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Rife 07-11-2010 11:10 AM

Basement beam concern
2 Attachment(s)
Hi everyone,

I'm in the middle of finishing my basement, and while I was taking off walls I uncovered a beam in the basement that is causing me to worry just a little bit. I've attached pictures, and i'll give you a little bit of information about the house.

- 2 story house
- 2x10 main floor joists at 16" centers, and they span 17ft from foundation wall to foundation wall.
- There are 2 beams in the basement supporting those joists, which both run from the foundation to the stairs. One beam is 17 ft long, and the other is 11 ft long.
- Beams are made up of 3 2x6s glued and nailed together (seems like small wood to be using for a structural beam)

One of the beams in question seems to stop about 2 inches short of fully supporting the joists next to the stairs (see one of the pictures)

The other concern is that both beams are not set into the foundation, but rather they butt up against it and are supported there by 2 2x6s (see the other picture). As a result, I have a feeling that these beams were added after the fact to help support the floor, and were not an original part of the house.

Is this something that I should be concerned about? and if so, how would I go about making sure that everything is being supported as it needs to be?

Do I need to have a new beam put in?

Daniel Holzman 07-11-2010 12:16 PM

The beam support using a pair of 2x6 posts is slightly unusual, but not a problem. The screw jack supporting the beam in the first picture may be an issue, because it does not look to me like it is a permanent rated support jack. It looks like a temporary support jack. You may want to check the manufacturer plate on the jack, and verify that the support is in fact rated for permanent installation.

As for the beams not extending all the way across the joist, that is poor practice, but not likely to be a serious problem. Possibly more important is the fact that the third 2x10 (or whatever size that joist is) does not appear to be adequately attached to the middle piece, based on the gap between the pieces. This could be remedied easily by nailing or screwing the pieces together. If you decide to go this route, clamp the pieces together before nailing or screwing to make sure they mate properly.

If there are already nails or screws in place, and that gap is as large as it looks, you may want to remove the fasteners first, clamp the boards, then reinstall.

As for the adequacy of the beam, without knowing the loading on the beam, it is not possible to determine if 3 pieces of 2x6 are adequate for the application. If you are concerned, you may want to hire a structural engineer to look at the house and calculate the load on the beam.

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