Levelling a 40 year old bungalows main floor?

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Posted by: from Stony Plain
11/25/2012 at 3:54:03 PM

We just moved into a 40 year old house. We started to do some minor renovations but we quickly noticed that the main floor was slightly un-level. From west to east it drops about an inch from the foundation wall to the first tele-post on the bedroom side and then goes back up over the next two to the foundation wall.

We have a finished basement, and the basement was finished probably 20 years ago (drywall around the exterior and ceiling, and wood panelling on all of the interior walls). However, the utility room which takes up a large portion is unfinished: from here we can access all of the plumbing for the main bathroom, en-suite, and kitchen and the hot water tank and furnace are also located here. I can access three tele-posts (one tele-post was not even being used, I had to block it up with two flat 2 x 4's and make a new plate so I could at least get it to the beam to snug it up).

I have a feeling that the house was built like this. So I was wondering if I can just slowly lift the main beam with a bottle jack and then tighten the tele-posts until it is level? Or is there more to it than that?

What costs might I encounter approximately?

I do know that I might have to do some repairs for cracking after I am done, as the house levels. But I am hoping I don't have to do a major renovation to fix this problem.

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Date/Time11/25/2012 at 5:15:28 PM

It sounds like just normal settling over the years, but you have to make sure that is the case first. Look at all the joists, beams, supports walls etc. I know it's a finished basement, but look at everything you can see. If everything looks good, then you can jack up the main beam.

Although it's not recomended, you can just turn the screw on the posts to level it. It takes a little effort, but it is possible. You can also use a bottle jack, but be carefull and go slowly, it's very easy to go to far with a jack. For one inch you should have minimal to no damage to the drywall upstairs.

The basement is a different story, as bulkheads and walls are usually attached to the main beam.

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Date/Time11/25/2012 at 6:01:11 PM

I'd be curious to see the fit around the doors on the main level.

If the fit is currently good, I would think you run the risk of messing with the alignment on any doorways that are positioned perpendicular to the beam.

With regards to using a jack to raise the beam, be careful. If the jack you use is not sitting on a footing, it could break right through the concrete floor. This is why it is usually recommended to use the screw on the post. It is already sitting on a footing under the floor. Get yourself a long piece of pipe so you have lots of torque.

Good luck.

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Douglas from Dougs Demolition in Plainfield
Date/Time11/25/2012 at 7:15:32 PM

Yes you can check beams you are jacking on. Make sure jack is sitting properly. Jack slowly and evenly. Also keep a level to check with. I dont see any major repair as long as go slowly. Also keep eyes on all doors and casing so they dont bind.

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Date/Time11/25/2012 at 10:07:03 PM

Should be able to use jack posts to raise and snug beam and than level floor. There will be cracking

in the dry wall.

There shouldn't be a great cost to this procedure unless there's something unforeseen.

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Date/Time11/26/2012 at 10:14:57 AM

Hi and thanks for your email

Unfortunately BioSense Environmental does not have the expertise to help with this question. We specialize in odor eradication, surface disinfection and mold remediation.

Many thanks

BioSense Environmental

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Date/Time11/26/2012 at 2:04:20 PM

Assuming that you have determined that the perimiter walls are roughly level with each other (1/4" over 10 feet is unsually considered acceptable) and that the sag is only at the telepost location, you may have an easy fix on your hands.

That being said, the house has likely settled into its new "normal" over the course of many years. As such, as you surmissed, you may have some cracks to fix after adjusting the telepost(s), as this will be a relative "instant in time" compared with how long it has taken to settle. You may also need to re adjust the doors and windows for fit.

Using a bottle jack, as you suggest, would work, just make sure you have the post you are jacking against laterally supported (bands around the exising telepost would be good). Alternatively, many teleposts have holes in the threaded portion to allow a rod to be stuck in as leverage. One can often use that rod, without the bottle jack, and with enough force, to adjust the telepost itself.

A further note: I am unsure where you are taking your measurments from, but we have found the most reliable place is the underside of the exposed beam/joists in the basement. If drywall is applied, subtract he thickness of that material form measurements taken there.

Geoff Muller

R.S. Foundation Systems


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Jeff from Newson Interiors in Dunrobin
Date/Time12/5/2012 at 10:05:22 PM

Hi Matthew,

I agree with the previous posts that it has probably settled over time, possibly aided by the removed telepost.

Having worked on many older homes I'm not sure this is cause for alarm. jacking it back to level is a fairly simple procedure asside from the drywall repair, however I would base my decision on the fit of the interior doors in the house, particularly the ones perpendicular to the beam. If they appear to be OK (even reveal on top and jamb opposite the hinge) I would leave well enough alone because they won't be after lifting the center of the house. Sometimes level and square is just not feasible.

Hope that helps,


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