors won`t get any worse and when i am finished, we`ll be good for another 10 years or so.

      no termites here - to many rocks!!

      good to hear form you - kymber sez hi, cheers!!

  9. Yikes! That's some scary lookin' stuff. Ah, the joy of home ownership. And exactly why I will build our next house myself!

    1. craig:

      it is pretty scary, i`ll be building all our own from now on too!


  10. I love that you are a jack of all trades!!

    No problem will ever be too big for you!!


  11. hehe, the foundation and support needs work but still much better than my non-existant basement! hehe. nice work!

    1. does it ever - you may be luckier sans basement ;-)

      tnks and cheers!!