Steel post question

Does it matter if a screw-adjustable support post is installed with the threaded end on the bottom or the top, as long as it is secured against kick out? There were no labels on the post in this afternoon’s job.

I write-up screw type jacks or posts as “temporary supports.” So it doesn’t matter to me which end is up, it needs to come out after a permanent support is installed.

I see the adjustable posts all the time here. New construction, 15-20 years old, it seems like they’ll show up anywhere. Garages, basements. Maybe I’m calling it by the wrong name. One end fixed, with a welded plate, 4 holes. The other end, screw adjustable, with a plate, 4 holes. These should be considered temporary? I see them bolted top and bottom, or one or the other, some times neither. Tonight I started wondering about the adjustable end.

Write these or similar up. They are not intended as permanent structural supports no matter what their size is.

Are you talking about this support?

Screw Jacks can be installed with the adjusting screw on top or bottom depending on your local building codes.

But, as stated already, this is only a temporary jack.

Always recommend replacing screw jacks with cement filled lally columns with appropriately sized footings.

Yes, Barry, that’s the one I never knew that they were considered teporary support. Thanks guys. Why are they temporary. Not as strong?

Steel columns are common in my area and I don’t comment on them unless they are the telescoping type which are indeed for “temporary” use.

“In new buildings and in new construction, you may be find that the single tube adjustable column is labeled with a reference to an ICC-ES Report, a BOCA Report or a CCMC Evaluation. This means that it has been independently evaluated and found fit for permanent structural use. If It’s manufactured for use in the U.S. it will cite an ICC-ES Legacy Report (issued by the International Code Council Evaluation Service), or a BOCA (Building Officials and Code Administrators) Report. An adjustable steel column manufactured for use in Canada will cite a CCMC (Canadian Construction Materials Centre) Evaluation. These reports are issued by nonprofit service corporations which evaluate mass-produced building elements’ fitness for their intended use. The adjustable column reports include a description of the column, its allowable load, citations of third-party engineering reports and the requirement that these columns be labeled with a reference to the report.”
Source document HERE
**Sample report with conditions of use: [/size] LINK

Where to buy permanent adjustable steel columns:
The following is a list of manufacturers of single piece adjustable steel columns. All of the columns on this list have been evaluated by an ICC or BOCA Legacy Report. You should contact these manufacturers for a list of their retailers or distributors. When making inquiries, **make sure you refer to these specific columns by name **because some of these manufacturers also sell temporary split adjustable columns that are not appropriate for permanent use.

Column Manufacturer    Tapco M & H Series Monoposts 

Tapco Stanchions The Akron Products Co.
PO Box 188, Seville, OH

Fixed Plate Column Marshall Stamping Co.
355 Glade Mills Road
Valencia, PA 16059

Hutch Adjustable Tubular Column
Hutch Manufacturing Company
200 Commerce Ave
Loudon, TN 37774

“Zip It’s Up” Adjustable Clip-on Column Afco Manufacturing Corp
428 Cogshall Street
Holly, MI 48442

Tiger Brand Jack Post Adjustable Column Tiger Brand Jack Post Company
10721 South Water St
Meadville, PA 16553

Standard Duty Adjusta-Column
Heavy Duty Adjusta-Column
Quality Manufacturing, Inc.
4111 Jimbo Dr.
Burton, MI 48529

Thanks to all than answered. Very helpful. Michael, thanks to you I’ve got a source for the info.

By utilizing temporary screw jacks, you have several disadvantages to this
temporary jack verses the powerful cement filled lally column.

You are placing the weight of the structure on a threaded screw. These temporary screw jacks can easily exceed the 625 psi allowable stress.

You are utilizing a split post with a thin metal dowel holding the weight of the structure, bearing down on this dowel.

The steel post is hollow and has a tendency to bend if not placed properly.

Most homeowners do not pour appropriate footings under this screw jack. They simply place it on the concrete floor or some other strange base. I’ve seen many. And the floor (or other fancy base support) has a tendancy to crack or become dislodged at the base of this support.

Thanks for the info David.

Quick question, while I have the chance. Must they be bolted to the top? My fifty year old house has 4 permanent posts cemented under the slab. Each only has two bolts into the girder at the top, but there are 4 holes i.e. 2 bolts are missing on each.

