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How to Jack up a House to Replace Rim Joist: The Handyman Bible

Last Updated: 06 July 2021

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So, how do you jack up a house to replace rim joists? It is a delicate undertaking, and every precaution should be in place. You need the right tools and the opinion of a professional to pull it off without any incidents.

Now that you are here, we will tell you about replacing rotted sill plate and rim joist with easy-to-follow steps. Before that, we will define a rim joist, and answer questions you may have.

Rim Joist: What is It?

Rim Joist: What is It

We advocate for starting by knowing the precise role of joists in the entire structure. They are the primary support of your floor. That firmness and stability you feel when stepping on the floor are coming from them. The joists create a network of support running across the floor evenly for a robust foundation. At a later stage, you will lay plywood over them to create a bed of whatever floor cover you are going to use.

The joists running across the floor will require support at the outer end of the wall falls. You will notice pieces of wood running perpendicular to the floor and capping the horizontal joists beyond the visible wall. These are the rim joists. Precisely, they are the reinforcement for the rest of the joists beneath the wall.

As time goes by, the vertical reinforcements tend to rot. That is when and why you will need a joist replacement. It is not safe to have any part of the foundation wood rotten. And you will have to make a quick decision whether to remove it all or go for replacing rotten floor joists only.

How High Should You Jack Up House?

After ascertaining the source of the problem with your foundation’s integrity, the next course of action is drawing up a plan. One of the crucial aspects at this stage is determining how far you will be jacking up floor joists. It will form the basis of your budget, the tools you need, and anything else to get the job done correctly.

Avoid the guesswork by consulting a professional to give a good idea of how high you should be raising your house. Of course, it will cost you to get a professional, but it is better to get it all right from the start.

Nevertheless, if you trust your DIY skills, you can do the calculation and start your rim joist replacement from a knowledge point. Get a string and attach it at one end of the foundation. Hold the string and go around half the perimeter of the foundation. Keep the string straight and come to the section you will be hoisting and replacing the joists. You will see clearly where the wood is rotten and how far up you will be lifting your house.

What Type of Jack Do I Need for This Job?

What Type of Jack Do I Need for This Job

It has to be the right kind of jack, or several where applicable, for the house to lift. Typically, hydraulic jacks are used, but there is the question of tonnage. Roughly, a 20-ton hydraulic jack will be good to go. However, if you would not like to use much effort and time, then we recommend a 40-ton jack. Once you have that decision made, your journey for replacing the rotted sill plate and rim joist should begin right away.

How to Jack Up a House to Replace Rim Joist: Step-by-step Guide

Step 1: Consult a Structural Professional

We do not advise that you go ahead and jack up house without seeking an expert opinion. A structural engineer will assess your house and tell you whether it is safe to lift it in the first place. You cannot overlook the importance of such an assessment for the best outcome.

There are several technical aspects that you may not be aware of. You will come across terms like point-load, header, and continuous load path. If you have no clue what they mean, you need a professional.

Understandably, you would like to save every dime you can. But, you cannot let that threaten the integrity and safety of your house. Get an expert and sleep all night peacefully.

Step 2: Establish How High Your House Should Be Lifted

Before replacing a rotted sill plate gets underway, it is imperative to know how far up your house should be lifted. You can use a laser, a taut string, or water level to tell how high the house should go. If you go with a string, keep it straight from one end of the foundation to the other where you will be doing the replacement.

Step 3: Putting up Wall Studs

There is one more thing before you jack up a house: constructing wall studs. These studs have to be in the basement because they will be the only support of your house when the rim joists are hoisted. Ensure you analyze your foundation thoroughly, not to miss anything with the studs.

Step 4: Using the Hydraulic Jack

Using the Hydraulic Jack

We assume that you already made arrangements for the jack. You will need the best cordless drill to remove any hard obstacles getting to the rotten wood for your heads up. Back to the jack, you can rent one and cut on overhead costs.

Insert the jack where you want to lift. Slowly and carefully hoist it. Pile up small blocks for extra support at the center of the structure. When you reach the right height, remove the jack cautiously, not to topple the entire structure.

Step 4: Remove Dead Parts and Replace Them

You can now start replacing rim joists one after the other. Using a saw, cut out, and replace them with healthy wood.

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If the problem is with the sill plate, replace it with a new one. Remember to reinforce the replacements with 16p nails. You do not need galvanized nails for this role. When all bad wood is removed, and structural integrity is restored, it is time to lower the house back to its original position. Place the jack under the opening and remove the small blocks layer after the other while jacking down.

Final Word

Now that is how to jack up a house to replace rim joists. It is not a complicated process but a delicate one. Follow our guide, and it will be a piece of cake job. We insist that you consult an expert before you do anything.

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