Robert Lamoureux: Take care when replacing support beam

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, 

My name is Matthew M., from Canyon Country. Some time ago you did an article on repairs to a large beam that can be done rather than replacing the entire beam. I don’t recall everything you said regarding the rules and steps involved but you talked about doing some sort of cutout on the beam and doing a repair that is not visually detectable, providing the main part of the beam is salvageable. This repair is proper as an alternative to replacing the entire beam.

Will you revisit this with details, please? I am very interested. 

— Matthew

Answer No. 1 

Hi, Matthew, 

Yes, this repair is called a Dutchman and can be done on most areas of a beam except for the ends, which is where the structural support is. This technique only can be used if 25% or less of the beam is damaged. Any more than that, and the entire beam needs replacing so that the structural integrity is maintained. 

The rotted portion of the beam is removed and chiseled out to create a uniform squared cavity that will receive a new piece of lumber. Cut the new lumber to fit precisely into the opening and, prior to setting it, saturate both pieces — the beam and the new piece — with wood glue. Set the new piece in and secure it into place with screws. Allow to dry completely and then fill any gaps with wood dough, then sand, prime and paint. 

Good luck with your project.

Robert

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