Repair cracked stair tread...

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Excellent idea. Maybe I will just sister a couple of 2xX pieces onto the stringers adjacent to the crack -- this should certainly provide a lot of vertical support which as you correctly surmise is the only real direction of force.
Alternatively, I could place a board underneath the tread but rather than gluing/screwing it to the tread, I could rest it on cleats attached to the stringers (I think this is similar to another poster's) suggestion.
In any case, I imagine the exact flavor of my solution will depend on what I find when I expose the underside of the stair. But I didn't want to make a mess until I received some reassurance that I was at least heading in the right direction... I will keep the group posted on what I find and what amalgam of solutions I end up implementing.
Thanks, Jeff
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blueman wrote the following:

I had a brain fart and couldn't remember the word for the "side'. Stringer it is.
--

Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
  Click to see the full signature.
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If you can access the stringers, sistering a 1x or 2x to the stringer to support the board under the tread is a good idea.
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wrote:

Gutting a friends home after a fire, I pulled down the cieling over the steps, figuring the cavatity could be insulated. The attic above wasnt a heated space so insulation would be a plus:)
Geez was I surprised such a small cavity. Little room for insulation:(
If OP finds this consider installing a steel suuport of some type since it will take up very little space
I have fond memories of that job, found hacked wiring, bad leaky plumbing, rotted joists and a long list of wierd. Added to my tool collection:) with tools that must of been dropped into wall cavaties over the years..... including a ratchet wrench
the wierdest was two lengths of romex tied in a knot:( running from basement to attic. they went deluxe and went all out with wire nuts:(
The property owner finally admitted defeat and had house completely rewired. Its amazing bad wiring hadnt burned it to the ground:(
cat had knocked over light causing fire....
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blueman wrote:

Here's a though:
Rip out all the plaster and so forth. Fix the stairs. Then box the whole thing in and install a 5/8ths bath.
Can't fit it in?
Heh!
Did you know you can get lavatories from scrapped commercial airliners? They'll fit almost anywhere. I think the little sign that says "Occupied" is cute, along with the interior "Fasten seat belt" annunciator.
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Luckily we already have a first floor 1/2 bath that is quite spacious. So my future plans for under the stairs is more likely to be some type of closet or other storage or perhaps a small desk. Still, I am a little hesitant to box it in for anything since it might make the narrow hall parallel to the stairs seem more constricting. Probably, will consult an architect on that one...
Thanks for the idea nevertheless...

Somehow I'm not sure ulttra-modern airline lavatory style will fit our Italianate Mansard home but would definitely be a "conversation piece"
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blueman wrote:

Without a doubt fixing it from the bottom is your best bet. And yes the reason it cracked is most likely because it had no support, which I hope is just this tread and not all of them! Like others said, glue and screw a piece of wood under it. And while down there attach something to the side that will give it support.
My first idea was to drill a long hole and put in a couple long screws, but with no support below, you are just asking for more trouble. If you want to push instead of pull the crack together until the glue dries, you just measure from the front of the split tread to the wall at the bottom of the steps and make a T with a 2x4 with the short end on the wall and the long end pushing on the stair tread. First I'd try to get the little specks of paint an whatnot out of the crack. Add shims to make it fit tight. Do this before the glue and screw underneath.
Although the more I look at the photo, the more it looks like the tread doesn't go into the sides. It looks like only some plaster/spackling and finishing nails hold it down. I'd try removing plaster from under a lower tread to see how far the tread goes into the sides of the stringer, if at all. If it comes out that way it would save having the hole in the plaster down below.
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Excuse my obtuseness, but I'm having trouble visualizing this...

Good idea.

I agree that the tread may very well not extend under the baseboard. But I'm more worried about the other end where the balustrades very definitely are secured to the tread and I really hesitate to dissassemble the entire bannister/balustrade system for fear that I wouldn't be able to get it back together as secure as it is now along with the risk of breaking/splitting old balustrades...
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You will need to decide the best method. Either one will require some finishing perhaps tedious work. Fit and glue 2x4s to the underside of the treads and screw in two short 2x4 pieces to the sides to keep the long 2x4s tightly against the bottom of the tread. Instead of the 2x4s you can use 3/4" stock, whichever is cheaper. Use carpenter's glue and allow the glue to dry for day or two before putting any stress on it. A 60-watt light bulb will help the cure rate. The gluing surfaces should be unfinished wood.
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