Need suggestions repairing a floor joist

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adatesman

climber
philadelphia, pa
Topic Author's Original Post - Sep 10, 2012 - 02:05pm PT
Howdy Folks...

Not sure the best way to fix this, so figured I'd tap into the wisdom here before saying F*#k It and either leaking the temporary fix in place or burning the place down.

In a nutshell, the corner of the one room would move, so obviously there was an issue with the underlying floor joist. Of course the basement wall stopped 3 feet short of that corner (dug sometime after the house was built in 1859, so over the weekend I knocked out a couple courses of block to finally see what the problem is. Looks like a slow leak in the heater pipe rotted out the joist pretty bad, to the point that the end fell off when I poked it. Right now I have it shored up well enough that the corner doesn't move anymore, but that doesn't seem a proper repair. Here's a pic:



Seems to be I should be sistering the beam and supporting it on the end, but then the damage is covered and I lose access to the heater pipes (which may or may not leak). Plus I'd have to space the sister out a board thickness to accommodate the pipes (notch would be too deep), and that doesn't sound so good either.

So.... burn the place down? (started my day smashing the tip of my thumb with a hammer, so rather unhappy with this place at the moment)

Thx!
-Aric.

Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Sep 10, 2012 - 02:09pm PT
You're going to have to reroute that pipe before you can do any significant repair, IMHO.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Sep 10, 2012 - 02:10pm PT
In order of 'rightness'*:

A. The torch
B. Sister a pressure treated mate
C. Remove the offender lest he contaminate his brethren and start afresh.

*You decide if it is in ascending or descending order.
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Sep 10, 2012 - 02:22pm PT
Tough spot. Rim joist holding up an exterior wall I presume.

How about sister one or two new treated joists on to existing ( Rot cut out first obviously) then build up cantilevered joist / beam / posts / pier footings under a few of the existing joists to support the new built up rim joist. At least its pretty localized so it dosn't have to occupy your whole crawl space.

If existing rim is 2x10 make the new built up sistered on 2x8 so you can get the new cantilevered joists under them against the existing foundation wall.

That should at least give you a few more decades until you really want to torch the whole thing for insurance.
WBraun

climber
Sep 10, 2012 - 02:38pm PT
Support with bottle jack.

Then an exact measured welded steel beam with provisions for attaching bolts to anchors in place.

You know ... visualize it and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Will last longer than wood.

Just an idea ......
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Sep 10, 2012 - 02:45pm PT
^^^ Last man standing? ;-)

If you do jack it up with a bottle jack be sure to put a temp post in.
Bottle jacks have been known to bleed off. That is what led to the crash of
American Airlines 191 in 1979.
adatesman

climber
philadelphia, pa
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 10, 2012 - 02:52pm PT
Yup, right at the front wall of the house and localized to just the section under that end of the radiator. Here's the view from above:



Rerouting the pipe isn't really feasible, as I can't really move the radiator. Not in the first pic is the main heater feed for the upstairs, which would also have to be moved (which would be less than a small job, to say the least)



Is the following what you're suggesting, Bruce? A vertical cut to take out the entire left side of the joist and slip a pair of treated 2x8 in there, support both ends and then a treated 2x8 over the joint to tie the new to the old? I think the bad wood stops ~the middle of the radiator, so the piece tying new to old could be a couple feet long and I avoid the pipes. All of the other joists are fine; it's just the end of this one that has an issue.

Hmm... Looks like the wood doesn't get solid until to the right of that main feed pipe. Makes it more difficult due to access, but that plan should still work.
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Sep 10, 2012 - 03:00pm PT
Remove the pipe and the rotten wood first, then I think I'd sister it with 4x8 or 4x10 PT up to 8 ft long, lagged into the existing rim joist. The extra beef on the new joist would allow you to back up its strength with a short PT 4x4 or 4x6 post on a decent sized footing poured into the ground in the corner, if your stone stem wall's face is plumb.

If you bought a 4x8 8 or 10 footer, you could cut your post material off the end to save buying two boards.

As far as the pipe goes, just run it up the outside of, and elbow it at the top of your new joist, run it through a notch in the top of the joist to another elbow directing it up through the original hole in the floor. The plumbing can be done first. Or you could replumb it in the same configuration, and notch the side of your 4x to accommodate it.
Higher48

Social climber
Seattle
Sep 10, 2012 - 03:04pm PT
Definitely need to fix that leak, so some plumbing work is a given. No need to panic, since what you've done so far to support the floor will hold you until you can do the right fix, which is replace that rim joist. Sistering to a sound joist is a great way to increase the bearing capacity; sistering to that nasty thing would be a crime (it's supporting the outside wall, if I'm not mistaken?).
It's not an insignificant project, but it's doable by a handy homeowner: rent house-jacks (no, not expensive) to take the weight off that rim joist, hack the joist out, and replace with pressure treated lumber. A house built in 1859 is going to have a lot of give in it, so your not going to have to worry about cracking windows and doors that won't close, etc.
apogee

climber
Technically expert, safe belayer, can lead if easy
Sep 10, 2012 - 03:04pm PT
Can you get at it from the exterior?
adatesman

climber
philadelphia, pa
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 10, 2012 - 03:11pm PT
I think I'm getting a bit confused here with "rim joist"... The house is stone (21" thick) and there's nothing behind this joist other than the stone wall/foundation. Basically the joists lay in alcoves on either end (and supported in the middle as well in the basement only), and this is the first one along the front wall. There is nothing tying this joist into the wall behind it btw, and I don't see why it would need to be since the only load on it is the radiator.

Kinda weird how they built this place... None of the interior walls are load bearing; it's all oversized floor joists supported on their ends, with the interior walls added later. Probably because it was originally built as a public school and they needed an open floor plan.
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Sep 10, 2012 - 03:16pm PT
Rim joist is a general term for the outside framing member in a joisted floor or ceiling, the terminology is irrelevant - the problem is obvious.

If the entire joist is rotten, a full replacement might be warranted. It's always a trade off between a faster, easier, cheaper fix that is less than perfect, and the ultimate repair.

Tearing the whole thing out might open the proverbial can o' worms.



Higher48

Social climber
Seattle
Sep 10, 2012 - 03:22pm PT
New pictures and responses since I added my 2 cents - take this in the spirit intended, but I learned construction doing remodels and repairs on old houses like this in New York's Hudson valley, and my gut reaction is "RUN!!!1!"

That being said ;) I still think you should either take the easy route (fix the leak, leave the support for the floor you've already provided) or replace the joist. In terms of resale value for an 1859 house, 1)any home inspector is going to see a sistered on member and wonder what's behind it; 2)if they see a replaced rim joist they'll give a better report. Leaving it with your temporary support is really no different than #1.

Remember: "If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy."
adatesman

climber
philadelphia, pa
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 10, 2012 - 03:24pm PT
Gotcha. Was getting confused wrt lagging it into something behind it since it's originally unattached.

Hmm... Looks like I need to drop this for today and go throw another coat of paint on the one section of stucco. I suspect the flaked paint on the floor in the second pic above is due to rain seeping in and I can see small cracks in the stucco that the first coat didn't bridge.

Thanks for the help, guys! I've got a plan now and will start on it tomorrow.
Norwegian

Trad climber
Placerville, California
Sep 10, 2012 - 03:29pm PT
epoxy injection?
we used this method on railroad trellis retrofits.

the epoxy is a little pricey,
but not when compared to new timbers
plus the time / labor to install.

available is some pretty amazing products,
their specific gravity is much lighter than zero
so the injection achievies cellular pore spaces within the wood (petrification),
essentially creating a composite member that is
stronger than steel, with unprecendented longevity.

kinda like my penis.

adatesman

climber
philadelphia, pa
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 10, 2012 - 03:34pm PT
You're spot on with that, Higher.... You'd think that after doing a 1930's vintage and then a 1900's vintage house I'd have learned that lesson. In fact, I seem to recall halfway through the last one to smack me if I ever do this again... :-)

Spot on with the home inspector thing too... That's the main reason I asked, as we probably won't be keeping this place long term and I don't want to do more than needed, but don't want to do it halfassed either.
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Sep 10, 2012 - 03:34pm PT
I can't imagine cutting out the rot / replacing the existing rim joist if there's a lot of load on it so sistering on some new ones makes sense, then its all a matter of giving the new ones some support which if you can't do with the existing foundation then maybe my suggested cantilevered supporting joists (crossing and under existing joists) might work.

