rotting sill plate

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by rtbrbny, Mar 27, 2005.

  1. rtbrbny

    rtbrbny New Member

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    looking for advice...home is side colonial, built 1948 - had very wey basement till we took care of that problem, but now clear that at least some portion of sill plate, from front door around to maybe 1/4 other side of house is rotting - probably a combination of the wetness and termites - there is only a minor visible showing of this on the exterior, where you can see front door outside door jam maybe 1/2 inch lower on one side than other - can this be repaired without jacking up whole side of house?? I've been told jacking a house up of this age could cause more problems than it solves - cracks in interior walls, etc .My wife is also worried based on what I describe above that the damage could escalate very quickly if we dont take care of it now. Any guidance greatly appreciated
     
  2. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    You will have to jack up the house in some manner to replace the sill. Depending on the situation, it doesn't have to be much. Enough to get a fractional inch clearance, remove the weight and any compression and give enough clearance to slide or hammer in a new replacement. Normally in bad situations the damage often extends up into the wall studs. The amount of jacking required typically does not result in much damage. In fact the more far gone the sill is, the easier the job is but those jobs also tend to be the more problematic in terms of addition damage. A section of wall should be opened up to see what the extent of the problem really might be. You should pray it is not termites. Many times it is carpenter ants and not termites.

    You definitely want to solve the water problem first and eliminate whatever is the cause.
     

  3. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    Have you treated the termites? If not, do that! Can you actually see that the wood is rotted, or has the house just settled due to the basement issues? Have you solved all water issues, checked guttering, etc? If the sill is still on the foundation, I wouldn't worry about it a whole lot.

    I'd just make sure no further damage was going on and call it a done deal. If the sill was in really bad shape, I might try shoring it up some to prevent further settling, but I wouldn't try to replace it or jack the house. Maybe replace bits and pieces of really bad spots.

    It has been my experience that old houses lean, sometimes alot. I have yet to live in a flat house since moving to the midwest. It can be advantageous at times...there is a low spot in my bathroom that conveniently collects all splashed water right in the middle of the floor! Assure your wife that the house will not crash down. It will not fall over. If any further damage occurs, the house will settle more, but they don't just spontaeously fall over.

    The first leaning house I lived in made me very nervous. We had set up a waterbed with an air mattress on the bare wood floors. I got in bed late one night and the waterbed frame slipped on the wood floor and basically fell apart underneath me. Gave me a heart attack. I thought the whole house was going! It just doesn't happen.

    Jena
     
  4. bare

    bare Head Muderator

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    I respectfully disagree, you don't have to jack up a house to replace a sill plate. I've done it lots of times and have yet to have to jack up a house to do it, even on old balloon framing.

    You do need to expose everything and determine the extent of the rot. Use a chisel or good poker and test all the wood for soundness, including the studs.

    When you have determined what needs replacing, cut the old stuff out a 5 or six foot section at a time with a sawzall and replace it with new treated lumber and fasten your studs back to the new lumber. Don't forget sill seal for tightness.

    Just keep going in that manner until you have replaced the entire rotted section. Then you can join the new sill plate sections with Simpson ties or some other fastening system.

    If some of the studs are rotted as well, you'll need to replace them or "sister" them with more lumber.
     
  5. bearkiller

    bearkiller Well-Known Member

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    rtbrbny,

    I am a licensed contractor for many years (35) and have had to solve the problems you face. I second "bare" in his comments. NO need to jack up the house as long as you repair short sections at a time.

    Once the house is built, everything is all tied together and the structure will not likely sag even removing huge parts of the sill plate. At one point I had the entire side of a house open to replace the sill and there was no settling.

    The sawzall is your best friend in this adventure. And replace with pressure treated wood.

    bearkiller
     
  6. Julia

    Julia Well-Known Member

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    I wonder...what's the largest dimension that pressure treated lumber comes in? I've got a century plus hewn log home that I'm trying to stabilize the sill on. I've about given up the idea of restoring it properly because of the expense and the skill level that's needed, but if I can stabilize the structure in bits, then maybe someday I can do it right.

    The problem is that the sill is a hewn 12 inch beam. What do I replace sections of that with?

    Thanks....
     
  7. bare

    bare Head Muderator

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    Unless you are looking for authenticity, replace your hewn sill with concrete footer and wall and a treated sill.

    Another way to look at it is that the original sill lasted 100 years, you could replace it with a similar sill and have it last another 100 years.
     
  8. Oggie

    Oggie Waste of bandwidth Supporter

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    If you stack 8 2X12 treated boards to create a laminated beam, it would measure approx. 12" X 11 1/4" and could be as long as you need it to be.
     
  9. Julia

    Julia Well-Known Member

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    Yes, but how to support the wall during that work?
     
  10. bare

    bare Head Muderator

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    Whenever you are concerned about the integrity of a structure, just alter it a bit at a time. If we are talking about a log structure, it wouldn't be a problem at all to dig out beneath it and pour a footer and stem wall, or even a monolithic (all at once) wall beneath the entire second log. The hard part is pouring that last "little bit" that meets the wall. It's a pain, but it can be done.

    Log structures are remarkably sturdy and locked together.

    I like to tell the tale of my great grandparents old homestead cabin that my dad considered an eyesore but everyone else wanted to leave. He waited one day until we were all gone to church and fired up the dozer. When we got home, he was still pushing it all around prairie. You could see where all he'd been because of the tracks he'd left. He finally pushed it back to it's original location where it sat for many years until an "accidental" grass fire took it.
     
  11. Julia

    Julia Well-Known Member

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    Thank you, gentlemen. You've helped me reframe a problem that has been weighing on me. It is much appreciated. :)
     
  12. Darren

    Darren Still an :censored:

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    If you can find a locally owned lumber yard that sells pressure treated lumber, they can order almost anything you want. I've ordered dimension lumber in non-standard stocking sizes before. I wasn't looking for 12x12s but 8x8s and 10x10s were no sweat. Neither was 5/4 material treated to 2.5 lb/cf. The treatment plant just orders the stuff from a lumber mill, treats it and puts it on a truck. Even CCA is still available.

    Your best bet, as suggested, is to build the beam up from planks.