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Raising Beam

We plan to have a 100 year old timber center beam and posts replaced in our basement with steel during a basement remodel. The three posts have over the years sunk about 2-3 inches relative to the foundation walls. Therefore, all my floors slope to the center of the house. In order to replace the timber beam with steel, either the joists will need to be raised and made level with each other and the foundation, or each joist will need to be shimmed or sistered to a level point to properly rest on the steel beam. My contractor wants to first try to raise the joists to make them level. In doing that, he would raise slowly and see what damage, if any, occurs on the two upper levels (hardwood floors buckle, plaster and drywall cracks, windows break, etc.). If too much damage is occuring or seems about to occur, he will resort to shims under each joist. Has anyone had this work done or did it themselves and have any pointers? We had one suggestion of trying to raise the joists very slowly, over a few-month period, but obviously contractors don't want to take that amount of time for a project like this. Any comments would be appreciated. Note -- frame house, 100 years old, unfinished basement, finished upper two levels.

Re: Raising Beam

Your contractor is taking the right approach on attempting to raise the timbers - you have to take it slow to allow the house to settle into the raising slowly, to avoid cracks in the walls (note that even a "proper" raising may still crack walls).

Personally, I'd get screwjacks down there, ask the contractor how much and how often to crank them, and raise it myself slowly, with the contractor making periodic checks (IF local code will allow it). If you get the timbers raised successfully, you need to ask the contractor if he'd recomment sistering in LVL beams wherever possible, to reduce the chance of further settling. Then before putting in new support columns, make sure they create a really deep, secure footing for each of them (it sounds like the old columns weren't given enough support) before installing them (this may require leaving the screwjack beams in place several feet away from the final positions of the new columns to allow room to create proper footings).

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