I sure don't see why demoing the whole house can't be avoided easily! Is the sub floor rotten too?

edit: maybe what warbler says makes more sense ( 4x8 eight footer or so spanning the rotten part. The thing is, it is now the load bearing member so the load path must be created under it somehow, either with the existing foundation (which sounds a little suspect) or new posts and pier footings.

Once all that is in place, go to the exterior to carve out / replace the rotten existing rim joist and cladding.
FrankZappa

Trad climber
80' from the Hankster
Sep 10, 2012 - 03:35pm PT
I would first fix the leaky pipe.

Replacing the joist is a bad idea as the flooring is nailed into the top of the joist and my guess is that the floor is not perfectly level so there is no way your perfectly straight replacement joist will line up with the floor.

I would jack it up until it's where you want it. You say you can't move the pipe. (I don't believe you....) But if that is the case, sister joists on either side of the pipe to the end and into the seat, then sister on a full length joist onto those. You obviously won't be able to get the seat on both ends but your first set of sisters will take care of it. Not perfect but it sounds like it's only holding up the floor so fck it!

I would use an LVL Microlam....much stronger, and 1 3/4" width might give the pipe a little more wiggle room. If you fix the leak there shouldn't be an issue with rotting.
Higher48

Social climber
Seattle
Sep 10, 2012 - 03:43pm PT
Norwegian - interesting idea. Not so much a DIY project, but possibly the least disruptive. As I mentioned earlier, I've had plenty of experience with 1800's houses, and the last thing you'll ever say about them is that they're examples of standardized construction. Even my "replace the rim joist" suggestion may run up against problems like the original joist was 12" at one end and 11" at the other.
Higher48

Social climber
Seattle
Sep 10, 2012 - 03:44pm PT
Kind of like my penis.
zBrown

Ice climber
chingadero de chula vista
Sep 10, 2012 - 03:48pm PT
Call your local foundation repair company and have them come out and look at it, which I'm fairly certain they will do for free.

I was looking at an old house in Chula Vista (not as old as yours) and discovered that the local guy had been out to look at the house for another person who was an interesed buyer. He faxed me over his whole report.

This should get you an outside estimate of a "pro" job costs and if you "assist" when they are looking around I imagine you could get some of your questions answered.

You probably don't want to do this:



The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Sep 10, 2012 - 03:52pm PT
CPES (clear penetrating epoxy sealer) isn't really suitable for a structural repair, and that amount of rotten wood would soak up a good fifty bucks worth.

The radiator doesn't weigh a huge amount, with a 4x8 running underneath it it would be well supported, as Bruce suggested, you could put two stubby posts on small footings or piers underneath your new sistered mini joist, beyond the one in the corner I suggested, to make it extra bomb.

Norwegian

Trad climber
Placerville, California
Sep 10, 2012 - 03:56pm PT
higher,
the process is so simple,
you skirt the ill joist with a skin (plywood works great),
running the skirt a couple of feet beyond the boundary of the rot;
then drill a small hole thru the skirt, 3/8" into the parent member,
and inject (the epoxy is sold with application tools) the epoxy thru
the hole.

allow this to cure for a couple of days,
strip off the skirt and go climbing.

i'd estimate the cost to repair this +/- 36" of meat
at about 300 bucks.

i can provide a supplier contact if you are curious.
he's out here in california though.

we use his epoxy to repair micro-failures in structural concrete
members all of the time.

The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Sep 10, 2012 - 04:00pm PT
That sounds like a different product and method than I'm familiar with, Norwegian. The product I've used is to prep rotten wood for paint .

It makes sense, depending on the cost and hassle involved as compared to a more caveman repair.
Higher48

Social climber
Seattle
Sep 10, 2012 - 04:07pm PT
Best of luck with the project, adatesman! I'm living in a 15 year old home on an island in Puget Sound, and while we love the west coast, we both grew up in old towns and old homes on the east coast. As beautiful as our property is, this house is never going to have the character of something built in the 1800's. I completely understand why you're there.
Higher48

Social climber
Seattle
Sep 10, 2012 - 04:18pm PT
Hey Norwegian, I am curious! Can you post the name of the brand or the supplier? It seems like it would need to be injected under some pressure, although the cure time (a couple of days) may allow diffusion into the wood at low pressure. Longer cure times = greater strength for epoxies, so this makes some sense.


(Like my penis.)
adatesman

climber
philadelphia, pa
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 10, 2012 - 04:48pm PT
Ha! Some (unrelated) good news! When I went out back to get the ladder to reprint the exterior wall I noticed that the weird aluminum telescoping pole thing I almost took to the scrapper a couple weeks back was actually a really nice 10' painter's pole! The painting job I expected to take several sucky hours up and down the ladder ended up only taking 30 minutes from the ground! Woo-hoo!!!

Unfortunately this means I'm back on the floor joist project now...

Let's see what other details i've left out...

1. It's not that I *can't* move the pipes, it's just that getting this system drained is a major PITA and given it's age I'm not so sure the fittings in the radiator will come out cleanly to allow repositioning the pipes. Plus I suspect the damage is really old and predates the current pipes (everything's dry and the system's been full almost a year with no additional water needed), so would prefer not opening another can of worms. I suppose I could turn on the heat and check for leaks... Probably a good idea. Will do that first thing tomorrow. But in the meantime, moving them would mean moving the riser to the upstairs, which wouldn't be quick or easy.



2. Assuming I cut out the joist and scab in a new one (with supports on either end), how does the floor get attached to it? I assume toe nail (probably the wrong term) from underneath? There isn't really a subfloor per se; there's the original wide plank direct on the joists, followed by 1890's-1910's strip on top of that. Most of the original wide plank in that corner is still solid, so nailing upwards on an angle should find something to bite into.

3. No chance whatsoever at getting to the other side of the foundation. The walls are ~21" thick mortared stone, and the foundation is something more than that and goes down at least 6 feet. Plus that wall has a cement porch in front of it, and that slab is easily 6" thick. On a side note, I once did a ballpark calculation for the weight of the house and came up with something like 3-400 tons. Just for the exterior walls.

4. Wege's epoxy is out, as my method of testing soundness was hitting the joist with a hammer and large chunks fell away. Side note- chunks were bone dry and turned to dust, hence thinking there's no longer a leak. The temporary support is actually sitting on pieces of concrete... The brown stuff if what fell off the joist when the hammer went through it. No evidence of termites either, btw. A couple very unhappy plants that rooted through the foundation and tried to sprout, though.

5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGczXkknl80

Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Sep 10, 2012 - 05:08pm PT
This is what I would do.
1. Figure out how to move the pipe just an inch or two away from the wall.
Can't be that tough.
2. Cut the old guy a safe distance past the rotten section at a 3 to 1 angle.
I would make the initial cut with a circular saw and then finish up with a
sawzall and/or hand saw.
3. Chisel the old piece bearing in mind the floor board nails are gonna
cause you grief.
4. Cut your new section and glue and wedge it in place with maybe a lag up
through the scarf joint.
5. Reinforce the scarf joint with a treated 2x with lots of glue and
rot-proof screws or nails.
6. Put a post under the scarf joint with a framing connector to the beam.

