Concerns with Subfloor before Hardwood Install (Pics)

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Old 04-01-14, 12:45 PM
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Concerns with Subfloor before Hardwood Install (Pics)

We have been planning to install wood floors (solid) for a while now. We have just finally gotten around to saving enough for the flooring and materials and equipment to install 650sq feet.

I knew there might be concerns with the subfloor as you could feel certain areas of irregularity under the carpet. Most of it appears to be centered around a solitary single steel beam that spans the house directly center lengthways (1971 ranch with walkout basement) The big concern is the hall way that is basically split down the middle by this beam as the subfloor underneath is not even. The two main rises in the plywood come up almost 7/16 of an inch.

You can see by the photos someone did a poor job of placing some leveling compound I assume down this split in the past when laying down carpeting.

I have gone over the subfloor and screwed down any squeaking plywood, and this also brought up another piece of plywood that is uneven by about 1/4 inch (the dog had to get involved...) I screwed this board down and it isn't squeaky anymore but both the length ends are just a little off (the other end is about 1/8th inch uneven).

I feel like I can sand the less severe of the problem areas.

I am a little uncertain as to how to proceed forward with the hallway issue as I know I need a permanent solution before installing wood floors here, so the project remains on hold until I figure out how to get this area prepared for installation.

Is the answer to the hallway appropriately laying down a self leveling compound to the entire hallway? Do I need to completely rip of this subfloor and figure out whats going on below (I am suspicious it has to do with the steel beam directly below the subfloor along the hallway).

Do I need to call in a pro?

Thanks!


PS: I know i have to clean the floor very well and get up the residual carpet padding peices, but with the staples in the floor that were holding the padding down, can I just hammer them flat or should they be pulled out individually?
 
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Old 04-01-14, 04:18 PM
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Do the floor joists sit on top of the steel beam? Is it where both sides of the house have their separate floor joist overlap? Why can't you screw that plywood down? Can you tell what is holding it up in the air like that?

The other smaller transitions may be due to newer plywood being less than full thickness relative to older plywood. 1/2" is really 7/16" instead of 8/16".
 
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Old 04-01-14, 05:25 PM
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The smaller transition area does appear to have been a more recently replaced section of subfloor, but is flush on the other two sides (shorter lengths) with older and probably original subfloor but the longer sides are not flush by about 1/4 inch. This seems like the less problematic area. Can I just sand this area more flush with the older and probably thicker plywood? Should I just lay a felt piece over this section?

The hallway is another matter. I can't get that board down. I am pretty sure it is sitting on top of the steel beam...because the 1 and 3/4 inch screw goes about halfway in and then spins and spins. The old subfloor appears to be tongue and groove, and in the hallway this markedly elevated section appears to be the top groove. If I step on it it bends downwards but is very taught.

The floor joists to do not appear to sit on top of the beam but rather abut against the beam.

I am thinking I won't know what is going on until I actually get the sub-floor in the hall way up and removed so I can visualize the steel beam and the floor joists as they abut again it...

What is the best way to pull up this section? Take a circular saw to the sub floor and cut a section out? And at this point should I be calling in a pro to take a look at this section?
 
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Old 04-01-14, 06:23 PM
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The floor plywood itself has little integrity as a support medium and it is highly unusual that the metal I-beam would support the plywood instead of the floor system which in turn supports the wall system which in turn supports the roof system. You will have to open it up. Start small to see what you can see. Then to repair we will look to open it up further prior to closing the floor up. Send us additional pictures of the opened up floor. It should generate additional input from the crew.
 
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Old 04-03-14, 12:03 AM
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Something is seriously wrong here. You have to wonder why that much subfloor was replaced. I suspect there may have been (and still is) a structural problem. You won't know, until you open it up.

The plywood edges may be different heights, if someone had sistered onto the existing floor joists, and didn't position them at the same height.
 
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Old 04-03-14, 06:43 AM
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Well it is mostly as I suspected. The subfloor seam is basically almost on top of the steel beam. I ripped out a small piece.

The floor joists are 2x10 (really like 1.5x9.25inches) doubled up and then notched on the top to fit into the steel beam.

The left side is mostly level but there is definitely a "step up" to the beam.

The subfloor that is still on the beam you can see is markedly elevated upwards as you can see from two of the photos (one close up of the space under the subfloor and beam and the other with the level).

It is 3/4inch plywood and it was the top of the groove section that was becoming separated from the plywood that was "buckling" on the original images".

Why do you think this subfloor has been replaced? The subfloor sections here are mostly 8ftx4ft. There are a couple 4x4 pieces where the fireplace was installed, and some patch pieces around the spiral staircase (maybe the spiral staircase was added and there is some dysfunction where an old staircase used to be?? I don't know).

Here are more photos. Interested in what everyone has to say. Should I just rip of this entire hallway and shim the floor over the steel beam so it is level?

