What is the best way to jack up a 10ft ceiling inexpensively? I have
used a hydraulic jack under 4x4 on end, which works but is not that
stable or safe.
We have an old 2 story with a very long lean-to attached, total size is
24 x 45. A corn crib at the low end rotted out and subsequently, the
lean-to has pulled the 2-story section off square, off about a foot or
so at the roof.
We have attached 2 horizontal come-alongs at the floor joists (2nd
floor) and straightening is progressing by pulling away from the shift.
There is a center oak stud wall in the lean-to that is hung up on an
uneven concrete floor, that is impeding progress. This wall needs to
be raised about 3" to clear.
We will be doing a lot of other jacking later also, lifting to replace
rotted sills plates, etc.
Just not sure of the best way to get a jack to raise a 8-10' height in
one or more areas.
Thanks for any inpust
... This wall needs to be raised about 3" to clear.
Right basic idea, just recommend a bigger timber than 4x4. I happened
to have a bunch of old 4x6 around so used some of them, but any solid
timber of sufficient cross section is ok. I also used corner posts
trimmed to the proper lengths.
The other thing that helps is to support a heavy beam (like the 4x6)
underneath the ceiling joists perpendicular to the joists and hopefully
near the point they're attached to the rim joists. Then lift against
it instead individual joists w/ as many jacks as needed dependent on
the length. In doing the restoration of our old barn which included
replacement of sill plates, we jacked incrementally from one direction
and once got the needed height in the first section, blocked it
securely and moved on, taking one jack from the end of the first
section, leap-frogging one or more intermediates and continuing on past
the last previous jack until reached the other end. This was a 38x66
barn 40-ft to the haymow ridge. Fortunate in our case that there is a
good poured foundation and floor. If you don't have that luxury, you
have to begin by getting a good footing for placing the jacks and
Oh, one other little helpful piece when jacking--I took 4x4 squares of
5/16" thick steel plate and sliced a 1/4" long section off a 1-1/2"
pipe and welded it to the plate. Drilled a small hole in each corner
and tacked them to the bottem end of the timbers used for jacking to
make it easier to set them on and keep them on the jacks.
Also, just be sure the jacks are heavy enough for the purpose. We have
several 24T rated for the large farm equipment so that wasn't a problem
here. Many of the house movers use the old railroad equipment
screw-type jacks rather than hydraulic. Every once in a while one can
find some of them relatively inexpensive at auctions, etc., but not
necessarily when you really want/need them.
Of course, one can also use the commercial basement floor joist
supports, but on a farm there should be enough "stuff" around...oh, and
btw, when we were raising, we would sometimes take two or three days in
a couple areas where the settling had occurred over a long time and a
"set" was obvious in the structure. Overnight it seemed to come back
to near straight in most cases, in a couple instances it took a little
longer. As we lifted to get the working height, we would go slightly
higher than necessary, then set back down on the supporting blocking
rather than try to shim under blocks. We also used wire on nails
driven in the floor joists to support the horizontal lifting timbers in
place while arranging the jacks and vertical lifting timbers. All this
was done w/ just myself and one hired hand.
HTH...good luck, but mostly just be careful and work safely!
Was just out around the barn and something else came to me I thought
On moving wall sections, same idea as suggested above w/ a horizontal
timber across the floor joists above works well for the walls--use a
heavy piece on the outside of the wall (if it needs to come in,
otherwise, obviously turn directions around) and attach the puller to
the ends (and maybe a middle if it's a heavy or really stiff section)
and use it instead of pulling on individual studs.
This barn is 3-1/4" wood siding and some needed replacing anyway, so we
already had it off to get access, but if you're replacing sill plates,
etc., you probably have similar problems. I'd have removed some to get
the access even if didn't actually need replacement.
Another "trick" I used a couple of times as a quicker expedient--I have
a small JD 955 w/ a bucket on the front and hydrostatic
transmission--about 30 engine hp, front wheel assist. W/ it and a 2x10
between the bucket and the wall I could as gently as you please nudge a
section in place in combination of the bucket hydraulics and the
tractor. If you've got the equipment and the access, it can work
really nicely and be a lot quicker than the comealong!