Easy peasy! ;-)

ps
I guess you can forget the post. It looked like there was room for a post
but I guess there isn't.
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Sep 10, 2012 - 05:13pm PT
Prep the old joist, decide on your plumbing solution. Put two bottle jacks under the 4x8 which will be on edge against the old one, jack each one up evenly until it's obvious by sight and sound you're up tight and even against the underside of the floor boards. Hang your stubby posts with brackets off the underside of the 4x8 with nice square cuts on the post tops and tight joints, then pour your footings either around the wood directly, or around metal post bases attached to the bottom of each post and extending into the concrete.

Let it dry and pull the jacks.
Norwegian

Trad climber
Placerville, California
Sep 10, 2012 - 05:17pm PT
dude just lay neath your abode
and chew upon her skeleton;
swallow her splinters,
digest something beyond you,
excrete new understanding
and this mock enlightenment
you can stuff 'neath your self-sentenced cell
and that pile o' misunderstanding
will prolly prop you up
for another epoch or two.

here if you want,
you can borrow, i mean have, my shoe.

because tucker already strides mine other.

and he lives inna cave 'o stone that
jesus walked on by enroute to his tomb,
dumb f*#k!

we should be praying to tucker not to jesus.
no more wars.
adatesman

climber
philadelphia, pa
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 10, 2012 - 05:22pm PT
Lost me on the 3:1 angle thing, Reilly.... Increasing area of the glue joint? And to be honest, there's a goodly chance I'll be removing the pipes for access, since chances are I'll clip them with a sawzall anyway, so way as well at least reduce the notch to a small one at top rather than the whole height of the joist. Plus then I can cut the joist at the middle of the house (where it happens to be supported and then sneak the new one into the alcove and shim as necessary. Liking that plan even though it means cutting into the pipes.

Btw, this is just the warmup act for the main event in the dining room....



Been working up the nerve to tackle this one for months, as it requires excavating that half of the basement (some joists are sitting on dirt, at leat 4 need outright replacement). Fortunately farming has fallen out of fashion around here (Philadelphia, PA), which means I can likely pick up an old hay/grain conveyor for a couple hundred bucks and put one end in the basement to avoid needing a bucket brigade.

Long story short: beautiful historic houses need upkeep, and the people we bough this from did nothing in the 60 years they owned it.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Sep 10, 2012 - 05:42pm PT
Cut the rotten joist out and replace it. If it is set into stone, make two pieces and bolt them together with a steel plate that ends before you get to your pipe. I know that this sounds like lots of work, but all the complexity of trying to make a smaller repair, shore-up and work around what's there, and make room for the plumbing is more work and has much more uncertainty, in my opinion.

Just to tell the story, when I worked in Squaw Valley, a new lift was installed to the upper slopes (probably in 1971 or so). One of the towers on the top of a rock ridge was about 2 feet too short. I think it was about 50' high and set at a slight angle. I drove a crew of Swiss guys up there with a welder and generator. They secured the top of the tower with come-alongs anchored to trees and rocks set back about 150 feet or so. They scabbed steel buttresses about 6 feet high onto the tower's base plate with matching flanges welded to the tower above a cut line about 2 feet off the concrete. The welder cut the 24" diameter tower, and the engineering crew, using wenches attached to the top of the buttresses, jacked it up 2 feet. The welder fitted in a new section, and welded it together. Presto, the tower was two feet taller and the lift opened on time.

The hardest part in replacing your joist will probably be figuring out how to get direct force on the new joist to get it into place. It doesn't look like you can get directly under it. Using levers would work.
pud

climber
Sportbikeville & Yucca brevifolia
Sep 10, 2012 - 05:45pm PT
Werner's idea will cost less and work best.
ELM !

climber
Near Boston
Sep 10, 2012 - 07:03pm PT
I feel your pain. I have replaced a joist just like yours but I could access it from both sides.
I jacked up the floor on a temporary joist and excavated out the old one. I then liberally placed epoxy and sledge hammered in a new pressure treated section.
To attach the flooring I pulled off the molding on the wall and nailed the flooring down there; with the molding on you never see the nails.
Studly

Trad climber
WA
Sep 10, 2012 - 07:04pm PT
I have a old commercial building/warehouse that is of massive timbers, and had the same problem with the joist. As suggested, either pour some concrete pads or place some premade ones for a base for the house jacks. Support your structure/floor load with the jacks, and cut the old joist away with a chainsaw. Then replace it and use old bridge or railroad ties for support, again cut with a chainsaw. Treated, burly and cheap. Nothing wrong with a little overkill.
WBraun

climber
Sep 10, 2012 - 07:51pm PT
All this talk blah blah blah

Now if all of us workers would be there right now with all our know how and tools we'd have that bitch shored up by now.

Either that or we'd all be still standing in front of the house arguing about how to do it as the sun sinks in the west.

:-)
tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Sep 10, 2012 - 08:25pm PT
I spent the last two years doing this stuff for a job. like everone else says. Dig some holes, poar pads, jack er up, sawzal the old crap out and get a new pressure treated joist in there w/ steep plate. Is LVL as resistant to rot? that stuff is real floppy so you would want to bolt a few of em together. I would just go with pressure treated.
wilbeer

Mountain climber
honeoye falls,ny,sawdust does not work like chalk
Sep 10, 2012 - 09:51pm PT
hello,im a 35 year carpenter,i would remove the exterior siding,freeze board,then replace the existing sill beam ,find someone to mill you the exact size beam,and replace at least a 8 foot section.knotch were you would like your pipe and mortar under the beam.it lasted like that this long, the repair will only out live the surrounding area by about our kids,kids.reside.
spud

climber
Sep 10, 2012 - 09:54pm PT
When we bought our 1854 house we needed new first floor joists--along with many other needed repairs. Instead of showing off a new, fancy kitchen, I"d show off my new expensive floor joists! Ha ha!
TGT

Social climber
So Cal
Sep 10, 2012 - 10:28pm PT
So far everyone has ignored or brushed off the crux issue.

You have a leaking condensate return.

Gotta fix that first and identify if the issue is 60+ YO pipe that is getting ready to bust loose elsewhere.

If the pipe didn't leak, you wouldn't have to move it, or replace the joist.

Re-insulating the steam lines while you are at it, including the condensate returns would probably pay for itself in a year from reduced heating oil costs.

Beware of asbestos though on the old steam lines. Getting rid of that would be a fortune.

Fix the problem first then tackle the symptom.
wilbeer

Mountain climber
honeoye falls,ny,sawdust does not work like chalk
Sep 10, 2012 - 10:38pm PT
if the pipe is leaking or it is condensation,heat pipes sweat,fixing that first would be a given.carpentry issues ,same as above.the question was ,repairing an old floor joist
TGT

Social climber
So Cal
Sep 10, 2012 - 10:58pm PT
Heating lines don't "sweat", unless they are leaking steam or condensate.

Chilled water lines sweat all the time.
jstan

climber
Sep 10, 2012 - 11:20pm PT
Grew up in a house built in 1820. Hand hewn beams with lathe and plaster. No insulation at all.

21" thick laid stone fascia is burly. They probably did not insulate at all figuring the stone was both insulation and air conditioning. If there are no cracks in the fascia their footing must be a whole lot better than the offset under the joist. Those look almost dry laid sand with a little lime. If you put a sister on that joist but leave it, the whole house studding and all, will be cantilevered on your floor boards. Their integrity has to be as questionable as that of your joist.

You say there is a bigger problem in the next room. I am assuming your joists are supported on beam and pillar or more stone walls. I would first get some room to work down there. Vactor makes super vacuum systems that can suck loosened dirt all the way out of the house. First discover how deep your offset goes down. Don't want to undermine that, crummy as it appears.

Lag bolt 4x6's six feet long with six foot gaps onto the bottom of the joist and drill a 1.5" hole through it so that a pipe put into the hole will bear on the 4x6 and on the next joist over. Do this all the way on that joist and jack it tight so the room floor is where you want it. Then cut out alternate 6' foot sections of your joist and back fill with a replacement. You might consider liquid nails on the top surface and then just shim it tight. After all the replacement sections are in, lag stud a sister onto it and pour a decent wall to support it. Easy concrete pumper job now that you have some room down there. Don't undermine the awful looking stone under the replacement joist. You can even leave a little dirt between the old and new footings. It will just be leaning into the footings for the 21" thick fascia. Observe the 45 rule for the new footing. Your's has to be the only house in Philly able to withstand a nuclear blast.