The floor is practically level elsewhere in the living room where a substantial amount of flooring is going...

Thanks again for all the responses!
 
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Old 04-03-14, 06:49 AM
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Oh and btw all of the joists are mostly 16inch apart from center, but you can see the one section where there is a 26inch gap from one joist to the next....but this far area isn't where the subfloor was that elevated. It is more elevated over the section of subfloor where the two joists are 16 inches apart.
 
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Old 04-03-14, 03:38 PM
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Gonna need to excavate a little more to see what is going on on the other side of the I-beam. Leaning toward pulling everything and furring the area out to make it all level and getting a smoother transition to the rest of the floor.
 
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Old 04-03-14, 04:58 PM
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More of the same on the otherside. It seems the plywood subfloor has to span upwards and over the steel beam.

I don't know what the best way to correct the issue is....

I am assuming everything is similar throughout the rest of the house... I Don't know why this one area is such a big problem as there is obviously 3/4 plywood spanning over the steel beam across most of the house....but in these areas you can tell there is a mild "uprising". So it would appear that maybe the problem is actually widespread it is just that it is only in the hallway that that subfloor comes to a joining so close to the beam. In other areas it is an 8ft peice of plywood and the steel beam is more centered 4ft into the plywood sheet and is markedly less noticeable.
 
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Old 04-04-14, 06:02 AM
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Is the floor level on either side of the beam? If you placed a 2x4 on each side and set your level, is it level on either side on the beam is therefore sitting proud to the rest of the floor system? Or has the area near the doorway sunk relative to the center of the hallway? It also looks like something happened in the past, the edges of the joists are discolored, there is a lot of streaking on the joists and the beam is discolored in that area.

Looks like the dog has taken a liking to the area rug you are using to cover up the hole. Is that why you want to get rid of the carpet? Its an expensive investment for hardwood if the dog continues to do his business in the house.
 
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Old 04-04-14, 09:33 AM
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I was checking level over the entire top floor but only had a 3 foot level. Need to get a longer one and roll the carpeting back up again.

It seems that everything is mostly level on either side the bubble isn't dead center but close enough for government work. In just the right light you can see a definitive bowing of the plywood over most of the length of the steel beam however so I am assuming that means the beam is ..."proud" to the floor joists.

We are replacing the carpet because it was disgusting when we purchased it about 5 months ago. No amount of shampooing is going to fix what you see there. Our dogs have an occaisonally accident but the 150-200+ stains were already there when we moved in.

It was a 1970 ranch foreclosure that we got super cheap on 20 acres so we knew there were going to be some issues. And there are other issues yet to be addressed still. I think at this time I will probably have to get a reputable builder/carpenter out to figure out what would be the best solution.

If the bow is only so bad I am all about placing down new 3/4 plywood in the hallway and sanding the high down a little over the length of the beam, but i certainly don't want the floor to pop up in 3 years though! And I want to make sure there is appropriate structural integrity as well.
 
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Old 04-04-14, 04:41 PM
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I'm still hoping others will chime in, but back to my last question. Place a 2x4 for on both sides and lay the level across. 3' level should be sufficient for this test. If level, I think I would be inclined to remove the whole floor (its gotta smell ripe anyway...). Install 1/2" ply throughout and leaving a void where the beam is located (leave a channel) Then go over the whole floor with 3/4" bridging the beam area and resulting in a level floor. You will need to evaluate the viability of the additional thickness. You may have to change to a 3/8" engineered floor vs a 3/4" solid hardwood.
 
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Old 04-04-14, 10:10 PM
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I appreciate the input quite a bit! I am definitely starting to think others may no be pipping in as much because it is a difficult situation to get a handle on without being here in person probably.

I am resolved to at least get someone out (builder/carpenter) who has a good amount of experience to come out and at least evaluate the situation in person and give me some feedback. Is there like a certified carpenter website (something not angies list) that carpenter/builders have to qualify for each year? I want to get someone out who knows their stuff and am always dreading trying to sift through all the "not so great professionals" out there.

I have received the idea of tearing up the floor, laying down a thinner plywood and then a thicker on top such that I can span OVER the steal beam from a number of non-professionals who i consider very intelligent but are still DIY'ers like myself...so that really is starting to gain momentum in my mind.

Why would I need to consider going to engineered in this situation?

I won't be able to re-address the floor for another week. Hopefully next Friday/Saturday I can work on the 2x4/level suggestion and post those results.

Thanks again!
 
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Old 04-05-14, 06:10 AM
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Why would I need to consider going to engineered in this situation?
Merely offering options as the subfloor becomes thicker and thicker. 1/2"+3/4"+3/4"=2" total floor thickness - Engineered is available in 3/8" thickness which would negate most of the additional 1/2" subfloor suggestion. And, some homes can not accommodate the addition of that much flooring as it has an impact on doors, casings, transitions to other floors, etc.
 
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