Porch Progress: Jacking Up a Porch Roof

 Jacking Up a Porch Roof at a SideWall

So, I found myself having to jack up one corner of our front, side porch roof. This is the 3rd time we’ve jacked up a portion of this house. This time – I was jacking the porch roof up so I could install my final and last portion of half round gutter. (<< You may remember my postings last year on installing it around the rest of the house).

sad & sagging front porch roof

I ran a laser across the fascia board only to realize that this porch roof wasn’t quite level. And really, no one needed any sort of device, or tool to tell them that. The problem, mainly – it was so far out of level that I couldn’t get enough needed fall (for a gutter) across its 22- (or so) foot length. WHILE still have something to attach the gutter hangers to.

Over many years surely, the corner of this roof simply sagged. Installing the downspout outlet on the low portion of the roof (sending water back towards the sidewall) and/or hanging the gutter from strap hangers, while options – were unfortunately not acceptable to me.

Roofs are under Dead Load

After some simple scientific investigation, I knew this corner of the roof needed to go up between an inch and an inch and half. I also knew that the roof was, all things being equal, going to be relatively light.

Ha! No science at all really … I mean – I really have no clue how much this roof actually weighs, but again I knew there was no structure built on top of it. Hence, lifting it would be relatively low risk.

This roof structure including a bearing beam sits on top of a half column that is nailed into the main house framing. From what I could tell, it is pretty solid. I should probably point out that the porch floor pitches and has sagged too, but not so much that I am super, overly concerned with it. (Plus, that’d absolutely be a whole ‘nother can of worms.)

I shot video throughout the process and posted it to our YouTube Channel:


Things to Consider with Jack Up a Porch Roof & the Prep

In raising the roof, I knew was going to have to reset the roof’s flashing as it meets (a sidewall of) the house. So to begin, I removed the existing counter flashing running about 5 courses up. This was as easy as finding nails and prying.

removing counter flashing

Some Investigation is Required before Jacking up a Roof

I also had to cut away (as opposed to removing a full length) of crown molding where the fascia met the soffit.  Quick and neat work with my RIDGID JobMax (on Amazon).

When I started, I wasn’t quite sure how the roof’s frame was attached to the house. While I did think about about going ginsu on it, sending a long sawzall blade up through the porch ceiling, I decided instead that I would have to surgically remove at least a portion of the ceiling. Cutting and removing full ceiling boards honestly was a little more than what I wanted to get into, so I decided (and kinda as a shortcut) to cut back three courses of the ceiling’s beaded tongue & groove going only to the third ceiling joist in.

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ceiling boards cut back

For this, and since I was cutting overhead, I pulled out my Dremel SawMax – like a mini circular saw.  (It comes in super handy with these types of procedures.) I’d be able to magically hide this patch later.

This opening allowed just enough space to work comfortably up in the roof framing. Once opened, I discovered this roof frame attached to the house with a total of two nails. One nail toenailed to assembly’s beam and one through the raking rafter tight to the sidewall of the house. (In the end, I added additional 4 ½” exterior screws along this rafter’s length before closing up.)

Final Steps of Preparation

I removed the ceiling-mounted exterior light fixture as not to risk any chance of damaging it. I also cut back any existing paint and/or caulking at the beam, fascia and soffit. While there was no nailing in the location where the siding met the beam, I likely could have taken a little extra time. I should have stuck maybe a multi-tool into the wood siding as it met the beam. In my video, you’ll notice that a small crack did open up as I jacked. I circled around after and repaired this with Abatron WoodEpox (a product I have written about previously in article called Restoring Wood & Fixing Paint).

Get to the Jacking of the Porch Roof already … Jack

For the jacking, I used a Pittsburgh 4-ton hydraulic bottle jack. I purchased it at Harbor Freight Tools (Love Harbor Freight for certain types of tools, like these). This jack has a maximum extension around 8 inches and it is about $20. (Bottle Jacks are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. Choose based on your need – a selection through our Amazon Affiliate account here.)

Pittsburgh 4 ton Hydraulic Jack

For my temporary support, I ganged together two 2x4s and added a scrap from those boards to the top to create a sorta header.

ganged temporary post

I drilled a 1” hole in center at the bottom of the “post” about ½” deep.  This would accept the jack’s saddle so that the temp post wouldn’t dance off of and from the jack.

creating a slot at the bottom of the 2x4

Setting the Jack Under the Porch Beam

On setting the jack, I wanted to get as absolutely close to vertical as I could. I started by sitting the jack on the porch floor immediately above the porch’s skirt board. I set it about a foot out from the house as not to interfere with where I needed to work on the column. Using a scrap piece of DuRock cement board, I cranked the jack up to give it pressure enough to hold it in place.

DuRock Base

With this initially setup I was able to get about 7/8”. As I mentioned, this was not quite as much as I hoped. I had to reset my jack a little further out, and a step down, to the flagstone paver that sits just below the porch. For this second pass, I was able to squeeze out about another ¼” (for an inch and 1/8” total). This was about enough to get my beam to perfectly level.

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Beam jacked

Permanent Filler Blended with Caulk and Paint

To extend my column upward and to give new support to roof, I cut in a piece of pressure treated lumber. Caulk, paint – and it, the repair, disappears well enough. Once I got my needed height, I reset the flashing, patched and painted everything (including the ceiling). I finally hung my gutter (as covered in this post).

support block in place

This is one job that again proves that most of the work is in the prep. The actual jacking and resetting of the roof really only took maybe two hours (total), and I think I was successful enough.

Lesson Learned: One other small regret, as I jacked the roof upwards – some of my paint around the beam started to break free. Since I would be stripping the paint from this beam later, I should have set up surface/dust protection for that earlier. Maybe even before I began jacking.

:: The Old House Effect

At times, I’ve sometimes shied away from posts about work on my old house. The thinking – “Aww, this really has got to be like the only house that’s needed to be lifted (now) three times.” I know – Right? and plus, honestly it ain’t always so pretty.

Regardless, and as I head into a series of posts on my own house, it seems like the projects I have been doing are a direct result of and because I live in, well, a really old house. I mean- I hope you never need this information, and most of you will likely never have to jack up even one portion of a house.

And anyways, here’s the how. ha!


Next: Installing Flashing at a Side Wall. Later: Installing Half Round Gutters, then … Re-Hanging the Ceiling-Mounted Light, and adding a plug for Christmas lighting. Even Later, original Victorian brackets and are re-installed and are painted.

Thanks for reading. You’ll find a sharable image below. For more on Exteriors and/or working on an Old House, please see those top level categories by clicking back there. Cheers. ~jb