For the radiator replace the line with threaded pipe so that you can easily pull it out of the notch in the sister. Spring for a couple unions and you are good to go. Simple repair job.

You'd be surprised how fast a super shop vac will get that dirt moving. You could even route it through your wife's kitchen. She won't see any dust. Noise, yes. Dust, I doubt it. I have tunneled using Makita's largest electric hammer. Wonderful tool.

That's what I would do. Neat problem!


Until he lost the house by divorce a friend was remodeling an ancient stone house in Croatia. To put in the lintel for a new door he drilled holes through the stone, jacked, and cut away below. Another neat problem.
adatesman

climber
philadelphia, pa
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 11, 2012 - 11:53am PT
Again, thanks for the help Guys.

Update for this morning:
Cleared out the rest of the loose dirt and rubble to get some room, grabbed the rusty piece of 4" steel channel I had lying in the scrap pile, then made a new temporary brace with a pair of small bottle jacks (had been looking for an excuse to get them... My 20 ton's way too bulky for this). Much better bracing, and gives me more room to work. Oh, and the furnace has been running a couple hours and so far no leaks. Thankfully our heat wave finally ended, otherwise working down there would be miserable.



Going to go have some lunch, then start cutting out the bad stuff left to right. Once I find solid wood I'll figure out how to scab and support the replacements.

Oh, couple other thoughts.... Looks like this crawl space area below the joist is the offset. Down the other end of the basement there isn't block and water has washed the dirt away, revealing stone down to the floor (5' or so below grade). There's been a long term water issue in this basement (often standing water and mosquitos *in* the basement) since the buried oil tank is next to the house and the driveway slopes towards the pit. Perhaps those courses of block hiding the joist was enough to trap enough moisture over the years to rot the joist without a leak? Also the heat is single pipe hot water, so no return line. Took me ages to get my head around how it works, as the feed and return for each radiator are in the same pipe, inches from one another.

Hmmm...
Ihateplastic

Trad climber
It ain't El Cap, Oregon
Sep 11, 2012 - 12:47pm PT
That house has been there 160+ years... the amount of rot/damage/hassle you show seems minimal considering.

While I would vote for re-routing the pipe I can understand that may open up a huge boil with plenty of resulting pis.

So, leave it alone. You will go from a manageable job to a major job in minutes.

Even your existing temp fix would probably last another 50+ years!

How about this...

1. With your temp support in place, cut away any serious existing rot back a foot or three to "better" wood.

2. Dig down to solid ground and prepare a foundation that will run alongside the existing beam.

3. Sister the existing beam with one or two treated 2x12s. HArd to explain, but create a slot for the existing pipe (presuming it looks like it has life left. Lag bolt these 2x12s in place

4. One or two 4x4 treated posts into the concrete foundation you will pour. "lift" the corner just a tad prior to pouring so the foundation really is offering support.

5. Go upstairs and spend the afternoon reading trip reports on SuperTopo.

Without being there and seeing it first hand that is my suggestion. I may not be licensed but I have lived in/remodeled more than my share of old houses including a 400 year old, horse-hair insulated, mega-house in England. Talk about a nightmare...



JLP

Social climber
The internet
Sep 11, 2012 - 12:51pm PT
Add some forms around the effected area and fill the whole thing with concrete!
adatesman

climber
philadelphia, pa
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 11, 2012 - 02:27pm PT
Well, crap.

Looks like the rot goes past the feed pipe, so all of the pipes need to come out to provide access to the right side of the joist. Crap, crap, crap. Really hoped to avoid breaking into another mess, but looks like there's no choice.



Also looks like something *should* be done with the 'subfloor', but I'm half tempted to cover and shim. Access is a major PITA there.



Thoughts on the subfloor? I'd really rather not tear up a couple feet of floor to fix it, as I'm already months behind schedule and it's no longer looking like we'll be moving here in a couple years (plan was to rent out the main house and put my mom in the cottage, but the cottage isn't looking salvageable and brother is making noises about wanting her down by him, so we's no longer need the property).
adatesman

climber
philadelphia, pa
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 11, 2012 - 02:37pm PT
May as well post a couple more pics while waiting for the heater to drain...

Here's the other end of the basement. The amount of water that comes in is evident by the amount of erosion... What a mess. Looks like it actually had a block wall at one time... Never noticed that.



Here's a section under the livingroom. Looks like someone crawled under there at some point, as there's a cinder block under the one joist. As for the plants, I have no idea. Good news is that the joists are up off the dirt, so hopefully little repair needed here.



The section under the dining room is a disaster, and adjoins the section under the kitchen. Water comes in from the left side of the photo, joists are touching the dirt, joists installed the wrong way.... Ugh.



Clearly I have a lot of digging to do, and thankfully there's a cellar entrance. Looking over CraigsList last night it turns out there's a couple farmers in the area looking to get rid of old, conveyor-based grain elevators for under $500, and I'm giving serious thought to getting one and dropping the end in the basement and parking the truck at the other end. Dumping buckets into the machine would be much nicer than carrying them up the steep and narrow stairs, especially since my head doesn't clear the floor joists by a good margin.

Ugh. What a mess.
Ihateplastic

Trad climber
It ain't El Cap, Oregon
Sep 11, 2012 - 02:42pm PT
Just a thought (not a pleasant one) how about coming at this from INSIDE the house? remove some floor boards, replace/repair joists and subfloor. Pour concrete from above... might be the "more pleasant" fix...
Brandon-

climber
The Granite State.
Sep 11, 2012 - 02:55pm PT
Is pex rated for heating pipes?

If so, that may be an easy DIY solution.

As far as the subfloor goes, I'd consider adding a wood hardener to the subfloor. From there, scab a piece of PT ply underneath and continue with the sistering of the rim joist and post on concrete as suggested before.

The big question is what are you going to do to address water issues once you've put the bandaid on the floor system?

Many ways to skin this cat...
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Sep 11, 2012 - 02:56pm PT
I dunno man, hate to say it but its fairly typical that the deeper you dig, the more problems arise to deal with.

Possible red flags:

1) If the sub floor is rotten, whats the likelyhood of your wall plates / studs being shot as well?

2) Are you sure the rot is localized and caused exclusively by the water feed into your heater? I hate to be devils advocate but before committing to fixing that one little spot check your whole perimeter for other rot or signs of water penetration from the exterior. Perhaps you have done this already but i mention this as it looks like your subfloor rests directly on your foundation walls which you mention are quite thick and perhaps extend beyond the above walls, which may allow for exterior water to be directed under and into the contact of foundation / subfloor and walls above.

If any of this is true the advisability of pouring any more money and time into "fixing" anything is significantly more open to debate than initially thought. If possible try to get a tool like a screw driver or stiff sharp wire to probe for softness (rot) from both the interior and exterior into the bottom of your walls just above the contact with the foundation wall.

I don't mean to be alarmist but it is imperative that you do as much investigation as reasonable to determine the magnitude of the problem. If its localized no big deal. if Widespread maybe its a very big deal.

Personnally I am VERY skeptical of most old "heritage" buildings. Cool as they are, they ALMOST ALWAYS - repeat - ALMOST ALWAYS require ridiculous amounts of money and time to drag them into anything approaching modern standards of liveability let alone surviveability.

Sometimes the best thing to do is carve out the best bits with a chain saw, then donate the remaining to your local fire dept for a little R and D training.

