brick column leaning

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Old 01-06-13, 09:17 AM
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Question brick column leaning

Hello all,

As the title suggest I have a brick column that is leaning. The column is about 20" x 20" x 6' and it starting leaning a little to the north east. I found some good information on this site about similar problems:

http://www.doityourself.com/forum/br...n-leaning.html and http://www.doityourself.com/forum/br...k-mailbox.html

This is one of six brick columns that I built for a fence in my back yard, this is the first time that I have laid brick or built a column. The work is new, only about three months old. It has a concrete foundation that is 28" x 28" x 5" thick and is reinforced with 3/8" rebar. I live in South Georgia and the recommendation here is to dig the hole for the foundation 12" deep, then put a 4" concrete foundation, then lay bricks on top of that so that is what I did. In hind-sight I would have dug the hole 18" deep, put a 6" layer of compacted sand under the foundation, but I didn't, I poured the foundation directly on existing soil, for the most part it is South Georgia red clay. I think the soil under the footer settled on one side and the entire column started to lean. It is not a freezing issue as it hasn't been cold enough here.

To correct this I did not want to use hydro-drilling or liquefaction as all of the columns in the yard are the same height and sinking the column down an inch might make it look weird, also the black aluminum fence is already attached and that would have to be unattached and reattached. So, I dug around the foundation on the sides that were sinking and used come-a-longs and chains to try and straighten the column. Unfortunately and as I suspected the mortar cracked between some bricks and the top is straight, but the foundation is still leaning. See pictures below:

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Now I don't know what to do, I have five thoughts:

1. Rip this down and start over... I really don't want to do that.

2. Chisel out the old mortar where the crack is and put in new mortar, let it set up, then release the chains. Foundation, might keep settling and cause more problems.

3. Leave in the old mortar and drive in a bunch of concrete screws along the crack and let the screws hold the column up-right, release the chains. The crack is under ground level so the screws would be hidden. Foundation, might keep settling and cause more problems.

4. Release the chains, remove fence, use liquefaction, let the column sink a little, get it leveled, reattach the fence, see what happens. Foundation, might keep settling and cause more problems.

5. Put some rebar in the hole that I have dug, tie rebar to existing footer, and pour a really big support slab around the brick that comes up to ground level, let it set up, release the chains, see what happens. This might help reduce future settling of foundation.

I think option number five is the best way to go, but I'm not sure, any suggestions from the experts? Thanks in advance.

Jason
 
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Old 01-06-13, 09:50 AM
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Welcome to the forums! I believe the problem is from the beginning when you poured on the basic sand/soil you guys have in South Georgia. It is a little too soft and you should have gone down the 12" or more, then poured a deeper footing. 4" is a little small for that much vertical weight on it. Basically brick is a veneer and is usually placed around a block or wooden structure to help keep it from cracking the mortar joints of the brick and falling over.

You may be able to dodge the bullet on this one by drilling horizontally into the footing you have to insert epoxy and rebar stubs, then tying them to vertical rebar driven into the ground inside a deeper and wider footing, and making another pour. Of course you will have to plumb the structure before you begin all this.

Question comes up.....what will happen to the others, or more properly....when?

Here in the mountains, we have to pour continuous footings for decks, rather than separate ones, so it is a little different location to location.
 
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Old 01-06-13, 12:35 PM
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Enlarging and deepening the concrete footing is the best way to go. For the weight of material being carried, I wouldn't use less than 9" thick of perimeter footing, maybe 12" wide, with at least 3" of that extending underneath the existing concrete all the way around. You can create a socket by letting the top of new concrete extend a few inches above the bottom of the existing footing, eliminating the need to drill and anchor in dowels. Making sure the column is absolutely plumb before you start pouring, of course.

Question I have is regarding the chains/come-along thing--it looks like you have tried to pull the column while fighting the force of the metal rail section tying it to the next column. Would have been a lot easier to completely disconnect the rail section first before trying to plumb the leaning column.
 
