“How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart you begin to understand…there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep, that have taken hold.”
Frodo – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Note: To see the update to this post, check out how I really fixed this sagging garage roof.
It’s been a busy day. I’m all finished with my work, so I thought I’d sit back to write for a while. Writing is such a relaxing activity for me; it helps with the unwinding process. Although, I’m not sure how much unwinding I can do right now because I’ve still got to practice playing guitar. I don’t usually begin that until around 9pm, so I’ve got some time. After that though, Laura and I will eat our dinner. We’ve been eating so late these days. Sometimes not until after 10pm. It’s terrible, I know, but the days are so full. Food is the last thing on our minds. It’s almost as if it’s something we just need to get out of the way.
I began the day by riding the ATV back into the woods with the trailer in tow. My goal was to again haul some firewood from there to the garage. I spent about three or four hours doing that and in the process, I got my nice new work gloves completely covered in pine sap. I already told you about that Eastern White Pine leader that I cut up for firewood, but what I didn’t tell you was that the pieces began bleeding pitch all over the place moments after I cut them. The pitch looked like small bubbles oozing out of the cut ends. Since each piece was rather large, I was forced to use my axe to split them. Once I was done with that, I’d pick up and toss each of the split pieces into the trailer. You should see the axe handle. It’s totally covered in black sap. I’m sure the sap was semi-clear at one point, but all the handling today made it much darker. To be blunt, it’s very gross. It’s a sticky mess that I hope eventually dries up.
I am getting there though. I’m mostly finished with my third row. I hope to fill the garage with five 24 foot rows. I don’t know if I’ll make it with what I’ve got in the back, but if I don’t, I’ll order two cord from the dealer I referred to in my last post. He’ll help me out. He always does.
The real drama and the point of this post is to talk about the bulging wall we’ve got in the garage in which I’m storing the firewood. This bulging wall is starting to make me slightly nervous. At first, I thought it was like this when we bought the house six years ago, but I’m starting to think that it’s getting worse. I don’t know if my eyes are deceiving me, but there seems to be slight movement. Or, as I should say, there seems to have been slight movement. Let me show you what I’m referring to.
Take a look at this next picture. I know it’s tough to see, but the wall of the garage/wood shed is bulging out slightly. In the photo, the wall is bulging to the left.
Now take a look at how the rafters are forcing the top plate to separate from the beams. These photos are from the inside of the garage. Take notice of the lighter wood where the beam meets the top plate.
At first, I thought someone had backed or drove into the wall of the garage from the inside. That would explain how the top of the wall was being pushed out like it is. But then, as I began educating myself about bulging walls in general, I discovered that the bulge was most likely caused by the weight of heavy snow over time. This is what Maine Preservation says about bulging walls:
“Some say lightweight balloon framing was named for its vulnerability to being carried away by wind. But this is not the system’s biggest failing. With balloon framing, the weight of the roof assembly is carried by the rafters. Where the rafters meet the outside walls, the tremendous force of this load is transferred to the vertical studs and carried down to the sills and foundation walls below. The weak point in the system is the area where rafters meet studs, or precisely where you’ve noticed bulging. Sagging of the ridgeline — a coincident condition — is often a symptom of the same problem. Factor in the additional burden of ice and snow building up over 120 years and you’ve got a weakened and potentially unsafe building.”
My jaw dropped when I read this. This is exactly what we’ve got going on here. There are no vertical posts holding up the ridgeline of this garage, so, just like Maine Preservation said, all the weight of the snow has pushed the walls apart, leaving me with a bulge on one side and a sagging roofline. And to think, I thought someone drove into the wall. Shame on me.
Initially, I though this would be an easy fix. This past Friday I purchased a nice Reese Power Puller (cable hand winch) from Tractor Supply in hopes that I could connect one end of the winch to the wall top plate and the other to some fixed element of the garage and simply pull the wall back in place. After some serious effort today, I learned that this strategy wasn’t about to happen any time soon. Allow me to present a few photos of my setup. Mind you, I attempted a few different winch position scenarios with one very good one at the end. This was the first, which didn’t work well at all. Really, by running the winch cable here like I did, I was merely trying to see how long it was. I wanted to see what I was dealing with. I knew the cables would bind like they did.