But i'm sure you've already considered this
crunch

Social climber
CO
Sep 11, 2012 - 03:37pm PT
Looks familiar. I'll bet the subfloor, where it butts into the wall, has no solid attachment and kinda floats, cantilevered out from the remaining joists. if so, you need to not only support the floor but hold it solid, too. here's a solution:

1. Hack away at the rotten joist until you get back to solid wood.

2. That end of the joist is now in space. What you want to to do is support it. But you also want to try to attach the joist solidly to the new support, so the joist and the floor cannot move either up or down.

3. Form and pour a concrete pad, (6-8-inches thick, and whatever you can get out of one 80-pound bag). This will be a pain. Probably requiring small buckets, much swearing. A child's sled and rope works great to drag batches of concrete across a tight crawlspace. Use the 5000 psi stuff, much better product and fast set time. Install a couple J-bolts in the concrete, with a view to bolting down a short piece of treated 2x4 lumber on top of the concrete pad. Use a plumb bob to mark the wet concrete to line up where the post needs to be, then install the bolts an inch or two to either side of this.

4. Wait a week for the concrete to set real hard. Bolt down the short chunk of 2x4 on top. Install a post on top of this 2x4, tight under the joist. Shim if needed. Now, add a second 2x4 (or a small piece of 3/4 plywood), vertical, to span between the joist and the 2x4 attached to the concrete. Use gold deck screws, pre-drilled, to hold it all together. Maybe PL Premium, too. So, now you have solid support under the joist (and floor). Plus the weight of the lumber and concrete are holding the floor down so it won't creak or move at all.

5. The 2 or 3 feet where the rotten joist was removed should be no big deal, structurally. These old houses kinda stay up out of habit. if there's a saggy or creaky spot, the pipe is in the way for anything clever. Plus it would be nice to dismantle this easily to access said pipe if needed. Cobble some kind of lumber scraps to create a post deal much like what you already have in the pics.

EDIT: Looks like you added more pics of the rest of the basement/crawlspace. It appears water might be coming in from outside, bringing dirt and plant seeds. Removing some of the dirt is a good idea. A long term solution is to see that outside you have drainage away from the building. Install gutters, if the house does not have them.
lostinshanghai

Social climber
someplace
Sep 11, 2012 - 04:39pm PT
I would frame up critical sections for structural areas and pull one or two of the flooring boards or drill 3 hole into top corner flooring and secondary floor to expose area. Then place a flowable fill mix or add a polycarboxylate ether based superplasticizers (PCEs) [new generation]. With a relatively low dosage (0.150.3% by cement weight) they allow a water reduction up to 40%, due to their chemical structure which enables good particle dispersion. Depending on the amount of cement using the 0.15% with sand will give 2500 psi 3000 psi for structural.

Rent a mixer for the day, pour into the hole using a cup chute till the mix comes to the top of the drill hole or cut board. Make sure house is level or areas that need it. Just need to make sure furnace piping or others are replaced with new piping or jacketed so you can replace later or to access them

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsLKJbMNkUE

Gives you the idea but they use it to also for your application.

Grace is another company that has a good one.

Theirs is slow since they say they are using the water in the sand, you can make it so it looks like soup by adding water but adding too much will bring down your strengths. Just some mechanical adjustments.

Crane Flat guys used a fill [road] on their new pipe, I said as I drove by nice to see someone has their act together.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M38gamAlxt0&feature=related

Better system or same idea

SCC is a highly flowable, non-segregating concrete that spreads into place, and fills formwork without any mechanical consolidation. SCC is specified for both horizontal and vertical applications. It can be used for slabs, elevated decks, ultrathin floors (typically used in condo projects), radiant flooring, and repair toppings/overlays. In vertical applications, SCC is used for walls, new columns and repairs to columns and bridge decks.
adatesman

climber
philadelphia, pa
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 11, 2012 - 05:09pm PT
Very good points, Bruce. I can say with 100% certainty that there is no issue with the wall studs in the exterior walls, as there quite simply aren't any. It's solid stone all the way up, with the exterior side stucco'd and the interior plaster direct on the stone. As I mentioned before, the floor joists were simply set into alcoves built into the stone, and the floors are essentially free floating. And from what I've seen of the construction of the interior walls, they're not load bearing, as the upper floor was done the same way. And if that sounds strange, the upper floor ceiling is actually a false ceiling 3 feet below the original ceiling, and the entire area there is open except for the chimney passing through. Really strange how they built this house... One theory I have is that they started construction in 1829 (the date we were originally given for the house), built the exterior and roof, and they didn't finish the interior until 1859 (which is the date on the capstone we found set into the front wall and hidden below the 1930's vintage porch roof). Sounds crazy it would happen like this, but possible given that it was intentionally built as the area's first public school and at the time the area was a couple hour horse ride from Philly (~25 miles or so) and pretty sparsely populated.


Got more to say, but gotta start closing up here and head home to make dinner. It was pickup day at the CSA, so i've got bags and bags of fresh organic veggies... :-)
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Sep 11, 2012 - 05:29pm PT
oh that sounds much better. So really there is no structural wooden members? The joists support the floor only? No problemo. Jstans suggestion of epoxy from below might be the fix of the day. Just trim off those nails thru the subfloor, slather the stuff on, set, then take a new 2x8 or whatever and rock bolt it directly to the stone foundation wall. If thats the only load it has to pick up there's no need to go nuts with new pier footings etc.

Still probably a good idea to run around with an ice pick or something probing for more rot in your floor perimeter, especially if its all below elevation of exterior grade.

Must be a cool building. All stone huh? Hows the insulation? You might want to fill your joist spaces up with spray in or bat after your happy with your joists. Above, if you don't mind losing an inch or two of interior space you could wrap your walls with one or two inches of rigid foam insulation that would at least give you a thermal break from conductive heat loss, plus vapor barrier. A good opportunity for some re-wiring as well.

Whats holding up your cieling / upper floor joists? are they let into the stone as well? I'm really not familiar with stone structure so excuse my ignorance. I'm having a hard time picturing everything.
the Fet

climber
Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La
Sep 11, 2012 - 05:48pm PT
I grew up in a house from 1780s, my parents then "retired" to my grandparents house started in the 1760s. I recently bought a house built in 2002.

I'd say stick with the Bottle Jacks.





















































I'd give serious consideration to the idea of coming at it from the top.
adatesman

climber
philadelphia, pa
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 11, 2012 - 08:04pm PT
Fet, if you only knew how much beer I've gone through working on this at least half time the past year or so... Staggering amounts. Even more so when I can rope friends into helping. Case in point- as bad as the basement looks now, it's not even in the same ballpark as it was when we got it. We literally had to shovel 16"+ of rotting wood, mold and lord knows what else out to even *see* there was a concrete floor to the basement. If I can find a pic I'll post it. Short version- the current hot water boiler went in ~1970's, judging by the servicing notes scrawled on the side. No idea if it was the first hot water oil burner in there, but the original hot air gravity octopus was still in place and hooked up (and was made in 1859, according to the date cast into it). Judging from the detritus we dug through, that 1850's octopus was used until at least the 1960's as all the much was simply firewood for it that was left to rot in the wet basement once the oil burner went in. There may even have been some overlap between the oil burner and octopus, as the cellar entrance was completely filled with rotting firewood.

As I said, I have a picture somewhere and it's unbelievable how much the previous owners left the place deteriorate. Fortunately the bones are still good, hence us being willing to attempt restoring it (admittedly we got it for a song and once fixed up a bit will sell for more than double we bought it for).

-a.
JLP

Social climber
The internet
Sep 11, 2012 - 09:06pm PT
Sell it and move, then go climbing.
fear

Ice climber
hartford, ct
Sep 11, 2012 - 09:42pm PT
From my time rehabing old houses:

Unless rehabing old houses is what you like to spend your dollars and majority of time doing, don't get started. It never ends with old houses. Never.

A lot of people like dealing with that constant sh#t. Contractors love that sh#t. All of them.

