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I've been asked to level an uneven floor and would like to get a little smarter about loadbearing beams before the structural engineer comes out to spec out the project. The thing that seems odd to me is that neither end of the center beam under the first floor rests on the foundation wall. Instead, this beam is supported entirely by two columns (sewer pipe pressed into service, I think). Each end of the beam is cantilevered out beyond one of these posts 4-5 feet, and then the end of the beam stops just short of the foundation wall. Is that common? I was expecting to find the ends of the beam supported by the foundation, and the posts just bearing the weight in the center, not ALL of it.

Well, that's it in a nutshell, but here are more details:

The footprint of the house is a basic rectangle measuring 20x32. It is platform framed (1930s maybe), has a solid stone foundation, two stories, a walkup attic, and a simple hip roof. The first floor's joists are all 16 footers. Opposing joists are butted up to this center beam on each side, and the far end of these joists do rest on the shorter foundation wall. So, the beam is supporting a significant bit of weight from the interior of the house, contents and occupants. All on two posts, with the beam ends cantilevered up to the foundation wall but stopping short. Is that unusual? Would you guys care? Its not causing the sunken floor.

The sunken floor has more to do with fact that the beam itself is built up from three 2x10s (or maybe x12s, I forget just now). Two of the three boards in the beam do not span the whole length but are butted in-between the posts, and in exactly the same spot! Its that joint that is sinking, and we expect the engineer will give us a plan to put a post right there. So I don't think the fact the beam stops short of the foundation has anything to do with the sunken floor. I would just like to know if such a beam is uncommon and anything else I should have the engineer and HO think about while I'm working in this basement.

Thanks for your ideas,
LetItBeLEED
 

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It does sound strange. How big is the beam and what is it made out of? Is it solid wood or is it engineered? Is it possibly a flitch beam? Pictures would definitely help. Are there any issues with the foundation walls where the beam would normally rest?
 

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you said it's a 1930's house-is the beam made of real 2x12 (or 10), that is original beam to the house, or was it added on at a later time? I would be tempted to pull a string across the bottom of the floor joists and see if that IS the only dip.

Is the beam is about 19' long? two full length LVL's sandwiched (carriage bolts) on the outside of the existing beam installed with additional posts at the edge of the foundation might fix it up good as new.
 

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sounds to me like the beam has been installed at a later time. Not at the time of the homes construction. Does the floor show any sign of pre existing walls? Would the seal plate allow for a new beam to be sat on top of it?
 
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