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Old 01-06-13, 12:43 PM
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Adding rebar

Thanks for the advice, I think you are correct on all counts. I asked around on foundation sizes before I started this project and actually went a little larger than what folks recommended... unfortunately still not large enough. I am not looking forward to what might happen with the other columns... I will have to wait and see on those. I'm going to wait several days before I act on your advice so that other people on the site have a chance to respond. I drew up what I think the horizontal rebar would look like, I'm just guessing that the rebar should go about 10" into the existing concrete foundation placing a piece of rebar every 3" or 4". Also, I'm guessing I need to drive some rebar vertically in the ground and tie the horizontal pieces of rebar to the vertical pieces of the rebar. Then I would just make a big pour of concrete to solidify all of this.

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A question I do have is about how to level the currently leaning foundation. After I epoxy the horizontal pieces of rebar in the existing concrete can I just put a bottle jack under the rebar and jack it up level? I guess I could then tie it off to the vertical rebar, pull the jack out, pour the concrete? I'm not sure on how to achieve the level foundation.

Thanks for any advice.
 
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Old 01-06-13, 12:47 PM
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Response to question about fighting the metal fence

I thought about pulling the fence off before I straightened the pillar, but the fence ended up not getting in my way. It helped a little to leave the fence in place and pull the pillar over to the fence... it kept me from going to far. I might take the fence off now so that I can pour concrete all the way around the pillar without the fence being in my way.
 
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Old 01-06-13, 01:41 PM
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Your rebar layout is way over-reinforced and unnecessary, and all of the close proximity, horizontal hole-drilling in the existing (thin) footing is likely to weaken it to the point of fracture. I'd use half as many bars, (twice the spacing), probably using No. 4s or No. 5s. And trying to plumb things by jacking on any rebar will not work--the bars will only bend upwards where they project from the footing. Since it looks like your soil is easy digging, why not just make an access trench and use a 2-ton floor jack resting on a flat 2 x 8 to catch the footing's low edge? Just a few cranks will bring the column to where you want it, then inserting a few bricks/blocks to hold it while removing the jack. Compaction is your friend when pouring the concrete, getting it to solidly fill the void you'll create by digging around and under the outsides of the existing footing.
 
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Old 01-06-13, 02:03 PM
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Too much rebar

Bridgeman45,

I wrote that posting about adding the horizontal rebar before I read your post where you said:

"Enlarging and deepening the concrete footing is the best way to go. For the weight of material being carried, I wouldn't use less than 9" thick of perimeter footing, maybe 12" wide, with at least 3" of that extending underneath the existing concrete all the way around."

Enlarging and deepening the concrete footing sounds like a better way to go than putting in the horizontal rebar, I don't know much about concrete, but deepening the concrete footing just seems like a better solution for the long term. Also, thanks for the suggestion on using a floor jack under the concrete instead of under the rebar. You are correct that the digging isn't that hard so I will do that.

I'm going to wait till this coming weekend before I attempt this, that will give some other folks a chance to comment. Thanks for your suggestions... I appreciate it.
 
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Old 01-15-13, 08:52 AM
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Attempt to fix leaning column... for anyone who reads this in the future who wants to know what I did.

I followed BridgeMan45's recommendation and decided to pour a larger foundation around and under the old foundation in order to stabilize the column. I dug out, around, and under the old foundation 12" wide, 12" deep and 4" under the old foundation.

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Next I dug under the low (leaning) side of the foundation and put a floor jack under and jacked everything up level, supported it with bricks, and removed the floor jack.

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Next I double checked that everything was level and plum then poured a 12" x 12" new foundation all the way around the old foundation to support it.

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A few comments for anyone else doing this.

1. The column did end up sinking about an inch during this process. If was I willing to dig a little more I could have lifted it up and got it back to the old height, but it just wasn't worth it. I did end up detaching and reattaching the fence to make the fence level after the column sank one inch.

2. While digging for the new foundation I think I figured out what went wrong. I think there was fill dirt, some rotten tree roots, and trash that was buried here when the house was built. As I was digging I found some trash and junk that was just under my old foundation... I think that stuff just gave in and let me original foundation sink.

That is about it, if I have any more problems I will post back here to get more advice and let new readers know what happened. I hope this helps some one in the future. Best of luck.
 
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Old 01-15-13, 12:44 PM
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Thanks for the update!! Glad it worked out for you.....now only 5 more to go
 
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