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Zero stress column

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I have a column resisting heavy loads in an industrial warehouse. The lower
part of the column should be removed to allow a projected circulating space.
I am designing a reaction frame to carry out the load from the upper part of
the column, with an special movable connection intended to reduce the
vertical movement above the column cutting point in the moment of the
cut-off of the lower part of the column. The perfect moment for the cutting
of the columns is when compression stresses become near to zero. It is not
easy to estimate closely the existing load on the column. I am wondering if
it's possible to detect the change from compression to tension in the column
with not invasive tests. Something able to detect any special characteristic
of the steel internal structure being different in compression and in
tension. Any help?

Jorge Jiménez, PE

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