What I ended up doing was making multiple wraps around that top plate with a short piece of tree climbing rope I have and then using a towing strap to secure the other end of the winch to the beam. It worked very well, but didn’t accomplish what I set out to do. I wasn’t able to pull the wall back into place. The wood squeaked and groaned, but the wall didn’t move. It freaked me out because I was inside of the garage when it was doing this, but I’m used to this type of thing. I once jacked up our first house due to a sagging girder beam.
By the way, here’s a photo of the garage I’m dealing with. Don’t worry, it’s not really that crooked, I just used a wide angle lens for this shot, which distorted things.
With my newfound knowledge, I now have a plan. What I’m going to do is go upstairs in the garage, locate the support posts that are downstairs, and use a car jack to lift the sagging roof ridge so it’s perfectly straight again. I’ll install some posts right above the lower ones to secure the roof in position, which should hopefully lighten the load that’s pushing the walls out. After I’m finished with that, I’ll head back downstairs to secure three cables; one to each respective position on the wall and then to their respective positions on their respective beams, respectively.
After I failed to pull the wall back into position this afternoon, I came back inside and was lucky enough to locate a video on Youtube that explained almost the exact situation we’re dealing with here. Take a look at this:
How to Fix a Sagging Roof Ridge
The funny thing is, I hadn’t even considered that we had a sagging roof ridge as well as a bulging wall. After watching the above video, I went back outside to check out the top of the roof. I pulled the ladder out and climbed up top with my camera in hand. Check this out. Even though it’s not terribly obvious, the ridge is, in fact, sagging. I couldn’t believe it.
I think my plan will fix things right up though. I’ll just need some posts, but I’ll grab them when I can. This garage definitely can’t wait to be repaired until after another winter though, so I better hop on this.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to give you an update on my beard. After thinking about it, I’m going to say that I’m at or around the 30 day mark. I last shaved about two weeks after my most recent Jiu-Jitsu class, which was on March 10. That puts me at approximately March 24, which is close enough to one month. Here I am, in all my glory. I think I’ll continue taking update shots with my cat, since he seems to enjoy such things.
Getting long, isn’t it?
I’m telling you, I may go all the way. I’m liking the way this is looking. I’ve never had such a beard and I’m finding the experience thrilling!
Take care of yourselves and those around you. Until next time.
How to Add Support Posts to an Old Garage
I’ve been moving right along with my bulging garage wall repair. In my previous post on the topic (above), I explained my dilemma. Due to my persistence though, I seemed to have figured something out to help the situation. What I came up with is a fairly good solution, if I don’t say so myself. Before I get to that though, let me tell you that I’ve finally finished collecting our firewood for next winter. It took a few weeks with a lot of cutting and hauling, but it’s done. For now. Well, I thought it was finished until Laura and I went for a morning stroll a few days ago. While she was listening to and searching for birds, I was hunting for more half dead trees to take down. It’s amusing how we focus on completely separate things when we’re together. As we walked, I came to the conclusion that it really is a never ending project and that I should simply let it go for this season. I’ll admit that it’s a difficult thing to do, especially for someone like me who’s obsessed with being prepared. How much firewood is enough? The answer to that question is probably: there’s never enough.
Here are a few photos. I know you can’t really tell the difference between these and any of the others I’ve posted, but trust me that this is more that what I’ve previously shown. I’ve got three solidly completed 24 foot rows and then two more partial rows in front of them. I honestly think that I’ll somehow find myself back in the woods again with chainsaw in hand, but I’m not planning that as of this moment.
I would estimate to have about four cord of wood in the garage. I’m being conservative here on purpose because I don’t want to succumb to hyperbole as so many others have through the years. And believe me, when it comes to firewood, there’s a lot of hyperbole. I’m not sure why. I suppose it goes hand in hand with whose truck is more powerful, whose bulldozer can climb that hill faster, and who burns more wood per year. “How many cord do you burn per year, Johnny?” “At least 20. And that’s when the temps don’t go below 60 degrees!” One would think that one would be slightly ashamed or embarrassed that he or she needs to create that much heat to keep warm, but I digress. The I burn this much firewood thing is rampant in the firewood world. Ask me how I know this and I’ll tell you that I have no idea. I just know it.
