Structural column or post questions & answers:
FAQs about residential posts, columns, Lally columns, jackposts, teleposts, adjustable posts used for both permanent and temporary strucural report or to aid in building repair.
Page top photo: crushed, collapsed rusty bottom end of a hollow column in a Long Island New York home.
This article series explains how to notice defective, damaged, improperly supported, or missing structural columns, and other structural column & pier mistakes. Our page top photo shows a telepost used as a "permanent" supporting column.
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(Oct 24, 2012) joseph jeff said:
How can i build concrete column around steel post
(June 18, 2014) Londeka said:
How do I report on structural issues related to a collapsed building column
Londeka, to offer suggestions I'd need to understand the situation and your role: occupant, home inspector, contractor.
Certainly if in your opinion there are unsafe conditions you need to inform building occupantsm owners, and in some cases local authorities orally as well as in writing. Non-engineers can raise alarms or questions based on visual observations, experience, edication, but should tale care not to practice engineering without a license.
Kindly allow me to introduce myself. My name is Cheryl Madden. My multi- handicapped adult son and I live in a ranch-style home in Pittsfield, MA. I found your website in a search re structural columns. The specific URL is:
I write to you, because we are trapped in the midst of a renovation done for handicapped accessibility that turned out to be a *disaster.*
Unfortunately, the MA licensed contractor did not have the skills he presented himself as having, nor the correct licenses in his own right, although he did get a building permit.
He abandoned the job without notice in January, leaving without finishing, or having followed lead safe procedures (about which I learned only a couple of days ago, so I cleaned up after he left as a housewife would, but unaware of how to do so correctly re lead). He did notor remove demolition materials, or install doors to the bathroom or bedroom, the bathroom flooring is not level, the shower drain doesn't work, venting was not done, etc.
My question about Lally columns is this:
He inadequately sized a beam he created in the home's support wall that sagged so much I could fit my hand up to the knuckles on each side of the sag. He then only hoisted the roof structure above back up with a pry bar, and shimmed the space with scraps of wood. The dip was so severe it caused the door across the hallway not to close, and a diagonal crack developed from the top corner of that door, and another crack in opposing angle formed in my son's room above the closet door there. Does this shifting about of the roof and the resulting cracks in the plaster suggest compromising of the structure?
In specific reference to the Lally columns, not only did he install two columns (of what type, I don't know) under this area upside down, but used what looks like inexpensive aluminium screws crookedly installed and washered to hold the base plate up to the floor joists. Indeed, one column has only 3:4 screws in place.
The screw ends of these columns rest atop scrap pine or spruce boards he found in the basement. These are not even pressure treated or specifically processed for subgrade use. He wrote an arrow marked "Up" indicating which way to turn the screw, so I assume he might not have welded the screw in posOrion, as your site describes.
I had the basement dry-locked when we moved here a couple of years ago, and it was a dry basement until this past week. Now, two areas are leaking. Not much at this point yet, but my fear is a little water will lead to more eventually, and, either way, those boards won't last indefinitely, especially if they get wet, and since they were not made by Nature or processed by Man to fill the role of supporting a structural column atop the concrete floor. Your article mentions that basements can bow or lean due to inadequate structural columns. I dread to wonder if this might be the cause of the water leaks, since that inadequately sized beam is still in place?
I am alone in dealing with this matter. My grandfather was a master carpenter, so I learned what a little girl does from watching and listening as he worked in his retirement years. Now, some fifty years later, I learn what I can from watching the applicable shows on HG-TV, but these structural matters are not in my skills set, so I don't know what is proper or not. It's also a big concern due to the snow typical in the Berkshires. I am afraid the contractor severely damaged my home in more serious ways than what I am aware.
May I ask for your opinion on the above described issues? - C.M. 7/14/2014
There are several concerns here, beyond just adding proper and more safe structural support. One can only assume there are other mistakes in the work that need attention. It may help to obtain a more thorough inspection by a licensed home inspector or contractor. But why not start with a call to your local building department to ask for an inspection and guidance?
Keep me posted.
Bless you for Such a prompt reply!
I did have the building inspector revisit, but he didn't make much over the columns, but by the time he saw that aspect he had already been appalled and disgusted by the additional issues, so this was icing on the cake, so to speak.
