Installing Lally Columns & Footings for Girder Beam

KodyWallice

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  • #1
One of the first things I noticed while looking at this house when we were in the market was the lousy shape of the basement. I heard that there was a little moisture on the floor (the remedy of which I will discuss later), was informed by the home inspector that the insulation fitted in between the floor (upstairs) joists was installed up side down (which I already fixed), and some of the foundation mortar joints needed to be finished. But one thing that really stood out to me was noticed when I was upstairs. In the living room and along the hallway that runs the length of the house, there seemed to be a slight dip. Now, this really annoys me, not because I am a little on the anal side when it comes to this stuff, but because when I was renting an apartment a few years back, I actually had to use a rope tied from my rolling chair to the corner leg of my desk to stop the chair from rolling to the center of the room when I was sitting on it. That is how crooked and sagging the floor was. After a year of that, you can understand why I was so angered by this little dip. I had to find out what was causing it.

I went downstairs into the basement and inspected the entire foundation. No cracks. It looked fine. I went to Home Depot and bought one of those laser line tools. I mounted the laser light on one side of the girder beam and ran it down the entire length…AH HA! The center of the beam towards the middle of the house was about an inch lower than the ends at the foundation. Looks like the original lally columns and footings settled a bit over time. Well, looks like I found my first project.

lally_column_footing_1.jpg

Along with the orignal lally columns, was also a little concerned about the cement block column (all the way to the left of the picture above). It was installed on a tilt. So that, along with two settled lally column footings, gave me a sense of urgency. I was in the mood for a challenge anyway. I decided to put in three additional footings and columns, this time to maximum code compliance. I would put one column in between each of the existing columns.

I dug the first hole closest to the foundation wall. I dug it about one and a half feet deep. Then, I constructed a form from cut 2″x10″s so it would create a footing of two feet wide by one foot high. Then, I hung a plumb line from the girder beam just to make sure the form was exactly centered under the beam. I measured this about 10 times. I also made sure the form was perfectly level.

lally_column_footing_2.jpg
lally_column_footing_3.jpg

Once again, I measured the actual form to make sure I cut everything correctly. I kept thinking that one day the building inspector was going to show up with a micrometer and inspect everything I did. I actually called the building department and they told me that this did not need to be inspected since I was adding in between the existing footings, and they met compliance back when the house was built.

lally_column_footing_4.jpg

Building code calls for the footing to be one foot deep by two feet wide. Since I made a form from 2″x10″s, I needed to keep it about 2-3 inches off the ground. I accomplished this by propping the form up on some rocks that I dug up. Then, I measured to make sure I was perfect (again). I really needed to do this a lot, it kept shifting.

lally_column_footing_5.jpg

When everything was absolutely perfect, I mixed a few bags of Quikrete Concrete Mix in my wheelbarrow. The form took a total of 7 bags. I smoothed it out real nice.

lally_column_footing_6.jpg

I waited a day for the concrete to set and then popped off the form.

lally_column_footing_7.jpg

Now that's what I call footing. Let that sucker try to settle. One thing I forgot to mention was that I sprayed water from my hose into the empty hole before I put the form in, then I let it dry. That made sure the dirt was nice and compact. I also put in a few pieces of rebar for added strength. You don’t need to do that for a footing this small, but I didn’t want to take any chances.

The cement calls for a cure time of 7 days for a 2500psi compressive strength and a 28 day cure time for the full 4000psi compressive strength. I have heard that concrete never stops curing. You also need to make sure the concrete stays moist to cure correctly. I am sure we all have seen a sidewalk that hasn’t cured properly…chipping and flaking to expose the gravel contained within. To follow the instructions, I filled in around the footing, wet the top of it and layed some plastic over it. I wet the top every day for 7 days.

lally_column_footing_8.jpg

I followed these same exact steps for the next two footings. The following photo is of the final completed footing.

lally_column_footing_9.jpg

For the last column, I decided to try my hand at building a cement block wall. There was room and how else is a new homeowner supposed to get experience? Those temporary columns on the right came out of there after I was done…they stayed on hold for a future project.

lally_column_footing_10.jpg

Believe it or not, this wall is perfectly level in every direction. I filled the last two blocks in solid because that's where I put the weight of the girder beam.