I don’t consider it a big deal if a support post is missing 2 bolts. It’s not going anywhere with all that weight bearing down on it.

Most manufacturers state that all holes (in their brackets) must be utilized, but use your own discretion.

Good article on the subject.

Inspecting Adjustable Steel Columns
by Arlene Puentes,

Adjustable steel columns are the hollow steel columns with the one big screw on its end that allows the height of the column to be adjusted on site. Note well that in this article I will be discussing two types of adjustable steel columns. The single piece columns, a single hollow steel tube with an adjusting screw at its end, and the telescoping columns. The telescoping columns come in two or more hollow steel tube sections that are assembled on site. That is, the smaller diameter tube is fitted into the larger diameter tube and the sections are held in place with steel supporting pins which pass through the pre-drilled holes of both tubes. The adjusting screw is assembled at the column’s smaller diameter end.
If a column has been used in an inappropriate manner, if it is improperly installed, or if its condition has deteriorated, the column may be unsafe. Common defects include the permanent use of a temporary column, improper installations and severe exfoliating rust, all of which can lead to a sudden crushing and collapse of the column and the structure it supports. This, of course, can lead to injury. This article will assist inspectors in recognizing these conditions in typical residential properties which American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) members examine. I will also argue that telescoping columns designed for use in the United States, also known as “tele posts,” “sectional columns,” “double-sectioned columns,” “jack posts,” or “jacks,” should be reported as temporary columns which should be replaced and that their presence may alert you to additional building defects.
Single Piece Adjustable Columns and Evaluations that Prove a Load Bearing Capacity
When inspecting a finished building, you may not see the distinguishing adjusting screw at the end of a single piece adjustable column because the column has been installed screw side down and the screw has been encased in the poured concrete floor. So, very likely, what you will see before you is simply a metal column. You will look down, and you will see no plate, the column’s tube is coming out of the concrete floor. You will look up and see a top plate which holds up a structural building component. At this point, estimate whether the column is over 3" in diameter, the required International Residential Code (IRC) diameter. If it is, and if there is no other evidence to the contrary, practicality and the scope of an inspection conducted according ASHI’s Standards of Practice dictates that we cannot make evaluations about the column’s load bearing capacity and that we must proceed with the inspection of the column as described later in this article.
In new buildings and in new construction, you may be find that the single tube adjustable column is labeled with a reference to an ICC-ES Report, a BOCA Report or a CCMC Evaluation. This means that it has been independently evaluated and found fit for permanent structural use. If It’s manufactured for use in the U.S. it will cite an ICC-ES Legacy Report (issued by the International Code Council Evaluation Service), or a BOCA (Building Officials and Code Administrators) Report. An adjustable steel column manufactured for use in Canada will cite a CCMC (Canadian Construction Materials Centre) Evaluation. These reports are issued by nonprofit service corporations which evaluate mass-produced building elements’ fitness for their intended use. The adjustable column reports include a description of the column, its allowable load, citations of third-party engineering reports and the requirement that these columns be labeled with a reference to the report.
Although the International Residential Code (IRC) does not require metal columns to have been studied by an evaluation firm, as a practical matter, an engineer or an architect has to prove that the work will result in a system that is capable of transferring all loads from their point of origin through the load-resisting elements to the foundation. A column is a “load-resisting element.” In the absence of an independent evaluation firm’s report a designer would not specify a non-evaluated metal column because proving the non-evaluated mass-produced column’s fitness for duty would be economically prohibitive.

