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frizbplaya 01-28-2011 02:51 PM

Alterative ways to support main beam
My basement has a support beam that goes down the center of the house but ends just before the stairs. It's then split into two beams for the last 8 feet or so. See the picture, red lines are the beams, the black squares are the vertical supports.

At some point in the houses history there was another vertical support for the beam right at the base of the stairs. A previous owner decided it wasn't needed and removed the support all together. The house hasn't fallen apart yet but the beam has lowered 1/4"-3/8" where it's not supported. I'm finishing the basement and I really want to make sure the beam is supported before I close up the walls and ceiling. It would be easy enough to put in a new vertical support but it's right at the base of the stairs. Also, the beam is only 6.5' above the floor so putting a 6x6 cross beam under it would be just as obrusive.

Here's a photo if it helps. The missing support met the beam where the smoke detector is and the footing is hidden under the rug. Tricky sellers, I didn't notice it was missing until after we bought the house.

Are there any alternative ways to support the beam without placing the vertical support right under the beam?

pyper 01-28-2011 03:31 PM

Looks like a job for an engineer.

mrgins 01-28-2011 03:59 PM

You could use a support at the end of the beam, and use joist hangers so it is level with the existing beam. I'd do as pyper says and have a SE check it out

Jackofall1 01-28-2011 04:05 PM

Your drawing doesn't jive with your picture.

Picture looks like the beam carries right through, and the beam is supported by the same wall as the right side of the stair (right side looking up the stair).

Daniel Holzman 01-28-2011 04:15 PM

I agree with Jack, there is something wrong with the picture you describe. Based on the photo, if that beam failed to continue over the wall, it would have approximately a 6 foot cantilever. A cantilever that large, supporting the floor above, and the beam would have collapsed by now.

The beam is either supported on the wall, or it is carrying minimal load in the cantilever part. You may want to take a harder look at the actual support geometry before going further.

frizbplaya 01-28-2011 04:37 PM

Sorry, the photo is deceptive, very M.C. Escher. I promise the beam would run right to the middle of the stairs way if it continued that far. I can touch the end of it in the middle of the walk way there. I don't have a good photo on hand but I can take one when I'm home showing how it ends.

Either way, I think the previous posters are right that I probably need a structural engineer.

Gary in WA 01-28-2011 06:38 PM

Before you go to the S.E. , think about where your future walls will be. I would add another door to the laundry room under the new beam that would carry that side house load. It would run from the laundry side post at the stairs to the intersecting new wall in-line with the plumbing waste stack. Maybe some shelves on the laundry side where the white drain line protrudes into the room, build it in. Then across the hall header to carry the cut end of the 6x6 existing beam, bearing on the corner of the shop wall, with new footings. So the shop wall would extend a header across the new hall to the start of a new laundry room wall. Go down the stairs, door on left to laundry, door on right to shop, straight ahead= no door just a flush header with the bottom of existing. Shorten end of cantilevered beam and loads would be now on new headers over doors.


dtsman 01-28-2011 09:21 PM

What you could do is add a beam that is perpendicular to the long beam and support the ends of it somewhere else hidden in walls or something. This would prevent placing a post in the center of the stairs.
Attach the beams with a joist hanger designed for this size wood. Which is usually just a doubled up 2x? You will probably need to jack the sagging beam before permanently finishing.


If the women don't find you handsome,
they should at least find you handy.
(Red Green)

gregzoll 01-28-2011 11:10 PM

Do you know how the beam goes through the wall in the Laundry area? If there is a Lolly Column that is supposed to be there, it may be in the wall. If the wall is not already open, you may have to do so to do some investigative work. Older homes are known to settle, especially if gutter downspouts where not made to have water run away from the home. I myself have a older home, and know by looking at it, that it has settled in aprox. the same side as yours has, one because I have a Lolly column that has rusted out right above the concrete inside, but the support column at the wall has helped to not allow any more drop. because it has happened over 70+ years of time.

It is not worth the wasted effort having someone come in and take some measurements to see how far the house has settled, and if it is something that can be fixed by having a crew come in, and place steel plate shims along the foundation, along with a possible Lolly Column at the corner of the stairway inside the wall to bring back to true.

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