I'm extremely concerned; hopefully unnecessarily so. We recently upgraded our electrical panel and I just noticed (about a month and a half later) that the electrician bored a 3.5" hole through what I think is the top chord and TWO 3.5" holes through what I think is the bottom chord. There's nothing above it but the roof and it's not inhabitable space, but I'm still concerned that it might collapse over time, since there's nothing left of what (I think) is the bottom chord for approx 8" -- there was a previous 1" hole for electrical that they decided to bore next to... twice. Is this going to be a problem over time, or is it okay because, presumably, this beam is supported by several studs along its length underneath? If we need to, how should we fix it? We do not have the money right now to consult an engineer or tear open the outer wall/ceiling beneath the beam, etc. The photos are of the top and bottom holes he drilled, which are 8" to the right of the dead center of our rear wall (where the attic peaks at the middle.)

Bottom Holes

Top Holes

Diagram of roof structure

  • What are you referring to when you say bottom and top 'chord'? – cr0 Jan 19 '18 at 20:50
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    Chords are members of a truss - books.google.com/… - which sort of makes sense in context, I guess. – Jean-Paul Calderone Jan 19 '18 at 20:59
  • But I can't quite seem to interpret these images. – Jean-Paul Calderone Jan 19 '18 at 21:02
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    It appears to be passing through the roof at the gable end. That is not a load bearing wall. Don't sweat it. – ArchonOSX Jan 19 '18 at 21:23
  • I'm so sorry if I'm using the wrong terminology. I looked up the structure of a truss, and pulled terminology from there. Maybe this image helps? imgur.com/a/5plbQ The red dots are where the holes are. This is in the attic of the rear wall of my home. – Laura P Jan 19 '18 at 21:37

For those that say, “It’s no big deal,” THEY DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE PURPOSE of the double top plate...especially at the perimeter of the house.

If this occurs at the perimeter of your house, you have a problem, especially if you live in 1) high wind area, or 2) seismically active area.

Everyone has mentioned why it’s not a problem because it’s not a “truss”. True, but that is for VERTICAL loads. A double top plate is used for many purposes. In your case, the double top plate is used to “tie” the perimeter of all the walls together at the top of the wall for LATERAL loads.

When a wind load or seismic load is placed on your house, the house wants to “bend” to withstand the force. By cutting through the double top plate, they have eliminated the chord that resists this bending...we call this “the extreme fiber in bending” in a normal beam supporting a vertical load. That is why it’s important to lap the double top plates a minimum of 4’ and nail the crap out of the lap.

If your House is 1) one story, or 2)is not located in a high wind area, or 3) small and square and not rectangular, you have less to worry about. Otherwise, I’d have the clown return and fix it. Fixing it can be determined, calculated and detailed by a structural engineer (not a civil engineer) or by an architect with a structural background.

Btw, get a Building Permit.

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  • The house is two stories and in Southern California -- very seismically active. However, the area where they drilled is only one story -- i.e. they drilled in the attic above the one story portion of the home. It's not square - there's a roughly 10' differential between the length and width of the house. Unfortunately, I can't get these guys to come back to fix the issue. They've said everything from 'the hole was already there' to 'we'll fill the hole with foam,' but I doubt I will be able to get anything out of them without a lawsuit. There's nothing I can do DIY, it sounds like? – Laura P Jan 22 '18 at 21:44
  • So, now it’s a “DIY repair”, right. Without doing a ton of calculations and knowing a lot more about your home, you’ll need a “standard” splice repair....and all from the attic, right? (You don’t want to do anything through the siding.) – Lee Sam Jan 22 '18 at 23:27
  • Unfortunately, yes. Because tearing open the stucco is another expense that, you guessed it, the electrician will not incur sans lawsuit. Thing is, I don't even know how we'd go about a splice repair because the beam is totally inaccessible with that humongous conduit in the way. Guess we could cut out a portion of the ceiling and sister it on the only accessible neutral face, but doesn't seem like it'd offer a lot of structural integrity. In your opinion, is this severe or potentially dangerous enough in the event of an earthquake to warrant a lawsuit? – Laura P Jan 23 '18 at 2:03
  • I wouldn’t go to court over this...it’s too difficult to prove “damages”. And the fix isn’t that expensive. (Less than $500, I’d guess.) Can you get to about 48” on each side of both holes? – Lee Sam Jan 23 '18 at 3:10
  • The top hole - yes, no problem. The bottom hole... Not without cutting away the plywood and ceiling beneath the attic. I'm not sure if you can tell from the top photograph, but the beam they cut through is completely flush with the plywood that holds up the ceiling and butts up against the insulation/exterior stucco. I wonder... is there some kind of thin metal repair piece that will fit around the conduit and attach to the top face (the one they drilled through)? Or will we just have to cut through the ceiling to sister it? – Laura P Jan 23 '18 at 18:40

Laura, That does not look like a truss to me. That looks like stick framing. However I do tend to agree with you, the electrician would have done well to avoid the structural members. On the other hand because this is stick framing and not a truss, it is not so critical. The holes in the lower plate is no problem at all except for maybe the mice getting through. I don't expect the upper roof rafter is in any danger. It is well reinforced. The stresses on a rafter are not like the stresses on a truss. You could sister the rafter if it made you feel better.

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    Agreed, the conduit should have been on the other side of the strut. Not only avoiding the framing but moving the roof penetration further into the roof thereby making it easier to seal. A small offset here would have been very judicious. – ArchonOSX Jan 20 '18 at 9:04

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