The safest way to do it, though its not the cheapest is with cribbing
Its not the cheapest if you have to buy the cribbing but if you have
access to a bunch of 3-4 foot ties it is much safer that perching a jack
on top of a long post or even worse putting the post on top of the jack.
That is a disasterous way to jack anything.
A crude option for cribbing that I have seen used, though I have never
done it myself, is to get a bunch of clean, stable, same sized pallets
and stack them. You will need to crib up a bit on top of them to create
a solid surface for the jack but if your barn is not terribly heavy this
may get you up enough to resupport it. Be carefull however as the stack
of pallets will have little lateral strenght and will want to act like a
I would try to track down some cribbing or perhaps go to a local sawmill
and ask them how much 6x6's in the cheapest material they saw would run
you. Many times you can buy rough lumber for 250-500$/Mbf or less. For
250-500 bucks you could buy 27 6x6x8', cut them in half and have 54
pieces of cribbing. This would let you crib up two 6' piers to jack
from. If the barn is worth this amount of work its worth spending 500.00
to save it safely.
Around here Sam's Club sells Allied 20 ton hyd. bottle jacks for 19.99
all day long. A steal at twice the price.
Really there is no functional difference if the supporting position is
flat and stable and I would far prefer to be on the ground where I
don't have to try to get down off a support several feet in the air as
well as any other action needed.
If a load-spreading device as described is used to prevent the
application of the lifting force in one very small point, it is
actually quite stable. Once the lift is completed, the result is then
blocked securely before work commences.
That sounds TRULY scary to me...
Obviously you live somewhere there are trees of a size such that it is
possible to get such locally. :) Around here, I hate to think what it
would cost to truck it in (and don't even know where I'd go to try).
OTOH, when I was in VA/TN, mine cribbing was quite common and easy to
come by, and, as you say, fairly inexpensive. OP may, of course, also
live where it's possible and if so, would also be a good alternative.
Most difficulty w/ old ties as cribbing is that unless they're pretty
good shape still they tend to not be very square and don't stack all
that well for the stability. And, if you stop at 5-6' crib height, you
still have a 4-5' vertical column, anyway. After doing the barn here,
I'm convinced by having a solid foundation and a square-ended (heavy)
post/timber that doesn't flex and a heavy plate to spread the load on
the post end from the jack end and assuming you can get directly
underneath the lift point that the direct lift is quite safe. Again,
this assumes the structure is basically sound and the worst thing that
would happen is the jack tips and you start over. If the building
itself is unstable and potentially liable to shift on its own or
collapse, the individual homeowner is probably over their head to begin
Parenthetically, there are pictures of old barns featured weekly on the
Agritalk web site--www.agritalk.com. I've not sent ours in yet, I
intend to, but a few weeks ago there was one which had been restored
from near total collapse. It was interesting to see the pictures of
how it was stabilized and stood back up. Ours wasn't in as much need
as OP's appears to be as far as leaning, but did have about 40 ft of
sill plate gone and missing ends of studs along the wall where the
milking stall urinal ran that we had to raise roughly the same amount
(3-4") to replace the sill plate and get the height leveled back out to
add cripples to the studs on the new sill. It is, by the description,
probably quite a bit taller than OP's, hence I'm guessing quite a bit
heavier per foot, particularly since there was added a set of grain
bins in the loft in that corner that are roughly 20 ft tall from the
floor of the haymow which add a significant amount of weight over the
bare barn structure.
I highly doubt anyone in the US who is rebuilding a barn is more than
2-3 hours drive from a sawmill of some sorts perhaps NYC, LA, or the
desert southwest may not apply but I doubt many are rebuilding barns
there. If they are, there are often individuals within a 100 mile radius
who own and operate portable sawmills and often have access to logs to
saw and sell for lumber. Even when I worked and lived a bit outside
Boston I could be at a local sawmill in central MA within 2 hours. The
US is developed, but not that developed. More than likley most people
have simply never had the neccessity or really looked into locating a
sawmill but there are numbers of them out there.
