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Old 01-02-2012, 06:56 PM   #1
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end of floor joist rotted


I recently bought an old (1844) saltbox cottage in massachusetts. The house has two bedrooms in the finished attic space. The floor is soft at the entrance of one of the bedrooms so I carefully cut a hole into the sheetrock ceiling in the living room below with a keyhole saw to find out why. The viewhole I made showed the problem was a damaged plank in the subfloor, from some previous owner being overzealous with a sawzall (or something) which I'll deal with, but isn't the main point of this message.

It also showed me the floor joists are 4x4 timber that look really neat! My wife got excited by this and so she wants us to expose them and put up beadboard between the joists. To that end, I took the entire ceiling down and then discovered something unpleasant: one of the ends of one of the joists and the plate it was sitting on have rotted:




It looks like there was a spill at some point in the bedroom upstairs that wasn't properly cleaned up:



If possible I'd like to fix the problem inconspicouslsy so I can proceed with the wife's exposed joists + beadboard plan.
What are my options for repairing this? Some sort of steel bracket ? resin? rip out the joist and try to find another piece of old timber? Give up on exposing the timbers, shore them up with sistered lumber and box them to get the exposed joist look?

Some more photos of the same problem joist from different angles.







I would really appreciate any insight you guys have.

(edit: change location of images from flickr to photobucket)

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Last edited by halfline; 01-02-2012 at 10:42 PM.
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Old 01-02-2012, 07:02 PM   #2
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end of floor joist rotted


Interesting to see the cut nails used. I would simply replace the timber with an old 4x4, they are available from specialty wood supply houses in Massachusetts. You may need to fix the sill beam the joist is connected to, this can likely be done using an epoxy specially formulated for repairing damaged wood, there are products like Get Rot just for that purpose.

By the way, I doubt that a single spill would have caused that amount of damage, there is probably a leak close to the location, make sure you fix it before you spend time and money putting in a new joist.

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Old 01-02-2012, 07:17 PM   #3
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end of floor joist rotted


You have some very serious issues to deal with. Beams do not just "rot" like that in the middle of a house without a reason. Looks far more like powder post bettle or old house borers damage to me.
With the fungus looking stuff there (the white stuff) it could also be what caused the damage. The only way that could have happed is from a water leak.
4 X 4's would not even be strong enough over a span longer then about 6 ft. to support a floor. They have almost no side load strenght.
Modern houses use 2 X 10's for floor joist.
This is not a DIY fix.
No amount or epoxy or majic wands is going to fix this one.
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Old 01-02-2012, 07:26 PM   #4
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end of floor joist rotted


As per fire-code and probably local building code you may not be able to leave the joists/decking exposed, check with them to be safe....

Gary
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Old 01-02-2012, 07:27 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Holzman View Post
By the way, I doubt that a single spill would have caused that amount of damage, there is probably a leak close to the location, make sure you fix it before you spend time and money putting in a new joist.
The bedroom upstairs has a window that goes all the way to the floor. It could be that it was leaky at one point and was fixed by the previous owner (it clearly was replaced at some point since it has a vinyl frame instead of wood like some of the other windows)
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Old 01-02-2012, 07:41 PM   #6
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end of floor joist rotted


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Originally Posted by joecaption View Post
4 X 4's would not even be strong enough over a span longer then about 6 ft. to support a floor. They have almost no side load strenght.
Granted they're undersized, but they've been there for almost 170 years now.
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Old 01-02-2012, 07:51 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by GBR in WA View Post
As per fire-code and probably local building code you may not be able to leave the joists/decking exposed, check with them to be safe....
I did do an internet search at some point and it sounded like there wouldn't be a code problem since it's the ceiling between two floors and not abutting a garage or other residence.

Your point is good, though, I'll give the city inspectors office a call and find out what the limitations are.
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Old 01-02-2012, 07:54 PM   #8
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end of floor joist rotted


Old growth lumber, new lumber huge differance.

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