Brick shim for concrete pier

Is it really acceptable to use bricks as shims for a concrete pier supporting a metal beam in a crawlspace? sorry for the fussy pic - spider webs-

btw i want to suggest that additional beam supports are installed.

I would say no on the bricks, especially the direction they are laying. And, are you qualified to make the call on adding the additional beams or should you recommend a specialist?

Well hard to see in the pic, but they line up perfect with the beam. No, your right, and thanks, I am not a structural engineer so i will refrain from recommending additional support :slight_smile:

Here is my DESIRED comment: A concrete pier supporting the metal beam is using bricks as a shim- Consult a Structural engineer to evaluate if this is acceptable. see pics

Now i’m not so sure why it would be so bad, considering the crawlspace floor is concrete, the pier is concrete - there wont be movement, ( unless Chicago gets more earthquakes)

Acceptable material i am seeing referenced often is steel - wood is not good, but brick seems ok - not commenting on local building code.


OR can i consider the brick to be an extension of the pier?


From an engineering standpoint brick has a compressive strength in the range of 3000psi to 10000psi. So brick has the strength to support that beam if used properly. The problem with dry stacked (no mortar) brick supports is the brittle nature of brick and point loading. Without mortar to help distribute the load evenly over rough surfaces the load on the brick is concentrated on the point where it actually touches the beam and the concrete pier. This issue of only a few small points on the brick carrying the load could crack or crush the brick. In a situation like this I also look at the bigger picture and ask myself two questions.

How long has it been in place?

What happens if it fails?

If failure could result in injury or death I would recommend fixing the problem ASAP regardless of how long the situation has existed. If failure would result in only some degree of physical damage to the house I would take into account how long the brick has been in place and explain what could happen if failure occurred and let the buyer decide.

The brick has the holes horizontal and the load bearing design of a hollow brick is with the holes vertical. That “shim” is incorrect.

Here is what I require as a building official in my jurisdiction.

No no.
That is a clay brick and will degrade because it will accept water and swell and spall.
I would like to see a saddle cupping the 2/8 joist.
Fastest and cheapest fix.Ceder would work for me or teak shim.
If it is cement or block it will transfer moisture to the wood.

You to. To many members looking through the glass window at the InterNASHI members inside.
Hope you become a member in good standing soon.

Ah, thank you guys. Plus There is an additional consideration - the beam is not continuous- its actually two beams terminating and resting on those bricks. So even worse.

so heres some abuguity because contained in that code #4 it reads:

"4. All shims are limited to 4” in height, if over 4” masonry should be extended on pier. "

So am i partially right that it isn’t to be considered a shim but an extension?

Now all i can say with certainty is that the orientation of the bricks are not correct with respect to the load design.

I understand the brick can swell and spall, but this was a dry concrete floor crawlspace in a topographically high village. hrmmm

1: Loads are not to be transferred onto brick in that fashion.
They are not engineered to carry load like that.
2: that high is 31/2
I am a mason.
.That is a Metric Modular
Wrong with that being used as shim.

AWESOME LINK… thank you ! best answer i’ve got yet , very much appreciated :smiley:

I don’t think my documentation is ambiguous. If the gap between the pier and the beam is > 4" the pier should be extended with another permanent course of masonry (not a loose brick).

That’s not a code, but my requirement as a building official.

Joe Funderburk

Thank you.
You have also made me fell good by saying so.

That is a angle iron. H beam correct.
Is there any deflection in the beam?
Is the floor sagging upstairs?
A am confused by the gap.
1: When the home was built or the extension placed upon the structure the builder left a gap like that and shimmed with brick???
In my choice of materials used for shimming it would be prudent to know this.
That beam might have to be raised ( lifted ) to place the proper height to take away that deflection being carried by the beam.
I hope you understand.
I know we are home inspectors and to do reports.
I also build.
I am curious.

You are correct in your statement Mr.Funderburk.
Certain loads can be shimmed with masonry brick or block.
The hardest thing to do would be to find a brick,or cinder block of that exact size of gap.
It can **maybe **cut. Not everyone has diamond blades for cutting said material.
Will the cutting affect the masonry’s tinsel strength?
Then you have to bed that brick or block in masonry. Hard to do in such a confined space. IE you would have to consider bedding up to a 1 inch offset to the brick.
Then there is the tinsel strength of the said brick or block.
They have to be rated to accept higher loads, and kept to the size without deviation of cutting. ( it is on condition to how many are being used. In this case one. It would affect its tinsel strength. ( I could be mistaken ) Its been awhile I had to draw that feather out of my cap to rate strength.
Then there is friction and movement .It would be smart to install hard rubberized padding above the masonry unite.
I see wood as an alternative. Again teak or ceder shimmed.
Just some open thought Mr.Funderburk.

The brick is placed incorrectly (holes horizontal). That is the biggest problem. The beam will never sag, but the brick may be crushed over time.

The ‘correct’ thing to do would be to raise the pier one more course with a standard brick, or if that won’t fit then they do make 2" tall bricks. Any resulting gap could be shimmed with metal plates.

It’s not going to collapse the way it is, but someone originally asked about it and so my answer is that the brick direction is wrong. No difffernt than supporting a structure on a horizontal CMU.

If the beam is over-spanned it can deflect.
That is A defect I would have looked for with a simple line string if I noticed it was long in my opinion. I do not see any dimension. I did notice its is at lest 5 plus inches wide.
The ‘correct’ thing to do would be to raise the pier one more course with a standard brick, or if that won’t fit then they do make 2" tall bricks. Any resulting gap could be shimmed with metal plates.
I would go to a iron working shop and have a wedge made.
What is your thoughts on wood?

Joe did you quit NACHI?