Replacing Barn beams is a challenging, but necessary, task for beams that have developed wood rot or have become damaged due to heavy load bearing weight. It is possible to replace a beam with reclaimed wood or from new purpose crafted timbers. If there is a problem with a beam because of bowing or wood rot, it will need to be replaced quickly.
Step One – Assess the Damage
Inspect the barn beams to identify the problem. For instance, try to identify signs of compression, tension or rot. A beam that is under compression will appear bowed, whereas one that is under tension will appear to want to come away from the mortises. A beam that has rot or termites will show signs of decay.
Different beams pose uniqueproblems to repair or replace. Tie beams rarely carry any loads, but form the skeleton of the barn and are often more susceptible to wood rot because they are closest to the ground. Therefore, these are the hardest beams to replace as they are set into the foundations of the barn. The main beam will carry most of the load and is very difficult to replace. However, it can be reinforced with steel wire if the load is too heavy for it to carry.
Step Two – Add Support
Construct a support structure to take the pressure off the beam that is being replaced. If the old beam is not properly supported, this could result in the entire barn or part of the barn collapsing when it is removed. Most wooden barn loads can be supported using simple props. A multiple number should be put in place so that there are other props to bear the load if another falls or fails.
Step Three – Remove the Beam
Remove all of the joinery from the barn beam. If any of the old joinery can be salvaged and used with the new beam, put it to one side. Remove the beam. It may be necessary to cut it away from its location. If the beam has not suffered from any wood rot, it is possible to cut the beam down and reuse it in another DIY project.
Step Four - Treatment
Before replacing a beam with either new timber or reclaimed wood, ensure that it has been treated. This will delay the effects of wood rot and protect it against adverse weather conditions.
Step Five – Possible Repairs
If the removed barn beam was not load bearing, it might be possible to repair any rotted wood by using a wood hardener which can be purchased from hardware stores and garden centers. Most beams that suffer from rot will incur it if they are near to ground level or subject to moisture exposure.
Step Six – Attach the Beam
Place the new beam into it position and attach the joinery. Ideally, the joinery should be similar to the rest of the joinery in the barn. If that isn’t possible, it should not pose too much of a problem as long as the alternative provides a sound fixing. The load bearing props can now be removed.
Inspect the barn beams at least twice a year or after a severe storm to ensure that they are not suffering the effects of wood rot or bowing.