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Adjusting Teleposts Can Be A Complex Job

Posted by Joel S. on Sun, Mar 15, 2020
QUESTION -- We just bought a new bi-level house with attached garage. In our new home warranty it states that the teleposts have to be checked and adjusted periodically for the warranty to be valid. How are we supposed to know how to do this?

A reply from you explaining the procedure would be greatly appreciated.

-- Craig Kirton, Winnipeg.

Answer -- I am surprised that another question on what to do with teleposts in a new home has not been received, at least in recent memory, for answering in this space. Your simple question has undoubtedly been wondered about by hundreds of new home buyers, over the past many years. To begin this discussion I will describe the function of teleposts in our homes.

Common teleposts, installed in most new homes in our area, are simply columns made up of steel cylinders topped by a couple of steel plates joined by a large threaded rod. This threaded rod allows the overall height of the telepost assembly to be adjusted by turning the rod. Threading the rod further into the steel plate at the bottom will reduce the height of the column while turning it the other direction will increase the length. These teleposts are installed underneath the beams that support floor joists, which make them an integral part of the floor structure. The bottom of the telepost should sit directly above the footings or concrete piers that make up the central portion of the foundation for our homes.

The majority of the homes in our area are built with concrete footings installed below the perimeter foundation walls and the teleposts in between these foundation walls. This is likely the conformation of your foundation, unless your home is built on piles. Because of the property of our clay soil to expand and contract with changes in moisture and temperature, these footings may rise or drop, with seasonal variations in these environmental factors. Most often, footings underneath the teleposts will rise in relation to the perimeter footings in our homes, creating uneven areas in the floor system. To the trained eye this can often be seen as bumps in flooring, due to movement in the joists and beams in these areas. In many cases, this floor movement will cause cracks in the walls and ceilings in the home and interior doors will rub on the floor or door jambs in their vicinity.

To combat this floor movement, the teleposts may require periodic adjustment, as described in your warranty information. While the physical act of adjusting the teleposts may be quite straightforward, determining the extent of adjustment required can be quite complex. Adjustment is almost always in a downward direction in a new home, and can be accomplished with a large wrench and hammer. There is usually a flattened section at the top of the threaded rod on the telepost, which will allow the large wrench to grip the rod without slipping. Initially, the wrench may have to be moved with the aid of a large pipe or hammer, but will shortly become easily done by hand, after a few adjustments.

The difficulty in determining which teleposts require adjustment, and how much, can be more than most homeowners can handle. This may require calling in professionals to determine this and do the adjustments. Unfortunately there is no such thing, at least in my experience, as a telepost-adjustment specialist. This type of adjustment is often done by foundation or general contractors, which leads to another difficult situation. Teleposts should never be adjusted by more than small amounts at a time, especially on newer homes. If this is done too quickly or improperly, large cracks may suddenly appear in walls in the home or flooring may become loose or squeaky. A rule of thumb is to do adjustments no more than one quarter to one half a turn at a time. This slow adjustment will move the teleposts only millimetres, so several adjustments may be required to achieve the desired height. Many contractors are not willing to make repeated visits to homes for the few minutes it takes to do individual adjustments, so they may attempt to adjust the teleposts all at once. For the obvious reasons outlined, that is not a good idea.

If your home has a simple floor plan with a single, uncovered main beam in the basement, measurement and adjustments may be quite easy. A tightly strung string from one end to the other may show variations in the beam above individual posts. These can simply be adjusted until the distance above the guide string is equal at all the teleposts. If your home is like many modern designs that have multiple beams, different floor heights or a complex system of beams and angles on the foundation, determination of adjustment requirements may be very complicated. If the basement has a partially finished ceiling, the difficulty of the task is further increased. Use of a laser, transit or electronic water level will be required to find out which posts require adjustment. Over time, the ends of various beams may not be level, due to typical foundation settlement, requiring detailed calculations and plotting of current telepost heights to determine the amount of adjustments required.

If the final statements sound complicated that is because the process may be extremely complex in homes with finished basements, or multiple beams. Many home-renovation contractors do not have the expertise or equipment to accurately determine proper adjustment requirements. Similarly, while many foundation contractors have the knowledge and equipment to figure out proper adjustment heights, they often recommend a single adjustment scenario, to minimize inconvenience. Often, telepost adjustments are attempted by simply minimizing floor bumps with the naked eye. Ultimately, evaluation by a professional structural engineer may be required to provide a proper plan or remediation, followed by slow, careful adjustments.

Article by Ari Marantz, "Ask the Inspector" published by The Winnipeg Free Press, May 18, 2008 https://homes.winnipegfreepress.com/winnipeg-real-estate-articles/category-/title-adjusting-teleposts-can-be-a-complex-job/id-171

Topics: home maintenance, pacesetter homes Regina, Regina home builder, adjusting teleposts