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Sagging Porch - New Footings?

Hello all. I am posting to get some feedback on what can be done about our sagging porch. We live in Northern New York, where the frost line is deep and most all old porches are sagging.

Our problem seems that the existing footers for the porch, which are the old metal pipe, seem to be sinking. This could be due to just settling. I am unsure what they used to do for those types of footings when they were put in.

Our porch is still in decent shape, but not new by any standards. I was looking to see what type of job am I looking at.

I assume the best course of action would be to pour new concrete footings for the porch. Is it feasible to put in such large and deep footers without needing to replace most of the porch? Or will I be replacing most of the front porch to make room for the footers?

Here is a link to a bunch of photos I have taken of the porch: Photos of Porch

You will notice from the front picture of the steps and the side picture that the the first footer seems to be doing ok, but the middle is sagging the worse. Just right of the steps.

Any comments, questions, and feedback are welcome. Thanks.

A. Spruce
Re: Sagging Porch - New Footings?

I would recommend that you have several local contractors come in and take a look. It looks like that whole front wall is rolling outward and it's affecting the porch roof posts, which in turn is affecting the roof. Lifting could cause leaks in the roof, unavoidable, but a certainly a possibility. Main support footings do need to get down below frost line, preferably with a flared base to keep the heave cycles of the earth from lifting the column from the sides.

The framing of the porch itself doesn't look too bad, there may be some issues with the skirt framing and belly band, but for the most part, from the pix, it looks ok.

Will you be able to do any of this work yourself? This will completely depend on your DIY capabilities and tools. This is definitely more of a professional skill level project.

Re: Sagging Porch - New Footings?

As Spruce mentioned, your first step should be calling a few local contractors and get their input.

There are many things that we can't see in the pictures, and other things that local contractors know, that we don't know. Things like minimum frost depth, use of metal posts, and so on. What I can see in the pictures are some damaged pieces, which should be replaced.

After you get their opinions, you'll have a clearer view on what has to be done.

As far as new, beefed up footings: they can be put in without ripping the porch out, at least on the perimeter.

Re: Sagging Porch - New Footings?

I don't see any footings at all on this porch. It looks like you have a couple of lally columns holding up the front of the porch deck and have some skirting around the perimeter. It also looks like the rim joist on the front has some rot in it where it is sagging. Off hand I would say that the perimeter foundation of the porch is severely underbuilt from what I can make out in the photos.

The rest of the porch looks good though. You could go in and jack up and support the porch a foot or two behind the rim joist. You would also have to support the roof with a couple of 2x4s from the ground to the roof just outside of the perimeter. You will need to jack the roof up some but really only back to its original position and maybe a half inch more to set the supports.

Then you can replace the rim joist, but I would do more than just that. I would put a good footing under each column, then a perimeter foundation and then rebuild the walls all the way up to the columns, with a 4x4 or double 2x4s under each column all the way down to the foundation. You could probably reuse a lot of the material you have now, but use only new PT or rot resistant wood under the columns and those supports should be tied to the porch framing so it can't bow out in the future. The porch framing should be lag bolted to the foundation of the house so it can't pull away in the future. You may find that it isn't tied to the house very well right now because they used to do it that way.

Re: Sagging Porch - New Footings?

Thanks all for your suggestions and comments. You've been very helpful.

I have a decent skill level when it comes to DIY, however I have not tackled a larger project such as this one. I will probably get some outside help on the structural components such as jacking up the roof, digging and pouring the footers, and getting the new supports in place for the joists. A lot of the other work with finishing my wife and I can handle.

We have had one contractor out to look at the porch and he had the same concerns as mentioned. We'll have to keep an eye on the porch roof when jacking back up. We want to avoid any gaps and leaks. Luckily, the front left corner of the porch has not sunk at all and it still flush on that side. The right side has pulled away slightly, but no signs of leaks or problems with the flashing.

Most of the work will be reconstructing/redesigning/rebuilding the parts surrounding the porch. The clapboard has had it's day and so has the wood that's touching dirt.

I am curious to see what type of solution used to be in place for the metal posts that are supposed to hold up the front of the porch. From what I have heard, they could just be jammed into the dirt, or on rocks, or some sort of crude concrete could have been used. Whatever it was, it's given up.

One unfortunate thing is that the columns look like they may need to be replaced, which may lead into some work that needs to be done with the roof. The columns have rotted once at the top plate/railing and have been repaired with replacing a section with some Pressure treated 6x6, but it is only a temporary solution.

I am happy to hear from both the you guys, and the contractor that I will not have to rip out the porch for the footings. Like has been said, most of it is in decent shape and doesn't necessarily need to be replaced.

Since cost is a factor in this rebuild, we will be doing our best to salvage all that we can.

Thanks again, and if you have any other questions or comments, feel free. If I remember, I will try and take some photos of when the project gets underway, as well as finished, and will post them.

Re: Sagging Porch - New Footings?

Feedback is always appreciated. If you take enough photos and do enough work for yourself, you may be able to enter it into one of the owner projects contests that TOH holds.

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