The steel angle iron and some fixed screw/floor jacks (not bottle jacks) will do the trick here if safety is your concern.

adatesman

climber
philadelphia, pa
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 11, 2012 - 09:44pm PT
Hell yes, JLP. This is the second climbing season I've missed to my Great White Whale, and damned if I miss a third. Moving to somewhere with good local climbing isn't in the cards though, as I really dig this stay-at-home-dad thing and the only place my wife's job can go is DC. Ick.
adatesman

climber
philadelphia, pa
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 11, 2012 - 09:47pm PT
@Fear- If you have a newsletter, I'd love to subscribe. Preaching to the choir, and each time I get sucked back into the old house thing. Were money no object I'd love nothing more than a big old Queen Anne.... Sigh. If only.
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Vancouver Canada
Sep 11, 2012 - 09:54pm PT
Fear makes a good point but if you are going to go for the wood replacement avenue, do yourself a favour and get ALL the junk you are pussy footing around out of the way.

It's amazing how quickly and easily the plumbing, old rotted framing and whatever else can be reinstated compared to the frustration and problems that arise from trying not to disturb it.

PS. Insulate the heater pipe. TGT is correct but only if it's assumed there is or was always heated water in the pipe.

adatesman

climber
philadelphia, pa
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 11, 2012 - 11:08pm PT
Yup, going to cut the plumbing out of the way in the morning.

Did some digging, and found some pics to give perspective to the project (some might be in a thread about the house renovation I gave up on updating, as I didn't have a way to get pics posted from my phone at the time).

This is probably the best indication of the condition of the property when we bought it. How many abandoned boats to you see?



If your answer is "three", you're correct.

And the reason the interior repair has dragged on so long:



Figured first thing that needed to be done was stabilize the exterior, which hadn't been touched since 1960. Chipped off all the loose stuff, and then put up somewhere over 10,000 pounds of stucco. Sadly I only had the cherry picker for 2 weeks of the several months of working on it, as winter was setting in and I had a window of warm weather to finish what I could.

Some cool stuff was found though, like the panel between the front and back window weights in the one window box where the guy who made the windows signed it (I pulled all the weights when we replaced the *original* windows last fall. All told over 1,000 pounds of cast iron weights). Hard to see, but it says "Wm Kepfer July 1859". Actually found 2 signed panels, but this is the more legible one.



And of course, the basement... The black stuff is rotted wood, the white stuff mats of hairy mold. And the "dry" looking stuff on top wasn't, and was a good 16" above the cement floor. Everything squished when you stepped on it. Eww. Oh, and the weird thing on the left of the pic immediately below is the 1850's vintage octopus gravity heater. All told that heater was ~800 pounds of cast iron, and was hooked up to fairly modern ducting (1970's or so).



Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Vancouver Canada
Sep 11, 2012 - 11:26pm PT
Wow...

Still, there's nothing like a good project to keep a man busy !
JLP

Social climber
The internet
Sep 11, 2012 - 11:29pm PT
Holy f*#king shit!! Grab the parachute and JUMP NOW!!!
Captain...or Skully

climber
Sep 11, 2012 - 11:31pm PT
Yer gonna die fer sure.....;-)
adatesman

climber
philadelphia, pa
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 11, 2012 - 11:42pm PT
Everyone dies sometime, Capt Skully. I figure idle hands get me in trouble, so may as well do something interesting. And if that mold and who knows what else hasn't gotten me yet (did I mention the *inches* of mouse poop in the cabinets of the cottage?), I'm going to live forever.

And truth be told, we really did get it for a song and the bones are good, so a basic clean and fix-the-worst will still put us well ahead. What's more it's on 1/2 acre and one of only a handful of properties in the township grandfathered for 2 dwellings, so that's a plus as well. Oh, and it's in a great school district, so when our 2 year old is ready it gives us the option of simply adding 10 minutes to my wife's commute and avoiding putting her in the not-even-worth-considering/worst-in-the-area school district we're in now. Knowing we had a couple years to work on it was a large part of taking on the project....
gf

climber
Sep 11, 2012 - 11:54pm PT
This thread is excellent, all members pitching ideas with a goal of fixing the problem -too bad we couldn't bring the same sensibilities to fixing the rotten floor of the USA financial situation -if folks turned a house problem into an ideological battle they'd get their clock cleaned -why the double standard i wonder?
gf

climber
Sep 11, 2012 - 11:55pm PT
Oh wait -i've got it -there is a conspicuous absence of members of the politard threads from both sides of the spectrum on this one -hmm -those that can do-those that can't preach?
Captain...or Skully

climber
Sep 11, 2012 - 11:59pm PT
Oh, I'm with ya, not ag'in ya. It just needed to be out there, is all.
It's traditional.
There seems to be some good ideas floatin' about and as it's not my field of expertise, I'll bow out to those that DO know.
Cheers!
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Sep 12, 2012 - 12:13am PT
There are a lot of good ideas here, one basic one that I agree with and would do/have done is carefully open up the floor to get access to the hellhole. Your floorboards should be able to be recycled if you remove them with care. This not only gives access, in and out, for you and materials, but air circulation and light to your work site.
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Vancouver Canada
Sep 12, 2012 - 12:16am PT
adatesman,

Of all the thousands I've spent on tools, the most valuable and loved $35.00 bucks I ever spent was on this respirator from 3M.

Credit: The Lung Society


What doesn't kill you does indeed make you stronger but being able to enjoy grabbing all the air you need when in fun mode makes you stronger than
ever !
ontheedgeandscaredtodeath

Trad climber
San Francisco, Ca
Sep 12, 2012 - 12:20am PT
Wow. If it's any consolation here is my wife and newborn son (and dog) sitting in the "master bedroom" of our 1906 remodel in SF. The picture is several years old but the wounds still feel fresh...

Credit: ontheedgeandscaredtodeath
zBrown

Ice climber
chingadero de chula vista
Sep 12, 2012 - 12:24am PT
^If that dog, did all of that, I'd put him/her on a leash.

As far as the floor joist repair goes, demo the wood. Demo is fun. If you can't handle the steel replacement like Mr. Breedlove suggests, get someone else to do it.

If you can't handle the demo, hire the dog above. Only thing I can fault it on is the cleanup. When I demo stuff, it's so clean you can eat off it.

klk

Trad climber
cali
Sep 12, 2012 - 12:42am PT
tgt, jstan and bruce are all on the money.

those of us living west of the 100th meridian mostly grew up in, working on, repairing, and building ballon frame buildings in mostly dry soils.

yr dealing with something a bit different. but it's not like it's that weird. most of northern and western europe spends huge chunks of its time dealing with similar issues. i would follow tgt's advice on the radiator and pipes regardless of what else you do.

my guess is that experienced local contractors are going to suggest two really different options-- the incremental/cheap option (chop out the rotten & sister it up) and the fully-modernize-at-least-that-chunk-of-yr-foundation option. we're guessing from yr post and pix that the radiator/pipes are the proximate issue, but given how low and old that corner is, and not knowing how the house is situated, it's tough to diagnose. anyone local is going to spend a bit of time on the outside scoping the drainage & soil,situation before venturing a bid on the basic obvious homeowner this-stuff-is-rotten style repairs visible in the photos.

but honestly, without seeing more, i wouldnt get too choked. it's an old frickin house. folks in europe (and new mexico) live in ancient sh#t that's falling down and periodically go round and brace it up with rebar or whatever. the only additional issue you seem to face involves the rotting wood which may attract termites or ants depending on yr local situation.


edit: that said, im with werner on steel. light, strong, termite proof-- really sad that americans didnt embrace it for residential stuff the way they did for commercial. most of the euro modernization projs involves steel reinforcement of ancient stone sh#t.

spud

climber
Sep 12, 2012 - 12:45am PT
Oh my!
WBraun

climber
Sep 12, 2012 - 12:50am PT
adatesman

Thanks for making this thread along with all the photos which speak a thousand more words.

This is great!!!!!!
Salamanizer

Trad climber
The land of Fruits & Nuts!
Sep 12, 2012 - 12:54am PT
Hoh man, that's a can of worms for sure.