Contractors who have priced the repairs are "horrified," and each finds more wrong. Even the grout in the shower is of the wrong type, according to one, but others haven't noted that, so who is correct Really?
As to home inspectors, the one who did the pre-purchase inspection, come to find out after the fact, is known locally in the trades as "Drive-by Drew." He missed a few things. And didn't note other things. Another inspector wrote of a different house I bid on before we got this house, "The roof appears to be in the first or second half of its life." A whole lot of help that was not.
The home modification project was supposed to make the kitchen and bathroom accessible, so we can "age in place," but he didn't even install grab bars in the shower before grabbing the money and bolting. He didn't even purchase the materials as is the required use of the first third of the funds. Very much I want to just walk away myself, but am now even more financially obligated to this house.
The building inspector is preparing a complaint against his license, and MA has criminalized their contracting business, but any action by them only punishes him, but doesn't serve to make my home whole. And who would buy it now anyway, so we are stuck here.
The amount is too large for small claims court, and a lawyer I hired because the case was not accepted by the free legal clinics in the area used up my savings to write a letter to the contractor and the CSL holder, whom I don't know, so let's agree he didn't supervise the job adequately. He didn't respond at all. The contractor called the attorney whiningly, but without acting to refund.
At that point, the lawyer dropped the case because he knows my financial condition is abyssmal, so I couldn't pay his fees and a "substantial retainer" up front. The case was not accepted by the free legal clinics: for the first, I am not an immigrant, a minority, a criminal, homeless, evicted, or facing foreclosure; the second legal clinic declined the case because of its legal complexity and projected cost. _Renovate My Renovation_ declined for the reason our physical location is outside the urban areas they cover.
An email the funding agency sent me a copy of is a such a psychological profiler's dream document of the contractor's mentality that I am glad the atty's letter ordered him off the property. Better that he is gone, but he knows where we live, and any jail term penalty isn't apt to make him happy about us, in particular.
The funding agency is making me go through all the hoops possible before venturing to fix anything. My neighbor and I cleaned out the demolition materials before we realized that there was a concern re lead. Animals were using the piles of demolition materials as habitat. Because it was against the wooden ramp to the back yard where my son plays, there was some urgency in getting the junk out of here.
The contractor put in a 6'x2' closet also left unfinished. When I measured to see if my eyes were correct in thinking the closet out of shape, I found that the opening is not equidistant in depth from the ceiling. The closet walls are not plumb or square, although all he had to do was follow the lines in the flooring to get the measurements right.
My son fell in a hole he left across the MBR doorway, and got a concussion and badly cut his head. They filled in the gap he created after the fact with unsecured scrap wood, one of which is of an age of paint probably containing lead.
And more and worse. I just received the Lead Safe Renovate Right booklet from the building inspector, so now my son and I are scheduled for blood tests for lead poisoning. (:-((( - C.M.
One wonders how you were referred to "Drive By Drew" - as it sounds as if he was not working for you.
Sorry I can't offer more - you do need onsite help setting priorites for repairs
Keeping those priorities in mind can help sort out what's needed and where to spend your money. - DF
(Dec 28, 2014) William Sharek said:
I am building a new porch. One side is attached to the house (ledger board already approved by inspector) and the other side will be supported by a block-wall. I built the wall using 12" concrete block that is 32" deep (to code) and up about 12" above ground level.
The question is this: I left five of the block "holes" unfilled since the porch is 19 feet wide - and plan to slide vinyl sleeves down the holes and then put five PT wood columns down the centers. Is this acceptable?
I would hate to think that I have wasted this effort.
I've not come across your method of reinforceing a masonry block wall - though a local engineer or architect might approve it.
I'm skeptical because of worries about size, perfect fit, and without a perfect fit, a non-functional "reinforcement"
The more usual method of internal block wall reinforcement uses re-bar, 1/2" or larger, in each vertical column hole, followed by careful thorough filling of the column with concrete.
