Wednesday, September 17, 2014

All Jacked Up

I had every intention of leaving my settled corner of the garage alone. Once I leveled out the garage door to my new level garage floor, I went out and looked at the door from the outside. Basically I transferred the out of level problem from the bottom to the top of the door and to me, it appeared to be even more noticeable. But jacking up the garage seemed like a major enterprise that I wasn't inclined to tackle just now. So I called it a night and went to bed. In the wee hours of the morning I woke up and got to thinking about jacking up that corner of the garage using bottle jacks. Suddenly the expense seemed minimal and I had a fairly clear idea of what I needed to do to get it done. The time to do it was now before I tackle the siding which I knew would be problematic trying to get it straight on a sagging corner of the garage. With the garage empty and another week and a half of pouring concrete and letting it curing ahead of me before I could pull a car in, it seemed like this was the time to do any jacking. I told my wife and with the sun not yet up over the horizon, I drove down to the farm to nab several of my dad's bottle jacks and then got to work ripping off a few lower feet of drywall on the sagging side. I got lost in the project so the above picture just shows what everything looked like when I was done and shows the bottle jack I used.

I used a sawsall to cut the toenailed studs from the sill plate and then ran it along to cut any nails from the sheathing that made it into the sill plate. I then screwed some 2 x 4's along the studs so that I had something to jack against and then put the jack sitting half on the sill plate and half on a scrap end of 2 x 4 and jacked. I learned a couple things pretty quickly. The garage was way heavier than I thought and 2 x 4 material wasn't enough. I ended up splitting the 2 x 4 into shrapnel. I ended up screwing two more rows of 2 x 4's, which was all I had, above the one I had put on previously which you can see in the first picture. Although the bottom 2 x 4 still bulged and cracked, it held together and after a couple hours of frustratingly trying to arrange jacks here and there to get things lifted up evenly, I finally succeeded. I ended up needing two and a half inches of shims on the lowest corner, which meant a full thickness 2 x 4 and one ripped down to an inch thick on top of that. I slid those in place and then tapered it down as I worked back towards where the garage stem walls hadn't settled. I set everything back down and after measuring, the garage door opening was now perfectly square. I screwed everything down. On a side note the mass of wires above are my incoming hard wire phone lines which aren't even used except to keep continuity in the system. My phone service actually ties into those lines in the basement using a local cable company's coaxial cable.

I had previously adjusted the garage door to my level floor before this procedure and you can see it here. By looking at the top horizontal metal piece and the door frame, you can see how uneven it was due to the settled corner. After I got done cleaning up from my jacking procedure, my door was once again not sitting square to the level floor. I adjusted that but the door still was jamming up and not closing properly. Tired and aching, I gave up and went in to cool off and watch a movie. Two advil later I started feeling like giving it another shot. I discovered that the outside door jam trim that I had removed to jack up the one side and nailed back in place was interfering with the door thickness and ten minutes later had it adjusted properly. My garage door now functions and best of all, it actually looks good in the opening. Still left to do is to temporarily flash along the concrete stem walls where my sill plate is now exposed in the low corner. This will keep things vermin and water tight until I tackle the siding. I also need to replace the drywall I tore out. I priced out a new, much, much, much lighter, much more insulated door to replace this one. It may not look like it but this door is on its last legs. I've screwed and patched it together a dozen times but all the wood is splitting and falling apart faster than I can keep it together. Now that I have a nice square opening, putting in a new door and getting it to look nice from the outside should be a breeze.


warren said...

The first time I ever did this sort of thing, my Dad and I were jacking up their house to replace a rotted sill board. I was surprised at how heavy the house was too. Thankfully, my Dad had been around the block I guess because he had prepared well, but it was scary as crap to me as things creaked and groaned. Anyhow, glad you got it'll be happy with it done right rather than trying to hide the sag

Rich said...

I was wondering if you were going to do anything to try to fix the settling problem, and how exactly you were going to go about fixing it.

It's amazing what hydraulics can do.

Ed said...

Warren - I certainly wouldn't put my hands underneath when jacking it up. When I first started I splintered a board I was jacking against and the house did sit down hard against the concrete. Fortunately it only fell maybe a half inch or so.

Rich - I just couldn't live with myself being so close and not fixing it. I probably still wouldn't have had I not had the dream of the way I did jack it up. What I was thinking about doing before with rental jacks and pouring concrete to level things out seemed like a huge chore. Glad that my mind didn't take the night off so that I could do it an easier way.

sage said...

I once had a house where I had some settling problems and had to jack up the floors and, after pouring footings (hauling the concrete under the house in buckets) and slowing raising the house over a few weeks--a turn every week--I decided I never wanted to do that again! Sounds like you have been very busy!

ErinFromIowa said...

Awesome! Job well done!