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.)
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.
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.