After all the concrete in the footings was cured properly, I went to a local lumberyard, purchased three lally columns and had them cut to my measurements. These are the familiar maroon ones filled with concrete. I'm not sure of the weight each one can support, but I have a feeling it is more than enough. I then purchased a 20 ton bottle jack and jacked up the area next to each existing column. When there was enough clearance from the plate on the top of the each column and the bottom of the girder beam, I slid in a quarter inch thick 6″x6″ square steel plate. I did this for each existing column as a spacer. I read somewhere that you should only jack up a house one eighth of an inch per day so the sheetrock upstairs won’t crack. I did a quarter inch per day because I was going to tackle the upstairs sheetrock later anyway. After about a week, and enough spacers to make the girder beam perfectly straight, as indicated by my laser, I jacked up the girder beam and put in each new lally column on each new footing. Each one had a great tight fit.

If you are planning a project like this, I really suggest you have a professional do it. You can get quite freaked out by all the squeaking that the wood does when it is jacked up.

In the photo below, you can see all of the lally columns in a row…the originals and the new ones. What a project! No more dip in the floor upstairs…nice and level. Just wait until I'm done digging out the entire basement. Almost there…

lally_column_footing_11.jpg
 
15Katey

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  • #2
You continue to impress me with your feats of daring do.
 
JodyBuchanan

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If you are digging out your cellar, be careful. I know of one homeowner who was removing dirt from his cellar and he had fieldstone walls for a foundation. Well, it was pouring outside on a Saturday night when my husband got a phone call in the middle of a ball game saying that his friend's foundation wall just caved in. He asked if my husband could help him out. Well, he went there and sure enough, the homeowner had taken too much dirt out in one spot and water had begun to come into his basement along with a section of his wall that lay in a rubble.
 
KodyWallice

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JodyBuchanan said:
If you are digging out your cellar, be careful. I know of one homeowner who was removing dirt from his cellar and he had fieldstone walls for a foundation. Well, it was pouring outside on a Saturday night when my husband got a phone call in the middle of a ball game saying that his friend's foundation wall just caved in. He asked if my husband could help him out. Well, he went there and sure enough, the homeowner had taken too much dirt out in one spot and water had begun to come into his basement along with a section of his wall that lay in a rubble.
Yes, good point. You do need to be very careful when doing any digging in the basement, especially with a stone foundation. Sometimes things are better left alone. Luckily, our foundation was poured (constructed), built, and then back filled. I know exactly where the footing is.
 
KristinaW

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Hey - I have a similar issue. My house only has 1 original beam across the center of the home. The home inspector suggested adding 2 additional beams and installing lally colums to support those. When you say you used 7 bags to make that footing, how much was that? Seven 50 lb bags, 80 lb bags?
 
KodyWallice

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KristinaW said:
Hey - I have a similar issue. My house only has 1 original beam across the center of the home. The home inspector suggested adding 2 additional beams and installing lally colums to support those. When you say you used 7 bags to make that footing, how much was that? Seven 50 lb bags, 80 lb bags?
I believe they were 80lb bags. Also, the laser level was key with this project.
 
15Katey

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What did you use to secure the lally columns to the concrete?
 
KodyWallice

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15Katey said:
What did you use to secure the lally columns to the concrete?
Nothing. I didn't think they'd move at all, so I left them merely pressed onto the concrete by the weight of the house. Although, you do bring up a valid point. I wouldn't want to back into one of them with a ride-on lawnmower or something some day. I'll need to look into securing them somehow.
 
EmeraldHike

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I don’t know why you say that people should not do this on their own and instead hire a professional. Have you left anything out? Is there anything in particular to look out for in the beginning that would prohibit your method? I like the way you over-engineer things – a professional probably would not do that. These questions are purely academic in that I live in a house with no basement and most of the houses built in the last 20 years in my half of the state are on a slab. BTW, thanks for your post.
 
