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Old 01-09-2009, 07:06 AM   #1
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replacing beam in basement


We need to have a beam replaced in our basement. The beam was installed incorrectly initially.

It is a long beam - steel beam sandwiched between two wood beams and all three peices held togther with large heavy duty screws. What we were told when we bought the house is that when they tried to install the lolly column under the beam it bent the beam at an angle - by about 1.5 inches - to the east. So the steel and wood itself is straight, but the entire beam is at a slight angle rather than perpendicular to the floor above. We have been in this home for over 5-6 years and have not seen any shifting or change in the angle of the beam. The wood floors above are fine - no cracks or sagging. They are level nor have the walls developed any cracks. There is a wall upstairs right above the beam that is about 20-22 feet high (all the way from the first floor to the ceiling of the second floor (it is an open living room - very high ceilings).

My question:

1. How much of a problem is this, in view of the fact that the beam has not moved in many many years - it was like this when we bought the home 6 years ago.
2. How do we fix it?
3. What kind of cost can we expect?
4. Will replacing the beam create problems in the wood floors/ walls upstairs?
5. How long will it take?

Thanks for your help.

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Old 01-09-2009, 09:52 PM   #2
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replacing beam in basement


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Originally Posted by bpahwa View Post
We need to have a beam replaced in our basement. The beam was installed incorrectly initially.

It is a long beam - steel beam sandwiched between two wood beams and all three peices held togther with large heavy duty screws. What we were told when we bought the house is that when they tried to install the lolly column under the beam it bent the beam at an angle - by about 1.5 inches - to the east. So the steel and wood itself is straight, but the entire beam is at a slight angle rather than perpendicular to the floor above. We have been in this home for over 5-6 years and have not seen any shifting or change in the angle of the beam. The wood floors above are fine - no cracks or sagging. They are level nor have the walls developed any cracks. There is a wall upstairs right above the beam that is about 20-22 feet high (all the way from the first floor to the ceiling of the second floor (it is an open living room - very high ceilings).

My question:

1. How much of a problem is this, in view of the fact that the beam has not moved in many many years - it was like this when we bought the home 6 years ago.
2. How do we fix it?
3. What kind of cost can we expect?
4. Will replacing the beam create problems in the wood floors/ walls upstairs?
5. How long will it take?

Thanks for your help.
Do you mean that the beam is twisted laterally, but is straight over its length? If you could post a photo, it would be easier to visualize!

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Old 01-11-2009, 07:37 AM   #3
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replacing beam in basement


can't do that - too dark.

But yes the beam itself is straight but is twisted laterally.
The whole beam runs the length of the house, but appears to have been insalled in 3 sections. Each section has several lolly columns supporting it.

The two end sections are OK, but the middle section is twisted laterally.
Not creating any structural problems but we've been told we should have it fixed.

Any sugestions?
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Old 01-11-2009, 09:15 AM   #4
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replacing beam in basement


What you're describing is a flitch beam, which is a sandwich of flat steel plate in between two joists or timber.

Your beam has buckled. That's a problem. Who did your home inspection? That should have been caught in the inspection, and flagged for review by a structural engineer. Tell us a little more about the purchase process, how you discovered it, the home inspection, etc.

But now you're in a pickle. If it were mine, I'd want to replace it just for the peace of mind. Being an engineer, I couldn't go too long living in a house with a buckled beam without getting an ulcer.

It's not an impossible job to execute. There was a recent thread here that showed a picture of what the process looks like with the old beam out, before the new one gets installed.

I'd hire an engineer to look at it first, then hire a contractor if you're not a hard core DIY'er. This could end up going several ways depending on what the engineer says. He might say the beam needs to be replaced. That's a big job. But depending on how much room you had, as an engineer I would also explore installing two new beams on either side of the buckled one. That's not as big a deal as replacing the whole beam, but it would change the look of your basement if it's a finished basement.

My advice would be to have a licensed engineer inspect it and come up with the fix and the replacement beam size, determine the work that you can do yourself (demo drywall, move ducts or pipes, etc), write a scope of work, and then call 4 contractors to give bids on the work you can't do. Ask the engineer to help you with the scope of work.

Also, ask the engineer about other less expensive options, like coming up with a parallel set of beams on either side of the buckled beam. You might be able to get away with that. The look might be unappealing, but it might work, depending on the severity of the buckling. Have the contractors price any of the options the engineer comes up with.
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Old 01-12-2009, 08:12 PM   #5
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replacing beam in basement


the basement is not a finished basement.
Can you tell me more about installing parallel beams?

Thanks
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