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MedB 04-21-2010 09:31 PM

Floating Main Beam?
Hi all,

Another first-timer coming to learn from the experts. Thanks in advance!

After some recent 200 year flooding in my area, I had the fun task of ripping out sheetrock etc in the basement and I discovered something startling...

The main beam that runs the length of the house appears to have a problem. It's tripled 2x10s and every seven feet or so there is a column (lolly I think they are called) for support so I have no worries there. But at the very end of the beam there is a 8" wide notch in the foundation wall for the beam to set into. Only it doesn't... :eek:

There is about 2" of space below the bottom of the beam and the seat of the foundation notch so the end just floats.
That has to be a problem right????

Yes, there is a light (non-bearing) stud wall below the beam, but it appears to me that most the weight of the first five joists above it being transferred across to the first column.

I really want to pull out that light non-bearing wall as it's soaked, but I'm worried as hell now. Shouldn't there be shims between the main beam and the foundation notch to transfer that weight down to the foundation? And if so, can I just drive them in there myself so I can pull the wall?

Thanks for the help,


Scuba_Dave 04-21-2010 09:36 PM

Are you sure the beam isn't in the concrete ?
There should be something supporting the beam there
I've seen PT used for the most part

Any pic ?

MedB 04-21-2010 10:05 PM

2 Attachment(s)
Yeah, that was my first thought too. But take a look...

The beam is about 2" off of the bottom of the notch. Also, the beam runs out and buts into the sill plate(s) though that's hard to see in the pics.

I've looked over, under and around and I can't see it resting in or on concrete anywhere.

Daniel Holzman 04-21-2010 10:16 PM

That is a pretty good picture, but I still cannot tell if there is any support for the beam from the concrete. If not, that "light stud wall" is probably holding a lot more weight than you think. At least consider installing another lally column under the beam near the concrete wall. I am not certain that notch in the concrete was originally intended to support the beam, not that it could not be used for that purpose, but unless someone screwed up the elevation, it looks like that notch may have been intended as a recess for the beam, but not for support. Can't really tell from the photo.

tpolk 04-22-2010 06:12 AM

i think they screwed floor elevation, look how the plates are tripled

HooKooDooKu 04-22-2010 09:08 AM


Originally Posted by Daniel Holzman (Post 431838)
...that "light stud wall" is probably holding a lot more weight than you think...

That's what I was thinking before I even saw the photos...

The end of the beam is being supported by those 2x4s under it near the wall. The fact that there is about a 1' section of unsupported beam past the 2x4s supporting it isn't a big deal for that size beam.

MedB 04-22-2010 09:10 AM

Thanks for all the input so far.

As for the elevation being screwed, I don't know. I can tell you there are two PT 2x6s then a non PT 2x4 stacked up under the rim joist.

The lally column is an outstanding idea. Don't know why I didn't think of it! The one hitch is that I was planning on cutting in a sump pit adjacent to that area. That would put the base of the column a couple of inches from the egdge of the pit. Should I stress about cracking the floor or will the footer support the load anyways if I keep the column tight to outer wall?

Finally, is there any harm in simply driving some pieces of PT under the beam? The notch is about 7" deep so my layman's mind tells me I should be able to get the load centered squarely in the middle of the outer wall thickness.

Yoyizit 04-22-2010 09:12 AM

I guess you could put a precisely cut chunk of several layers of plywood, with the grain horizontal, into that gap and so then you wouldn't need those vertical supports. Plywood is less likely to split when it's pressed down by the beam.

Aggie67 04-22-2010 09:45 AM

I think the issue during construction was elevation. My guess is the mason didn't build it to the proper elevation to land the first floor at the correct elevation. Hence the built up sill plates. What a bone headed move. Probably the mason screwed the pooch on the foundation, and the framers had to make up for it (the framing under the beam there at the wall looks like a half-A attempt to take the load). If an experienced mason was involved, I'd think he would have grouted up the void under the 2x10 composite beam. All in all, I'd say your house built in haste, if not outright inexperience.

If it were my house, I'd research the heck out of who built it, and more importantly who in the town approved the framing. I'd make a stink. I'd march down to the town and say "can you tell me when my house was built, and can you tell me who approved the framing that you see in these photos. Also I want a safe structure, so I'd like the building inspector to come down and fill me in on how he thinks this was safe, and if it's not, what he would have told the builder to make it safe."

In the end, if it were my house I'd try to get a metal plate up underneath beam, inside the pocket, then pack the void with non-shrink grout. An after the fact beam pocket. Mix the grout dry, like the consistency of damp sand. Then pack it in there.

Yoyizit 04-22-2010 12:11 PM

Speaking of which, check that the beam is level, but don't forget that the beam is slightly curved due to the downward force on it.

Willie T 04-22-2010 01:14 PM

Is this pocket 2" low on both ends of this beam?

That is durn good photography, by the way. Some of the clearest I've seen here.

Ron6519 04-22-2010 03:17 PM

I'd get a piece(s) of slate or bluestone and slide it under the beam with a few sheets of tarpaper or ice and water shield between the two.

MedB 04-23-2010 07:16 AM

You guys are great. I'm glad I found this place. Thanks.

Remarkably, the beam appears to be pretty darn level. Tiny variations of course between the three 2x10s but all well within the bubble. And height from floor measurements taken at each column and the "floating end" are all within 1/4". That could easily be variation in the floor I think.

As for the other end of the beam... I don't know because it only runs 2/3 of the house. The other side of the house is open from ground floor to peak so that end of the beam ends on a column/pillar.

The wedging ideas are really good, sounds like I need to stay away from cut dimensional lumber as it might split out under pressure.

Yesterday I bought a jack post (adjustable lally column) from the depot. I'm thinking I can raise it just enough to take the weight so I can pull those 2x4s from underneath. That will give me the space to get to the pocket and try some wedges.

I'm not opposed to putting another fixed height column at the end too, but it will be near the edge of a sump pit it appears it would need to be a custom height too... 81.5 inches. Ever heard of columns that height or is it common practice to customize them?

Thanks again,


HooKooDooKu 04-23-2010 08:15 AM

Why do you want to move the supporting weight to this notch that's never supported the weight?

If it's a question of wanting to tear down the wall that is supporting the beam, then you most likely need a building permit and get your plans approved. Otherwise, if you simply think the wall supporting the end of the beam isn't as strong as it needed to be, you can always sister up the existing 2x4s.

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