Main Beam

Originally Posted By: loconnor
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During an inspection 2 days ago, I was in the basement of an old home and observed a 6 ’ wide X 8" or 10" high beam with a horizontal crack running almost the entire length along the wider side. The crack was (to me) pretty deep (approx 1-1 1/2 deep). In addition the owners had a 3/4" water pipe assembled in a wide u shape to hang their clothes on. This pipe was bolted into the beam right in the crack and was obviously contributing to making the crack bigger.

The beam ran only halfway through the basement, so I walked to the end and looked down the beam. It was definately twisted. A steel vertical post was supporting it on one end and a wood log beam post on the other. The wood post had many stress cracks and I recommended replacing it with a steel post, like on the other end.

The realtor had told the buyer that the main beam could be reinforced by bolting in 3/4" plywooh on each side. I recommended a structural expert to evaluate.

Has anyone seen a beam of this size before and with cracks as large as I described? This home is almost 100 years old.

Western Michigan NACHI Chapter

"We confide in our strength
without boasting of it.
We respect that of others
without fearing it"
Thomas Jefferson

Originally Posted By: phinsperger
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Yes, I see these types of beam all the time. Many old farms in the area including mine. It is quite common to cracks as you described. Contolling humidity levels may keep it from getting worse. The forces behind making that beam split and twist are very strong. I doubt plywood nailed of the sides would prevent further spliting or twisting. As many of these cracks happened years ago, I would recommending monitoring and action taken to replace if the cracks or twisting get worse or as you suggested an structural engineer


Paul Hinsperger
Hinsperger Inspection Services
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Originally Posted By: ccoombs
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Current engineering procedure takes into account some splitting…but major issues with beams need to be looked at case by case. I would suggest an engineer review the beam prior to close. That way the new and existing owners are all protected.

By the way, plywood would be a worthless waist of time, effort, and money. There are many many solutions to the problem, but they don't involve plywood.

Originally Posted By: wpedley
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six(6) 2x4's 10 foot long sistered together to form a Harry Homeowner

support beam to support the floor joists above that were partially

destroyed by powder post beetles. This is supported by two steel jack

posts, one on either end resting on 12x12 poured concrete pads.


These were also very interesting

Inspecting for the unexpected