The Rot Doctor


Subject: Old Victorian Nightmare
Date: Thu, 18 Jun 1998

I have an Old Voictorian with water damaged 10 x 10 sill beams at load bearing crossed-beam junctions. The rot extends out about four feet from each crossed junction. The house sagged at each of these points and is effecting doorway openings on both the first and second floor. There are brick pillars extending up to the rotted beam junctions. I would like to drill diagonally from the first floor, into the core of the junction and simply fill with # 1 CPES. Then I would come in and jack up the house at these locations and slip wood shims into the space.
Any suggestions and cost of CPES would be appreciated.



Okay, we'll deal with the CPES first. How much CPES you need will depend on how much the wood absorbs. The 10 X 10" beams are substantial, and your drilled holes should be staggered, approximately 5-7 inches apart. The wood should be reasonably dry. The CPES should be injected into the holes until the wood will accept no more. In this case, I would do 2 applications. The 2nd application will take much less of the CPES. In such large timbers you're going to have to allow one to two weeks between appplications for the solvent carrier to evaporate away and the epoxy to cure. You might want to consider following the CPES with Layup & Laminating Resin. This will add strength. You don't say how many beams there are, but my best estimate would be about 1/2 gallon of CPES per beam. At $139.90 per 2-gallon unit that works out to about $31.00 per beam. Make sure that you drill access holes a little beyond the rot. You want the CPES to reach the bad-wood/good-wood interface.

The CPES will restore the wood -- up to a certain point. It will keep it from rotting further and crumbling away. But bear in mind that with beams this large and structural loads so great no epoxy product is going to be able to bring those beams back to original strength. So, jacking up the house and shimming for alignment is probably okay to a point, but I do believe any structural engineer would tell you that you need to reinforce those beams substantially before walking away from the project. I am NOT a structural engineer. Beyond the information about stabilizing the rotten wood, consider anything I have to say as advisory only.

If I were in your position, I would go ahead and stabilize the wood to end that part of the problem. I would then consult with a structural engineer, with a view toward possibly "sistering" the bad beams with through-bolted and/or strapped steel U beams. I know it will cost a buck or two to get an engineer under the house, but he will give you good advice, I'm sure.

The problem I see with just shimming is that while it may get the house back into position, it provides no provision for any shifting of the structure due to environmental factors or ground movement. The whole house could sag again. Steel U beams properly installed should solve that problem. An engineer may have a better solution.

Come back if you have addition questions or comments. You do have a major problem here and we'll try and be as helpful as possible.


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