Call this out?

Hi All,

Sorry in advance for my dumb newbie questions.

Maybe this is even more of an “inspection ethics” question than really a structural question. Here’s a good example of something that has come up on me a few times. I’ve got a large pipe penetration (nearly four inch hole) through a beam, close to dead center of the 20’ span between the foundation wall and the first column. That, of course, is wrong, but the beam isn’t even cracked and this house was built in 1920. In this case the beam is solid timber, looks like it would be about three 2X8s if it were made of dimensional lumber.

Would you call out something like that in the report? I feel like it would be hard to defend, considering it hasn’t caused any trouble in 100 years.

the only way to become a dumb oldbie is tenure
not at all hard to defend
regardless of age
improper boring or notching of any structural member is wrong
are you sure you have all the facts/dimensions correct?
save diagram for future it will disappear soon
depending on bore size anywhere is allowed unless specifically disallowed by the engineer of record
just because it hasn’t failed doesn’t mean it won’t, cya…ymmv

Was there any way you could tell when this was done, ie, 1920 or more recently? The info posted above by Barry applies to SPF dimensional lumber, (spruce pine fir), what kind of wood was the beam made of? Sound like an engineer job, but if it looks like it was done 100 years ago, and you can’t see any cracking or structural issues above, like sagging floors, racked doors etc., is there really a problem?

I don’t think the lumber is hardwood but that’s about all I can tell. It’s dark brown of course, quite old. No sign of sagging floor or wracked frames above it.

Besides the cya issue, I’m a bit hesitant to call in a $600 engineer consult when I just can’t detect any problems caused by this thing. Beam is not measurably deflected and no cracks.

Oh, sorry, missed that last question - I’m quite certain it’s the original 1920 beam!

You don’t call the engineer, you say what you said in your post, this would not be allowed today using today’s materials and codes/manufacturer recommendations, (1920 codes were probably more concerned about fire safety then structure). If it appears to have been done 100 years ago, history says it is OK. If client is still concerned they could ask an engineer to look at it.

Beam might be original but was the pipe going through it?

Exactly the beam may be 1920 but was the piping.I always love hearing well it’s been here for 100 years but they forget to mention modifications to the original structure.

Actually yes I didn’t think carefully enough before answering… I think the penetration is very very old as well, maybe original construction, it’s for an iron steam pipe. That’s why it’s so large - the pipe is 2" plus insulation, so it’s a four inch hole. The steam is now coming from a modern boiler but the distribution (pipes and radiators) is all very old.

1920’s houses are fun! Bunch of leftover knob & tube, brick masonry foundations with soft mortar, plaster walls, and lead utility sink with cross-contamination hazard. It’s a looong report. I did an 1854 house once but it was much smaller than this one and had fewer issues.

How about a pic?