Failing Roof Beams
Oh, the roof beam things I've seen and the tales I've heard
It Was FIne We When We Left for Work
Dry rot will weaken wood until it can't even hold itself up, let alone your roof. A roof beam with dry rot repeatedly painted and patched with epoxy or bondo may look fine -- right up to the moment it's not. The extent of the rot (in this roof beam and others on the home) with the large load of a tile roof left this homeowner in need of a full crew, and in a hurry. The moral of the story is don't just paint and patch over dry rot.
We Heard A Loud CRACK
Catastrophic roof beam failure meant this one was a job for the insurance adjusters and county building department to sort out.
We Wanted The Roof Beams Longer To Make A Trellis
This classic Streng home with original roof beam projections belonged to a couple that wanted to weave the vines to create a natural shade structure. The person they hired joined new beams using metal saddles. These saddles became the perfect place for water to pool and channel into both the new and original beams. This only served to feed the dry rot. Eventually the wood couldn't even hold up the saddles, which began sinking into the original roof beams. The addition of a beam cap on the new wood was the right idea, but poorly designed and implemented. If you have a Streng home, I would caution against tying anything into the Streng Beams. Perhaps a nice pergola instead?
I Had A Man Come Fix My Roof Beams, But They Started Cracking Open Everywhere. All I Had Was Shoe Goo . . .
One desperate homeowner with an all-too-common type of roof beam dry rot "restoration" climbed up to use all they had -- Shoe Goo -- in an attempt to seal the now opening joint. Like most products, such as epoxy, bondo, etc., it held up appearances of a fix for a little while. Sadly, the homeowner's ingenuity was insufficient to repair the initial "repair." The additional financial strain of the costs of the first "repair" meant they had to wait to call for service. For future reference, call or email anyways. I can usually give at least some direction for an interim DIY you can try to buy some time. From the 08 crash to the Pandemic, homeowners have faced hard choices. When it comes to dry rot in your roof beams, there are better ways to slow the inevitable until financial situations improve. In this case, it was the right idea, but the wrong application and a so very wrong product. Don't wait to ask.
We Came For A Visit and Noticed It Was Melting
The quintessential picture of a wood-rotting fungi having eaten the cellulose and hemicellulose of a load bearing roof beam. The very parts of the wood that give it some of its structural properties are gone, leaving only the soft squishy parts. This roof beam no longer has the ability to hold up its own weight, let alone the fascia boards. Without intervention, the roof would have been next to go.
We Heard A Sound From The Sun Porch
Another "add-on" to the original Streng Roof Beam projection led to dry rot. It doesn't matter how good the connection or how strong the connector; eventually, dry rot decay will leave the wood unable to support it. Here, the additional exterior roof beam was joined via a simple butt joint "secured" with a small metal plate and large bolts. I suspect there was already dry rot in the existing roof beam when it was attached. The unprotected connection only served to give dry rot greater access to food and water. Once structural integrity was compromised, the weight of the addition pulled it down.
Probably Not The End Of These Stories . . .
All of the above are but a few of the roof beam failures I've encountered over the years. They all have one thing in common -- they were preventable. Regular roof beam maintenance and good design, with a focus on dry rot prevention for additions or remodeling, are essential for the prevention of roof beam failure.