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Old 01-02-2011, 10:54 AM   #1
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3 main structural beams separating. What should I do?


Hello,

This is my first post here so sorry if it's in the wrong forum. My problem is that I'm trying to finish my basement, but noticed that the main structural beams for the home are separating. Here is a picture of what I noticed. It's only on one location (by the staircase). The gap is up to ~3/4" at the center.





I'd feel most comfortable if the hole pole/support was replaced because the top steel plate is also bending. Should I replace that or add another support? I figure I can clamp the 3 beams together and use some lag bolts to hold them together, but that doesn't fix the bent top steel plate. I may just hire this out (first thing hired out on my house!), but I just want to get some ideas on what to do.

Thanks!
Doug

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Old 01-02-2011, 11:02 AM   #2
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3 main structural beams separating. What should I do?


Ayuh,... I'd thru-bolt 'em with nuts, 'n bolts, 'n washers, rather than lags myself...
And,...
as long as the beams are stabilized, the little steel plate is incidental...

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Old 01-02-2011, 12:34 PM   #3
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3 main structural beams separating. What should I do?


This looks like an add on support for something that was modified inappropriately.
Can you post some wide angle shots of the entire basement, including all the main beams?
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Old 01-02-2011, 01:04 PM   #4
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3 main structural beams separating. What should I do?


I'm with Bondo, but instead of washers use 3" x 3" x 1/4" steel plates with a 9/16" hole drilled in the center for 1/2" through bolts with spacing at 24" max.

As for the top of the jack post, temp support and add a 4-1/2" square plate x 1/4" with holes to screw or nail to bottom side of beam.
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Old 01-02-2011, 01:58 PM   #5
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3 main structural beams separating. What should I do?


I agree with the comments about using 1/2 inch through bolts rather than lags. However, the steel support post looks like a temporary support post, not a rated long term support post. I say this because the top plate appears to be too thin, and the screw mechanism is not one normally used in a long term support.

I would check out the manufacturer and the model of the support post, and if it is not rated for long term support, I would replace it with a post rated for permanent duty. Check all the basement posts, they may all be temporary posts rather than permanent. While you are checking, you need to verify that each post has a proper footing.
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Old 01-02-2011, 03:56 PM   #6
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3 main structural beams separating. What should I do?


What you are going to have to do, is first get the upper floor supported on both sides of the beam. Then get a Structural engineer to come in and either spec a steel I Beam, or Lam for the supporting member. The best way to support the structure above is to use Oak Cribbing, which you may have to talk to a house moving company and see what they would charge to lift the house enough with jacks far enough to pull in the new support beam.
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Old 01-02-2011, 04:05 PM   #7
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3 main structural beams separating. What should I do?


Gregzoll, I do not understand why you believe the main beam needs to be replaced. Without a structural analysis of the beam, it is not at all clear that the beam is undersized. The fact that the beam is separating appears to be due to twisting of one or more of the three individual plys, and by itself is not evidence of undersizing.

If the OPS is concerned that the beam is undersized, they can hire a structural engineer to evaluate the condition and strength of the beam, and determine if it is OK as is, needs to be fastened better, or at worst needs to be replaced. If it turns out that the beam needs to be replaced, means and methods for supporting the floor during installation are typically handled by the contractor.
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Old 01-02-2011, 04:34 PM   #8
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3 main structural beams separating. What should I do?


See if you can borrow or buy 5......6inch c clamps, or some short bar clamps, tighten er' down. No need to call in the Marines. Rough in carpenters go through this on many jobs at times. If your going after a square finished post ,you might just want to box in the supporting jack with rough lumber,and while your at it ,run a string along that supporting beam to make sure its straight. Use the bolts and recess the heads and the nuts.......
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Old 01-02-2011, 10:31 PM   #9
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3 main structural beams separating. What should I do?


thanks for the tips. After looking more closely here's what I found. There are 3 basic rows of floor jacks in the basement. 2 are rows of 2 jacks with 1/4" steel plates and polls rated to yield at 33,000lbs. The 3rd row is broken up (where the staircase and problem area is). This row extends about 15ft further than the rest (it's an L ranch). This row has 2 jacks on each side of the split and each has a shorter span than the other 2 rows. These jacks are all the screw type and use 1/8" steel plates and looks like the rating is ~18,000lbs ultimate strength (not sure of yield and also not sure why they'd rate by UT strength!).

Here's my plan. I'm going to support the separated beams with a floor jack (similar size to the bad one). Once this is supported I'll drill a through hole into the beams. On each side of the beams I'll add steel plates (now vertical) and connect these with a total of 3-4 carriage bolts (I was thinking carriage before and typed lag, oops...). Once the plates are connected and all of the carriage bolts are in I'll start to tighten them down, and pull the beams together. I'm planning on leaving the new floor jack in place as well just for peace of mind and I'll just keep both there permanently. These will both be boxed and drywalled.

This is basically in line with most of your comments, short of calling in a structural engineer. I'm not sure if they are "temporary" jacks or not, but the house was built in 1976. I'm thinking that since 76 they've only separated a bit and haven't sagged that pulling these together and adding an additional support should do the trick. I don't personally see why I'd need to replace the entire since it's not sagging or split.

Now hopefully I don't split a beam while tightening! I'll post updates on this if anyone is curious.

Last edited by Doug17; 01-02-2011 at 10:33 PM.
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Old 01-02-2011, 11:00 PM   #10
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3 main structural beams separating. What should I do?


As there will be no foundation under the "temporary" jack post, I would not advise leaving it.

I would attempt at getting larger plates ontop of the those existing posts, drilled through the existing plt and new plt and screwed to the bottom side of the beam.

Good luck on pulling those existing 2 x's together, I am sure you will hear some cracking when you start pulling them together.

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Old 01-03-2011, 05:03 PM   #11
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3 main structural beams separating. What should I do?


Although something beyond the original question..............you mentioned drywall ......depending on the basement moisture,you may want to use green board drywall .
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Old 01-03-2011, 05:16 PM   #12
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3 main structural beams separating. What should I do?


looks to me like the jack post is going in between the beam causing the seperation .Your plan of attack is good just make sure to use a better plate at least a 1/4 " thick and corrosive resitant.Looks like moisture has deteriorated an allready undersized plate.
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Old 01-03-2011, 06:53 PM   #13
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3 main structural beams separating. What should I do?


Not sure why you want to use carriage bolts, they are generally used in cosmetic situations, which this is not. I recommend using standard 1/2 inch diameter hex head bolts, not carriage bolts. Use a washer on both sides. By the way, it is not necessary to force the individual beams together, doing so would add no bending strength, and could crack the wood, which appears to be significantly warped. It is only necessary to tighten the bolts enough to keep the wood from separating further so that each of the beams remains supported by the steel plate.
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Old 01-03-2011, 07:33 PM   #14
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3 main structural beams separating. What should I do?


You can also replace the column with a 3 diameter one either fixed or adjustable with a U shaped top plate thick with 5/8 dia. Holes each side to except dia. threaded rods and drill through the plate and beams and attach with nuts and washers on either side.
Then drill 5/8 dia. Holes on you beams every 24 o/c staggered and use dia. Threaded rods with nuts and washers to tighten up the beams just to hold them from opening up any farther.

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