In this episode, Richard Comeras (aks “The Crackman”) defines “Beam Pockets” as they pertain to a structure’s foundational health and whether or not you need to worry about them. Listen and enjoy!
Narrator: It’s time once again for the “Crack Man Podcast” hosted by A1 Foundation Crack Repair. We’re here with the Crackman himself, Rich Comeras. Rich has 30 years of experience in the construction industry and over 20 years experience as the President and founder of A1 Foundation and Crack Repair Inc. His podcasts provides expert basement water proofing, concrete repair, and preventative maintenance tips for homeowners and businesses. A1 Foundation’s valuable insight will help avert a disastrous flood within the basement, health problems associated with water infiltration within the basement, and protect your biggest investment….your home. The topic for today’s podcast: What are Beam Pockets and should I be worried about them?
Narrator: So today we have Adam with us again, very knowledgeable crack repair expert. And Adam, today is the first time I’ve ever heard of the term Beam Pockets, so maybe we should start with what a beam pocket is.
Adam: Sure, so what the beam pocket is it’s an area in the foundation, you know anywhere from an older foundation of stone foundation to a new construction foundation where the main carrying beam for the house, the spine of the structure down the basement rests on the foundation wall. So the newer construction home is actually a cut-out in the foundation where the wood, or sometimes steel beams will rest on the foundation to carry a load down to the foundation to the footing. In older homes, you’ll see them as a notch underneath or a gap in the stonework, where the beam would be in there and then there’s more around it. So the purpose of this area is again to kick the load of carrying beam for the house and put it to the foundation wall. We end up seeing a lot of cracks and issues develop around these areas. Primarily the reason why is because we have a concentrated weight of the house being carried from that main carrying beam to the outside edges of the house, where the foundation will take that weight and bring it down to the soil. In newer construction homes, these are going to be generally made of concrete, and anytime you have a right angle in a concrete - like in a window, a beam pocket, or a step down in the foundation, it’s a natural weak point in the concrete that causes stress in there. So it’s very common to see cracks develop in these areas.
Narrator: Alright, so are these beam pockets something that should be inspected on a regular basis? I mean it sounds pretty important and we think that you have to make sure that they’re always in good shape, right?
Adam: Yeah. They should be looked at periodically for sure, because what we’ll see is, we’ll start with newer homes, we’ll see small cracks develop off the corners of the beam pockets. And the reason why is because like we mentioned, that right angle of the concrete there. It creates a natural weak point, and because you have that extra weight in that area being carried to that beam, or that I-beam, or the wood, it will actually cause a little bit of differential settling there. Most of the time that’s just a settling or shrinkage crack that develops off the corner, and a pretty standard process can be used to repair that crack in the foundation. However, sometimes you may have too much settling in that area and that would be cause for concern to a different course of action.
Narrator: Okay so as a based on water and Lally column expert, where would you come into play when Foundation Crack Repair come to play when structural issues are found around these beam pockets?
Adam: Sure. Let’s start with newer homes generally made of concrete construction. In this area most of the time you’ll see a crack develop off and it’ll kind of come from that corner and go down towards the floor. In most cases, it'll just be necessary to repair that crack because it may start leaking at some point, or may already be leaking. And you also don’t want to go any further because that scenario where there’s a concentrated load being centered on the concrete wall, you want to make sure that the concrete is repaired. Now, if there’s an additional issue where there’s deflection or 1 side of the concrete is being pushed out anywhere, or there’s a settling that’s too great, that’s when we want to take the weight off of that wall a little bit. And the best way to do that is to insert a Lally column in there, and what we’d have to do is we’d have to break the floor, dig down, rebar reinforced concrete footing, put a Lally column up with a big 6 steel plate. And the idea of this is now that this Lally column is helping support the wall, so you’re no longer going to rely solely on this concrete which has a flaw and that to take the weight of this portion of the house. As we move to older construction homes with a fieldstone foundation, you don’t generally have just a crack that runs down the floor, you may see some deterioration of the mortar or accelerated deterioration of the mortar. You may see additional cracking, you may see large gaps in the mortar, or you may see cracks and splits in the beams itself because it’s putting excess weight on these walls. In these cases, just repairing the mortar joints is almost never enough. You really need to support the wall by adding in a Lally column to the same process that we talked about before. So you really in these older homes, because they’re older and they have settled for a lot longer period of time. You really want to make sure that area is supported well, and so that you can survive the longer length of that beam than what is done in general construction today.
Narrator: Awesome! Thank you Adam. You say you learn something new everyday and I certainly did with beam pockets, so thanks for introducing us to what beam pockets are and what to do when they start to show signs of structure problems.
Narrator: If you have a basement water problem and think you need a professional, or, if you’d like more information on foundation crack repair and basement waterproofing topics, please visit A1FoundationCrackRepair.com or call Rich or Adam at (866) 929-3171. Or you can email Rich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for listening and keep that basement dry.