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Old 09-22-2009, 04:04 PM   #1
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Cracks in main support beam


I have a house built in the late 40's with wooden beams as the main support. They rest on the foundation of the house in notches and hold up the floor joists. The beams look like they are three 2 x 7's stuck together. There are cracks throught the beams and under the kitches is an espically large crack which seems to be causing the floor to sag in that area. There is a metal post in this area to prevent any further cracking I suppose but I'd like to level my floor and reinforce the beams or replace them. What should I do?

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Old 09-22-2009, 06:28 PM   #2
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Cracks in main support beam


Welcome! Can you post pictures? A "crack" to some is simple a little check to others. And what's your level of DIY experience?

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Old 09-29-2009, 06:05 PM   #3
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Cracks in main support beam


I've attached two pictures (I think). In picture number 1 you can see between the number 4 and 6 written on the beam is where the main crack is. In picture number 4 you can more of the underside. This is roughly the location where the kitchen sags and you can see that a metal support was placed in the area. I would like to correct this before I put ceramic tile in the kitchen, right now I have vinyl.

As far as DIY, I do drywall (still can't get the seams perfect though), doors, heating ducts, plumbing (soldering). I'm not the best carpenter but I'm ambitious and learn what I can from the internet and the rest by trial and error. If I'm learning anything from my DIY is patience...which is often in short supply with me.

That aside, have you ever heard of anyone removing their old chimney? My chimney is still in use by my hot water tank. So, I figure I would redirect the exhaust from the tank with piping either going straight up or out the side of the house like my high efficiency furnace does...I may need a blower though. I'd like to remove most of the chimney, from the first and second floor anyway. I'd leave part of it in the basement because I think it supports some of my main beam supports. Removing that on the upper two floors would allow me to have much more room to be able to move my stairs to the second floor. That may sound crazy, but where the stairs are now (against an exterior wall) interrupts the second floor so one of the bedrooms upstairs is pretty small and it is across a very small den. Putting the stairs where the chimney is would allow me to combine the room and den.

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Old 09-29-2009, 06:23 PM   #4
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Cracks in main support beam


my amateur gut instinct is to have either a very educated home inspector, or better yet, a civil engineer to assess the situation. Load bearing beams are obviously critical items that need expert attention when they may be failing...
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Old 09-29-2009, 06:39 PM   #5
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Cracks in main support beam


Based on picture number 2, I can see transverse cracks on the bottom of both outer 2x8's (I assume they are 2x8, you called them 2x7, which is an unusual size). That looks like bad news, as the cracks are on the tension side of the beam, and would get worse if you added more load.

The steel post is unusual, it has a thin metal plate at the top, which appears to be bent. Looks like a home made post. Based on the photo, I would have to question if the foundation for the post is adequate. I also wonder if the post meets building code standards as a permanent support.

Fixing the two failed 2x8's is going to be difficult, since the beam holds up most of your house. You may be able to bolt on steel plates on the outside, after you have jacked the beam to level. This is a difficult job, pretty dangerous too, since you have to temporarily support the beam, and jack it up. I strongly recommend you NOT do this one yourself, it has major league trouble written all over it. You need a professional, with extensive experience doing this type of repair.
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Old 09-29-2009, 09:03 PM   #6
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Cracks in main support beam


I think if it was me, and I didn't have the money to hire a contractor to fix this right, I would put in a perminent lally column right there, with a 1/2" steel plate.
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Old 09-30-2009, 12:47 AM   #7
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Cracks in main support beam


Funny (in an odd sort of way) but the crack appears to be right below a notch made in the top of the beam. Goes to show that some beams shouldn't be cut! I agree with the temp solution of another column, but much as I like to DIY, this does seem to be the type of work pros are made for. They know how do fix/replace this, and god-forbid something goes wrong, they're insured, and you're not in the house.

On the chimney front, I'd love to see what others say, as I have the same issues and have wondered the same myself.
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Old 09-30-2009, 03:58 PM   #8
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Cracks in main support beam


First, the top picture looks like it shows the top pin of a telepost. I can see some threads on the bottom of the pin. The lower picture looks like the center 2x8 has a round dent like the pin of the telepost was cranked into it without the plate on top. The flimsey steel plate that is in place now is not what should have come with the post. Don't try to jack up a sagged beam with a telepost. The bottom picture looks as though someone tried to jack up the beam with the telepost and crushed the steel plate into the bottom of the beam. If you are going to leave the post there temporarily to prevent any further sag I suppose that it will be OK. Jacking the sagged beam takes some hefty equipment and good working knowledge of jacking structures and dealing with heavy loads. Some special provisions need to be made to accomodate the load once it is jacked up. Either a permanent post, an additional beam or reinforcement of the existing beam. If carpentry is not high on your list of specialties, I think you need some professional assistance for this one.
As far as the chimney, is it used as a flue for a water heater or a furnace? and what kind of fuel does this equipment use?
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Old 10-12-2009, 02:25 PM   #9
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Cracks in main support beam


just wanting to know the outcome on this foundation issue...

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