Beams carry floor and wall loads horizontally to the foundations, walls, columns or posts. Beams may be wood (solid, built-up or engineered), plywood or steel.

Common Problems with Beams

Undersized or overspanned beams may sag or crack. This may lead to failure of the entire framing system. Fortunately, this rarely happens, and almost never suddenly. Overspanned wood beams can usually be identified readily, and posts can be added or the beam can be strengthened.

Where the end bearing is inadequate, the beam can crush itself or its support. There is also potential for the beam to slip off its support. Typically, three inches is considered a minimum end bearing for beams when supported by masonry or concrete.

Wood building components are vulnerable to rot, damage, insect attack and fire. Rot and insect damage are common where there is wood/soil contact. Beams below grade should have 1/2 inch clearance along the sides and at the end to allow for air circulation.

<< Back to Inside the HRB