15Katey

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Thanks for sharing your experience! I live in a house that was built in the 1840s and it has TEMPORARY adjustable steel jacks in the basement! I’ve already replaced one of them and another one has now rusted out and fallen! I had no idea what to do (besides continue the cycle of replacement). I have spent the last hour looking for the proper way to fix this problem and every website tells me all sorts of stuff that has nothing to do with what I have going on. Yours was the EXACT answer that I needed. I already have cement in my basement but since I am unsure of the thickness of the cement, I will still add the footers like you did. I will also purchase lallys to replace every temporary jack. I appreciate the detail in your descriptions and the great pictures so that I know exactly what to do. Thanks again!
 
KodyWallice

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15Katey said:
Thanks for sharing your experience! I live in a house that was built in the 1840s and it has TEMPORARY adjustable steel jacks in the basement! I’ve already replaced one of them and another one has now rusted out and fallen! I had no idea what to do (besides continue the cycle of replacement). I have spent the last hour looking for the proper way to fix this problem and every website tells me all sorts of stuff that has nothing to do with what I have going on. Yours was the EXACT answer that I needed. I already have cement in my basement but since I am unsure of the thickness of the cement, I will still add the footers like you did. I will also purchase lallys to replace every temporary jack. I appreciate the detail in your descriptions and the great pictures so that I know exactly what to do. Thanks again!
In your case, if you see the bottoms of the lally columns rusting due to moisture on the ground, since you're going to be pouring new footing anyway, you may want to consider making those footings extra thick so they are raised off the ground a foot or so. That'll keep them dry. Also, you can spray some oil on the bottoms of the columns so they don't rust out so fast. Just some ideas...
 
KodyWallice

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How to Fix a Sagging Joist​

This is another post that has to do with sagging floor joists and how to fix them.

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I don’t think I mentioned this before…I know I took some pictures though. A few weekends ago, I added a bunch of lights in the basement. I rewired the whole thing for a total of 8 high efficiency 100w (equivalent) fluorescent light bulbs. They only use 23 watts each. Now, the whole basement glows like a Christmas tree when I turn the lights on. Nice! I like being able to see the dark corners.

temporary-floor-supports-lally-columns-floor-joists.jpg

Anyway, here is the reason for this post. The other day, I was upstairs walking in the dining room. We recently added a little shelf/table thing against the wall. When I walked near it, it shook. I started softly bouncing on the floor and the shelve shook more. Also, there was a slight dip in the floor in that area. I could tell that I had a slightly bouncy joist. “Hmmmm”, I thought. “How the heck am I going to fix this bouncy joist…that sags as well?” I knew the answer, but as usual, I looked all over online. I found the typical solutions; add cross braces, sister the joist with a new one or add a post. Well, let me just tell you that adding cross braces doesn’t do a damn thing. You should add them when you build the house. They offer a slightly stiffer solution, but did nothing in this case. I added four of them between three joists (really tight) and it may have added a little more bounce. Hard to believe, I know. Also, the sagging was there more than ever. This was two weekends ago. (I am not sure that “sagging” would be the correct term…more like a slightly warped joist.)

Last weekend came and I said to myself, “I am going to tear this sucker apart. I am going to take down all the insulation, cross braces and wires and sister up two joists. That will stiffen it up.” Well, I went downstairs, took one look at the joists and had a flashback. I remember sistering up about 20 joists right after we moved in to find that they did absolutely nothing. Perhaps if you have a really old cabin in the woods or something, sistering joists would help, but not in this case. I wanted a hard, stiff floor that I could jump on. I like to party.

This weekend came and I was on a mission. Yesterday, I used an extra piece of 6×6 that I had laying around and my 20 ton bottle jack. I jacked up the one joist that I thought was the culprit. I put some good pressure on it and walked upstairs. Well, low and behold, I could walk on that area of the room and go nuts. Stiff as a board…to say. I knew that a 6×6 would look just look like some wacko fix down in the basement. I am really trying to keep this place from looking like it was pieced together. Having that happen is way too easy when you are trying to run a clean ship like this. I needed an excuse to put a board there. I called Tim next door over and we both agreed that a two foot wide wall wouldn’t be a bad idea. I could hang stuff off of it and all that.

small-basement-wall.jpg

So here is what I did. Sorry for the dust spots in the photo…I just swept up the floor. While the joist was jacked up, I cut a 2×6 nice and tight. I hammered that sucka right in there. Then, I put the rest of the puzzle together. I let the jack down and there we have it…perfect. I tested it out upstairs and everything feels great. Now, all I need to do is to get some 3/4″ plywood to box it in and I am good. I’ll get a few hooks or something and hang a few things off of it to make it look like I put it there on purpose.

