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Question DetailsAsked on 12/29/2015

The outside header beam in my garage has water damage. The inside beam has no damage. Can I cut the damage out?

The beam is 18inches wide and 19ft long. Spans a two car garage over top of a bedroom. The roof runs perpendicular to the garage. The damaged piece is roughly 3 inches wide by 4 ft. Is it ok for me to cut this out or does the entire beam need to be replaced?

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1 Answer


You could - just be sure to have a friend standing by with video camera for the YouTube video when it all comes down.

OK, seariously - not sure what you are talking about with the "outside" and "inside" beams - unless you just mean the outdoors and indoors portions of a ridge or central support beam - unless you mean the garage door header as outside and the central support beam as inside.

Basically speaking - it is not OK to cut away a portion of any beam without structural analysis - and with this being an 18" beam this is a major structural element.

I would contact a Structural Engineer to check it out and develop a remedial plan - which you will need to be able to get a building permit anyway, should have to show bidders what the scope of work is, and for the successful bidder to do the work to. Engineer cost probably $250-600 depending on just how crucial this portion of the beam is.

Likelihood of having to replace the entire beam - near nil unless the rot has penetrated through the center of the beam well into its length.

You said "spans a two car garage over top of a bedroom" - so not clear if this is a garage ceiling support (like would normally be the case supporting an overhead bedroom), or a beam under the garage floor supporting the garage floor over a basement bedroom. Because of the 18" width, unless you meant 18" height and the width is only 4-6 inches, sounds like this is supporting the garage floor. Or a ridge beam supporting the ridge of the roof, though with that big a beam would likely be a pretty flat roof if that is the case. Perhaps you could clarify exactly where this beam is.

If I interpret your description right, then the end of this beam is damaged - you don't say "how" it is damaged - stained, delaminating, mold, dryrot, or what.

Anyway, in many cases IF the damage is limited like that, particularly at exposed cantilevered ends, it can commonly be temporarily supported, the bad part carefully cut out, new wood put in, and the patch reinforced by through-bolting, lap-jointing into the existing beam, sistering with additional beams alongside, and/or using bolted steel cover plates to reinforce it. Generally speaking, and this is real general because each job differs in details, if not more than about half the beam cross-section has to be taken out at its end (as opposed to in the center), it can be repaired cheaper than replacing it.

Once you have a design from a structural engineer, including temporary support measures to hold it up during repair, then a General Contractor with significant framing experience would be a possible vendor category in Search the List - Foundation Repair would be another who should have the expertise to do a repair like this.

If you want a bit more informed opinion, you can use the Answer This Question yellow link right under your question to attach a photo or two and I will be able to give you a better idea of how serious this is that way though you will still need a Structural Engineer to design the repair or replacement, whichever is applicable. When you click the button, at the upper left above the your Answer box that pops up choose the leftmost yellow icon (which pops up the identiifer Insert Image when you mouse ovear it) - it provides a box to allow you to attach an image from your computer - use same process again if attaching more than one.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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