How to Nail Floor Joists to a Joist Hanger
LESLIE: We’ve got Bart in Arizona on the line. How can we help you today?
BART: Hey, guys. I was curious. I’ve got a – house was built roughly ’92, ’93.
BART: And come to find out the joists were never nailed into the hangers.
TOM: Oh, OK.
BART: So, there’s some sagging areas and I’m up at about 7,200 feet, so we’ve got a lot of expansion and contraction, you know, depending on what time of year it is, because we get snow and everything.
BART: So I’m just kind of curious to what I can do without affecting the house too much, how I can get those – maybe the sags out and then hung back in.
TOM: Well, first of all, we’re talking about a floor joist here? And are they over a basement where you can access them or what’s going on? What does it look like?
BART: I’ve got a crawlspace of anywhere from 18 inches to 2 feet. I can belly-crawl underneath there.
TOM: Alright. So you’re going to have a bit of a time with this. But we would recommend that you nail them in and you’re going to get Teco nails for this or – like they’re short nails. And there’s a handy tool that would help with this and it’s made by Craftsman.
Leslie, do you know – you remember what I’m talking about?
LESLIE: Yeah, you’re right, Tom. It’s called the – it’s an auto-hammer and it’s their Lithium-Ion Cordless Hammerhead Auto-Hammer by Craftsman.
And what’s so great about this is it’s a right-angle head, so you can really get into tight spaces. And then what you do is you just sort of get your nail in place and put this auto-hammer right on and bum-bum-bum-bum, it’s in. You’re exerting zero energy except for lifting your hands over your head.
TOM: Yeah, you only need 3½ inches to use this, so 3½ inches of clearance.
TOM: And then it sort of vibrates the nail right in. So, if you have trouble where because you’re working such a tight space you can’t get a real swing on a hammer, this auto-hammer would be a good solution for you.
LESLIE: And the head rotates, as well. So if you’ve got a weird angle or a tricky space, even more so than what you’re already dealing with, this will work for you. And it’s, I believe, only $80, so it’s a great prize considering the amount of nails you’re about to work with.
BART: Oh, for sure. And I’m wondering, is there – should I try and take any of the – if I notice it – any of the sag out of the floor joists before I nail them?
TOM: Well, you can’t really take the sag out. The nailing of a floor joist to a joist hanger is not going to have any impact on the sag of the joist. If you’ve got joists that are sagging, there’s a different way to fix that and it would have to be really badly sagging for me to tell you to go ahead and do this.
But let’s say you had one that was crowned, where it was sort of higher in the middle and lower on the outside edge. In a situation like that, you’d drill a hole in the middle about 1 inch down from the top and you’d cut the joist in half, from the middle of that hole down. And then you’d put a whole other joist next to it, bolt them together. That’s how you sort of relieve a joist that’s crowned.
If one is sagged, you would put another one next to it in the opposite way and sort of jack it up.
BART: Oh, OK.
TOM: But I mean a little bit of sag is not a big deal; I’d rather just see you get them nailed in so that they’re stable.
BART: Yeah. I’ve noticed along the edge of the wall, like where the moldings out on the floor, that there’s some areas that it’s kind of rolled up. So I can feel it like a hump in the carpet but it’s right along the edge of the wall. So that’s what I’m concerned – that if that’s – if I’ve got a sag, it’s pushing that part of the …
TOM: Well, when you say “sag,” you don’t mean sag in the middle of the floor joists, you mean at the end?
BART: Well, at the end it’s actually raised, so it’s almost like the floor joist is bellied. And then at the wall, at your foundation where the hangers would basically sit – your stem-wall area – (inaudible at 0:06:48) …
TOM: Yeah but there’s not much you can do about that. You’re not going to notch down the floor joists; you’re not going to cut them down where they fit into the hangers.
TOM: So I would just secure them in place.
TOM: Alright? And take a look at that tool, though: the Craftsman Auto-Hammer. It’s only about 80 bucks or so and I think it definitely is going to save your shoulders and your forearms from having to nail in those tight spaces.
BART: Oh, yeah, I’m all about cool tools, too.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.