Most people say that in life only death and taxes are certain. Things can always be "certain" depending on what the situation is. Well this situation is working on an old 1920's Tudor style house. While working on a 1920's Tudor style house 3 things are certain, a home project will never go as planned, it takes infinitely longer to fix something than it does to break it, and even if it was done the proper way in the past it may need to be fixed in the future.
Clearly from our blog it is evident that we have done a large amount of work to our property. Not just the boring slap some paint on here, put this detail trim there, and change that light fixture in there. We have had to do some major stuff, for instance install a sump pump and pit. Well another project was fixing some floor joists.
In our house, one of the things that I demanded is that when we start working on it, we work from the bottom up. Meaning we did everything we could to this house to ensure it will last another 100 years, before we did the boring stuff (see definition of boring stuff above). Lucky enough for me, I have a wife that agreed even though she loves that boring detail work. Probably for the first 8 months, if not longer, we spent our time fixing and improving things in the basement. Seriously, we probably went for a year without a single picture on the wall. Which for any men reading this... I can confirm that is about the maximum amount of time your very loving and understanding wife will allow you to get away with not hanging pictures on the walls.
The first thing we did in the basement was just clean the dang thing. Vacuuming between every joist, pulling out every old nail, and getting rid of all the old worthless pipes that some lazy plumber left in random places. Hours were spent just pulling nails alone. Easily half of a 5 gallon bucket was filled with nails.
When you spend all that time doing this, you realize every little thing that is wrong with your house. We found a few things that needed to be addressed immediately; 1 floor joist had significant dry rot and/or termite damage, another had about 3/4 of the joist notched out (thanks joe the plumber for that, seriously the main joist under the tub?), and a third had a crack in it due to a knot. The fixes were simple enough in theory, the first 2 we needed to sister joists to and the 3rd we only needed to bolt some stiffeners on each side to make sure the crack would not get any worse.
*Joist 1: Dry rot joist not pictured before*
Joist 2: 3/4 cut joist:
Joist 3: Crack due to a knot and time:
The dry rot joist was not that bad to sister, it was time consuming though. The first thing we had to do is to pull back any wiring that ran through the joist, simple enough. The next thing we had to do was remove a fair amount of duct work to be able to get the joist fully in place. After that, we began the long process of maneuvering a 2x8 - 12 board into place while feeding it through a stairwell. This was equivalent of putting a square plug in a round hole. You think it may work at first so you try for a while to do it, then finally realize something different must be done. Our "something different that must be done" was just taking the sawzall and cutting a hole in the wall. At this point we actually dry fit the joist into place, and it went into place quite nicely. We took it out and used construction adhesive on the joist, and nailed them together. Joist 1 done.
JOIST 2The "joe the plumber joist" took about just as long. The electrical was pulled already due to the other joist. However this time around, there was an old return that was not taken out when it was removed. We quickly found out why the HVAC guy did not remove it, it was probably one of my least favorite encounters with sheet metal my entire life and took about 2 hours to fully remove. This time without the stairs in our way we had a easy path to feed the new joist into place. However, this dry fit attempt did not work. The old joist had bowed too much that we could not get it into place. So we got creative and raised the joist with a car jack and 2x4 to slide the new joist in. With a little love and small tools it worked, by "little love" I mean Brooke banging it with hammers into place (so it would be flat against existing joist) and by "small tools" I mean me using a 20 lb sledge to drive the new joist like a nail the length of the existing joist. This joist was glued and nailed as well. Joist 2 done.
The final joist with the crack was the easiest to fix. The crack was not that bad, maybe 2 inches long. If I thought the crack would not get any worse I would not have done anything, but that was not the case. I used my trusty 2x4 and car jack again to get the beam up and make sure it was level.
Once it was level, I cut a 2x8 -10 in half. Then I screwed the 2 boards together in a couple places. Next, I drilled 8 1/2" holes for the bolts that I would be using to secure these pieces in place, making sure the holes were not lined up perfectly with one another to help keep the wood from splitting. Next I took one piece glued and screwed it in place, then used the hole in that piece to guide the drill, to drill through the existing joist.
Once that was done, I simply tightened the bolts with to secure the second board (with glue as well). Joist 3 done.
*Note: This also fixed a squeak in the floor above*
Now, this isn't a glamorous post, but having the peace of mind that our home innards are structurally sound is the most important thing.