I think that was pretty damn creative. The moral of the story is, when you have a bouncy floor or a sagging joist, you gotta use a post. Don’t try to get around it, just do it. I’m outta here.
 
KristinaW

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Seen the same problem with sag on a exterior porch roof.
thinking of adding perlines or braces inbetween the roofing joists-raftors! the joists are straight from the end walls where supported. its about a 10 foot span–width- wise!
thinking–not sure–? putting in perlines about every 2 1/2 foot instead of just in middle to slowly bring out the sag in the middle! probably in this case–going to have to replace the sagging members anyway–but just a thought that might work???
possibly going to jack up the members slightly and then experiment to see if every 2 1/2 foot from end walls actually brings out the sag in middle! adding post bracing in middle in this case–just would not look good! also going to have to replace facial which is sagged pitifully in middle.yes–middle braces-perlines should have been thought of when the porches were initially built on the 10 foot span–but unfortunately not!

Edit: Purlin, not perline.
 
15Katey

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Excellent the way you fix things, keep these posts coming! Any chance you’re doing something on showers as mine is broken?
 
KodyWallice

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  • #15

Setting Up a Cheap Basement Support Beam​

The next two posts have to do with setting up a floor support in a different house. This time, the upstairs floor was springy and somewhat sagging in the middle. I fixed that with some light support beams down underneath the floor in the basement.

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A quick note before I begin. The beam I set up a few minutes ago is not meant to bear weight. It’s simply meant to lift the floor above about a quarter inch and to reduce its sagging. I would also like to take the spring out of the floor as well. Good. Glad I said that.

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned that I wanted to finish up with the basement and start working upstairs. I now call upstairs, the “Log Cabin.” Before I get up there though, I need to shore up the upstairs floor and to do that, I’m going to need to install a support beam that spans the entire floor. I also need two to three wooden posts to hold up the support beam. Today, I set up the support beam. FYI – back in my earlier blogging days, I called this type of support beam a “girder” beam. I just looked at the definition of a girder beam and found out that it’s a beam with joists attached to it. What I’m setting up downstairs definitely doesn’t have joists attached to it, so I decided to call it a support beam.

I thought I’d get this little project finished today. I didn’t. To do that, I’m going to need my floor jack. Unfortunately, my floor jack is out in the garage and the garage floor is currently under about two inches of ice. The jack is on the concrete, so that means my jack is pretty much welded to the floor. I’ll have to work on chipping that out tomorrow. Another FYI – the garage has no doors and water oftentimes finds its way inside. Very unfinished and barn-like garage.

Anyway, I took a few pictures of the first part of setting up the floor support this afternoon. While I was out today getting my truck inspected (another post), I stopped by the building supply to grab eight 2x4s. I figured that’s all I would need to get done what I needed to get done. Upon arriving at the homestead, I was correct. It’s a small project that doesn’t require more.

In as few words as possible, I basically ran two 2x4s across all the floor joists and screwed them there. Then, I screwed two sets of eight foot 2x4s together and connected them to the 2x4s I just screwed to the joists. These will act as my support beam. Tomorrow, when I am able to access my floor jack, I’ll finish the project by lifting the floor and installing the wooden columns. That’ll be fun because I’ll get to use my laser level. Don’t worry, I’ll take pics.

If you’re interested in what I did today, check out the pictures below.