I've been doing this kind of stuff for about 12 years and could confuse you with yet another long winded opinion.
Warblers suggestions are about what I'd do. You definitely need to pull up the hardwood floor to get to the subfloor as I can see it's obviously rotten. No way around it, pull it. Pull that baseboard and plaster wall to see whats behind there as well.

Dry Rot is like cancer. You can fix the cause, but if you leave just a little behind, it will continue to grow regardless if it continues to see more moisture or not.

I can clearly see this is NOT a simple fix. Simple as to how to tackle it, yes. But as far as how extensive it is and how much work it will take to fix, not an easy task. I can see at least 70 grand in damages from you photos. I'm probably not seeing another 20% of the whole problem.

You should get a licensed contractor to re-engineer that foundation leak and make sure it's taken care of correctly.


If I were you, I'd be filling out a request to be featured on Holmes on Homes.
crunch

Social climber
CO
Sep 12, 2012 - 12:59am PT
The black stuff is rotted wood, the white stuff mats of hairy mold

Yikes. I'd be dying from all those damp molds. One of the reasons I love living in the west.

Hmmm. The more you post, the more potential issues I see. Like, for instance, ya wanna be careful sealing up the outside with all the new stucco; you really don't want to seal existing damp inside the walls where it will sit, destroy the mortar and rot the lumber. Not good. The structure has sat for 150 years, quite happily. Any thing you think you need to do can wait a few months or even years. Our own house is 100 years old, one thing I've learned is to not rush into things.

Add gutters and downspouts, landscape the ground within 6 feet of the house to drain away from the structure. Installing a french drain is a pain but might be be a good idea. Maybe a sump pump in a hole in the lowest part of the basement if there's a high water table. Ventilate the basement/crawl space? Add a damp course membrane, maybe?

I would not rip up the floor. Your floor is fine. There's no way to attach a new one; it'll be a nightmare. I would not try drilling into the existing stones of the foundation--you'll probably just loosen them. Ya gotta work with the structure, not fight it. Yes, do dig out the dirt and stuff in the basement, isolate the lumber from the dirt. You want to preserve the fabric of the old structure as much as possible (that's what makes an old house cool) while using modern techniques and materials to stop current damage and protect it from further damage.

On the plus side, the walls look plumb, roof looks good and the house looks to be structurally stable. You could happily ignore everything for a decade or more; the repair work would be pretty much identical but you will have ten more years of accumulated knowledge of what to do/not to do.

Yeah, cool house!
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Vancouver Canada
Sep 12, 2012 - 01:06am PT
Yeah !

Wood as a structural component really sucks if you're wanting a solution you don't have to revisit. It moves, it shrinks, it expands, it cracks, it twists, it snaps and it rots.

I think every structure starting now, should be constructed from concrete and steel.

The only use for wood should be decorative as in baseboards, cabinetry, doors, floors and the occasional millwork flourish to resolve a design.

HA !
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Vancouver Canada
Sep 12, 2012 - 01:14am PT
Oh, don't forget about the wonder material Asbestos and how it may be lurking in various applications through time.

VCT tiles, drywall mud and sheathing, plaster and lath, pipe insulation at the elbows and siding shingles from basically the dawn of time until the mid 80's should be suspect. This is a big deal in commercial reno's but seems to be not taken seriously in single dwelling wood frame residential renovations.
jstan

climber
Sep 12, 2012 - 01:28am PT
There are a lot of good ideas here, one basic one that I agree with and would do/have done is carefully open up the floor to get access to the hellhole.

Probably right as the underlayment at a minimum is rotten. But boy this puts you into the lathe and plaster. I suppose you could cut all of that back three inches up and then cover with baseboards. You will likely find the studding is questionable. If they are bad, you just cut away the lathe and plaster that was holding the framing up.

Water in the crawl space is deadly. I put in an area drain around one house just to stop that.

Odysseus had nothing on Datsman! If he is much older than 35 the house is probably going to win.

Edit
MSA has stopped making the respirator I use. It has metal cans that I wrapped three layers of N95 face mask material over using hose clamps. That way only one part in 8000 of the ambient dust gets to the primary filter. When you peel them off you can estimate how much dust got through to the primary.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Sep 12, 2012 - 11:40am PT
I think John is right in staying below. The floor(s) are between the joists and the sill plate, if there is one, and the studs. The old walls are full of stuff that you don't want in the air. And the radiator is sitting on top of the floor, more or less in the way. Lathe and plaster are hard to cut without loosening whatever sections are left--a sawsall will vibrate the lathe so hard that the keys on the remaining part of the wall break off leaving a very uncertain upper wall. Pretty soon, you will be in a nice new condo wondering how it so out of hand so quick.

Where is your house, anyway?

adatesman

climber
philadelphia, pa
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 12, 2012 - 12:53pm PT
Lunchtime update:

Spent the morning digging out the remains of a fake pitcher pump at the back of the house, as I noticed the pipe remaining in the hole was always full of water. Turns out they encased the bottom of the pump in aluminum flashing, so there simply was nowhere for the water to go. Very happy to find that it wasn't hooked up to a pipe that had been feeding water into it (and then draining into the basement.

Anyway, this radiator came off surprisingly easy (unlike the other two I've had reason to pull do far). The floor underneath is in good shape, so no way I'm tearing it out to attack the joist from above as that would be a nightmare of which-side-is-the-T&G-on, it being fastened with soft iron cut nails that don't pull out, removing the scary 1950's surface mount ribbon cable electrical feed (with plug&play outlets!) and then attempting to peel the molding that's nailed into the plaster (no studs or lath in these walls; it's plaster direct on the stone).

Here's a pic of the floor under the radiator. Very surprised it's so solid, with nary a soft spot anywhere.



Figured while I was there I may as well scrape out the one crack and get a pic of the wall construction... Hard to make it clear with the camera on the phone, but it really is a couple brown coats, a scratch coat and a final coat of plaster directly on the stone. Actuall now that I think about it I have a great pic from the bathroom demo that shows it clearly (they didn't plaster the area between ceiling below and the floor, which also shows there's no wood running the length of the sides of the house). Oh well, this pic will have to do...



Ok, off to cut out the pipes...
jstan

climber
Sep 12, 2012 - 01:12pm PT
(no studs or lath in these walls; it's plaster direct on the stone).

No studs. What in god's name is the second floor sitting on?

They just embedded another offset in the exterior stone veneer to hold the floor?

Those guys were really excellent masons. And they knew it. No motion at all in 153 years.

Stone masons in the UK back in 1600 designed their rubble stone walls so they could move and yet still function. 1000 year old buildings that move and yet still work.

Your house can't move?

Oh. My props. Truly great thread.
cliffhanger

Trad climber
California
Sep 12, 2012 - 01:29pm PT
Contact 'This Old House' at PBS to do the job for you.

Relocate the radiator and plumbing elsewhere, out of the way.
adatesman

climber
philadelphia, pa
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 12, 2012 - 02:32pm PT
No studs. What in god's name is the second floor sitting on?

Unless I'm mis-remembering, the 2nd floor joists are done the same as the 1st floor joists and sitting in mortared alcoves like this:



I'll try and find the pics from the bathroom demo, as it should show what was done. I will say I think I had to toe nail blocking between the joists along the wall to have something to attach the plywood subfloor to, as the only thing there was the joists on 16" centers and exposed stone.

Oh, and the beams in the bathroom were level within 1/8" over 4 feet both directions. So yeah, the place is *solid*.
zBrown

Ice climber
chingadero de chula vista
Sep 12, 2012 - 02:42pm PT
VCT tiles, drywall mud and sheathing, plaster and lath, pipe insulation at the elbows and siding shingles from basically the dawn of time until the mid 80's should be suspect. This is a big deal in commercial reno's but seems to be not taken seriously in single dwelling wood frame residential renovations.

This is rather disconcerting to read. Are you pretty sure about this?

