Foundation and Sagging Floors Cranky Old House

Foundation and Sagging Floors

So the house is sinking in the middle, thanks to old crumbling foundation, strange cut beams and previous owners over the decades that never bothered to fix the problem correctly. There was an ad in the local paper about some guys that do foundation and house jacking work, so I called them up. A guy named Peter came out and took a look and basically told me what I already knew. I had problems.

1. Some of the support beams are sagging and leaning on pipes. Not good. The sagging beams were also causing big dips in the kitchen and dining room floors.

2. Crumbling load bearing wall in the middle of the house. Apparently the entire main beam of the house is right on top of it This scared him the most.

Peter gave me a quote of $3,000 to fix everything and I said Id let him know. Later that day, I called him back and said ok lets do it. I considered trying to jack the house up myself, but since I didnt know the first thing about it, I figured it was best left to the experts, to prevent totally wrecking things even more. He came back out with his business partner to take another look the following day and said they could start me the next week, on February 14th.

Fast forward a week later.

Monday, Day 1: They came out and got to work. The first thing they did was start putting up 24s and floor jack posts in spots that needed to go up. Today was just setup and a few cranks on the hydraulic jacks to get the floor up in some areas. Youre supposed to jack slow to avoid major structural damage. They said that 9 times out of 10, the problem with sagging floors is around the furnace. Apparently some furnace installers have a habit of cutting beams and knocking down support poles to get all the ducting in. Interesting. Next to the furnace were some concrete bumps in the floor, so it was pretty obvious that a support beam was there at one point. Note to furnace installers that are dumbasses: Stop knocking down support poles and cutting beams in houses. They are there for a reason. Thank you.. The furnace here is going to be replaced soon, and Ill be keeping a close eye on them to make sure they work around the new support beams.

Tuesday, Day 2: More jacking was done. They leveled off the floor in one area as much as possible, but then discovered a whole sag in the kitchen under the sink, along with a few other issues. This of course was extra work. $400 worth. I told them to go ahead and do it. So they went out, got a couple more floor jacks and wood and got to work. They pretty much fixed the sag under the kitchen sink on the first try and removed the bouncy/springy feeling on the floor. Id say it was worth the extra $400, but Ill still grumble about it.

Wednesday, Day 3: The mortar work on the messed up load bearing wall was started today. The guys cleaned and sealed up the crumbling wall. They also waterproofed the bottom where dirt was exposed and water was going in. It took them 7 bags of mortar to do it which they were surprised about. They only brought 4 so they had to run out and get more. The wall was left to set and another coat of mortar goes on it tomorrow. Most of the walls in the basement also need to be done, and they said theyd do it for another $600. I said uh Ill let you know.

Next it was on to the steel beams. They brought two 4 inch steel beams about 5ft and 7ft long. Originally they were going to use wood, which is good but will probably bend eventually. 60 pound steel beams arent gonna go nowhere. These apparently go for 400 bucks.

So they slipped the first one up, over the furnace and set a floor jack under it. While they were tightening the thing up, the concrete floor under it crumbled and sank about an inch.

After inspection, they determined it was because of the water in the floor and said I have a serious water problem under the house. Wonderful. Probably something to do with that one wall with the exposed dirt. It looked like any water that came into the basement headed in that direction. Anyway, they dug out the hole which was full of mud, water and even a little root from something and made another trip to the store for a bag of concrete. The hole was wet enough that they dumped the entire thing in there dry, saying it should soak up the water and set by the morning.

Thursday, Day 4: Last day. They seemed kind of in a rush for some reason. What is it with contractors on the last day? Ive had that happen twice (so far). Anyway. they got the jacks up and tweaked them. They didnt bring the quick drying cement that they said they were going to dump in to the hole for some reason, and filled it with mortar instead. It took a little dip when they started tightening it because the cement from the day before wasnt completely solid, but they said if I have any problems with that just let them know and theyll come back. The floor, for the most part, was level and much better than it was before. I think it could go up a little more and maybe Ill crank the jacks myself soon to try to do it. One part of the floor is still dipping, so theyll need to come back and put another jack there. They didnt do it today because since I mentioned that the furnace was going to be replaced soon, they didnt want to box the old one in. There are currently 2 jacks around it and a 3rd probably wouldnt have made the furnace guy happy whenever he shows up. So these guys will be back to do that in a few weeks. Hopefully they dont charge me extra. It sounded like they wouldnt but it really wouldnt surprise me if they did.

Foundation and Sagging Floors Cranky Old House

After the jacks were secure, one of the guys started putting a second coat of mortar on the walls they did yesterday while the other guy started cleaning up their massive mess of tools and empty bags/boxes. Yesterday they made a big deal about how brushing the mortar with a wet brush smooths it out and makes it look better, but today the guy didnt bother to do that with the second coat. Go figure. Maybe theyll do that on the follow-up. Ill be sure to mention it. Anyway, after everything was done, they collected their remaining $1900, we all shook hands and that was that until the follow-up some time in March.

Total cost: $3400 and a bowflex. The old bowflex was sitting in the basement and Peter was eying that since Monday. They said theyd knock off a couple hundred bucks off the price if I let him have it and a deal was made. It basically covered the extra charges for the crumbling floor surprise. Since it was just sitting down there starting to get rusty, and Ive been eying the new Bowflex Extreme thats much better, it wasnt too much of a loss I guess.

Materials used: Five Tapco C-84 Adjustable Floor Jacks (with one more to be installed at a later date for a total of six), various cut 24 pressure treated pieces of wood (used for legs and sister beams), two steel metal beams for the floor over the furnace, 8 bags of Quikrete mortar for the walls and 1 bag of cement for the hole in the floor.

Coming soon, step by step instructions on almost everything they did so you dont have to drop over 3 friggin grand to get this type of work done like I just did. Ive got some other minor sagging floors and a sagging porch that I will be jacking myself soon.

After seeing how the jacking was done, it didnt look very intimidating. Isnt that how it always is? Its just a matter of taking time (really, taking your time) to figure out where your sags are and where to put the posts and beams/wood to lift it very, very slowly. Everywhere Ive read says to do it over the span of weeks to minimize cracks and allow the house to settle during the adjustments. The guys I hired did it in a span of 4 days. Ive got some hair-line cracks here and there and a visible bigger crack on the pantry/kitchen wall. I want to knock down that wall anyway so Im not to pissed off about it.

Ive got about 5 more walls that need to be smoothed out and water-proofed in that large basement. Like I mentioned earlier, they said theyd do it for $600 and to just call them when Im ready. I dont think I will. They made the mistake of explaining to me every step on how to clean a wall correctly with specific tools to prime it before applying the mortar. So Ill be doing the other walls myself when the weather is warmer. Quikrete mortar only costs about $4.00 a bag at Lowes. I get the feeling these guys would buy $50 bucks worth and charge me the $600 (or most likely more) for it and the work.

This entry was posted on Friday, February 18th, 2005 at 6:39 pm and is filed under Interior. Projects (completed). You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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