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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Eastern Kansas
    Posts
    104

    Default Covered Porch Beams Resting on *NOTHING*!

    I have this home - Don Gardner Merrifield (W-G00-235)

    which was built in 2000 and we purchased in 2008. I noticed a year or two ago, that one of the covered porch beams (that extend down from the roof to the ground) seemed to be "dangling" - that is not secured to the small concrete pad under it. I paid it no attention. Until last weekend. I got intimate with several of the beams and come to find out, several (there are 10 total - as shown in the diagram) are indeed "hanging" there -- not touching the pad. With shrubs and the porch itself in the way it's hard to confirm each one, but clearly there are more than one that are not supporting any weight. But there are some that do rest on the pads -- in fact the corner two for sure.

    Also.. the pads they sit on -- there is a larger concrete pad, about 16" or so in diameter that is about 4 to 6" thick. That pad sits on a smaller pad that is maybe 6 or 8" in diameter. I'm assuming the small "pad" actually extends down below frost line (I'm hoping really). In several cases the larger pad is free floating atop the smaller pad. On those where the beam is not touching the pad -- I could pull that larger pad out if I wanted. In a few cases the smaller pad protrudes through the larger one, and the beam rests more-so on the smaller one. The beams are 6" x 6" rough sawn cedar I believe. They do measure a true 6" vs 5.5". And they sit or "hang" directly onto the larger concrete pad (there is no metal bracket). My 1st concern was beam rot. There is some -- and I need to clear away soil and debris to further prevent. But now my new concern is the issue with 1) the beam not contacting the larger pad, 2) the larger pad just "resting" on the smaller pad and 3) the structural integrity of the smaller pad.

    It looks to me like the larger pad was poured atop the smaller one (hopefully a pillar below frost line) because the smaller did not align directly under where the beam was. So they poured the large pad atop the smaller one. Then it seems something has moved -- either the pads downward -- or beams upward such that the beam no longer is in direct contact with the pad. It also seems that the weight of roof, etc is now being transferred to only the few pads where the beam is clearly sitting on the pad.

    Those beams support the covered porch. There are floor joists to which painted t&g porch planks are attached. I have some rot in the outside 2x10 that is notched into the beam. There is also an inside 2x10 (or maybe 2x12) that too is notched into the beam. I need to replace the rotted boards, but before doing all that I want to be sure about what to do with the beams and supporting concrete pillars/pads.

    Any help very much appreciated. I'll be tearing away some of the the porch decking and floor support, so now is the time for sure to remedy any major structural issues.

    Kind Regards,
    Kevin
    Last edited by coloradotrout; 09-21-2012 at 02:05 AM. Reason: grammar error

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    5,066

    Default Re: Covered Porch Beams not Resting on *anything*!

    If they just hang there, they don't support anything. You can secure them to the concrete with a simpson connector or a slice or a pressure treated wood.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Eastern Kansas
    Posts
    104

    Default Re: Covered Porch Beams not Resting on *anything*!

    Yeah, I suppose that is the minimum I should do. I can slice some PT wood and wedge it in there. But what about the larger concrete pad that rests on the smaller pad (pillar I hope)? I mean if the beam is not centered over the pillar, than the larger pad is just going to pivot and not really bear the load.

    Granted -- I need to do a better job looking at this. So could wedging in some PT be the complete fix?
    Last edited by coloradotrout; 09-22-2012 at 12:05 PM. Reason: my lousy spelling

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Houston Texas
    Posts
    2,358

    Default Re: Covered Porch Beams not Resting on *anything*!

    If using PT lumber for shims, cut them flat and place the grain from sky to earth so the wood will have more compressive strength.

    Round these parts we use metal plates for shimming house beams. They don't compress and last a long time.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    nova scotia, canada
    Posts
    1,522

    Default Re: Covered Porch Beams not Resting on *anything*!

    using shims is your best bet. it pretty much sounds like the piers settled but the porch didnt which is causing the seperation between post and pier
    fire up the saw and make some dust

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    1,157

    Default Re: Covered Porch Beams not Resting on *anything*!

    To clarify terms, beams are horizontal members spanning a distance and work in bending and are supported by columns, posts or walls usually.
    What you describe is a vertical member that works mainly in compression and is known as a column or post.
    I really couldn't follow your descrioption, but for a column to work it has to transmit a load to something.
    Could it be that your columns are decorative covers hiding a strucural coulmn inside? If the coulmn isn't supported at the base, it would be easy to move, besides not doing anything.
    Wood posts usually should be held off a concrete with a metal post base that is embedded or secured to the concrete.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Eastern Kansas
    Posts
    104

    Default Re: Covered Porch Beams not Resting on *anything*!

    "Column" is the better word then. They are vertical and support the covered porch roof. It's a wrap around u-shaped porch.

    To me it looks like a poor job, but I'm hopeful the smaller diameter "pillars" go down several feet. The larger "pads" that sit on the pillars are not free floating. I think they were poured atop the concrete pillars, but have since broken loose. The columns sit (or hang closely above) the larger "pads". When I tear back the flooring to fix it, I'll look more carefully, but it sounds like I can shim up the column (6" x 6" cedar) to the larger pad, and then I'll also see how far offset the larger pad is from the smaller diameter pillar. I'll shoot some photos soon and post.

