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  1. #1
    Veteran Member jimgerken's Avatar
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    Nov 2001
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    Minnesota
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    John Deere 3720

    Default Pole building -- Pole technology discussion

    Recently I started to consider adding on to an exsiting pole building and then re-siding the whole building. It is about 40 years old, was built by Menards company, used pressure treated 6x6 posts, was nailed, is leaking like a sieve, looks ugly, is not secure, has lousy doors that barely operate, and is full of mice. But it has a good concrete floor, new electrical service, sound wood structure (more later), and is still needed. So I started calling pole building salesmen. Surprisingly I had a couple of them discourage me from doing anything with the building, and one even said "keep it insured, its going to fall down soon". Part of their resistance was due to their experience with the poles after what one guy said was "about 30 years old and they are typically rotted off, at or just below ground level". They also claimed that there would be nothing under the posts for concrete and so making any change to the building would cause settling and disaster.
    So I picked up my pride and installed the backhoe on the tractor and dug to the bottom of one post. Fifty-four inches down I found a poured in the hole rough concrete cookie. Along the way of that first post I noted minimal rot, about a foot below ground, along one side, soft wood about 3/8" deep, and sound wood inside that. Next post looked similar rot-wise. Next few poles looked perfect. So there is more to the story thean just "older than 30 years and they rot off".
    I know my site is rather wet. The building itself inside is OK, and would be really good if the roof wasnt leaking. But the ground in the yard around the building is a wet place pretty late in the Spring. I wonder if these poles are surviving better than the average due to the absense of oxygen. If they stand in really wet conditions, there is less oxygen, right? I would have thought they'd still rot right at the ground level, as I have seen many fence posts do over the years. Any other theories?
    Other discussion regarding pole life would be interesting, especially from anyone with actual experience dismanting or repairing them after say, 30 years or so.
    Talked to another guy last week. He had a Morton building with 6x6 PT poles. Building was a couple weeks shy of 30 years old when he back into the wall with the skid loader and had to replace some tin. Looked closely at the structure and found a few poles in bad shape -- rotted at ground level. He called Morton and got them to do some repairs just before the 30 year warrantee expired. He was happy of course. He said they came, braced wall near each pole, cut off pole, drilled at slight angle to set new pole in beneath old one, and plated across the joint between old and new with steel and bolts thru. He has a transit and checked entire building before and after and said it was still straight.
    Interesting stuff to me right now. Just thought I'd throw it out there. Thanks, see ya....

  2. #2
    Veteran Member jimgerken's Avatar
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    John Deere 3720

    Default Re: Pole building -- Pole technology discussion

    Me again. Saw these a week ago:
    Perma-Column | What are Perma-Columns
    on two new buildings built near me.
    Seemed very cool. Well suited to the laminated (three 2X6's nailed together) columns. No need for pressure treated wood then I guess. Might make a good retrofit, if repairing rotted out poles. Any experience with this system?

  3. #3
    Veteran Member
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    IL
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    B2710

    Default Re: Pole building -- Pole technology discussion

    I've often wondered if wrapping the part of the post that's below ground with tar paper would help. It is pretty good at repelling moisture but isn't waterproof, so it wouldn't trap water against the post.
    Kubota B2710, John Deere X728 snowblower, Toro Zmaster ZTR, Ford 908 bush hog, New Idea manure spreader, Swisher trail mower

  4. #4
    Super Star Member
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    nowhere, md
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    Hanomag

    Default Re: Pole building -- Pole technology discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by BeezFun View Post
    I've often wondered if wrapping the part of the post that's below ground with tar paper would help. It is pretty good at repelling moisture but isn't waterproof, so it wouldn't trap water against the post.
    I've read of people putting untreated poles in doubled-up heavy duty contractor plastic bags. I've always thought, why not? as long you can seal the top of the bag against the pole above ground, it should keep the pole dry for a long long time.

    I think the OP is on the right track, there are so many variations in climate, wood quality, treatment quality, install methods, soil types, etc. There are too many uncontrolled variables involved.

    One thing is certain, wood rots and concrete doesn't. Depending on the situation, it may not matter to some, as long as the poles last 20-30 yrs. They would outlast me
    Dave.
    Dave.

  5. #5
    Platinum Member RoMad's Avatar
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    Lecanto Florida
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    Kubota L3710

    Default Re: Pole building -- Pole technology discussion

    I have a shed that was built in 1972 according to the tax records for my property. It was made with PT 4x4 posts. I took one post out so I could drive my tractor in it. The post was about 3' into the ground with no concrete around it. When I pulled the post out it looked so good I reused part of it to rebuild a set of steps.
    I have another shed that looks to be about the same age, also made with PT 4x4 posts. When I got it I dug down around the posts, put large spike nails in them below the ground and filled the holes back up with sakrete. Those posts also looked great.
    These sheds are in central florida in sandy soil and all of the outside posts get plenty of rain on them.

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