2x4-floor-posts.jpg

The length of the floor I’m working on is sixteen feet. That makes working with eight foot 2x4s very easy. I picked up eight of them today.

floor-support-beam.jpg

This is my first run of 2x4s across the floor joists. This is extra lumber I pulled out of the upstairs bathroom. These 2x4s are laying flat against the joists.

screwing-together-floor-beam.jpg

For the meat of the support beam, I screwed together two sets of 2x4s. I planned on attaching these vertically to the 2×4 I already screwed to the joists.

floor-support-beams.jpg

This is just another picture of the boards I screwed together. This time, my screw gun is in there.

screw-in-wood.jpg

In order to attach these now “4x4s” to the board running across the floor joists, I needed to drill some angled holes and set the screws in them. I did two screwed on each side of each set of lumber.

assembling-floor-support-beam.jpg

When I had the boards in place, I simply used my screw gun to sink the screws. Being only eight feet long, these boards were fairly easy to deal with.

completed-basement-floor-support-beam.jpg

And this is what I ended up with when I was finished. Sixteen feet of board running across the entire length of the upstairs floor. Now tomorrow, all I need to do is to set up the columns. Stay tuned.

One last thing – You may be asking why I chose to work with 2x4s instead of 2x6s or 4x4s. Well, I did this because 2x4s are cheap. You can oftentimes screw 2x4s together to make a 4×4 for less than the cost of the 4×4. Not always, but sometimes. In this case, each 2×4 was $2.99, so that would’ve been $5.98 for an equivalent 4×4. Unfortunately, I was in a rush this afternoon and never checked the price of the 4x4s. I’ll have to get back to you on that.
 
KodyWallice

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  • #16

Fixing a Sagging Floor​

I finished up the basement support beam last night. We no longer have a floor in the log cabin that sags or bounces. When you walk up there, it’s as firm as a fiddle. And the solution only cost me around $15.

I already showed you the first half of this project. If you haven’t read it yet, you can find it right here. If you have, then just keep on reading.

Since I had already set up the support beam, all I had to do was get some lumber, set up some cement blocks, do some measuring and cutting and BAM – done. So that’s what I did. And I have pictures to prove it. I’ll go through them below.

laser-level-floor-joist.jpg

leveling-floor-joist.jpg

testing-sagging-floor-joist.jpg

The first thing I like to do when I’m fixing a sagging floor is to see how bad it really is. In this case, I knew the situation wasn’t terrible. Probably a half inch at most. What we really noticed and what the main problem was was the bounce. Laura would stand on one part of the floor and I would jump on another. Let’s just say she would feel it. So that was my main concern. The floor has a 12 foot span across, so it really needed some sort of a support below.

It’s very simple to measure the sag of a floor with a laser level. I like to set it up with a regular thumb tack and then let the laser do the rest. I start the laser on the lower most part of the floor joist and run it along the beam to the lowest part of the other side. If you see a red line somewhere in the middle, you have a joist that sags. And if you measure how far the line is up on the joist, you’ll know how much does.

measuring-additional-girder-beam.jpg

cement-blocks-basement.jpg

Next, I measured where I was going to put the posts. Initially, I was going to screw together two 2x4s each to create two 4x4s. That would give me two posts. I changed my mind when I realized that I didn’t need that much strength down there. The posts are only holding up less than 100 pounds, so I decided to keep them as 2x4s and put in three. Three is better than two.

After I measured where I was going to put the posts (4 feet apart), I hung a weighted string to cement blocks below. I wanted the cement blocks directly centered below the posts. This would make things very simple when it was time to install each post.

floor-support-post.jpg

This picture is out of order. I simply wanted to show you the floor jack and board I used to jack up the floor. Later on and once the cement blocks were set up, I put the jack on the cement floor and worked from there. Here, I was looking to see how heavy the floor was going to be.

leveling-floor-support-post.jpg

After I jacked up each section where each post would go, I placed the 2×4 on the cement blocks. I marked where to cut them, cut them and pushed them into place. I made sure to keep them level and then let the jack down. If I did a good job measuring, the floor wouldn’t lower. It didn’t.

small-girder-beam-support.jpg

Since there was very little weight at the end of the support beam, I used a piece of 2×4 to hold that section up. It was dipping down slightly, so this was necessary.

additional-basement-floor-support-posts.jpg

A perfect job. Now, the floor doesn’t bounce at all and is totally level. The picture above looks distorted because of my wide angle lens. Don’t let that fool you – things are straight.
 
Installing Lally Columns & Footings for Girder Beam was posted on 08-15-2021 by KodyWallice in the Home Forum forum.

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