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King_Doodle 05-28-2008 09:57 PM

Cracked ledger board on front porch
Hello! Hope all is well. I recently had a front porch built onto the front of my house. It is attached to the house with a series of 2" x 10" ledger boards. The ledger boards are attached to the house with large carriage bolts that are nutted off in the garage and basement at the rim joist. The carriage bolts are spaced between 25" to 31" apart and they're nice and tight. The porch itself seems rock solid.

The only problem is that one of the ledger boards has a CRACK in it. The crack runs about 3/4 of the length of one of the 2" x 10" boards, more or less following the pattern of the carriage bolts. This defect is visible from the outside of the house when you get under the porch. This seems like a problem to me that needs to be dealt with, and replacing the ledger board is not an option (due to the fact that there's a huge freakin' front porch attached to it!). The porch is about 6 months old and has probably always had the crack in the ledger board, but I just noticed it this week.

What do you recommend I do? Ideas I have had are:
1) Adding some carriage bolts, under and over the crack in the ledger board.
2) Reinforcing the ledger board by attaching some board or metal strapping with screws at a few locations
3) Ignoring it and hoping that the crack doesn't get any larger

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks in advance for your kind guidance.

Happy Hammering,

Maintenance 6 05-29-2008 06:46 AM

Is the crack above or below the line of carriage bolts? (good practice would have staggered the bolts up and down for this reason). Are there floor joists attached to this ledger? If so, how are they attached? in hangers? Can you post any pictures?

King_Doodle 05-29-2008 07:31 AM

Maintenance6-- Thanks for your response. Here's the lowdown:
  • The cracks are approximately on the same level as the carriage bolts. Right about the mid-point of each bolt. Yes, they should have staggered the bolt pattern.
  • Floor joists (for the porch) are attached to the ledger.
  • The floor joists are attached to the ledger with steel hangers
I'll attach some photos later today. Thanks again!


Eagle2 05-29-2008 11:07 AM

When the carriage bolts arenít in staggered pattern, there isnít anything to hold the downward load on the lower part of the ledger board. This can lead to develop a crack.

With the horizontal crack ĺ lengthwise of the board, you basically have two pieces of ledger board.

Do you see any level changes on the deck of the porch above the cracked ledger board?

As stated, you do not want to replace the board. I would rather see if you can replace that board so you have a nice strong piece to support the load and do the staggered pattern. With the support in place for the joists, can you slide the broken pieces down and slide the new piece up?

If you still donít want to replace the board, then add a series of 2x vertical to the ledger board and screw them in. Add carriage bolts to the bottom piece. Before doing those two steps, I would force the bottom piece up to close the crack and align the top deck, if it is off level. Then add carriage bolts to the top half, above where the existing carriage bolts are. Hopefully there is room.

How are the other ledger boards? Are the bolts in staggered pattern? If not, I would add them there so they wonít develop crack in the future.

47_47 05-29-2008 01:59 PM


Originally Posted by King_Doodle (Post 126530)
The cracks are approximately on the same level as the carriage bolts. Right about the mid-point of each bolt. Yes, they should have staggered the bolt pattern.KD

If you had this deck built 6 months ago the first thing I'd do is get the builder back on site and show him. They should be responsible. Did they flash top of the ledger the and space it off your house?
You could strengthen the ledger by putting a ribbon under it, however this will not help if the joists wanted to pull away from the house.
Pics would help.
Currently the only two options I see are replacing the ledger or making this deck free standing by adding posts and a beam near the house.

King_Doodle 05-29-2008 02:40 PM

Photos and thanks
2 Attachment(s)

Thanks for your excellent advice. I believe you're right: the best solution would be to completely replace the ledger with a new uncracked one, if the floor joists can be supported while that process is carried out. I like your other idea and a second option, too.

Unfortunately none of the bolts are staggered. They are all in a straight line across the ledger boards.

I've attached a couple of photos of the crack. The photos are stitched together, showing the views of the ledger between the floor joists. As you can see, the crack is pretty consistent going across the length of the ledger. The ledger doesn't appear to have separated into 2 pieces, thank goodness.

This is a great example of "Do it right the first time." Thanks again, Eagle2. I'd love to hear any more thoughts or ideas on this situation.


King_Doodle 05-29-2008 03:01 PM


Thanks for your response. No, they didn't flash the top of the ledger, but it's a covered front porch, so water wouldn't be an issue.

I just took a close look at the ledger with a flashlight. In at least a couple of places, you can see straight through the crack to the bricks on the other side. So the ledger is not merely cracked, but it is truly split in 2 pieces at least along part of its length. This is very bad news.

Given that, it really sounds like replacing the ledger is the about the only option. Thanks again, 47_47.


Maintenance 6 05-29-2008 03:44 PM

The crack doesn't appear to have been caused by a structural issue. Most places the crack does not intersect the bolt holes and nothing appears to be sagged or shifted. I beleive what you have is a shrinkage check. I would add a row of bolts closer to the bottom to pick up the load of the joists at the bottom part of the ledger. Replacement of the ledger will be difficult and you'll end up adding the new bolts to it anyway, plus the new lumber may do the same thing in time.

47_47 05-30-2008 07:18 AM

I agree with Maintenance 6, that this doesn't appear structural. I'd just add in the correct number and placement of bolts and call it fixed.

King_Doodle 05-30-2008 08:48 AM

Maintenance6 and 47_47:

Thanks for your advice. When you say the defect 'doesn't appear to be structural,' what does that mean? Does that mean it's not likely to cause a problem with the structure of the porch?

Do you think there's cause for alarm since the ledger is cracked all the way through?

Thanks again,

King_Doodle 05-30-2008 09:09 AM

Poll added to thread
Just for fun, I've added a poll to this thread. It will also be interesting to see what everybody thinks in aggregate. Thanks in advance for your thoughts. --KD

47_47 05-30-2008 11:02 AM

It looks like there is a defect in the ledger and not caused by the present anchors or the deck load.

AtlanticWBConst. 05-30-2008 11:42 AM

Realistically, it should be replaced.

I know of a deck that did the same thing at the ledger board (cracked along the bolt line) and it collapsed due to the split. This is an example of why it is good to stagger your lags/bolts (up and down) when attaching the ledger board.

Another thing is the fact that, it appears to be attached to the brick work (?)
If so, this is not something recommended in the building field. Bricks do not have the structural stability, on their own, to hold a deck. Even if the ledger were attached thru the brick (into framework), by creating such holes in the brick work, those bricks are now exposed to deterioration from the weather elements = BIG no-no.

An optional plan, would be to add lags (like a ledgerlok type) along the upper and lower areas of the ledger.

Personally, this deck does not appear to have been installed by someone knowledgeable. In fact, I see that there is also no flashing. I believe that this deck has been put up improperly.

Add to the Poll: "Rip down deck and rebuild properly"

Maintenance 6 05-30-2008 04:07 PM

OP said that the ledger is through-bolted into the ring joist and that the whole thing is protected from the weather. That is why I recommended adding another row of bolts to pick up some of the load. There are joist hangers that are tying the the ledger together. I would definately add bolts in the lower portion.

skymaster 05-30-2008 06:34 PM

The OP said it was thru bolted, then If I may ask a silly question; Why am I looking at hex heads? They sure do NOT look like carriage bolts ,instead I think I am looking at LAG SCREWS/LAG BOLTS. These will certainly split a beam if there werent clearance holes of proper size.
My vote; get the builder back asap and make him change it.

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