How to fix Old Beams

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A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and damaged support beams can be the weak link of any structure. Most damage that is contained to a small area in a beam that is otherwise structurally sound can be repaired by lifting and supporting the beam from below and reinforcing the beam with steel plate splints. Beams that cannot be lifted into place, or have multiple areas of damage, should be replaced. Consult a professional architect or builder for serious repairs such as beam replacement. Inadequate repair can lead to structural instability.

Things You'll Need

  • Post jacks
  • Screws
  • Drill
  • Mason's twine
  • 4 by 4 posts
  • 2 by 4 lumber
  • Steel plates
  • 1/4-inch bolts
  • Nuts and washers
  • Position a post jack and 4-by-4-inch post on either side of the damaged area. Place a 2-by-4 at least 24 inches longer than the damaged area in either direction on top of the posts, against the bottom of the beam. Drive a screw into the wall 2 inches below each end of the beam. Tie a piece of mason's twine tightly between the two screws.

  • Raise the post jacks to lift the beam until the entire bottom line is 2 inches above the string. Have a welder cut 1/4-inch thick steel plates, as wide as the beam is tall and 6 inches longer than the damaged area in either direction.

  • Mark a line 1 inch in from each long edge of each metal plate. Bore a 1/4-inch hole every 3 inches along each line. Place one steel plate against the beam, centered on the damage. Mark the screw holes through the plates. Drill a 1/4-inch hole in each marked location.

  • Position the steel plates, one on each side of the beam, aligned with each other and the holes in the beam. Clamp the plates in place with a C clamp. Drive a 1/4-inch bolt, 1/2 inch longer than the thickness of the beam plus both steel plates. Fit a washer and nut onto the end of each bolt and tighten with a socket wrench.

  • Release the jacks, remove the 2-by-4 from atop the posts and lift the posts off the jacks.

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