May 5, 2014

Support system

The people who built our rock house built it with an impressive amount of resourcefulness and durability. This house is solid no doubt. Both barns and houses were supported with logs.

One of the support beams for the  rock house.
Yet, over time, the water in the basement has begun to rot the wooden beams. Replacing them was something we knew we had to do. Now, that the destructions over and we're ready to put the house back together again, the time was right.

In the rock house, there were five log supports that needed replacing. The one shown in the picture was the least rotted of all of them and still holding strong.

Here's a little walkthrough of the steps taken to replace our log supports with jack posts.

Materials: jack posts (enough for each support beam to be replaced), hydraulic jacks (we used two), boards (cut to fill void from hydraulic jack to horizontal support beam),  hammer, and a level


1. First, we measured and cut some scrap 2X4's to sit on top of the hydraulic jack. They are cut a little shorter than touching the support beam since the jack will make up the difference.

2. We placed a hydraulic jack on either side of the log support that was being replaced. Put the 2X4 on it and began to raise it until it touched the support beam (enough tension to stay without being held, but not so much it can't be moved).

3. Next to each hydraulic jack was one support jack which we raised to equal the height of the hydraulic.

4. Walter used a level to make sure the 2X4 was plum before we raised the height of the jack any further. He used a hammer to move it into position.

5. Once both were level, both the hydraulic jacks and the jack posts were raised until the log post was no longer bearing any weight.

6. He removed the old post and replaced it with a new post (plum the post, use level to do this). Then, he slowly lowered all four jacks back down (reverse of everything above, basically).

I should note that Walter did a practice run (without releasing the weight from the log). Then, I went with him and we ran through the whole process again. We got a little nervous, and held off. The third time was the charm. On Saturday, Walter's dad came by which gave him the support (bad pun) courage he needed to go through with the job. It was an intimidating of a task when you think about how important those supports are (and when you hear the whole house crack).


Here you can see the damage the log recived from the
water in the basement. You couldn't tell it had rotted
like this until it was taken out.

Walter and his dad replaced two of the five support beams on Saturday. They still need to be bolted in and secured with concrete to be up to code.

The smaller beams make the basement feel a lot larger and more open. They also make it much easier to build walls if we wanted to finish the basement later on (after we solve the water problem!)

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