Foundation problems/ Sagging Door Frame....HELP!

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Foundation problems/ Sagging Door Frame....HELP!

Post by Heidi »

Sorry for the long post but it is a complicated problem. :(

We have a 2 1/2 story 1887 Stick Style/ Victorian. I have been avoiding looking into the cause of our sagging front door frame since we moved in...that is until yesterday. The hinge side of the door frame is about 1 1/2" lower than the latch side. It was angled somewhat when we bought the house 3 years ago and more recently seems to have gotten worse. The main beam (that supports the wall in question) is underneath the doorway and wall (it ends a couple of inches past the door at an inside corner). The beam runs along the top of the stone foundation and supports this part of the front wall of the house (the main structural supports for the floors and roof are supported on the perpedicular walls). I tried to look at the beam supporting the wall from the basement but our stone foundation is about 2' thick and I couldn't get a good look at it. So we pulled up a couple of floor boards from the front hall in front of the door. The beam that supports this wall is about 6" wide and 4" deep. It looks like the very end of the beam (where the sag is happening) was chopped when the waste pipe was put in (probably 80 years ago), although I can't figure out how it was originally seated. I can't tell whether the beam was originally supported along its length or at either end. So now this beam is sitting on a brick a couple of feet from the end. What we think caused further sagging is that the previous owner had the porch redone in 1998. He removed the porch floor joist that was pocketed into the foundation wall below the problemed beam and installed a new one. While doing this he loosened this area of the foundation leaving the main beam sitting precariously on a chunk of brick. So now we need to jack up this end of the beam and put in on something solid.

The first problem is that there is only about 2" of clearance below the beam at the end so we can't get a jack in. The second problem is once we get it jacked up we need something solid to sit it on.

Has anyone ever had a similar problem? Did they fix it themselves?

Our preliminary thoughts are to cut away some of the foundation near the end of the beam and put the jack in. Then jack it up and try to bolt some pressure treated wood to the foundation and set the beam on this. Are we crazy to do this ourselves?

John Densler

Re: Foundation problems/ Sagging Door Frame....HEL

Post by John Densler »

This is a similar problem that was experienced in This Ols House in the Winchester House. The previous plumbers were "Wood Butchers" and destroyed the structural integrity of the home. It seems as if you have had a similar experience. The only solution is to rip out until you can get access to what needs to be changed. Trus Joist laminate beams are much stronger than 2x wood if you are having a space problem.


Don M

Re: Foundation problems/ Sagging Door Frame....HEL

Post by Don M »

Heidi, You also really need to be sure that your sill beam has not rotted and collapsed where you can't see it. Our big barn experienced a similar problem as a result of water & insect damage. In my case, I hired a company to repair the structure as it was an engineering feat to raise the barn, replace the damaged sill, and re-establishe the structural integrity of the building. It sounds from your description that access is a problem that you will have to solve. Depending on how big your house is; you may want to hire this repair out as jcking can cause damage to plaster and cause doors & windows to stick or jamb. Good Luck, Don


Re: Foundation problems/ Sagging Door Frame....HEL

Post by bridget »


Hope I am not offending by asking a ball park figure on having that company replace your sill??

My husband & my father-in-law insist that they can do it, but I am concerned & waiting for them to do it also bothers me...but that is another subject!!

Just wondering if it is even economically feasable for me to get it done by someone who "knows" what they are doing???

Thanks bridget

hope I have not offended


Re: Foundation problems/ Sagging Door Frame....HEL

Post by Heidi »

Don, Fortunately the sill is in good shape (knock on wood). I can see parts of it and squeeze in there and touch it in a couple of places. It feel solid and there are no sign of cracks or infestation. The only things that are on that wall that jacking should effect are the front door (which is already 1 1/2" out of alignment) and a window in the second floor bathroom. This window does not appear to be out of plumb and opens fine, but it is several feet away from the problemed end of the wall. There is no ceiling currently in the front hall (which is part of the reason for doing this now) and the plaster in the front hall has definately already been patched several times and needs some help anyway.

So after much thought and worrying I am feeling better about doing this ourselves. The more I thought about it I think that the problem stems from the pocketing of the porch beam below this area.

Here is the plan that I have outlined. Please feel free to comment on any potential problems you see. Our plan is partially based on the links below. We are going to chisel out part of the foundation past where the brick is currently supporting the beam (being very careful not to touch the brick). We are going to chisel down to where the foundation is more solid and so that there is enough room to get a 12 ton low profile hydraulic jack and space for the pressure treated wood that will act as the final support. Then we will put down a steel plate (1/2" min. thickness). Then we will put another plate on top of the jack. Then we will jack up at about 1/16" a day while putting in temporary supports on either side of the jack each day so that if the jack fails we won't see the wall crashing down. So now we just have to wait until our new jack arrives. And then pull up the floor boards every day and jack for about the next month.

Please say a prayer four our house. Now if I could just get my husband to put our website up. At least I will make sure that I take a lot of digital pictures. ... aising.htm ... _raise.htm


Re: Foundation problems/ Sagging Door ...FollowUp

Post by Heidi »

So I thought I would follow up on our foundation/ sill work. It is all done. YEAH! We bought a 12 ton low profile jack from Sears. We pulled out the loose bricks and concrete from the foundation...which was frightening easy. Then we put a 1/4" steel plate on the cleared solid part of the foundation (about 8" lower then the sill) to set the jack on. Then we added a wider 12"x6" steel plate to the top of the jack. Then we started jacking....that lasted over a week. Every night we would take up the floor boards in the front hall and give the jack a couple of jacks. After the floor was level we filled in on either side of the jack with concrete bricks and cement (including either side of the steel plate above). Then we removed the jack (which was the scariest part). Finally we filled in the remaining hole with more brick. The only problems that we encountered with the front door was that the molding on the inside of the door buckled a little in the middle (we haven't fixed that yet). The door opens much better now! We did have a little plaster cracking around the door frame but less then I was expecting.

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