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dlrh 09-07-2011 09:54 AM

Repair rot/wet joist/header joist
New to this forum.

I have had a series of small events that have left me with a bit of a challenge in my living room, which is on the first floor and below a second floor bathroom, with a chimney abutting on the outside.

What happened:
First, the flashing area around the chimney was not great, and for a few years, there was a small bit of drip in that area during very heavy rain. That worsened. Roof has been replaced (3 weeks ago) and flashing is fine.
Second, the faucet cylinders for the cold and then the hot water in the tub/shower above leaked and dripped down below the tub and onto the living room ceiling.
Third: the combination of the first and second seems to have let the tub sag about 1/32", causing a gap in the caulk around the tub.
All the above are now well under control. I have to fix the damage, which includes the sheet-rocked ceiling.

Last night I pulled a small section of the ceiling and found:
- subfloor is moderately water damaged, visible rippling.
- All floor joists are fine - dry, solid.
- some insulation (why was that there?) wet.
- the END of one of the two floor joists that abut the chimney has some rot in the lower 2 to 3 inches of a corner.
- the header joist section that runs between those two floor joists has rotted away completely, leaving the chimney wall visible. This is about a 16" section. Past that, there is some moisture, a little rot.

Here is what my own non-pro assessment is about what to do.....

- Dry the whole thing. The moisture levels are not terrible, I started this last night.
- Pull out as much of the rot as possible, apply CPES to the sections of joist to saturate. Let dry 3 days.
- Trim the ends of the floor joists back about 1.5", ensuring there is not rot (these are seemingly solid, no sign of rot there other than one lower corner of one of these two joists).
- Sister in a short (24" or so) piece of 2x10 PT on to the existing header joist.
- Use joist hangers and snug them up to the trimmed joists.
- Consider a jack with a support piece to first lift the floor joists up a tiny bit, then nail the hangers.

Does this all make sense?

My sense of this is that the chimney leak gradually, over a long period of time, took out the section of header joist. There is also evidence that suggests some sort of repair here before: an odd cinder block "patch" amidst the brick. Then when the faucets leaked, the subfloor took a hit. The sag in the subfloor further compromised it all and more water got in. I note that the bathroom floor feels solid, despite a bit of odd discoloration in the linoleum (I think that was water seeping into that part). There is no softness anywhere I can find up there.

Short of a MAJOR project (replace tub, tile, shower, linoleum, floor, subfloor in upstairs bathroom, something I cannot afford to do now), to me this seems a rational approach.

I believe that the wall this is near - the tub adjoins a wall that runs the length of the hallway upstairs - is not a bearing wall. It is perpendicular to the roof peak, and the whole living room area is a later add-on to the original house. I know that the header joist is a support structure, but figure that the small length involved means a sistering would be ok.

Input MUCH appreciated. This was not expected.

nealtw 09-07-2011 04:03 PM

Not only well thought out but well written and a very good plan. The insulation was there to keep the water warm while you sit in the tub.

RocLok 09-08-2011 12:36 AM

Sounds like a good plan, also the insulation could be to insulate from the chimney cavity.

dlrh 09-08-2011 07:09 AM

Thanks for the supportive voices.

The insulation - ha! - was actually in the ceiling area and not around the chimney.

Having now dried it out a lot more, I also find that the supporting member (sill?) atop the wall has some rot. This makes it a lot trickier. At the same time, I am pretty sure that, were I to pursue this and tear out the fireplace, the wall, the bath, the upstairs wall, I'd likely find some rot all the way down from the roof to the first floor. I'd also wager that a lot of homes with chimneys have very similar problems, some lurking, some manifest. I'm thinking there has to be a reasonable limit here! But for a rank amateur, it's a bit unsettling.

nealtw 09-08-2011 07:31 AM

Your plan is still good and if you redo the bathroom later, you will know to go a little deeper in there.

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