Sources?
apogee

climber
Technically expert, safe belayer, can lead if easy
Sep 12, 2012 - 02:45pm PT
The floor joists in my house (ca 1942) sit in alcoves like that, with overly-spanned support posts. The floor felt like a trampoline. First thing I did was double up the post supports, which made a big difference.

Of greater concern were the ends of the beams in the alcoves- they were exposed to they outside, and end grain had been fairly penetrated & rotted by water. That last pic looks pretty damn good for it's age, though the wood looks discolored (image quality, perhaps).
adatesman

climber
philadelphia, pa
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 12, 2012 - 02:59pm PT
@zBrown- Yup, what you quoted is correct. Asbestos is on all sorts of old construction materials, and most DIY'rs are ignorant of it. There were asbestos tiles in the bathroom and I suspect the ones in the mud room are as well, but other than that this house was/is surprisingly asbestos-free. I attribute it to the thermal mass of the house... Even with no insulation it takes 3 weeks of 90+ degree weather to bring the interior above 74. Likewise in the winter; the house stays surprisingly warm now that we replaced the windows.
adatesman

climber
philadelphia, pa
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 12, 2012 - 03:03pm PT
This, I can live with:



Not perfect, but good enough for what it needs to do. Tomorrow I'll scab in a pair of treated 2x8, add a post to support the joint and then refigure the piping. Calling it quits early today, as we're having people over for dinner and I have to start cooking.

Btw, thanks again for all the help, Folks. If you ever run into me during your travels, I owe you a tasty beverage.

-Aric.


Oh- if you can make out the grey-ish smooth stone to the left of the end of the joist, that's the the stone threshold just outside the front door. It's a solid block of marble measuring ~18" x 48" x 6" thick and is worn almost 1/4" deep in the two spots where people usually step.
adatesman

climber
philadelphia, pa
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 12, 2012 - 04:40pm PT
Found the pic of the bathroom demo, and yup, the joists are set into alcoves in the stone wall. And are massive, at 3" x 12".



I could't find a pic showing whether the joists are supported in the middle of the house, and frankly I can't remember if they are or not. I did notice today that the strip flooring actually passes *under* the interior walls, which points to the walls going in after the finished floor. Weird.

Funny story- while putting in the bathroom floor my buddy, who weighs in at 180+, stood up from where he was sitting to measure something. I look over, and there he was standing on the plaster and lathe of the ceiling below. Needless to say, I suggested he sit down real gentle like. Amazed the ceiling held him, and good thing it did, as he was straddling one of the joists.

Oh, question on the epoxy for sealing the dry rot in the subfloor... any suggestions what to use? I stopped by the large independent construction place and described what I wanted to do, but they said they didn't have anything appropriate and should try HD. Best thing I could find at HD was Bondo, which likely isn't what I want. Any suggestions?

-aric.
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Sep 12, 2012 - 05:05pm PT
If you want it to penetrate the dry rot try : CPES Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer.

This will strengthen it and prep it for paint.

http://www.jamestowndistributors.com/userportal/show_product.do?pid=1268
adatesman

climber
philadelphia, pa
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 12, 2012 - 10:56pm PT
Thanks, Warbler! Looking at their wares it would seem the "proper" repair would be that thin, brushed on epoxy followed by the thick, playdough-esque one (to build up the missing material prior to scabbing in a new joist). Pretty amazing stuff.

That said, I thing I'm going to punt on it and simply scab in a "temporary" repair joist. Long story short, as mentioned earlier in the thread the big issue is actually the water in the basement and right before I headed home I realized I had a moisture meter sitting in the corner the radiator I pulled this morning came out of (chasing down a leak in the stucco). Turns out *ALL* of the wood in the basement reads 16-18%, which is far from ideal.

Clearly fixing the water issue should be top of the list, and thankfully I've been prepping SWMBO for this contingency (abandoning fixing the plaster and digging a French Drain instead). I fully expect all of the water in the hole left from that fake pitcher pump to be there in the morning, which should drive home the point that fixing the water issue takes precedence over making it look nice (been some disagreement on the order of things up to this point). I pitched the idea of digging the drain this evening and it went as poorly as expected, but it's really looking like we need to accept that it won't be rented by October and we've got another 6 months/year until it's ready for that sort of thing. Time will tell, and I'm still enjoying daydreaming about the 30' x 40' two-story barn/workshop I'd potentially end up with if we ever finish this project (the garage is 30' x 40', had a flat roof which collapsed, and is on hold until we finish the main house and get it rented. Plan is for that to be my workshop to run a climbing gear company out of, but at the moment I'm thinking that's a pipe dream even though I've had prototypes out in the field for the past year or so... :-(

adatesman

climber
philadelphia, pa
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 13, 2012 - 01:52pm PT
Well Folks, in retrospect that really wasn't do bad. Ended up using a single treated 2x8, as even that's probably overkill for the load on that one small section of floor and it allows me to avoid notching for the pipes (will add a couple 45's to move them out anyway). Rather than bothering with a post in the corner, I simply cut it long, shoved it into the alcove and knocked a suitably sized flat rock under it when jacked a bit past where it needed to be.



On the other end I put a temporary 4x4 treated post on a large chunk of cinder block, which will get replaced with a screw jack when I get a chance to fab up a steel plate to tie the two joists together.



Thanks again for all the help! I'm off to throw a couple nails in it and then rework the pipes...

-Aric.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Sep 13, 2012 - 02:05pm PT
Good job!
I hope you sprayed something to kill the dry rot in the subfloor before you
put the joist in. You still could to some extent. I assume you are going
to connect the joists and the joists to the post with some framing anchors.
I know you don't have too much shaking back there but since you're down there...
adatesman

climber
philadelphia, pa
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 13, 2012 - 03:21pm PT
Holding off treating the dry rot for now, as the whole basement needs it once I get the water situation sorted out. And yup, the plate I'll be making will be maybe 2' long and L-shaped in cross section, to not only tie the joists together but also support them from underneath. I'll also weld the screwjack to it to help prevent it from tipping out should something move.
crunch

Social climber
CO
Sep 13, 2012 - 03:56pm PT
This repair looks great. I think you're on the right track. Repairs as needed, and keep 'em simple.

MeanwhileFrom the pictures you've posted I agree that dampness is the major, long term problem.
Pretty standard measures should get you most of the way there. French Drain. Gutters and downspouts (if you don't already have them?), lanscape the ground outside to slope away from the house for 6 feet or so. If one side is too high for this, try to construct a rough, basic swale to channel surface moisture around the perimeter to where it can drain away.

Not sure about the pitcher pump you mention. Kinda sounds like a hand operated version of a sump pump. So, you maybe have a high water table? flooding or drainnage into the basement?

If so, you may need a modern sump pump. Put it in the lowest bit of the basement. These work great. Here's one idea of how to install it:

http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/video/0,,1631605,00.html

For long term reliability install two. They do get clogged and stop pumping occasionally.

Removing all the dampness from the floors, lumber, stone, mortar can take months, even years, with such burly construction.

You can rent or buy a de-humifier to kickstart the process. Never used one myself:

http://www.lowes.com/cd_Dehumidifer+Buying+Guide_174021230_

They are used more typically for sudden flooding issues, to dry out building materials before they get damaged by damp. May be a waste of time for your situation where the dampness has been around for years.

Simpler might be to add a source of heat for the basement, at least for a few months. As air gets warmer it dries out. Good luck.
zBrown

Ice climber
chingadero de chula vista
Sep 13, 2012 - 05:25pm PT
On July 12, 1989, EPA issued a final rule banning most asbestos-containing products.

I'd say asbestos is a real can of worms. I'd gotten it in my head somehow that it was the 1950's. I still like "Ike", but he shoulda done more here.

For anyone interested:


http://www.epa.gov/asbestos/pubs/ban.html





Crimpergirl

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
Sep 13, 2012 - 05:40pm PT
Another awesome thread! Love all the insight and photos.
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