Pier and Beam Shimming Issue

Hi all,

An inspector made the following statement in the report:

“…The asbestos tile shims have been used to fill the space between the interior block piers and main beams in the crawl space. These shims are undersized and poorly installed. The asbestos shims are too narrow and high and are not wide enough to provide adequate bearing surface for the girder. The shims are crushing and leaning away. All asbestos tile shims at 12 block piers should be removed and replaced with steel plates. Also, at one location, the cinder block that is supporting the beam end below the kitchen is cracking due to improper asbestos tile shims. Both cinder block and asbestos shims should be replaced with solid masonry block and steel plate…”

The house is a residential wood frame house in NJ and is approximately 25 years old.

I have the following questions:

  1. Was it acceptable practice to have asbestos shims to level foundation at the time of building construction 25 years ago?
  2. What is a normal term of service for asbestos shims?
  3. How does one determine whether the shims are “too narrow” or “too high?”
  4. Would inspector be required to determine whether the floor is sagging due to the allegedly defective shims?
  5. Are there any other questions that one might ask to determine whether the inspector was objective or simply tried to find defects where there are none?

Thank you!

Never seen a shim made of asbestos. Seems like it would be better than wood, but I would have to see it or a photo to form a definite opinion.

Regarding wood shims, here’s some sound guidance developed by a really smart guy: http://cloversc.info/Forms/Dev_Services/Shim%20Interpretation.pdf

I do fault the inspector for specifying the type of repair. Unless he is a licensed engineer or contractor, he should have referred that decision to a licensed engineer or contractor. His job is to identify the defect, not to design a specific repair.

I have been in the building industry for over 30 years of which I have never heard of an asbestos shim per say…material such as cement tiles that may or may NOT contain asbestos fibers, yes.

Without testing same then the inspector is only speculating what the material is.
I suspect that the shims were probably cement tiles used in roofing or siding; of which while some such tiles contained asbestos fibers, not all of them do.

The wording in general is poor as is the directions on how to correct noted conditions.

He should have simply noted that the shims being utilized are failing, what the ramifications might or are and then direct the client to the proper professional unless as Joe pointed out, he himself holds those credentials.

Just curious…are you a real estate agent Gene?

Tiles should not be used for beam shims … they are too brittle.

Gotta like that quote … :cool:

Google indicates otherwise. :neutral: