When is it time to replace my lally column?

- Friday, March 22, 2024
A1 Foundation Crack Repair - Rusted Lally Column

Lally columns play an important role in holding up your home and keeping the flooring level. Since they’re so critical, how do you know when it’s time to repair or replace one? Adam shares his considerable experience with lally columns and when it’s time to call in a pro to fix one.

Narrator: It’s time once again for the “Crack Man Podcast” hosted by A1 Foundation Crack Repair. I’m Darren Kincaid here with the Crack Daddy himself, Adam Tracy. Adam and The Crack Man Rich have over 30 years’ experience in the construction industry. Rich as over two5 years as the president and founder of A1 Foundation Crack Repair. This podcast provides expert basement waterproofing, concrete repair, and preventative maintenance tips for homeowners and businesses. A1 Foundation’s valuable insight will help avert a disastrous flood within the basement, health problems associated with water infiltration, and protect your biggest investment….your home. The topic of today’s podcast: When is it time to replace my lally column?

Narrator: So, Adam, lally columns play an important role in holding up your home and keeping the flooring level. Since they're so critical, how do you know when it's time to repair or replace one?

Adam: Yeah. This is an often-overlooked area of critical home support and structural support. Most often people are just annoyed by their placement when they're trying to do a finished room downstairs and they really wish to have them out of there. But as a house is weighted onto the foundation, the whole middle of your house is generally going to be loaded onto columns that are then put onto concrete pads in the floor. With a new home construction, there's very standard design practices and code requirements that require certain spacing based on structural loads of a house. But how do you know when it's time to look at replacing these elements if they might be compromised, undersized, or having issues where you feel like you have really bouncy floors upstairs.

In older homes, you're not going to have today's design practices. If we go back and rewind the clock to 100 years, you'll see stone foundations and stone foundations will not have permanent lally columns as their primary support. More often than not, you'll actually have a tree trunk, an old tree trunk that sits on a granite stone or some sort of stone or potentially just right on the concrete pad itself, and that's going to be what is supporting the house and major interior sections of the home. Also, what you might see, is you might see temporary lally columns, which are the ones that you can get from large hardware stores that have kind of a screw top on them, and they're hollow on the inside.

Both of these are really subject to needing to be looked at. The wood columns that are there have probably been squished down a little bit, if not a lot, which gives you lots of bows on the floor and kind of bounciness in the floor. The other thing too is that as the wood ages, it dries out. And as it starts to dry, you'll see large splits and checks in the actual columns. These are subject to, kind of, having major sort of deficiencies over time because they can actually open up. When it comes to temporary columns, you really should only be using those for a maximum of 180 days as per code. These are really meant to be temporary support. Maybe take a little bit of bouncing this out of order while you do some construction, maybe adding a little extra support in an area that you're putting a new kitchen island in that's a lot more weight than it was before. But these are not meant to be permanent, and they're not meant to be in there for more than basically a half a year.

In older homes, those are the primary ones that we want to look at. And this would involve basically kicking the form, breaking it apart, digging down and putting it into what's called a footer. And the footer is a large concrete pad that's going to be rebar reinforced, and that's what's taking the weight of the column and dispersing it into the soil. And so that's the critical element to the actual support mechanism of a lally column support. That pole is very strong, but if you're putting it on an old slab floor that might be an inch thick, it's just going to crack and it's going to sink down into the floor.

This large concrete footer is really what's taking the weight and spreading it evenly into the soil. Then you'd want to have a concrete filled steel lally column that's cut to size with a thick steel plate at the top to help save these older homes' wood structure because if you put a small square plate on there, it's going to cause what's called a point load onto the wood and will cause issues with the actual timber structure buff. So older homes, you always want to look at these old wooden columns as replacements and also these temporary columns or screw jacks as replacements. Now if you have a home that's newer than a hundred years old, you're going to see a variety of different types of column supports, and some of them might actually be a new support that would be something that we would use today.

The problem with these homes is, typically they’re buried into the concrete on the pad that's underneath. And if you have a high water table or if you have them in the garage where you're constantly bringing cars in and out, the bottom can get really rusty as well as it can wick water up and interior to the column and actually rust it from the inside out. The column is a two piece. It's concrete that is wrapped in steel, steel tube. They'd have to work together to give you the graded strength to it.

As the rusting and splitting of these columns happens, you're losing anywhere from 30 to 60 percent of the overall design strength of these columns. So, if you're in your garage, particularly, and you're seeing this bottom footer too that's really rusting, and you might even see parts of the concrete. It's time. Also, you might see these in the interior of the home where there’s splitting or bubbling, interior to the piping, that means that water is coming up and through and it's time as well to look at replacing those. The same design techniques as the older homes hold true. It's just a matter of making sure when it’s time to replace them.

Narrator: Well, thanks, Adam, for sharing your considerable experience with lally columns, and when it's time to call in a pro to fix one.

Narrator: If you have a basement water problem and think you need a professional, or, if you’d like more information on foundation crack repair and basement waterproofing topics, please visit A1FoundationCrackRepair.com or call Rich at (866) 92 9-3171. Or you can email Rich at info@a1foundationcrackrepair.com. Thanks for listening and keep that basement dry.

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Call Us Today at 866-929-3171

A-1 Foundation Crack Repair, Inc. is a fully registered home improvement contractor. Contact us today to talk to a knowledgeable, master waterproofing professional.