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Question DetailsAsked on 6/18/2016

one of the main floor joist is broke & one of the cylinder blocks under house has shifted. How to fix this issue?

House was built in 1950. Has been added unto 2 to 3 times that we know of. Joist that is supporting original kitchen and original back porch (now washroom) is split. There are two soft spots that are very dominment one in the kitchen next to the washroom and one in living room (which used to be the original garage. There is a line running length wise from living room all the way through kitchen on floor that is uneven with rest of house. I suspect either house was added onto here or where the joist is directly under. The crawl space is built on cylinder blocks and one of the cylinder block columns have shifted this is directly under original back porch (now washroom).

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1 Answer


I presume you mean cinder blocks (or CMU - concrete masonry unit - typical block wall materials) - though I could well imagine someone using old engine cylinder blocks for footers - I have seen stranger things, including old appliances (washer, dryer) filled with concrete as a footer for supporting posts.

Since this house is old and has been added onto several times, has sagging ceiling and floor with broken floor joist and failing/failed support column, I would say while you could get a Foundation Repair or Remodeling - General Contractor in there for some quick and dirty scab-on type repairs, the right thing to do (and likely to be needed to get building permit in most areas) is to have a Structural Engineer look at the house structure, additions, and foundations for probably $1000 ballpark for inspection and repair design, with sketches/drawings suitable for the building permit, for bidders to bid from, and to serve as a major part of the scope of work for the chosen contractor to build to.

Your call on the shifted cinder block column - if it looks iffy in the short term, you might want to immediately have a Foundation Repair contractor put in temporary shoring/jacks until the final repair can be done, because if that column fails totally it could result in much more expensive damage. At a minimum, a Handyman could put in a concrete precast foundation block and a wood post with metal joist bracket under the joist for probably a couple hundred $, ,just snug to hold it in place temporarily, not intending at this time to actually jack it back up to original position (which would probably cause the cinder block column to collapse the rest of the way and might cause other support column movements you don't want right now). That at least might stop a progressive collapse situation in the short run.

Long run fix depends on whether framing or addition load-transfer or foundation failure are the root cause of the problem, and of course how much the fix might cost for either a bare-bones prop-it-up fix versus a "proper" complete remedy will come into play, along with your ability to pay, how long you intend to lie in this house, and how much the house is worth at resale and whether the "proper" fix will increase the value relative to a somewhat jury-rigged fix.

This can be a significant factor in older homes - for instance, the ceiling fix might take replacing the attic or upstairs joists to eliminate the sag - alternatively the quick-and-dirty fix might be to put in a supporting beam or new wall across the ceiling joists to support them, which affects the appearance and possibly functionality of the house but would generally be much cheaper. Ditto on the floor joist - "proper fix" might be replacing the foundation columns and some joists, the quick fix might be to go with additional piers or columns under the house and sister new joists or repair plates of steel or plywood onto the cracked one(s) to repair them in-place - which would not be "pretty" and could affect the resale valule bacause the fact it had/has a significant structural issue would be obvious, whereas the "right fix" would end up looking like new, albeit at greater cost.

However, spending a lot of money on an older house may not pay off in the long run, espeically if lower end. I have also seen older houses soakk up hundreds of thousands of $ in repair costs "the right way" and move from low-end for their neighborhood to the gem of the neighborhood with dramatic increases in property value, so your financial situation and plans for the house greatly affect the way you go - and you need to have this in mind when talking to the engineer (and maybe your favorite realtor) before he comes up with the remedial/repair design, so he knows which way to lean on the repairs.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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