We have a new home (2 story) that has an unfinished basement with a 10" 65'
I-Beam. There are actually 4 I'Beams that are bolted together to span the
about 4 months ago, I noticed the staircase wall that decends to the
basement was bowed in.
Closer inspection revealed that the bow was a result of the I-Beam in the
basement was twisted and putting pressure on the ajoining wall.
The reason for the twisting is that the carpenter that framed the house
placed a 2x4 floor joist bearing plate not in the center of the beam but on
one edge of a top flange of the beam. This error caused all the weight to be
placed on the top edge of the beam and caused it to deflect and twist.
I placed a level on the bottom flange and the beam is twisted 1/2" at one
I hired an engineer and he suggested placing 2x4 kickers against the beam to
prevent any further rotation. The builder called his engineer who suggested
shims between the other top flange and the floor joists.
We used the shims but the beam seems to still be moving.
We are now faced with supporting the house with jacks and attempting to
straighten the beam.
Has anyone had any experience doing this? This is a "monster" beam and how
could it be "bent" back in alignment?
Thanks for the help.
I am assuming this is new (<2 years) construction. Builder is trying to
cheap out, proper fix is to jack the house and replace the beam. Builder
was cheap for using so many pieces of steel, but that may actually work to
your benefit in this case. Since basement is unfinished, it shouldn't be
that big a deal to punch a 12" square hole in an outside wall to get the new
beam in (unless you have a big enough window well to snake it in there), use
house mover jacks and pilings to relieve the load on that span (only need to
go up an inch or so), and switch the beam out. May have to demo the wall
along the staircase (probably just studs and drywall) to get access, or even
pull the stairs loose temporarily, but that isn't as big a deal as it
If builder brushes you off, get engineer to put findings in writing, and
start talking to a lawyer and licensing board. Only using a 2x4 as a carrier
above a 6 or 8 inch wide I-beam wouldn't have been called 'good workmanlike
practice' back in the stone age when I was in the business. If stair opening
is right along centerline of house, the only reason the other spans probably
didn't warp is because of cantilever action from the joists on the far side.
If entire beam run has off-center 2x4 above it, you probably want to shove a
2x4 up in those cracks too, just for fun.
Standard disclaimer- IANAL, or a licensed engineer, but I did grow up in the
Thanks for the reply.
The house was finished 10/02 so it is less than 2 years old.
I am lucky as this is a walk out basement with a sliding door so the beam
should fit through it. Problem is that I understand this beam weighs 200 lbs
per foot. The sections are 15' and that works out to 3000 lbs per section. A
crane was used to drop it into place when the house was built but that is
not possible now.
Can the old beam be bent back into shape?
It becomes work hardened, it will be harder to drill, cut, etc.
It will also be more brittle.
I would sure like to see the fellas that can bend and straighten
this size W beam, I want to make friends with them just in case a
fight starts. The only way you can manipulate heavy W beams would
be with heat.
Keep the whole world singing. . . .
I think if the load was removed from the beam, it will come back
to its original shape. This assumes it has not exceeded its
modulus of elasticity. My concern would be what was causing this
extreme load. It is a bit unusual, in my opinion, to have a
uniformly distributed load roll a beam around its neutral axis. I
suspect something else is pressuring the beam.
Only a structural engineer who can see the situation can diagnose
Keep the whole world singing. . . .
Cranes make it a lot easier, but there are other ways. Come alongs and
rollers, plus a <lot> of big husky guys, set many a centerline beam in my
youth. The same house moving company that will probably supply the jacks and
timbers has LOTS of experience poking needle beams into tight spaces. The
work required is very similar to what they do getting a house ready to move.
They will have all sorts of amazing rollers and winches and jacks to move
In theory, yes, but a new beam would be cheaper. It may snap back some when
load is removed, but it will never be straight.
OP should talk to builder again, and tell him he wants the beam replaced. Be
nice, but make it clear lawyer is next.
I agree with others about getting a lawyer, etc.
However, if I had to fix it myself, I'd get a large timber, place it
about a foot away from the beam, and jack it up on both ends, using
screw jacks, jack posts, or hydraulic jacks and posts. Keep jacking
until the beam straightens out. Then get another I beam, and bolt or
weld it to the other one. If you are near wood, I'd not weld it
because of the fire hazzard. Of course you could just leave the other
timber in place too.
Maybe I missed something, but in your first post you stated it was a 10"
beam. No 10" beam I know of weighs 200 lbs per foot. I found one that weighs
112 lbs though. That comes out to 1680 lbs for a 15' beam, which I doubt you
have! A 10X112 beam has a flange thickness of 1.25" and a web thickness of
.755" way over kill for any home. My bet is the beam is closer to the 25-30
lbs range, which would be more resonable for a home.
Who gave you the 200 lbs per foot weight? The builder? The same guy that is
trying to weasel out of doing the repair correctly?
As others have stated, I would not settle for anything less than getting the
beam replaced. It is not your problem, the builder screwed up and needs to
resolve it properly, even if it means replacing the beam. With an unfinished
basement this should not be a major problem.
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