    Thanks so much. I had the fear my roof is going to sag/collapse and on a 12 year old house, that's not exactly what I was expecting. If shimming is acceptable, that will be great. I figured there might be way more engineering needed.
    Last edited by coloradotrout; 09-22-2012 at 04:15 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Portland, Oregon, formerly of Chicago
    Posts
    1,580

    Default Re: Covered Porch Beams not Resting on *anything*!

    I have seen porches where the overhang was actually an extension of the pre-stressed roof trusses. The columns were actually not carrying any weight at all. Worse was that the porch cement slab was floating and frost heaving. To solve the problem, a footing sleeve was fabricated to keep the decorative columns from swinging around, but allow them to move up and down with the slab without forcing the columns up against the roof/porch overhang.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Eastern Kansas
    Posts
    104

    Default Re: Covered Porch Beams not Resting on *anything*!

    I do have the blueprints. I'm guessing those columns however do (or should be) supporting some of the weight of the covered porch roof, and certainly they do support the porch floor.

    What's the proper fix? If the column was centered over the concrete pillar in all cases I'd feel pretty good about shimming between them. But there is a 4 to 6" larger diameter "pad" that was poured atop the pillar upon which the column rests (or used to rest). In some cases, that "pad" is loose -- I could pull it out. It's unclear yet if the "pad" is centered on the pillar and if the column is centered on the "pad". My guess -- it's not -- that's why the "pad" is there. Why in the world did they not pour the concrete pillar directly below where the column was to sit -- or pour a larger diameter pillar so there would be some wiggle room. My theory -- something did not work out quite as expected, and the columns were off by a few inches, so they poured these larger diameter "pads" atop the pillar to giver the column a place to sit. This is all excavated soil though -- it's within 6' or so of a basement.

    Anyway -- I'm looking for the proper fix. There is absolutely loads on those columns. I suspect the roof applies a load, and for sure the porch floor does.

    Thanks for any help.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Eastern Kansas
    Posts
    104

    Default Re: Covered Porch Beams not Resting on *anything*!

    I now have the rotted t&g flooring off, about 1/3 of it. I can also now see the structural framing. It's not ideal. I found the original blueprints. Apparently the builder had his own ideas. There is a 2x10 screwed to the siding of the house -- directly to the siding. There is an opposite 2x10 screwed to the columns. Across those, 2x8s are nailed every 16" or so. The columns "mostly" sit on concrete. I say mostly, because some are pretty much right over a 6" diameter concrete pillar(?) that seems to go down fairly deep (it has not heaved much). However, atop that they poured a larger, 12" or so, 5" thick pad. Some columns sit pretty much atop the 6" pillar, some are more offset. Some columns are dangling -- not touching, while other columns are far enough off center that the bigger pad is now tipping. The 12" "pads" really appear to be doing nothing -- either they are below the columns, tipping, or the 6" pillar has pushed up through the 12" pad. I'm no structural engineer, but it seems to me the right approach would have been to pour an 8" or 12" diameter pillar to about 4' depth and center those columns right over it. Not?

    Then the "ledger" and opposite side 2x10 is just screwed in place. Under a few on the columns they nailed an additional 2x board under that to better support the 2x10. "Joists" are then nailed across and the flooring is installed parallel to the house -- which makes a nice trap for all the water that gets into the exposed grooves. From what I've read and saw on the plans, the flooring should be installed perpendicular to the house, so with the slope away from the house, water would run out of the grooves. The plans actually have the flooring structure built atop the concrete pillars -- and then with joists running parallel to the house and the flooring perpendicular. Mine is also built with untreated lumber, whereas the plans call for treated, and given the minuscule cost difference, I'm still scratching my head about this. The plans then had the porch columns sitting atop the porch floor. My columns run down (mostly) to the concrete pillars, and the the floor structure is screwed to the columns. Oh, and the columns in a few cases extend below grade, so the 6x6 cedar column is buried in the dirt a few inches. The rot there is not too bad fortunately.

    Finally, there is a 2x10 that was notched into the columns around the outside of the columns (the other is on the inside of the column and is just screwed into place -- this is the one that supports the floor). The one on the outside just extends the floor out those 6 inches so it "looks" ok. Where they really went wrong is they just nailed in a board between those two 2x10s and put flooring directly atop. That rotted real nice.

    So where do I start? Tearing it all apart comes to mind, but that's a major expense. Next up I'm thinking to replace all rotted 2x10s (most) and 2x8s joist with treated - paint the exposed area of any non treated wood, use blocking between those inside and outside 2x10s, and then nail down flooring that has been painted on all 6 sides. Later I'll prime/paint the visible treated 2x10s.

    If they would have extended the joists another 6" they could have just attached them to the outside 2x10s that are NOTCHED into the columns - which would have saved all those interior 2x10s that are just screwed in place. I'd also consider that, but I'd have to pull up all the floor and replace all the joists. Or could I somehow sister some 2x8s to theirs and extend mine over to the notched 2x10? I'm not sure how I'd join my 2x8 to their 2x8 in a way that was strong enough and didn't require nearly replacing the entire 2x8 joist.

    My concern also is the concrete the columns are sitting atop. Several are far enough off center, that I'm concerned I do not have a solid place for the columns to rest.

    What's the right way all of this should be done? What's a reasonable way for me to remedy what I have?

    Thanks so much for any and all guidance. I can post some photos also. Kind Regards, Kevin

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