As far as the jacking with a post its a very precarious and dangerous
way to go regardless just as I stated the pallet option would be. As you
state "the worst thing that would happen is the jack tips and you start
over" its clear that you probably learned first hand, perhaps several
times, how little a misalignment it takes to result in the jack kicking out.
Having your jack at ground level with even a perfectly square cut 6x6
atop it with a 6x6x3/8" plate on each end is still very scary. I have
been around such attempts many many times. The bearing area of most
jacks is very small and the "lever" (post/jack combo) is very long. Even
if the jack is sitting on dead level and stable concrete I would never
trust it under substantial load raising it any distance (several
inches). A few hundred pounds that cant go anywhere if it falls and your
only raising it an inch or so, sure, but ton(s) worth of building that
is already in a failing condition, absolutely not.
Also in most situations jacking a structure there is all sorts of
shimming that has to be done to begin jacking. The jack may need to be
shimmed level, top of post bearing surface may need to be shimmed level,
structure above may need to be shimmed/braced, etc. This shimming is
usually done with wood shims. The shims compress, the structure
compresses, old joists and rafters roll, and so on, so no matter how
plumb you get your post/jack alignment it will absolutely not remain
plumb once jacking begins as you are moving the structure. With the
bearing surfaces being so small and the lever (post/extended jack) being
so long it only takes a very small misalignment of the axis (often times
little more than an inch) to send everyone running. When the jack does
kick out, and it will, if there is substantial load on the post its an
ambulance ride waiting to happen. There is no telling where the post
will go and catching an 50-100lb 6x6 that may jump 5 feet in any
direction is well.. Couple this with being crouched down running the
jack handle and again... As an exercise take two unsharpened pencils,
but the unsharpened ends together put a finger tip on each eraser, and
push them together. After that, cut one of the pencils down to one inch
stand it on your desk and press on it. Which one is more stable. The
desk is the cribbing.
All you have to do to find the true answer to your question is go on, or
look at, any construction project where anything is being jacked by
professionals (not insinuating your not a professional). You will likely
never see the approach you are stating for two simple reasons. Its its
unpredictably unstable, and its predictably dangerous. I agree its a
technique used by many but its used because it is thought to be quick,
and most everyone can put their hands on a single post and a jack.
Like I said, if the structure is worth saving its worth buying,
borrowing, renting, some cribbing. Once you jack on some nice cribbing
that just takes a short time to put up you will never attempt to jack
with a post again.
Never been west of the Missippi and east of the Rockies much, have you?
Not only are there _NO_ sawmills within a 100 mile radius, there aren't
any trees to saw (which has, I'm told, quite a bit to do with there not
being sawmills, but I'm not absolutely sure about that). It's closer
to 300 miles to any sizable forested areas either to the east or the
west, and a whole lot farther than that to the north or south.
The problem has nothing to do with how "developed" the US is, it has
everything to do with geography and a part of that, precipitation.
And, there are certainly quite a number of barns being restored around,
although given the relative population density to the east and that
most farms here are much larger and still in production agriculture
there are, unfortunately, a more that are simply abandoned as being too
costly to maintain and no longer suited to the size of farm equipment
to be actively used any longer. While still in the former, were
fortunately in the situation of be able to afford to renovate
grandfather's barn despite the fact it really is, economically, almost
a dead loss in terms of generating any return.
Actually, no, I never had that as a problem during any time during all
the jacking and raising we did on the barn. Now, while this was a
fairly large structure, it is a simple frame building and as so is not
_that_ heavy per linear foot. Also, as I described, I did not simply
use only a jack and a post with only the single small point--I either
used a heavy load-distributing plate which was attached or as suggested
to OP, a large-faced railroad jack and was indeed, careful to make sure
the load was directly overhead. Under those conditions, I felt (and
still feel) no qualms whatsoever. If I were attempting to pick up and
entire building at one time high enough to put it on a trailer to move
it, that's something else again, entirely.
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