Advice on lowering main beam in house

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The previous owner of the house I own replaced the main beam. The beam is supported by 4-5 metal supports that appear to be adjustable. The floor in the main level of the house slopes upwards towards where the beam, by as much as an inch or two. I'm thinking that I can lower the main beam by an inch or so and level the floor. Does this sound feasible? Is this a very bad thing to do, or might I be sucessfull in leveling the floor without hurting anything?
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send me any freakin' spam at zootal dot com delete the Don't send me any freakin' spam> wrote:

Consult a qualified structural engineer.
--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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Doug Miller wrote:
send me any freakin' spam at zootal dot com delete the Don't send me any freakin' spam> wrote:

UH YEAH!!!!!!!
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On Tue, 28 Nov 2006 23:06:46 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote:
send me any freakin' spam at zootal dot com delete the Don't send me any freakin' spam> wrote:

Why do people like you even bother to post a reply. Anyone knows they can hire a pro for anything in the house,car, or whatever.
The object to this newsgroup is for DIY. If everyone called a pro, this NG may as well be removed.
I think this makes you out to be an idiot.....
If you cant help the person, dont post a reply !!!
---------
To the OP, yes you can lower the floor. I have never lowered one, but I have raised them. However, be warned. You will get plaster cracks, doors and windows may not fit and will get stuck or not shut properly. The more you move the house, the worse these problems will be. If you do it, turn each post 1/2 turn per day. Dont do it all at once.
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Hmm...the person that replaced the beam replaced it, *then* replaced the windows and some of the doors. The master bedroom door is already off kilter, I had to sand 1/4" off of the end just to get it to close. Also, it's not off at the ends of the house, just the center 3 or 4 supports are too high, so I might get lucky and not effect the windows. The exterior walls are all supported by the cement foundation for the basement. Hmm...I'll have to give it some thought. It bugs me, but cracks in the walls etc. also bug me :-). I might try to drop it a half inch and see what happens.
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On Tue, 28 Nov 2006 20:56:29 -0800, "Ook" <Ook Don't send me any freakin' spam at zootal dot com delete the Don't send me any freakin' spam> wrote:

If you were the person wanting to REPLACE the beam, I too would recommend getting a professional, but screw type jack post adjusting, by an inch or so, is normal procedure. You actually have the opposite problem from most people, which is a sagging floor in the center. I assume that was the original problem, and thus why they replaced the beam. It seeems that they raised it a bit too high in the process. (probably allowing for settling, but went too high). You can tell by the doors which way the house is "off level". It's hard to explain, but just look at it logically. For example, if the doorknob faces the center of the house and is sticking on the top (on knob side of door), the beam is too high. If it drags on the bottom, the beam is too low.
Get a string and one of those string levels that clip on the string. Run it from basement wall to wall, and measure from string to floor joists all the way across the house. OR get one of those lazer levels and use that. The object is to have the floor level all the way across. I'd go for about 1/4 inch high by the beam, and leave it.
Yeah, you will need some spackle for the walls, but your doors will fit and the house will be level as intended. DO NOT lower it all at once. Do a little each day. Maybe one half turn on each post per day. You will get less cracking that way. Keep an eye on things like the plumbing stack and chimney for any wood binding on them. If the beam has been replaced, it's likely these are all free from sticking, but watch them anyhow.
One other thing, some posts may need more adjusting than others, so be sure to run the string level or lazer level under the entire beam. Dont just level off the basement floor, they are never level.
I'd use a lazer level, shoot a line from wall to wall just under the beam. Then measure from lazer line to joists all the way across. Jot down what measurements you record. Do this by EVERY jack post. This will tel you the high and low points and you can adjust accordingly. After you lower it a few turns, run the level again. Keep doing that.
Mark
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wrote:

Some jobs are not DIY jobs. This is one of them.

One of us is, anyway... but it's not me.

That *was* a helpful reply.

Of *course* he can lower the floor. What he doesn't know -- and you don't either -- is whether he can do so without seriously damaging the structure. That's what he needs a qualified structural engineer for.

IOW -- your advice is worth exactly what he's paying for it -- nothing. I think this makes you out to be an idiot...
--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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snipped-for-privacy@UNLISTED.com wrote:

send me any freakin' spam at zootal dot com delete the Don't send me any freakin' spam> wrote:

Those of us with alot of experience in this business know when it is time to consult and when it is a waste of time.

I won't return your childish insult, but I will say that this reply shows you to be inexperienced and ignorant of the whole picture.
After 35 years of experience in the construction industry, I could walk into this home and probably reach a conclusion about whether this would be OK or not. I would KNOW if I needed to call in a structural engineer. Since the OP asked whether it was OK to do this or not, I can easily surmise that he does not have the experience or qualifications to make this determination. Since severe damage, injury or death can occur in the right circumstances, anyone with experience would not advise the OP to do this unless it is evaluated by a competent person. Since I don't know who he might call, I DO know that a structural engineer will make a qualified evaluation and advise him correctly.
As you can see, the only helpful advice is to call a structural engineer. So, take your own advice:

Having raised and lowered, leveled, changed and otherwise modified many floors using different methods, my experience tells me that there is no way to advise this person without having seen the situation either firsthand or after evaluation by a structural engineer.
--
Robert Allison
Rimshot, Inc.
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On Wed, 29 Nov 2006 15:29:03 GMT, Robert Allison

For instance in my house, the center beam is higher than the rest of the house, because the sidewalls are sinking.
If I lowered the main beam, the first thing that would happen is that 40' of chimney would tip over on my my head, because the beam goes right through the masonry stack.
That would be exciting.
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Ook wrote:

"without hurting anything?" Probably not, but if you are patient and go really slow backing the jacks down it might be minimal. By slowly I mean months or years. If they are screw jacks & you give each one a 1/4 turn once a month it would eventually hit the level you want, maybe without putting big cracks in the walls.
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Also, before you start, see if the ceiling is sloping the same way, and if doors, at right angles to the beam, have the same slope to the jamb top and if doors have been cut to fit that angle. They will have to be fixed if lowering the beam makes them stick. In other words check out everything before you start and regularly as you adjust it. If you have lead-sealed cast iron soil-pipe drains, some horizontal sections may need their supports adjusted as you work, some joints may loosen and slopes may change requiring remedial work.