**Telescopic Adjustable Columns Are Not Approved In The U.S. For Use As Permanent Support **
Telescopic adjustable columns are regularly used in construction to adjust or level a structure before installing a permanent column. Or, they’re used as temporary supports during the course of a building repair. But many inspectors in the U.S. encounter these telescopic columns in permanent use. This is a defect because no telescopic adjustable column has been evaluated by a U.S. evaluation firm and none of their manufacturers cite an engineering report to prove these columns’ ability to carry a specific load. Also, according to the IRC, a steel column has to be at least 3 inches in diameter. All telescopic columns are all less than 3 inches in diameter. You must therefore assume that these adjustable columns are not designed for permanent structural use. Think of these telescopic columns the way you would think of a car jack. They only exist to temporarily “jack up” a part of a building and should be replaced with a permanent column when the jacking up is done.
I researched 4 companies which manufacture telescopic columns for use in the U.S. Three of the four say “temporary” in their marketing material or installation instructions. One company claims “permanent” and “lifetime support.” I spoke to a customer service representative of this company and he told me that his company’s telescopic columns are designed for permanent support but not for structural support. They’re designed, he said, “for added or additional support.”
I am not convinced by this permanency claim. If a structure needs additional support from a column, why should that additional supporting column be exempt from the standards of a permanent column? When an architect or engineer specifies a labeled adjustable column or when a builder installs a labeled adjustable column he or she has the assurance of third party engineering reports that prove the ability to carry a specified load. When a telescopic column is installed the installer gets a one year limited warranty, scanty installation instructions and misleading use information.
On the box, this company implies structural use: “give[s] lifetime support at butt or lap joints in main supporting beams” “For Remodeling and Additions” “Corrects Sagging Floors, Supports Basement Beams” “Levels and Supports RV’s and Manufactured Homes” “Solid Support in Crawlspaces, Under Porches or Decks.” With those structural sounding words set before them, those inclined to perform unconventional home improvements can be misled into mistaking these columns for permanent structural ones. We home inspectors must not be misled. When we see a temporary telescopic column in use we must recommend that it be replaced with an appropriate permanent column
The danger of using temporary telescopic columns is, of course, disastrous and sudden column failure, as described to me by an experienced home inspector and one of the building code officials consulted for this article. The home inspector watched a floor system fail when a friend of his took a step in her kitchen. One temporary column’s failure created a chain reaction that brought down the others. He said he could hear the clang clang clang as each column toppled. The building code official described a brick building re-hab project where the columns, used properly here as temporary support, “almost failed on us.”
The presence of a temporary telescopic column is also a clue to construction, additions or renovations that were not properly designed, work that was done without required municipal permits or structural problems that were not adequately addressed. When you see a telescopic column you know that you need to carefully inspect for other evidence of unconventional construction including the lack of foundation or load bearing support under the columns and bending (or dishing) of the metal plate from the weight of the supported framing member. You must also carefully consider whether the situation warrants your referring the matter to qualified structural engineer.
It’s Different In Canada
The NBC (National Building Code) of Canada requires that adjustable steel columns conform to Article number CAN/CGSB-7.2-94 entitled “Adjustable Steel Columns” which allows single tube adjustable columns and telescopic adjustable columns, even at tube diameters of less than 3 inches (76 mm). Four Canadian manufactures of telescopic adjustable columns have submitted proof to the CCMC that they meet the article’s structural requirements. In Canada, it is important to check that the column has a label to distinguish them from temporary columns.
Inspecting Permanent Adjustable Columns
After you’ve noted whether the column before you is a permanent or temporary column, inspect for permanent column restraint which is required for compliance to the ICC-ES criteria, the CCMC and the IRC. That is, the bottom plate must be permanently connected to a concrete footing with embedded anchor bolts or by the complete encasement of the bottom base plate in concrete. The top plate must be secured to the supported load.
Inspect the top plate for dishing and for adequate beam support. The CCMC requires that the plate be sized to the full width of the supported beam or that a 50 mm x 200 mm (a 2x8) wood cap which extends across the full width of the beam be installed with the grain at 90° to the beam direction.
Notice how far the screw is extended. Only one ICC-ES Legacy Report allows the extension of the screw to be as much as 6 ½ inches (165 mm). That is for the Marshall Stamping Company Extend-O-Column. The other six reports only allow a 3 inch (76 mm) or 4 inch (102 mm) extension. The CCMC allows a 133 mm (5 inches) screw extension. To play it safe, recommend an evaluation for U.S. adjustable columns in situations where the screw is extended more than 4 inches or take down the ICC-ES Report number and research the report in your office after the inspection (they’re all available online). Recommend an evaluation for CCMC labeled adjustable columns when the screw extends more than 5 inches (133 mm).
According to all ICC-ES Reports the columns must be installed vertically and plumb. Also, the height adjusting screw must be disabled after installation. This is achieved by destroying the screw threads with a chisel or a weld or by setting the column screw side down and completely encasing the screw in concrete. (In this case, of course, you won’t even see the screw.) Disabling is required, I am told by my code enforcement sources, to discourage tampering after installation.
Inspect also for corrosion, especially at the bottom where the column could have been exposed to a wet floor. Visually examine the column for rust and give rusty areas and the bottom of the column a good probe with your screwdriver or pick. Your recommendations based on the amount of corrosion present requires a judgment call that you must make very carefully. Is there crumbling, flaking steel? Has the corrosion made the steel thinner? These conditions require a recommendation for replacement or further evaluation. Or, is there simply surface corrosion that has not effected the column’s ability to carry a load? If there is only surface corrosion, or if the prime coat from the manufacturer has worn thin, recommend surface preparation and painting with a rust inhibiting paint.
Does the Adjusting Screw Go Up or Down?
It doesn’t matter. Each ICC-ES Legacy report and CCMC report — which every manufacturer uses as the installation instructions — says that the screw can go either end up. Do not be misled by the instructions found on the boxes which contain the temporary telescopic columns. In this article we’ve dismissed their use as permanent support so their instructions, which require that the screw be on the bottom when supporting wood, can be similarly dismissed
So, distinguish between the temporary adjustable steel columns and the permanent adjustable steel columns. It’s an important item to report and acts as a guide to the remainder of your inspection. Inspect the top and bottom plates, the column’s restraints, verify full beam support, note the length of the screw extension, eyeball for plumb and vertical installation, check for corrosion, and insure that the height adjusting screw is disabled.

