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  1. #1
    Joseph Stevens's Avatar
    Joseph Stevens Guest

    Default Beams and Columns

    As a very new inspector my biggest challenge is determining what to call out and what not to. A month or so ago I looked over a home of someone I know well before it was sold. Unfortunately my picture isn't very good as I was only walking through but it is of the main beam supporting the lower level. Home is a 2 story home, built around 1900.

    The beam is multiple 2x12s together with joints everywhere except above support columns. Columns are telescoping adjustable columns, placed directly on the concrete with no sign of a proper footing. Support plates of columns are not secured to beam or concrete and are all "dishing" where they meet the beam. Where the beam sits on the foundation, it is leveled by wood shims being wedged in.

    I felt this is something I would definitely call out but this home was just inspected by the buyer's inspector and I was surprised that there was no mention of this at all. Am I being to picky or was this inspector not picky enough? He also made note of double taps on Square D, QO circuit breakers.

    Thanks for your help.

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Atlanta, Georgia
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    1,078

    Default Re: Beams and Columns

    With 100+ year old homes, when you see stuff that is not right, you need to guess how long the bad/broken/improper defect has been in place. If the house has undersized structural members (compared to current code) and the house has been that way with no ill effects for 40, 60, 80, 100 years, what is the likelihood something is going to fail in the next 10 years?

    Personally I document everything that is wrong so that it is in the report. I let the client decide what is important to them, (with verbal guidance from me during the inspection). My clients attend my inspections and I explain my position. This is wrong by current practices but the house is not likely to fall apart due to this defect anytime soon. Older homes you have to use your judgment while new homes don't have enough history to tell you what is going to happen.

    Don't worry so much that is wasn't code/may not have been code to do it that way when it was installed in older homes. Worry more about the possible consequences in the near future.

    Currently the home would be required to have handrails on these steep stairs into the dark basement. They may not have been required when the house was built but you can still easily fall and hurt yourself. For SAFETY reasons, you should install hand railings.

    The beams and columns you describe would not pass today. Are they result of a remodel of the home or were they that way for the past 100 yrs? Is the house showing signs of sagging floors, binding doors/windows, and other structural problems? Look at the total pic, don't just focus on the defects.

    "The Code is not a peak to reach but a foundation to build from."

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Southern Vancouver Island
    Posts
    4,546

    Default Re: Beams and Columns

    Older Square D QO breakers may not be designed for 2 wires. It is only OK in my book if the plates under the screw have 2 indents for 2 wires.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Lake Barrington, IL
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    1,363

    Default Re: Beams and Columns

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Stevens View Post
    As a very new inspector my biggest challenge is determining what to call out and what not to.
    After 18 years that challenge still nags me.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Connecticut
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    1,828

    Default Re: Beams and Columns

    no not too picky,
    If it looks like crap, it's crap!!
    and the posts are not allowed, so also crap
    And the sheetmetal guy cut out sections to get the ductwork in
    So he's full of crap too!!


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Rolla, MO
    Posts
    126

    Default Re: Beams and Columns

    Joe

    That column and 2x12 beam were not there in 1900, they were place there more recently. Maybe to replace the original or to provide added support. It looks like one of the three 2x12 is missing in the background.

    Randy Mayo, P.E.
    Residential Engineering & Inspection Services
    http://www.rlmengineers.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Maryland
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    2,776

    Default Re: Beams and Columns

    Joseph,
    Did you make mention of your concerns to the home owner?
    If you did then they may have a potential disclosure problem. Being that the post use is incorrect for intended use (permanent). Who ever was doing the work didn't finish the job. Which then brings into question the beam itself. The beams carrying load etc. When installed? Why installed? Installed by who? (((who-what-when-where-why)))

    Why a HI would not report it is a question about the ability of that HI. It may be a liability issue for that HI. If the HI didn't report the column it begs the question of what else was not reported. It is not so much about code but about incomplete work. If column is temporary then the beam may be temp also.

    Seeing a double tap is one thing, but begs the question of being acceptable for that breaker. Either it is correct or it isn't or HI gave a reason he can not determine correct application. Saying there is a double tap present really is not a complete statement.

    The column doesn't represent being over picky. It represents what you are to look for in a HI.


  8. #8
    Roger Frost's Avatar
    Roger Frost Guest

    Default Re: Beams and Columns

    Double Taps,

    There is never ever clear direction for "double taps", here in Ontario the Electrical Safety Authority accepts double taps if is only a 12 volt transformer, such as for a door bell. The only problem is the remaining wire is 110 and might be compromised by stranded wire from door bell. May be a stretch but anything is possible.

    An prime example is the practice of allowing more than one wire under a staple. This is common in Ontario from the 1970's on, but ever since ESA go nailed with multi-million dollar law suit, wires overheated and caused fire, apparently that is out the door.

    So one would think that you just have to go with current code conditions and call them as you see them. Let homeowner know that it has been overlooked or passed by inspecting authority and let them make decision.


  9. #9
    Bert de Haan's Avatar
    Bert de Haan Guest

    Default Re: Beams and Columns

    The joints in the plies don't have to be over the post (at least not in Ontario) but they can't just be anywhere. They are allowed to be within 6" of the quarter point but not at the quarter point near the end of the beam. This one looks like it has two joints somewhere close to the quarter point but near the end of a beam (unless the beam continuous through the wall.) That's a no no. As well, two of the three plies are joined there; also a no no.
    Hard to see what is behind that rag but it doesn't appear that the post is fastened either. (Those types of posts are allowed in Canada but I don't think they are in the US.


  10. #10
    Roger Frost's Avatar
    Roger Frost Guest

    Default Re: Beams and Columns

    Sorry Bert, I was responding to the electrical, "double tap" comment, not the posts or columns


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