Okay, onto the topic at hand; the garage.
I’ve concluded that the weight of the snow that sits on the roof of the garage is being directed to the walls of said garage, when it shouldn’t be (entirely). In my opinion, a proper weight distribution would include the reduction of weight from the walls with a redistribution of that weight to three posts that travel from the peak of the roof, or the roof ridge, down to the concrete pad on the ground. If this is done, then the walls won’t be so heavy and won’t have the tendency to bulge outward and possibly collapse. So this project that I’ve found myself in the middle of is actually three-fold. First, I need to pull the bulging wall back into position. Second, I need to shore up the rest of the structure, or create supports so the weight is redirected, as I’ve just mentioned. And third, I need to secure the top plate of the walls to the beams that travel across the ceiling of the garage downstairs, so the walls can’t bulge out again.
With this in mind, I began working in the lower portion of the garage. The very first task I completed was to secure two 2x4s each to the existing support posts that led from the floor to the downstairs ceiling. Take a look.
The existing posts were 4x4s and I pretty much doubled them up. I do have a cement filled lally column available if need be, but I’m holding onto that for emergency. We’ll see if a need for it arises in the future.
During my previous effort, I think the reason I failed was because I attempted to only pull the wall back into place without jacking up the roof ridge at the same time. Because I didn’t reduce the load on the wall, the thing didn’t budge. This time, I set up a jack system to lift the center of the ridge while using my trusted winch to pull the wall in. That was the ticket because after a few repetitions of running upstairs to pump my car jack and running downstairs to crank the winch, I began to hear the wood of the roof and the walls creak and groan. Mind you, these noises weren’t any less disconcerting simply because I had added one more area of support. They were just as terrifying and I thought the entire garage was going to collapse upon me at any moment. As I cranked that winch though, I forced myself to remember my middle name. It goes something like this: Jay “you ain’t never gonna get nothin’ done if you run away from a creak and a groan” Gaulard. At least, that’s what my mother wanted to name me.
Simply put, here’s what I did: I jacked up the center of the roof and installed a post, winched the bulging wall back into place, and then bolted the roof rafters to the cross beams. I decided to bolt all six roof rafters, on both sides of the roof, that touched the three support beams because that’s a more thorough job. The previous owners of our house left a bunch of foot long lag bolts behind. I decided to put some of them to good use. Here’s a photo of one of them. I drilled right through the rafter and the beam and then tightened the nuts up like crazy. I’d say things are pretty secure.
Here’s a photo of the upstairs. As I said, I’ve only installed one support post so far. I’ll need to go out to purchase some more wood to make two more. At least I now know how to best jack the roof up for an installation like this.
I used two hardware plates to affix the top of the post to the ridge beam and I simply screwed the bottom of the post to the floor. I didn’t want either of these areas moving during a wind storm. Now, all I need to do is get some more lumber, jack a few things up and we’re good to go. Next up, I need to repair some garage roof shingles that flew off this past winter. This seems to be a yearly project. At least I’ve got my big ladder now. That helps a lot.
Until next time!
Now that I’ve got a ton of reclaimed lumber from my shed demolition to use for projects like this, I went out yesterday and this afternoon to add the final two support posts to the attic of the garage. I have to say, I’m loving the fact that I’ve got all this wood lying around. These posts alone would have cost around $60 at the lumberyard. How much did I pay? Nothing. I simply love that.
I just went out to snap a few photos of the finished product for you. This first one is of the three posts now in place.
This next one is of the upper part of the posts. I raised the camera up above those horizontal support beams so you could get a better look.
And these next two are of the first and second posts where they connect to the ridge beam.
I am feeling much better about the garage now. These posts, along with the other enhancements I applied should help tremendously with the weight of the snow. I don’t have to concern myself with the garage falling under it anymore.
Also, I wanted to mention how much easier it was to install these two posts. While the first one called for a car jack to lift the center of the sagging roof, these didn’t require that at all. What I did was measure the necessary length of the beams and then add a half inch to each. After that, I set the beams in place and then whacked the bottoms into position with a sledgehammer. Things came out perfectly.