Aren’t these columns called lallys? Well, yes. I’ve heard that term used a lot. Lally columns or lolly columns are terms that are widely used in my area (Hudson Valley, NY) for any steel column. The terms also appear in various construction dictionaries. Originally a Lally Column was a proprietary name for the concrete filled steel column invented by John Lally. Many people feel that the term should only be spelled “Lally” and that it should only be applied to concrete filled steel columns. Perhaps they’re right. But, of course, language is fluid and in this case the popular use may have become the accepted use.

:slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Wow. Great article, Marcel. Thanks a million. The new house I inspected this afternoon had the BOCA label, disabled threads, anchored in the concrete on the bottom, and welded to the I-beam at the top. I’ve printed this article and added to my “truck notes” file that goes on jobs.

For those who want the link to the ASHI member who wrote that:

There are numerous great articles out there by this author.

Attended a NACHI structural class earlier this week. The engineer didn’t say anything about the adjustable columns being “temporary”. He did say that the maximum exposure of the threads shouild be no more than 3 inches.

Thanks David. I might just buy a few bolts then. Should be an easy fix.

The unacceptable temporary supports posts generally have telescoping sections, in addition to the screw adjustment. Adjustable steel columns are permitted if they are the permanent type (no telescoping sections) and about at least 11 gage steel. And most manufacturers now allow either screws up or down, which I don’t think is an issue (that is if attached at the ends correctly) … although many builders think it’s good practice to embed the threads in the slab or damage the threads if at the top.

See 2.2 of following ICC approval report, as well as typical details at the end …

Note that steel columns for new construction need to be 3" nominal diameter Sch-40/Std weight (3-1/2" OD & 0.216" thick) per IRC R407, or they need special ICC approval with a stamp on the column.

Note that “Lally Column” refers to an older trade name very thin steel pipe (16 - 18 gage) that needed to be filled with concrete for capacity. Very susceptible to moisture and rust (e.g. leaking basement), that could significantly compromise the stability. Many just refer to any steel column as a “Lally Column” (similar to the brand name “BX” armored elec cable, which also isn’t made any more). And around here, steel columns are not filled with concrete any more. Generally a waste with the thicker steel required now.

JMO & 2-nickels … :wink:

P.S. And having a maximum of 3" of exposed threads is recommended for stability … although not required by many screw column manufacturers (e.g. 6-1/2" of exposed threads max per 3.3 of the above ICC sample report I linked … which is a lot in my opinion … :shock: )