WWTF? Why, that’s What’s With This Foundation?

So we have surmised that we have some problems to overcome. I suspect the front brick foundation is not adequate to support the load it is bearing. It’s worked fairly well for 82 years, but like people, old age and settling have made the front a little droopy.  First thing we need to do is raise the building structure to get at the sills. In this particular instance, there is a cross beam (right behind Shawn’s head in the picture below) that runs across six feet behind the front foundation. Between these two points is where we will place the jacks.

Shawn Thomas getting ready.  He is facing the front brick foundation which is directly under the front door. We are lucky as this space has a knee wall to use to support the jacks.

Here you can see the steel angle that is spanning all of the floor joists. This will allow for an even upward pressure on the floor system.

The cross beam is to the right and front foundation to the left. Uniform pressure across the steel angle will support the front of the building.

Two 12 ton and one 6 ton bottle jacks are used to raise the floor and wall system. This might look precarious, but it’s very stable – the jacks can’t move right or left, so we have a good, solid support. You can see daylight to the right. A good sign!

We used another 12 ton jack to raise the right hand side of the cross beam. We placed a temporary 1″ shim assembly to level the beam. By moving this one element we not only flattened the floor above, but it is now dead level – something I haven’t seen in too many new homes.

Of course, if you are moving the structure that much, there will be consequences – (like cracked walls). I anticipated this and took all of the plaster off the interior sheathing in the foyer.  This is the exposed wall you see when viewing the house outside. I’ll replace this with drywall when we get the house back down on the foundation.

We will be replacing the front door, so that old plaster would need to go anyway. You can see the crack in the living room drywall and casement separation when we shifted the floor 1″. Now the door frame is plumb. I’ll take out that door casing and fix the crack – a small price to pay for flat and level floors.

Here you can see Shawn easily removing the sill – all the pressure is off this front section.

Here is the front foundation sill (or what’s left of it). Easy to get to with the angle beam and jacks supporting the structure.

Time to explore just what’s down there below the brick foundation. Now is the only time you can do this right. Remember a large landing and steps will be placed in front of this foundation – tons of materials. If it’s not right – fix it now. Costs? Yes it will cost a little more now, but it would be impossibly expensive later.

So what did we find?

This is the front foundation (it’s upside down). This is all that was used to support the front of the house – about enough support for a small yard barn.  It’s amazing the floor was only sagging 1″. We’ll fix this, no question about it. The rest of the house has a full basement, so this is the only weak area of the foundation.

These posts might be a little too detailed for some, but it’s really an important – well the most important element of your home. Without a solid foundation, nothing else matters.

More to come – I promise to get to the mudroom addition soon.


9 thoughts on “WWTF ?

  1. Oh, man. We are having similar problems with unevenness in our old house, but thankfully we can wait a while to have it fixed. That photo of the sunlight coming through the wall is eerie…all that from moving your house one inch!

    • Hi! Well the light through the wall is a combination of the spaces between the interior sheathing and termites that wanted to have a meal half way up the wall. This house is sheathed on the inside with 3/4″ pine. It was then plastered. The outside has only clapboards nailed directly to the wall studs. Makes for a very strong structure, but a little harder to re-side.

      • I’ve just discovered your blog, and it’s very interesting.
        It seems that Shawn does all the work, while you watch and take pictures. Are you getting too old to do the labor yourself?

      • Hey! You old fart. You may be one heck of a photographer – but your construction knowledge is limited. Since you’re my age – of course I just watch. Really, it’s hard to take pictures of yourself while replacing a floor joist. I have to do most of the work – I can’t afford professionals. That’s why the blog pictures are so crappy – I don’t have a crackerjack photographer like you to take the pics. Hope all is well.

  2. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I really enjoyed reading about your foundation 🙂 Great blog, with tons of valuable info. for a “fake contractor” such as myself. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

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