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Old 09-04-2010, 08:26 PM   #1
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Should I fix this? (structural question)


Ok, maybe the right question is not "should I", because I already know the answer to that. What I'm really wondering is "do I have to"...

Today I set out to replace my patio door, thinking it would be a quick 1-day project and I'd still have the rest of my weekend free. When I removed the existing door frame, I noticed that one of the 2x10's used in the double 2x10 header is badly split. See pictures below. The split runs the entire length of the header, but it's the worst in the middle (about 1/4" gap). I'm pretty sure it runs top to bottom also, since in the middle of the span the "outer half" of the 2x10 is about 1/8" lower than the "inner half". This header is in the exterior wall that runs perpendicular to the joists and rafters, so I think it's supporting a pretty big load, There's 1 full floor + 1/2 attic above it.

The house is 32 years old and still standing. So, I'm wondering, is this just normal settling that took place in the first few years after the house was built, and has since stabilized? Or, will it continue to get worse if neglected?

I've replaced headers before so I think I can handle it. Normally I'm pretty adamant about doing things right. However, this will probably take me a full day, and I have a pretty long honey-do list as it is. I'd rather not do it unless it's really necessary.

Can anyone offer some advice?

Thanks,
Mark
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Old 09-05-2010, 01:01 AM   #2
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IMO, no need to panic, but your 2x10 in two pieces carries far less weight than in one piece. I'd say fix it while you are in there. Is there any way to jack the header up 1/4" and sister some plywood, glued, screwed and tatooed to the cracked member, or to both 2x10's? My gut would be to also (if this sounds good at all) epoxy the split board while (if) it is squeezed back together, just for s*&^s and giggles. Either that, or put a post in the middle! (kidding) j
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Old 09-05-2010, 06:17 AM   #3
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The only place to sister plywood would be in the space between the 2x10's (similar to building a header with a plywood spacer), but with the split header taking up much of that space I don't see how I could squeeze it in there. I think I would only end up destroying the plywood.

Something else that's bothering me is that the builder used single jack studs to support the header, but being a 6' span I believe it requires double jacks on each side. Again, the house is still standing, but I could address all of this at the same time.
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Old 09-05-2010, 08:53 AM   #4
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IMHO - i bet that crack is only about an inch deep. could've split from nailing up a head jamb, or it could've been installed that way to begin with.
if it were my house i would probably remove the plywood at least and take a closer look. if it really is split top to bottom, replace it.
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Old 09-05-2010, 09:04 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cumak View Post
Ok, maybe the right question is not "should I", because I already know the answer to that. What I'm really wondering is "do I have to"...

Today I set out to replace my patio door, thinking it would be a quick 1-day project and I'd still have the rest of my weekend free. When I removed the existing door frame, I noticed that one of the 2x10's used in the double 2x10 header is badly split. See pictures below. The split runs the entire length of the header, but it's the worst in the middle (about 1/4" gap). I'm pretty sure it runs top to bottom also, since in the middle of the span the "outer half" of the 2x10 is about 1/8" lower than the "inner half". This header is in the exterior wall that runs perpendicular to the joists and rafters, so I think it's supporting a pretty big load, There's 1 full floor + 1/2 attic above it.

The house is 32 years old and still standing. So, I'm wondering, is this just normal settling that took place in the first few years after the house was built, and has since stabilized? Or, will it continue to get worse if neglected?

I've replaced headers before so I think I can handle it. Normally I'm pretty adamant about doing things right. However, this will probably take me a full day, and I have a pretty long honey-do list as it is. I'd rather not do it unless it's really necessary.

Can anyone offer some advice?

Thanks,
Mark
If that 2X is split all the way up it would be the first one I ever saw. I won't say what you should do but if it were mine I wouldn't do anything to it, there are no signs of sagging or any kind of failure. I agree with schmolze on this one.
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Old 09-05-2010, 11:57 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cumak View Post
Today I set out to replace my patio door, thinking it would be a quick 1-day project and I'd still have the rest of my weekend free.

I learned after a few projects on my house this is never, never,never the case

Good luck though, I just did my patio door last year. I notice in your pic the inside header looks alot newer than the outer one, any reason for this? Was previous work done by you or previous owner that may have contributed to this crack? Also I only had single jack studs on same span, ranch house built in '64.

As far as taking all day to replace it, if you have the tools should only take several hours... now look at this pic, this took me all day
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Last edited by creamaster; 09-05-2010 at 12:06 PM.
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Old 09-05-2010, 09:56 PM   #7
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Thanks for your comments everyone.

So, maybe I'm a glutton for punishment, or maybe I've just watched too many episodes of "Holmes on Homes", but despite popular opinion I decided to replace the header. The deciding factor for me was something I didn't mention in my original post, but there was some visible rot around the bottom of the jack studs and bottom plate and I wasn't sure how bad it was. So, I thought I could address a few things at once.

So, as schmolze and jiju1943 suggested the split header ended up not being too bad but it was definitely compromised. The crack exited the side of the 2x10 around 1-2" up in most places, although it did run up to about 5" in the middle. It was weakened, but I think I could have left it because the entire header didn't seem to be carrying a lot of weight. I'm not sure how the load is being transferred, but the jack studs practically fell out on their own. So, I don't think sagging was going to be a problem.

The rot, however, was another story. 20+ years of water pouring off the roof and splashing on the deck took its toll on the bottom of that wall. The previous owner addressed part of the problem, but not all of it. They apparently had the sheathing, rim joist, and original door replaced. They also flashed it properly and installed gutters to prevent further damage. However, right around the door the bottom plate and subfloor were in terrible shape... I could poke a hole with a screwdriver with almost no effort. This is all fairly easy to repair with the door framing removed.

Anyway, I feel like this was the right thing to do. I'm just lucky it happened to be a 3-day weekend because I'm not done yet.

creamaster - nice pic but no cripple studs? Is the header actually doing anything? Looks like the entire load is being carried by the king studs.
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Old 09-06-2010, 09:53 AM   #8
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Sorry to hear about the rot but good thing you dug into it more.

As for the cripple studs there were none, I replaced the framing exactly as it was before I tore it out. Looking back though I should have added some cripple studs under the ends of the sill.

Lets see a finished pic of your patio door when you are done.

Last edited by creamaster; 09-06-2010 at 10:07 AM.
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Old 09-06-2010, 10:34 PM   #9
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Well, it took the better part of 3 days but the new door is finally installed. It turned into a much bigger project than I was expecting (as is often the case), but in the end I think gutting it was the right way to go.

Next weekend I'm going to take it easy.
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