I have a house with a solarium built over a garage. A steel support pole in the garage, which I assume was bracing a main support beam in the floor of the solarium, rusted out and failed. Now a door on the solarium won’t close–it appears to me that the door frame is a parallelogram rather than a rectangle. My theory is that the floor has sagged and thing are a bit off kilter. So, I assume that I can somehow jack up the floor beam and make things work again? How?
May I suggest, given that you suspect a major support beam in your abode has failed, that you get some professional help? It’s not just a matter of jacking up a support (although that is important) but assessing the impact on the rest of the structure and making any and all necessary repairs.
As for jacking up the beam - I have assisted a professional in jacking up beams after a part of a roof failed and we used a fairly mundane jack such as would be used to raise the back of a truck, but despite being part of the solution I do not feel qualified to tell you how to safely go about making such a repair.
You could be ghetto and get a bunch of 2x4s to prop it up, but yeah. I don’t think this is something to do on the cheap.
I helped my father jack up and level a neighbor’s house back when I was a teenager.
This is technologically not a very difficult job, but it is not a one man operation and there are some large inherent risks in doing the work.
I would suggest you contact a pro.
If you just want to try a quick fix for now, you can buy “lally columns” at places like Lowes and Home Depot. They are a metal tube with a giant screw on one end that serves as a type of jack itself and they don’t even cost that much. You can cut one end off with a hacksaw if the standard length is too long for your needs. They will work just fine as is but you can turn them into a more permanent fix by filling the tube with complete and making sure that everything is perfectly level and structurally sound again.
First you need a replacement post. Jacking it up can be done with a standard car jack and a 4x4. I would take a 1x6 measured slightly longer than the replacement beam and nail it to the cross beam so it lays loose at an angle to the floor. As you jack up the beam a 2nd person pounds the base of the 1x6 so it acts as a 2nd jack as a safety backup support.
All of this is predicated on the idea that the ceiling isn’t about to collapse. If it is a dangerous situation then the ceiling should be braced with a support in such a way that it won’t pop out which means it has a wide base and is well secured to the beam.
YOU can do it that way; I wouldn’t do it on a bet. Car jacks are designed for cars, not structures. They are inherently unstable because they rely on the presence of a car to be stable, and they are designed to lift about a car and a half by weight.
Renting a floor jack (lallyjack) is cheap, and setting a wood column takes only a few minutes once cut to length. Metal columns can be had, too. As mentioned previously, go slow and have help.
If you elect to do this yourself, please ensure that whatever you’re setting the jack and new column on is sound enough to support the weight of the structure above. Was the old support column sitting on a base plate?
I’d really, REALLY recommend getting an engineer or architect or some kind of professional who knows about load-bearing walls involved in this. You don’t mess with load-bearing walls/beams as a do-it-yourselfer.
Not only CAN I do it this way I’ve done it this way. The only thing I neglected to mention is that the 4x4 shoud be attached to the beam just as the 1x6 is. A lally jack is used to span a gap and is not a very good lifting device. You still need to lift the structure and that requires a jack of some kind. You can use a lally jack in place of the 2x6 in my example but it isn’t any more stable and it’s harder to use. I find it easier to pound a 2x6 and wedge it as a go than to wrench a lally jack. This is a standard technique used in building construction to brace something.
The op already paid for an architect with the purchase of the house. The support column size has been determined and only needs replacement.
If this is above the skillsets of the op then a company specializing in leveling structures would be the next step.
If Samclem has done basic construction then the first thing that would be helpful would be to measure the sag involved by measuring the height at both ends of the beam and then the center where the post was to see how much deflection has occured.
If you use a lally column, then the standard advice is to go slow. Turn the jack maybe a quarter of a turn, wait a couple of days, then go another quarter of a turn, and so on. If you go to fast, you may crack plaster or drywall and then you have a lot more work to do.
Or stretch a mason’s line along the side and measure to that…even if the floor was level when it was poured, it may not be now…and it could well be intentionally slightly pitched for drainage.
Cut a 4x4 to the needed length, wedge it in place at an angle, and then kick it vertical. A thin plywood sheet or 2x4 underneath will make the bottom slide easier when kicking it into position…“kicking” refers to using your foot, but better to use a BFH or chunk of the 4x4 you cut off.
I appreciate all the answers so far. There isn’t much danger involved here, as there are no load-bearing walls involved, and no ceilings about to collapse. Just a bit of sag causing an irritating problem. And I’m a firm believer of being careful on jobs like these.
The mason’s line is a good idea. That’s how I aligned the top of my garage walls. As much as it makes sense to make everything level I’ve come to learn that items such as doorways may not be square to a wall or floor. Bringing the beam back up to near level may be better than level.
The base of the post should not sit on concrete because it will wick up water and rot (or rust). I suggest an 8 lb BFH.
I wouldn’t suggest using a jack designed for cars, they are rated at 2 tons, 3 at the most. I had to jack up a house about 3 inches to fix a failing foundation, I was able to buy a 30 ton bottle jack for about $100, this did the job with no problems.
2 tons would be overkill because it’s a sagging beam. Most of the load is already distributed to the outer walls. He’s not trying to lift the entire structure. Car jacks are nice because they have a wide lifting point. Bottle jacks have a very small lifting point but the advantage is that you can buy a 12 ton unit for $30.
I did pretty much this same operation on the 3season porch that hangs off the back of my house, along with the deck. The original builder of the porch had 2 4x4 beams resting on concrete block (1" patio block), which of course, sunk a bit, and split. The porch had a decided lean outwards.
I took a couple of lally columns, put a board along the floor joists, and supported it with the lally columns. A shop jack, with a 4x4 set on it, and lifting the board on the joists, was jacked slightly each day, with the lally columns being raised to take the weight. Once level, I removed the original supports, dug 4’ holes, and filled sonotubes with concrete, and attached new mounting hardware. I replaced the existing 2 support columns, and added another.
Door now closes properly, floor is level, and I don’t expect my 3 concrete supports to fail any time soon.
Go slow on the jacking, and turn the lally column support screws to take the weight immediately after jacking. Repeat daily until satisfied with level, then install permanent replacement supports.
When we jacked up the corner of that house we used a pair of 20 ton bottle jacks. Not exactly what you have in your trunk.
Also due to the weight, you will need steel plates or the alike to spread the load out or all you will do is jack a hole the size of the top of the jack into the bottom on the wood beam.
No, you’re not reading his post. He’s not jacking up his house. He’s got a sagging floor. The load of the upper section is already spread on the 4 walls, not the center post. My brother inlaw just went through this with a beam that had been compromised by whoever installed his heating ducts. It was nothing to jack it up. This is a different senario than jacking up an outer wall that is carrying the weight of the walls and floor. the center post is used to reduce the amount of lumber needed for a center beam to remain level. the beam in this case is still carrying the load to the walls.
He’s not going to need to spread the load any further than the original post did. And the only reason to jack it up in the first place is to ease any drywall back into position. Otherwise kevbo’s method of pounding a post into position would do the trick in about 2 minutes. If this was a sagging deck then it would be an 8 lb sledge and a couple of good swings.