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We have this post that is now loose. I wanted to set it back in place and stabilize it (using construction adhesive), so I took it out completely to clean up the ends, and this is when I realized that it could not be put back because it had started to rot.

Post currently set with wedges

Post bottom part, rotten

Now the plan is to change all of our posts, but being in this part of Canada, contractors don't work all year round and so we'll need to wait until next year, after the winter.

So I need to set it temporarily until next year; it needs to be stable enough so that the elderly folks living there could use it as a help to climb up and down the stairs, while not screwing up with the project of removing it next year.

How it was before

Apparently, the post was only forced into place between the top concrete porch floor and the bottom concrete wall, held at the top with caulking. (I'm surprised it has lasted so long!)

How it is set now

I've used plastic wedges (I think those are typically used to stabilize plumbing equipment like toilets) at the top and at the bottom, the post appears to be stuck there now.

What I think could be a solution to this issue

Since I need to set it temporarily, I thought about using the solution I've put in place now using wedges, plus using a "removable sealant", like the one I use on my windows during the winter. The logic being that the caulking that was there before held up for 20+ years, this temporary caulking could hold up for at least a year.

What should I do to set it until next spring/summer?

More info

  • The rot is on the bottom part, the top part looks fine.
  • The post is composed of a 4x4 wood beam, with the bottom and end parts covered with plywood; all of this covered with aluminium sheeting.
  • The porch looks stable enough that it appears it does not need this post (I could remove it and the porch did not move; there is a gap between the post and the porch concrete slab on the other side.
  • I understand that this post is there for supporting a vertical load, and should not be used, in theory, as a replacement for a handrail (I have suggested to the folks living there to have one properly installed).
  • English is not my main language so if you see weird terms used, feel free to fix them.
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  • Just FYI... I have never seen a corner of concrete held with a small wood pole. I get the engineering here but I certainly wouldn't be happy about it.
    – DMoore
    Sep 17, 2021 at 22:04
  • I believe that post does not qualify as a handrail. You'd have to check with the city whether one is required -depends on number of steps- and what the shape, height and length requirements are. This would be your concern from a liability/insurance standpoint esp. wrt. winter & elderly. (For structural load bearing & transfer it seems oddly placed.)
    – P2000
    Sep 18, 2021 at 15:39
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    @P2000 Yes, it was normally placed on the corner but since it's a bit looser there, I moved it temporarily where we see it in the picture, until I decide a more appropriate course of actions. I'll check with the city w.r.t. the handrail requirement. Sep 18, 2021 at 18:34

2 Answers 2

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This needs to be taken seriously especially since people use it as a support. That post could be transferring load from the upper floors down to the concrete footer so it should be really secure. Since the post is rotting, I don't think you should trust it.

For a temporary fix, I'd suggest a ceiling jack similar to the one pictures below. You can get them at most home stores. Once in place, you can secure it with a few concrete screws.

We had a condo collapse down here in South Florida so I might be overly cautious.

enter image description here

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    The picture shows the post offset from its original location. I agree with this suggestion (if one tall enough is available), but I’d suggest putting it in the original location, since there might be a deeper footing at that spot.
    – Tim B
    Sep 17, 2021 at 21:40
  • We're planning to have those posts replaced with metal posts. Also, I'm not sure if I got this right, but these ceiling jacks are generally meant to support a load, right? Here, it appears that we don't really need to support a load as the concrete structure seems quite stable without it, and I'm worried that if I put pressure from under the post, it might actually affect the structure, unless I put a very low pressure? Sep 18, 2021 at 13:40
  • I'm not suggesting raising up the concrete corner, just add enough tension to securely hold the jack in place since people are using it as a support. I'm not totally convinced that that post wasn't meant to have some vertical load on it. "Seems quite stable without it" kinda scares me.
    – JACK
    Sep 18, 2021 at 14:15
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    ^^^ THIS, a thousand times. There is no way on earth that post isn't structural. Depending on where you are, the term "Lally Column" might resonate with contractors or big box store employees. Get the column in there now. And then, at your convenience, wrap it with wood or pvc. Sep 18, 2021 at 14:30
  • @BobR.Shake put this in, screw it to just tight, lock it in place, put at least 2 screws through the top & bottom plates to keep it from moving. In the spring, get a structural engineer to look at the building and determine exactly what kind of support is needed long term. Heck, maybe get the SE out now so you can start getting bids over the winter and have your project be on the top of somebody's list once y'all thaw out enough to work.
    – FreeMan
    Sep 18, 2021 at 22:05
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First to make clear that the post wasn't glued to the slab, the sealant/caulk was meant to protect the post from the intrusion of water/moisture. As you have noted, the post may not be the main support, since the slab seems comfortably sitting on the wall and the stairs (depends on how it was built). However, it could be a necessity for safety shall the supports start to deteriorate.

Albeit the post base is rust packed, if not disturbed by the forced removal of the rust, it still has a lot of strength. Shimming is a fine approach, but you can go further to ensure it stays a longer period. I would jack the slab up a little, form around the base, and grout with high strength grout, or if the gap permits, you can insert a cement tile. The speed of rust forming will slow down once the gap is filled with grout, or the base is sealed around to isolate the influence of air and water (both are ingredients of rust action).

Note, from the photo, looks like you have a steel post wrapped in a sheet metal shell. If that's is the case, you can drill hole(s) on the shell to facilitate the grouting (send grout through the hole).

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