Robert Lamoureux: Garage floor spalling, twisted roof beam, cracks

Robert Lamoureux has more than 40 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at [email protected]
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Question No. 1
Hi Robert,

Hope this finds you well. I was wondering if just by looking at these photos you could tell what is going on here? This is the garage floor of one of my homeowners. We had leak detectors out to be sure it was from that and no leak was found. Thoughts?
— Lori T.

Courtesy photo
Contracting expert Robert Lamoureaux says spilled acidic material likely caused this spalling on a garage floor.

Answer No. 1
Lori,

This is a condition called spalling. If I were to bet what this is, I would say that someone spilled an acidic material on the concrete. If it had been a bad mix, which could also cause this condition, it would’ve been sporadic throughout the slab.
Given that it’s in a streak in a line like that I’m saying that something was spilled on the surface.
This is my opinion based on photos only. Feel free to give me a call if you want to talk about it.
— Robert

Question No. 2
Robert,

I live in Canyon Country and am handy. We had a leak, so I went onto the roof and it was distorted at the top with roof damage so I went into the attic to look and found that the large beam that holds the roof up, the entire length was twisted similar to a piece of licorice.
What is this — I’ve never heard or seen anything like this, and it has caused quite a bit of damage.
At this point, I don’t even know where to begin, and what to do, are you able to advise?
— Josh O.

Answer No. 2
Josh,

This condition is called torsion and happens with a natural product such as wood. Engineered lumber we can control because we are making it, but when a tree is used to obtain a beam like this, being that it is a natural product, some of its behavior is out of human control.
Though this situation is not unheard of, it’s not very common. There was an issue I was advising on where there were more than 50 homes in a development that had this same issue. Typically, it will happen with exposed wood and not wood that is protected within a structure like this, so it is possible that the beam was installed while still wet and, during the drying process, this torsion happened.
The twisting could stop at this point, but it also could continue and cause even more damage.
I recommend that you get a licensed and insured contractor out for an evaluation on this — just be sure that you check his documents. Good luck.
— Robert

Question No. 3
Hi Robert,
I live in Santa Clarita in a home built in 1978. I went up on my roof last week to clean my gutters, and I noticed several small cracks and two large cracks on my brick chimney. It looked to me like the larger cracks went completely through the brick. I have lived in the house for over 20 years and rarely use the fireplace. I have never had any problems with rain coming into my home.
I want this repaired. However, I’m not sure who to contact. Would I need a contractor for this type of work? Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!
As always, thank you for your professional guidance.
— Mary S

Answer No. 3
Mary,

Thank you for being a loyal reader of The Signal. I recommend that you hire a chimney sweep — they not only clean the chimney but also repair them as needed. I’ve sent my recommendation for a local contractor. Good catch, they’ll let you know if there is anything to worry about on this. Good luck.
— Robert

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