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Are Floor Jacks Temporary?

steel jack resting on a concrete block base

Sometimes you hear a contractor refer to adjustable jacks as temporary supports, and other times, a contractor will recommend them as permanent solutions.  This causes some (understandable!) confusion; who’s right about adjustable jacks? Technically, adjustable jacks are both temporary and permanent, because the answer depends on how you’re using them.  

Acculevel is a family-owned and operated company that specializes in foundation repairs and waterproofing.  We are experts in stabilizing and restoring homes to their optimal health.  Since we opened our doors in 1996, we’ve helped nearly 40,000 homeowners preserve and protect their homes for the future. In this FAQ, we’re going to explain the circumstances for using adjustable jacks.  We’ll provide you with examples of work we’ve done, and review when the jacks were temporary or part of permanent repairs.


When Are Floor Jacks Only Temporary? 

Steel floor jacks are extremely useful- even necessary- for foundation repair companies like Acculevel.  We often install them in a basement or crawl space where the foundation is damaged.  This allows us to transfer or relieve the stress on the building so we can safely make needed repairs.  

diagram showing floor jack usage
This is a photo taken by an Acculevel team member during repairs.  The notes were added by the author.

In the example shown above, the basement wall has cracked and is beginning to bow inward at the point of pressure.  (This type of crack is usually caused by hydrostatic pressure.)  The homeowner plans to finish this basement, and wants the wall straightened, as well as repaired. Before we can straighten this wall, we have to relieve the pressure being applied to it.  We installed a temporary support beam across the floor joists, and used 4 steel floor jacks to securely hold it in place. 

Once the weight of the home was transferred to our temporary beam and jacks, we could safely excavate the soil on the exterior of the wall- without risk of the wall caving in.  You can see the complete project in this article If the customer didn’t want the wall to be completely straight, it could have been secured and stabilized without excavation.  But their plans included turning the basement into living space, so additional repairs were made. 


When Are Floor Jacks Permanent? 

Steel floor jacks can also be used as permanent supports, when they are secondary supports. We often repair sagging floors with a method similar to the one shown above.

I Beam replacement of wooden beam
This photo was also taken by an Acculevel team member during repairs.

This customer had sagging floors that needed new and additional support.  To correct the issue, we installed a steel I-beam across the affected joists and added steel floor jacks to hold the beam in place.  There are contractors who will install wooden beams with the steel jacks; Acculevel does not.  We know that wood beams can become compressed between the weight of the home and the jack, causing damage to the beam.


What’s the Difference Between the Two? 

At this point, you may be wondering what the difference is between these two repairs; they seem identical.  But they’re not solving the same problem, which alters their value.  

In the first example, the jacks are holding the home up until the repairs are completed.   They are secondary support, sharing the load with the other 3 walls.  If we left the beam and jacks in place, it wouldn’t resolve the customer’s problem.  There would still be water coming in through the wall crack.  The wall crack would continue to weaken and spread, until it eventually collapsed.  The beam and jacks we temporarily installed could (and probably would) give way at that point.

In the second example, the floor is sagging.  This was because the beam was decaying (due to moisture damage), and the columns supporting the beam were insufficient.  The homeowner had tried adding concrete blocks under the beam to shore it up, but this wasn’t enough.   Our repair replaces the damaged beam with a steel one, and the jacks take over for the makeshift columns.  This repair with the jacks fully resolves the issue the customer has with their sagging floor.  (As part of our whole-home solution, we also recommended they address the water drainage issue, since moisture was the root cause of the decay.)  You can learn more about floor stabilization in this article


Bonus Question: Is One Floor Jack Enough? 

In both examples, you’ll notice that multiple jacks were installed.  This is because only using one jack can cause damage while attempting to repair it.  Whenever floor jacks are used, you need to consider the amount of stress being applied to each one.  Our Sales Director, Nolan Beery, explains more fully in this video:


Do You Need Foundation Repairs?

Have we answered your questions about adjustable steel jacks?  If you need more information about foundation damage, or have sagging floors that need repairing, we have additional resources available to you!

Our Foundation Repair Guide covers all of the most important topics surrounding potential foundation concerns: cracks, bowing walls, settling, what causes these problems, and what fixing these problems can cost you. This is an ideal resource for homeowners whose house has a basement. Foundation Repair Guide
Crawl Space Guide linkIf your home has a crawl space underneath it, you should check out our Crawl Space Repair Guide.  This homeowner’s resource teaches you the various signs and symptoms of foundation problems, as well as costs, repair methods, and ways to maximize your home’s air quality. 


Do You Want to Schedule an In-Home Assessment?

If you live in Indiana or the surrounding areas, call Acculevel @ 866-669-3349.  We will schedule an appointment for you with one of our project advisors.  They will come to your home, discuss your concerns, evaluate your home, and then provide you with a recommended course of action.  Our goal is to provide you with a whole-home solution, to keep your home healthy and stable for years to come.  Prefer to communicate by email or text?  Fill out our online form, and let us know! If you don’t live in our service area, please still use our homeowner guides.  When you’re ready to find a contractor in your area, check out our Tips on How to Hire a Foundation Repair Expert


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