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EXT wrote:

A lot of good advice there. I would suggest that it would not be a bad idea to have a structural engineer check it out.
In any case expect to end up fixing some cracked plaster.
--
Joseph Meehan

Dia \'s Muire duit
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"Ook" <Ook Don't send me any freakin' spam at zootal dot com delete the Don't send me any freakin' spam> wrote in message

Perhaps the center beam is correct and the rest of the house is sinking around it.
I'd have someone knowledgeable look at it before making that much of a change. Could be the previous owner just got carried away with correcting a sag, but it is also possible to do some damage at this point. Two inches is quite a lot to move a main support.
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

I agree with Edwin. I'd want to get some expert advice as well. When someone goes to jack up a beam, then dealing with screwed up windows, doors, cracked walls, etc, they have very good reason to jack the house as little as possible. So, it's very strange the previous owner would go an extra inch or two.
One possibility is that there are other problems, like sagging beams for a second story, and the only simple way they could get the windows, doors, etc square was to jack that one beam up the extra distance. My thoughy would be that they already had a house screwed up, could jack it, see what happened, what worked etc. They likely came to a compromise that was the best they could do, without doing a lot more work that they didn't want to get into. I'd want to know what that was, before I opened the can of worms.
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Sounds like your perimeter is sinking. Better look at that before you throw more load on it.
--
Steve Barker



"Ook" <Ook Don\'t send me any freakin\' spam at zootal dot com delete the
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You need to find out why the shifting is happening before you fix something.
"Ook" <Ook Don't send me any freakin' spam at zootal dot com delete the Don't send me any freakin' spam> wrote in message

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Ook wrote:

I renovated a house that had all rotted and/or completely missing posts causing the main beam to sag drastically and doors to be out of square, etc.
It was a simple job to replace with adjustable steel posts and gradually raise the beam until everything was back to being relatively square and level again.
So I can't imagine lowering it *slightly* and *gradually* would do any harm other than possible cracks in interior partition walls.
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On Thu, 30 Nov 2006 05:16:08 GMT, "Bob (but not THAT Bob)"

Interesting chain of logic there..
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On Thu, 30 Nov 2006 05:16:08 GMT, "Bob (but not THAT Bob)"

I have done this exact same thing several times. It's really not all that different than jacking up a car, and much less chance of it falling off the jack. Lowering is no different than raising it. Either way, cracks will appear, but remember that the house was originally level (usually), so you are just getting things back to normal. I still cant understand why the former owner of the OP's house raised it too high. It's not that hard to use a $10 level.
I should mention that I have been lifting a barn where much of the foundation collapsed. That's much more complex and could be dangerous. But I just raise it a little every few weeks, and as it raises, the wood goes back to it's original form. Eventually it will be back where it belongs, then I got to rebuild the foundation (thats the hard part). The only advantage of a barn is no plaster to crack.
Just keep in mind. Whether you are levelling a house, or lifting a barn back on its foundation, GO SLOW. The reason is that things need to flex. If you go too fast, things may break. If you drop a 100lb weight on a 2x4 bridged between 2 blocks, the 2x4 will probably break. But if you apply 100 lbs of pressure (such as standing on it), it will flex, but not break. Raise or lower a little at a time, and nothing will break (except the inevitable plaster cracks). There might be a plaster popout at one or two spots too. It's the price you pay to level a house.
I have a friend that moves and sets these pre-built homes. I have helped him a few times when he was short on help, and it amazes me how these homes are hauled down rough roads, tilted, shifted, bent and distorted until they are finally on their foundations. Yet, there is little damage, but always a few plaster cracks.... Once they are set, he has his crew patch the cracks and touch up the paint. Not really a big deal.....
Mark
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On Tue, 28 Nov 2006 14:50:22 -0800, Ook Don't send me any freakin' spam at zootal dot com delete the Don't send me any freakin' spam wrote:

Out here on the shifting unstable permafrost, in the flat, treeless tundra of western Alaska, we are constantly re-leveling our buildings. Most here are very familiar with the process.
Here, the frost is more than 500 feet deep, and during the summer, only the very surface thaws. In order to maintain this delicate balance, all buildings are built on stilts so cold air can get under them in the winter. This prevents the building heat from deeply melting the permafrost. The stilts on small buildings, such as houses, rest on wood pads that sit on the surface of the ground. Because of this, it is easy to get under buildings with hydraulic jacks.
Here are some of the things I know. Walls and floors become stressed and may crack, doors and windows get out of alignment, pipes break, etc., when the building is becoming un-level-when it is settling, not when you are re-leveling it. When you re-level it, the cracks close, the doors and windows work properly, and stress on plumbing pipes is relieved. Thats why you do it.
Of course, re-leveling must be done carefully.
So in your case, assuming all of your walls were built and your doors were installed when your floor was level, careful re-leveling will probably prevent problems, not create new ones.
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