(Feb 11, 2015) Bob Shaw said:
I am renovating my basement somewhat and in the process of removing a wall came across a telepost. It appears to be in good condition, however it has been grinded off the bottom and moved a couple of inches and now sits on a metal plate on top of the poured slab. There is another post that is not cut and it goes through the slab I assume to rest on a footing below. The soil conditions in this area our clay at that depth. It appears the post was moved to cover the splices in the beam. Is this an acceptable relocation of the post.
I cannot safely guess at the correctness of a structure from just an E-text but in VERY GENERAL terms, it makes good sense to place supporting posts below a splice in a beam. If we are not certain that the thickness and strength of a slab is adequate to carry the post's load without cracking an engineer or architect (which I'm not) will typically place a solid concrete block cemented to the slab to distribute the load a bit rather than go to the much greater trouble and cost of chopping a hole in the slab to dig and pour a real footing.
Finally, I never "assume" much about what we can't see, including the adequacy of support below a post that penetrates a slab, but I do get more excited if there is evidence of post settlement.
Finally, a Lally Column or telepost is in most jurisdictions and situations not an acceptable permanent support (Teleposts are typically thin wall and at risk of collapse damage especially if exposed to water and rusting).
Better is a concrete filled steel Lally column. You can see photos of these different types of temporary (telepost) and permanent (Lally) posts in the article above.
(June 8, 2015) Jeanine McGowan said:
For the past week, floor is wet where square, central brick support column and floor meet, on two sides. This is only support for old house other than tree trunk in coal scuttle, at north end of house. Slowly spreading, where do I start with this problem and who should I trust with an old old house? Found this website this AM and am thankful
If this is a new problem I'd be looking first for a new water leak or source such as a burst pipe or a gutter or downspout problem that is sending water under the slab.
Thank you ..., can't find any water leak. Floor is only moist, no pooling of water. Can't find any seeping out, even with flashlight in dark. The support column is in middle of basement. The chimney for the furnace runs through it but no pipes. This is a Michigan basement that was rough finished in 1915, was marked in the concrete. Could it be condensation from under the house? Is there a sealant I could use on moist concrete? Could it be something other than water?
I intended to suggest that the water source may be outside the building or in another location but sending water below the slab.
If the problem were condensation we'd need to explain why it shows up in just one localized area.
Look also indoors: sometimes water spills or leaks - say from an A/C condensate pump or sink, runs across the floor to a low spot, but the run-across area has dried by the time you see the spill. You just see water in the low area.
(Oct 9, 2015) Maureen Mac said:
Can you tell why is my interior wall and door jam,seperated from the floor,wasn't like that before. Looks like something shift or shrank. The bottom of the wall is nolonger connected to the floor. Is that major repairs? Is that considered structural damage?
Watch out: a failing foundation wall, footing, or structural column, post or pier can indeed allow a floor to sag or settle or even collapse. While a small amount of movement, say 1/4" or less, or a sagging sloping floor may not presage imminent catastropic collapse of the structure, ongoing or continuing movement can point to dangerous conditions.
Even a small amout of movement in a structure, if it ruptures gas or sewer or water piping, risks explosion, mold or bacterial hazards or a building fire. And if thtere has been enough movement to actually break or pull apart structural connectors then there is indeed risk of a dangerous structural collapse.
(Oct 23, 2015) Anonymous said:
How much is it to either repair or replace an adjustable steel column in a manufacture home?
A single adjustable telepost or adjustable steelsupport column that is 3" in outer diameter costs between about $50. and $70. U.S.D. depending on the total height required.
The cost to repair or replace a bad column under your manufactured home will include
Cost of materials: one or more columns
Cost of labor to install temporary support, remove the damaged column, then install a replacement one
Cost of labor and materials to repair or replace a damage or missing pier below the column.
So depending on where you live and the amount of surrounding work necessary, I figure you're looking at $200. or more.
Watch out: depending on local building codes and the opinion of your inspectors, adjustable steel columns may or may not be permitted for permanent construction, and also additional connections or bracing could be required.
Also see PIER FOUNDATION PROBLEMS
Continue reading at COLUMNS & POSTS, DEFECTS or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.
Or see PIER FOUNDATION PROBLEMS
Or see PORCH COLUMN REPAIR or REPLACEMENT for the repair of round or wood columns used on porches and in building interiors
For problems with settlement of piers below Lally columns see Settlement Cracks in Slabs.
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