Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Center Beam Rot Damage in Crawlspace

This is a picture of a center beam "girder" that is rotting and sinking down over the block pier columns. This is about an 1 1/2" drop over the pier and closer to a 2 1/2" settlement in between the piers where the beam is sagging. The homeowner first noticed the problem several years ago when the baseboard trim started to separate from the floor. The problem gradually worsened as the doors began to stick and not close properly, and the drywall began to crack above the doorways and along the ceiling of the hallway. You might be wondering why this happened.

In crawlspaces, excess moisture from groundwater leakage, ground moisture, and outside ventilation leads to mold growth. Most wood decay fungi grow only on wood with a high moisture content, usually 20 percent or above. Decay fungi are living organisms which send minute threads called "hyphae" through damp wood, taking their food from the wood as they grow. Gradually, the wood is decomposed and its strength is lost. Such damage is often inconspicuous until its final stages, and in a few instances homeowners have suddenly found floors breaking through or major settlement in the floor structure. The only method of prevention is to dry the crawlspace and lower the moisture content in the wood.

Repairing the center beam of a home is NOT a do it yourself project. There are many things to consider when replacing a center beam, and there are certain risks that can be devastating if proper procedures are not performed. Many people have been injured badly by jack posts kicking out and similar support devices failing. Please consider the savings of a couple hundred dollars that may cost your life or your home. The installation usually involves installing temporary sectional beams right along side of the original failing beam. The temporary beams should be lifted just enough to relax the original center beam so that it can be removed and a new one can be installed in it's place. I have seen many repairs of scabbing a new 2X10 on both sides of the beam and sandwiching them together with anchor bolts. This repair might help in the prevention of further settlement, but IT WILL NOT bring the home to it's proper position. It is like a band-aid on an serious injury. Please give us a call 1-877-409-2837 for a FREE ESTIMATE on replacing your center beam or visit our website at

Thanks for reading the rambling thoughts of a crawlspace inspector,
Larry Ralph Jr.

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