The Beam Doctor

During our inspection we noticed a small kink and a crack in the drywall over the living room beam. So after we closed on the house, we ripped up the carpet and excavated through the drywall. We quckly discovered the cause.  At some point in time, at least 10+ years, someone had removed a post right where two beams came together. Not surprisingly, one of the beams was slipping. It looked scary, so we immediately called a structural engineer (Structure Check) to come out and assess the situation. 

 Here you can see where the post was cut out of the subfloor.

Here you can see where the post was cut out of the subfloor.

The first thing he told us to do was to put a post back in, which we did immediately. 

He then began work on finding a solution. This meant understanding how the roof load was distributed throughout the house. The arrow indicates where the post was removed. 

Contributory Beam Loadings.jpg

We were optimistic that he could figure out a way to secure the two beams together without having to re-install the post permanently, but after weeks of calculations and re-calculations, it was decided that the post was the safest, most reliable remedy. So begrudgingly we put it back. Per his recommendation we also had a steel plate made for the joint. Previously someone had notched out the beams and installed a wood support which, as you can see from the photos above, was failing. Of course, we had to put a new piece of wood in to fill the whole that was left. 

So now we are learning to love our new, somewhat awkward, post and are working to make it blend seamlessly into the room. It is not ideal, but at least we have the piece of mind that our home is now safe.


An Update

When we wrote this blog post, we hadn't yet figured out the mystery behind the missing post. Months later, the daughters of the Pattersons shared a few photos of the living room with the post in place. It was painted black and connected to an iron rod railing that ran the length of the living room. The original stairs were near the front door. 

This photo shows Jo Patterson retouching the area where the post was attached to the beam. The area we were originally so suspicious about. 

 As a side note, we still have and use this ladder. 

As a side note, we still have and use this ladder.