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What is this metal rail in my basement and can I hang my 80 lbs punching bag on it? Thank you.

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  • 3
    Is it just me or does this beam appear to end in the middle of the room? Has the house and basement ever been expanded? Seems very unusual to me. – Alexander Kosubek Jan 9 '17 at 9:24
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    Just a guess. To me it looks like there may have been a wooden beam in its place. The floor above probably started sagging because the wood beam was not strong enough. In that case, you would temporarily add jacks to support the floor, and then replace the wooden beam with the I-beam. I wouldn't be surprised if the whole basement was added after the house was already built; the floor joists may have originally been sitting on a foundation. – Kevin Keane Jan 9 '17 at 21:25
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    @KevinKeane Or something happened to the original wooden beam and code had been updated since to require something stronger. – Loren Pechtel Jan 10 '17 at 6:14
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    The more I look at this and read other answers the more I'm thinking this might be an advanced DIY project done without permits or inspection--and potentially very dangerous. – Loren Pechtel Jan 10 '17 at 6:17
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    I would bet money there is a steel column under the end of the I-beam and it has been boxed in with lumber. This looks like new construction, not DIY, and it's not uncommon to have a beam that does not span the entire foundation. – Eli Burke Jan 10 '17 at 19:55
36

This is a load-bearing I-beam. This beam is holding up your house, so as long as it's well secured, you should be able to add an extra 80 lbs to it. They make mounting brackets specifically for hanging heavy bags onto these: http://amzn.to/2iXojjG Ringside Steel I-Beam Heavy Bag Hanger

  • Would such brackets be safe for hanging something from a cantilevered portion of a beam, or only from the parts of a beam where the bottom is under tension? – supercat Jan 9 '17 at 5:42
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    @supercat: At 80lbs., compared to the weight of a house (at least the center part of it), I really doubt it would notice no matter where you put it. My parents' house has a beam like that as well, and it's very substantial. It would probably take an engine hoist for a home mechanic's shop at any point as well...and still not notice. – AaronD Jan 9 '17 at 5:55
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    While I realized that the linked item is just a representative example not a specific recommendation, I'd advise the OP to buy a bracket with a stated weight rating that's high enough for his bag. The one that's linked doesn't have one in the description. – Dan Neely Jan 9 '17 at 14:23
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    @AaronD: Beams and trusses are designed to support weight applied in a particular way. They are often orders of magnitude weaker at resisting forces applied in other ways. I wouldn't think 80lbs on a flange would be a problem, but unless the chain looks obviously weak I'd worry that someone might later use it for something heavier (e.g. a hanging chair). If a flange is under tension, that force will try to keep it straight, but if it's under compression that force will try to buckle it unless it's perfectly straight, so bending the flange even slightly could weaken it considerably. – supercat Jan 9 '17 at 15:02
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    I just want to reemphasize part of your second sentence: "so as long as it's well secured" As others have pointed out, it doesn't look well secured. – Zach Mierzejewski Jan 9 '17 at 19:36
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Your beam ends in the middle of the room, being supported by a post. This is weird and atypical. I am afraid only the person who implemented this solution could speak of it's purpose and strength.

Usually, I-beams like this are the toughest part of the house, however in your setup it's mounting looks super-flimsy. I am afraid that the punching bag is the worst possible thing to hang from it (ok, second-worst. A swing would be worse). When you apply full force of your body to the bag horizontally and perpendicularly to the beam, you may knock the beam off the post that's supporting it. vertical vs horizontal force

If the other side is also supported by a post, this is pretty much bound to happen sooner or later with horizontal loads. I'd treat this setup as for strictly vertical loading only.

If I saw it in a garage, I'd say it's a form of immobile gantry crane for hoisting a car engine up and down, while the car under it handles the side motion. Or maybe someone installed something very heavy on the floor upstairs and this was implemented to prevent the floor from buckling - which would work only short-term, as the posts would sink, eventually, because the floor isn't very strong in the middle of a room.

  • 2
    I would be truly flabbergasted if a single human could dislodge a beam (which itself weighs several hundred lbs.) that's carrying the weight of a home's floor system, any walls above, and the rest of the stuff normally associated with human existence. This is not a concern, in my opinion. – isherwood Jan 9 '17 at 17:55
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    @isherwood I'm 99% sure the home was built before the beam was added. If it's carrying the weight of the home, then it's a disaster waiting to happen. The problem is that one doesn't need to actually dislodge it, all that's needed is to rotate it. – Agent_L Jan 9 '17 at 17:59
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    @CoAstroGeek I've been involved with many home construction projects where steel or LVL beams of various sizes are chained together (so to speak) to make spans of different lengths in cases where a single beam would be 40-50 feet long. Frankly I'm confused by the confusion here. :) – isherwood Jan 9 '17 at 18:14
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    I was going to say something about the impossibility of moving it sideways because it's fastened to the joists above...but then I don't see any fasteners. Unless that's the 1x4's job that's screwed in next to it, it's relying on friction from the joists just sitting on it to hold it sideways, and the sheer weight of that load across its width to keep it from rotating. Whether that's a problem is another question. – AaronD Jan 9 '17 at 19:09
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    I have a C- beam bridging from foundation to center beam, to transfer a specific load tonthose points. It's uncommon, but not that weird. However, all I can tell from the photo in this case is that I can't tell, and If be nclined to spend a bit of money on an engineer's advice before risking it. – keshlam Jan 10 '17 at 5:47
9

It looks like you have two things going on with this

  1. You have a large opening in your basement. If you look to the left side of your first photo, you can see what looks like framing for a doorway. That framing is picking up the load of the floor joists above it. But your I-beam is probably spanning a much larger opening (maybe 15 to 20 feet). That I-beam is picking up the load of this longer opening. Whomever did this was smart enough to realize they needed something more substantial than lumber to support a gap like that(you'd be amazed at the contractors who would throw a couple of 2x4s in there and call it good, only to have it sag down the road)
  2. I don't see how the I-beam is secured to... anything. It's sitting on the joists but I don't see anything holding it there except the weight of the floor, and the 1x4 running parallel. Normally I would expect to see bolts holding it somewhere, but I see none. You might want to bring in an engineer and have him look at this to see if it's safe to hold your house up, let alone hang a bag.

If I were you, I'd put a hook on the 2x8 joists for now. They won't go anywhere.

One other safety note: it looks like they used metal sheeting to make an air duct out of your joists. But that first picture shows a wire running between the joist and the metal sheet. That's a potential shock/fire hazard. I'd have that fixed if I were you.

  • 1
    Thank you for your answer and good eye re wire, I will take care of it! Which 2x8 are you taking about (door frame?) and did you mean I can hook the bag on them? – mishap Jan 9 '17 at 19:32
  • There's some 2x8s overhead. A good hook screwed or bolted into that won't go anywhere. The doorway would hold it, but I wasn't sure if you would have the clearance you needed to punch it – Machavity Jan 9 '17 at 19:40
  • Did your home inspector make any note of anything in the basement? As pointed out above, it isn't secure, and a Licensed Professional Structural Engineer should be brought in for an opinion. – MikeP Jan 10 '17 at 16:40
  • We will bring one for sure along with an electrician. – mishap Jan 11 '17 at 21:14

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