I'm just wondering how serious this is and also what are my options for fixing it?
Best solution would be to replace the plates and column. How much work (cost) is that?
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You are of course, right to be concerned with this column. It is supporting the floor above it, and would cause significant damage to your home if it failed. It is unclear how long the current one will last if left alone. The bottom plate already has significant amounts of oxidation, and it is only a matter of time before it does fail.
The replacement of the column is a fairly straight forward process, and it can be done by the homeowner. Great care will need to be taken because injuries are possible.
There are several different approaches, but the easiest, and probably the cheapest would be to purchase a screw type jack post and installing it next to the existing column on either side.
These jacks come in a variety of lengths, and are available through home improvement stores. Select one that is the closest to the height you need because they do not adjust very far. Most of them only adjust +/- 2 - 3".
Set the post next to the existing one and adjust it to be plumb, and level with the beam. You also want it to be as close to the center of the beam as possible in both directions. Slowly jack the post up until it is snug. Verify that everything is still level. Then you can permanently attach the post to the beam, and the floor below. The top plate should be attached with lag bolts, or their equivalent. Drywall, and normal deck screws are not rated for this kind of use. You also will want to permanently attach it to the floor. You will need to drill into the floor and use concrete fasteners.
At this point the existing column should still be in place, and the new one is just supporting the beam, but not pushing it up. Take a long level ~4' and see if the beam is level. If it is, give the jack post about 1/2 a turn to snug it up and make sure that it is taking the load. If all looks good, then you can cut out the old one with a reciprocating saw.
If it is out of level, don't immediately try to level it out. It is best to let it settle for a few days. If you make sudden and/or drastic changes to the height of the beam, it can cause severe damage. It is best to make fine adjustments over the span of a couple of months. This will minimize the amount of cracking in the walls, etc. Try not to adjust it more than 1/2 a turn at any one time. The new style posts are usually power coated, and will last much longer than the original one.
If I saw that in my basement I wouldn't worry about it until the column (post) started moving.
But if I did want to get proactive I'd get a jack and a 4x4 set up next to that column and jack it until that post is loose. Then put a new steel plate in there which should last the next 50 years.
And since this is internet advice and might actually be followed, use two posts and two jacks, you know, for safety.
Of course, when jacking things up you are acting against some very static forces and might end up cracking the tiles upstairs.
Following Iggy's advice I would just scrape it and re-paint it with Rustoleum. It will probably outlast all of us.
If you want to save the post, follow jqning's advice with the two jacks.
Unless you are OCD and just can't stand the look of it.
In that case just buy a standard adjustable screw-jack post (pretty cheap at the box stores) and put it right next to it. Screw the jack post until it relieves the strain on the old one just barely, and then take it out of there.