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smatigian
Porch Separation
smatigian

1923 craftsman. Upper portion of the steps has a separation of approximately 1/2 inch. Attached is a link of the photos. The pictures behind the steps (crawlspace) shows the connection between the house and steps. There is approximately a foot of wood which extends from the bottom of the porch to approximately the top of the second step from the top. I was advised to fur out that portion of the top of the stairs (it is the same wood that you see in the crawlspace.) Any other suggestions? Thank you in advance for your help.

https://porchseparation.shutterfly.com/pictures/8

HoustonRemodeler
Re: Porch Separation
HoustonRemodeler

The steps are going to continue to fall, as well as rise and fall with the seasons.

I'd be looking at shoving some backer rod in there then caulking. Wait a few months / years and repeat until the steps are re-leveled.

Fencepost
Re: Porch Separation
Fencepost

It is likely that the steps were built on top of organic soil (humus) rather than supported from mineral soil (clay). As a result, they have settled unevenly. The seasonal freeze/thaw cycle will continue to cause the steps to move; any patch to the existing steps will be a band-aid that will only last a year or two. The good news is that the steps appear to be monolithic, moving as a unit with no cracking. This reduces the danger of imminent failure.

The ideal fix is to completely remove the steps and rebuild them. New steps should have a footing dug down to mineral soil, to eliminate seasonal movement. Concrete, brick, or stone steps should be independent of the house structure, not attached in any way, as differences in movement between the house and the steps would cause something to fail. Wood steps should be attached to the house structure for additional stability, and should also be placed on a suitable footing.

The footing doesn't have to be concrete all the way down to the mineral soil. You could used packed, crushed gravel as a base. Though there could be seasonal movement, it will be minimal compared to the movement of organic soil. If you do use a concrete footing, it should be below the frost line.

A. Spruce
Re: Porch Separation
A. Spruce

I agree with both my compatriots,.

The short term fix is backer rod and caulk. Backer rod is necessary for gaps in excess of 1/4". However, this just covers the gap, it's not a "wrong" repair, but it's not a repair that will withstand the test of time. As long as the steps are in otherwise good condition and the transition from the top step to the porch is not a trip hazard, caulking would be the easiest and cheapest solution.

If the steps are in poor condition and/or there is a trip hazard at the step/porch transition, then the only real alternative is replacement of the steps. You could try mud jacking, but quite honestly, for the expense of that particular maneuver, you could have new steps set on a foundation that isn't going to move on you. Further, if you don't fix the foundation issue, mud jacking isn't likely going to be a permanent fix either.

smatigian
Re: Porch Separation
smatigian

Thank you, all, for your advice. One last question: Would anyone's answer be different if I am not in a freeze/thaw area -- Southern California?

A. Spruce
Re: Porch Separation
A. Spruce

Nope! California has been in a drought situation for the past decade, the ground dries up and shrinks, things move/sink because of it. Now California is getting wet, ground is expanding and stuff is gonna move because of it. I have seen sidewalks drop 3 inches and brick facades separate due to this.

smatigian
Re: Porch Separation
smatigian

Thank you very much for your advice and taking the time to respond.

dj1
Re: Porch Separation
dj1

In Southern California we are subject to movements and shifts. Your new stair case should be properly anchored.

If you look at the picture of your stairs, the footing should go under the first step and the sides. Two feet deep by one foot wide, with rebar

smatigian
Re: Porch Separation
smatigian

Great help. Thank you for your response.

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