Floor leveling

My wife and I have just inherited a house, and we are embarking on the home repair/renovation challenge. One of the projects one our list of "to do's" is leveling the floors.
There is about a 2" drop from the outside walls to the center of the main floor. The basement (25' long x 22' wide) has two adjustable steel columns supporting the beam that supports the main floor joists.
Is the solution as simple as renting some form of jack, jacking the floor up a 1/4", extend the post, raise the floor, extend the post, ... unitl the floor is again level? If so, what kind of jack can I use. I am assuming that my car jack wouldn't be able to support the weight of the house.
Thanks, Carolyn
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you might want to consider replacing the sagged beams with steel beam. It's a lot of work depend on how big your house is. It usually involve creating thick concrete foundation in the basement (for the supporting steel post), lifting heavy steel beam, bolting and all the other fun stuff. Obviously, you will be doing a lot of re-plaster work. I helped a friend jacked up his badly sagged house floor (3,500 sq ft) with 18 small jacks ($20 a piece) and 2 hydraulic jacks. He reinforced 4 support beams under the wall upstairs, and put in a long steel beam for the main support. Yet, the floor is still not perfect, so is the 2nd floor. But again, you can never bring the house back to it's original level unless you want to start your "This Old House" project.
In short, it is simple, jack it up, put in new post (beam). I would get a structure engineer to look it first.

columns
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Carolyn Marenger wrote, wondering if this is really what he meant?

I would call either a house inspector or an engineer. I heard somewhere don't even think about jacking a house unless it's a 10 ton hydraulic jack!
Rich
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Rich wrote:

Don't even consider a hydraulic jack. Failure of the jack could be disastrous. 10 tons is nothing for a screw jack. But, nothing wrong with calling an engineer but what kind? How about an architect instead?
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George E. Cawthon wrote, wondering if this is really what he meant?

I can see your point. If a hydraulic jack failed it could be a disaster. Structural maybe?
Rich
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Rich wrote:

Both structural and maybe on your head (could also be called structural).
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Carolyn Marenger wrote:

Jacks are made specifically for this purpose and can even be left in place depending on the application. These consist of a steel tube inside a steel tube with hole cut in each to adjust the length of the tube. At the bottom is a wide steel plate and at the top there is heavy steel collars with a screw and a plate at the top. In other words it is a screw jack. A five foot (shortest length) jack would probably be adjustable. Do not use hydraulic jacks. Screw jacks for this purpose have a slow enough raise that with a 2-3 inch bar you can lift several tons.
You would probably want to buy 6 jacks put one on either side of the existing steel columns (or if the beam doesn't extend far enough past the steel column the put one jack within a foot of the steel column and another not more than 3-4 feet further toward the center. put the other two spaced in the center of the support beam. You may want to consider leaving the center two (or all of the jacks) in permanently. You will never get everything perfectly level, but the key is to raise slowly so that walls floors, and ceilings don't crack. And, leave a rest period so the house can readjust before the next raise. You can tell how fast to raise just by listening to the protest of the house; if it starts screaming, stop raising. Two inches is a lot, and I would probably take at least a month, maybe two months, and raise not more than 3/8" at a time. When you do raise, raise in small increments, screwing each jack a small and equal amount (like an eight or a quarter turn). Keep adjusting your original supports as you raise, but they won't hold any weight because you don't want to lower any until the end. If you want to keep the steel columns tight then just keep shimming and use cedar shingles for tightening (pound two shingles thin edges over lapping) toward each other at the support point.
After raising the center beam, you may still have some discrepancies and need to raise specific areas of joists. Again, depending on how you will use the basement, you may want to just leave the screw jacks in place as permanent fixtures.
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On Fri, 29 Aug 2003 23:54:15 -0500, mark Ransley wrote:

Thanks. They are all original, and those not on the exterior walls all have nice gaps around their door frames. :)
Carolyn
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You have an old house, Beams have settled and are hard and not flexible as is new wood. First check all basement suports for cracks, when you start to jack you can put uneven loads that May crack beams. They will have to be repaired. Some areas may have settled more. I have had beams split real bad from jacking 1/4 " to fast, right in front of me, its a little scary. Get a 5ft level and check level of beams and joists before you start , so you know what is out most. Then get a tape measure and a helper , mark locations on floor and beams above for placement of tape. record maybe 20 areas in basement and remeasure every few days to record progress in lifting. and keep an eye and doors and windows. do it over a month or more and slowly. What is your basement floor, you need a good deep footing under the jacks, maybe that is why is sank . Start by looking at footings and figure out what has caused the original problem then look into the cure and amount of support needed
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Carolyn (or whomever! <g>)
CM> My wife and I have just inherited a house, and we are embarking on the CM> home repair/renovation challenge. One of the projects one our list of "to CM> do's" is leveling the floors. CM> CM> There is about a 2" drop from the outside walls to the center of the main CM> floor. The basement (25' long x 22' wide) has two adjustable steel columns CM> supporting the beam that supports the main floor joists. CM> CM> Is the solution as simple as renting some form of jack, jacking the floor CM> up a 1/4", extend the post, raise the floor, extend the post, ... unitl CM> the floor is again level? If so, what kind of jack can I use. I am CM> assuming that my car jack wouldn't be able to support the weight of the CM> house.
You said there are "two adjustable steel columns" -- check these for a screw mechanism at the top; these may be the floor jacks you are considering. It may be all that is needed is to extend the screw some to correct the 2" sag. I would do it slowly - maybe a quarter-turn a week until the floor is level again. You need to allow the house to compensate for the structural changes when the support is moved up.
Otherwise there are support beams available. As another responder indicated, these are two steel tubes, one inserted inside the other. The top has a screw to expand/lengthen. Not sure what they are really called but a good hardware store would know and either have them in stock or order.
Based on what you said I don't think you need to replace your new home's support beams with the steel beams, just change the floor support.
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snipped-for-privacy@rime.org (barry martin) wrote in

It just so happens that I just came across a page in how-to book about this just before I came online. It mentioned getting two telescoping jacks to place on either side of the existing post, and raising the joist with them. Then remove the old support, put in a new one (or in your case, perhaps simply turning the screw to raise it), and then lowering the jacks (I take it you can rent these). At any rate, a stop by a Barnes and Noble or library to browse through the Home Improvement section will no doubt have some illustrated answers for you.
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REPOST from ARA
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