05:41AM | 02/02/05
Member Since: 02/01/05
3 lifetime posts
I wasn't sure where else to put this question. I have what appears to be a wooden support beam in my living room. It runs about 15-feet from a point next to a ventilation intake (adjacent to our powder room) to the opposite side of the house. The beam is 5" wide and about 8" high (if that's the right way to describe that dimension). My concern is that it's starting to show thin cracks on the sides. Some cracks are relatively short (a couple inches) and others are a good bit longer. Does this mean the ceilign above is about to cave in?

For my part, I don't know if this beam is solid wood or perhaps a wood facade over something else. The beams in my basement are obviously metal, but this one in my living room is painted white, so I'm trying not to assume anything. In any case, I'm not even sure what kind of contractor I'd ask about this. Thanks.



11:15AM | 02/04/05
Member Since: 06/06/03
1250 lifetime posts
Greetings Palmerk1,

You might try the Carpentry forum, or maybe Foundations for some more input. Those forums get some very good dialog going sometimes, and they have very qualified moderators as well.

I wanted to respond to this question because I, too, am a bit of a worrywart about such things. I have no training on these matters, but I've been through the wringer with some issues (settling) regarding my own home--and have hired pros to have work done.

You don't say how old your home is. But some small cracks do occur normally, and not very many houses cave in! Thank goodness!

I say small cracks can occur "normally" because of things like wood drying out over time, wind stresses, and settling over time.

A competent carpenter can probably tell you quite a bit by eyeballing it. In my case, I had a contractor or two look at it, as well as a structural engineer. I actually learned more from a competent carpenter as to what had been occurring. Your trick is finding one!

I will add that I've learned that wood is a surprisingly resilient building material. After one REALLY heavy snow I could tell that the roof had obviously deflected downward (maybe an inch or so) over its run--it just "looked" curved! Next time I looked at it, it was straight! Think of the rafters as large popsicle sticks; they flex, then spring back! I was amazed by this (I still am, actually!)

Good luck on this; please post back with your findings!


-k2 in CO

Moderator, Miscellaneous Forum


12:05PM | 02/04/05
Member Since: 02/01/05
3 lifetime posts
Thank you, I'll try the carpentry forum. FYI, my town-house is about 20 years old.


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