Pier under center of house sinking?!


Old 04-27-04, 12:28 PM
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Pier under center of house sinking?!

Hello all-

We recently purchased a 2 story home (built in 1997) and have found some problems that seem associated with settlement.

At one end of the house, right in the center (front to back) there is a load bearing wall. This wall has a doorway downstairs (double) and upstairs (closet) in about the same place on both floors. The drywall is cracking at the top right corner of both doorways. I measured the center of the lower floor doorway from the nearby perpendicular exterior wall and sure enough under the house (no basement) there are two piers at just about that spot. We have painted the wall at the downstairs location just three months ago and the crack has reappeared.

In talking with folks it seems that my problem is that the piers must be sinking and I need to shim them. How would I go about doing this? Is there a way to do this that wouldn't look half a$$ed to future buyers? We don't plan to stay in this house more than two years but I don't want somebody else to inherit any serious problems.

Also, can I be sure that it's the piers are sinking and not the rest of the house instead?

Thank you very much for your help-

Old 04-29-04, 06:46 AM
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Hi Erik and welcome to the forums.

I'm going to move this up to the Architecture & Codes forum, I think you'll get a more informed response up there. Good luck.
Old 05-27-04, 02:27 PM
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Erick -

you will have to determine what is moving up and what is moving down. What you haven't told us is where you live.

I lived in Houston for awhile, and the ground there was very mushy. Piers moved up and down all the time and this was expected.

In many places, you don't expect this to happen!

There should be one or more beams framing into the pier beneath the house. Crawl under there and, using a level, determine which way the beams are sloping. This might help you tell which one is sinking - the house or the pier.

You also may be able to tell just by looking at the crack. Does it look obvious which way the house is sloping by looking at the crack, or by putting a level on the floor near the doorways?

Anyway, if you determine that it is the pier that is sloping, you can jack under the beam(s) and then slip in a shim. Be certain to jack slowly and carefully, and definately make sure the jack does not tip over! You don't want to hurt yourself. It is unlikely that a future buyer will notice the shim and if that solves the problem, you can fix the cracks.

Good luck.
Old 06-03-04, 02:01 PM
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Question A slight variation to the question posed

I have recently also purchased a home. It to has settling, but the settling is on the perimiter of the home. The previous owners did not take care of the draining issue and the gutters emptied directly on the side of the house. So my perimiter fondation has settled but the interior piers have not.
Would I follow the same advice only replace the pier posts with shorter ones??
Old 06-03-04, 03:32 PM
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Hm. The advice I've heard about this is that you want to level the house to the HIGHEST point that it currently is at. That would mean, in your case, raising up the entire outside to the level of the highest pier.

I'd wonder how you would put in a shorter pier anyway. I would think the pier would be be continuous underground.

Ok, so a slightly more useful answer for you (what I would personally do)

first a disclaimer: leveling a house is a really big deal. You don't want to screw it up. If you in any way don't know what you are doing, don't do it.
there are companies that specialize in leveling and raising sunken foundations. You'd probably first be best off talking to them.

Now, if your exterior foundation walls have sunken EVENLY, and you can replace an interior pier, then yes, you can put in a shorter one. Expect lots of cracks to appear that you will have to fix. you will also need some really big jacks. If there is ANY chance that you may remove the pier and then drop the house, DON'T DO it. You do not want a house coming down on your head!!

tell us more about your situation: ie: what is the pier made of, and how tall is the pier and what do you expect to support your jack while you remove the pier, etc.

I'd say, this is a basic fix for a really old house that has settled and is undergoing major renovation (this is the situation where I've done it before) for a newer house that is going through major settleing, but is otherwise ok, it's a major fix. screwing up an old house that is already screwed up isn't such a big deal, but you don't want to screw up an otherwise nice house.
Old 07-12-04, 02:22 AM
Bill Arnquist
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The cause of movement


Have you made any progress on your foundation? The first step is to determine the cause of movement. A house built in 1997 that has movement may have a simple or a serious situation. New houses are not supposed to move.


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