So saggy

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Gotta' love old houses.

Over the winter, I noticed that one side of the overhang on my front porch seemed to be sagging. I took a closer look a few weeks ago and discovered that the buttress responsible for supporting the left side of the overhang was rotted and had slipped about 2" from its original position.

Apparently, whomever originally crafted the overhang felt that a single nail would be sufficient to support the weight of the 4x4 buttress and the unknown weight/make-up of the overhang itself. I'm no engineer, but I'd like to think that I know a little better than to hope that one lonely nail would support what has to be several hundred pounds of weight.

So, I ran off to the hardware store to gather some materials so as to rectify the saggy overhang. I consulted with my handyman pal, who suggested foregoing the buttress and doing a standard post, anchored to the cement steps. I liked his suggestion, so that's what I did.

True to my nature, I got super anxious to do the work, and immediately began cutting, drilling, and repairing as soon as I returned from the store. As I admired my first bit of work, I realized that it might make a good blog entry... so, I made sure to photograph the other side's work.

Here we see the original buttress design. This side of the porch had not yet started to sag, so it looks fairly normal.

photo 1.JPG

I had to remove the aluminum cladding from the buttress and from the overhang, where the buttress enters the structure. With the cladding removed, I then used a bottle jack and another 4x4 to serve as a support for the structure - I carefully jacked-up the support so that the overhang was sitting just slightly higher than level.

I then took my saw and cut out the buttress. The temporary jack was now holding all of the weight of the overhang.

With the buttress out of the way, I hung a plumb-bob from the center of my post opening on the overhang to determine where to drill for my cement anchors:

photo 2.JPG

Up next, I used a hammer drill with a masonry bit to drill a 5/8" hole into the cement steps. True to nearly everything in this old house, the steps weren't actually centered under the overhang, so my post wound-up sitting slightly over the edge of the cement steps... as I said earlier, "gotta' love old houses."

photo 3.JPG

The hammer drill and masonry bit made short work of the cement. With nearly zero effort, I had a perfect 5/8" wide hole that went about 4" deep into the cement. I don't know why I waited so long to purchase a hammer drill - they're truly awesome. Here's the hole, with the plumb-bob indicated things were "on target":

photo 4.JPG

I cleaned the hole of any residual cement dust, inserted my anchor sleeve, and then installed my post support. The post support serves to anchor the cedar 4x4 as well as to elevate it from the cement and act as a moisture barrier.

I'm not planning to keep this overhang for too long; I'd like to build a "real" porch on the front of the house within the next few years, so I didn't worry too much about getting real fancy with the post and support. Here's the post support being assembled in place:

photo 5.JPG

With the "foundation"' all set to go, all that I had to do was measure and cut my 4x4 cedar support and fit it into place. And, here's where things got fun again (thanks, old house!).

The right side of the overhang wasn't built anything like the left side. I discovered a "stepped" system of 2x4s in the overhang, which meant I'd have to notch my 4x4 to fit into the 2x4 steps above.

I measured things 5-6 times and then used my miter saw to cut a series of ribs into the 4x4.

photo 6.JPG

With the ribs cut, I used my hammer to knock them out, and then cleaned-up things with a sharp chisel. Since no one would ever see this part of the post, I wasn't worried about getting a really clean cut - I just wanted to quickly and effectively knock-out part of the 4x4 so that it would fit flush with the overhang's structure.

I measured a few more times, and then cut the 4x4 to length, to ensure that the overhang would sit level. Here it is, just before I set everything into place.

photo 7.JPG

I set the post into place, secured it at the top with some lag bolts, and then secured it to the support with some stainless steel 2.5" screws. I lowered the jack, removed the temporary support, and all was done. No more sagging.

photo 8.JPG

I need to remove the last little bit of the old buttresses; I didn't have a "Sawz-All" at the time, but I do now, so it'll be nothing for me to cut those flush and cover the exposed (rotten) siding. Done and done.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steve published on June 19, 2014 1:13 PM.

Projects galore... was the previous entry in this blog.

A major upgrade is the next entry in this blog.

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