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I know that building codes vary by jurisdiction so for the purposes of this question I am in Baltimore County, MD.

We have a split joist in our basement. It's a 2x8, about 10 feet long. One side is in a joist hanger, the other side is resting on top of a steel beam. I had a local builder come out and give an estimate which ended up being ~$2500.

Most of what I have seen online suggests using a bottle jack to slowly raise the joist to close the crack, and then sister in another 2x8 (or 2?) to the cracked one, sprinkle generously with glue, and nail them together. I asked the estimator if this was the process that would be used and he said that it was not code and that they would be cutting out and removing the split joist and replacing it altogether. They would also have to pull up carpet in the room above to secure the sheathing.

Am I getting fleeced? Is sistering another 2x8 not code? I want it done correctly but I got a bit of sticker shock at the cost.

Edit: Here's a picture. Center is the crack, left is one end of the joist, right is the other end:

enter image description here

Edit: Here is another picture of the metal clips:

enter image description here

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I may regret answering this question without first seeing a picture of the joist, but I’ll try.

There is nothing in the Code about sistering joists. There are references to “alternate design methods “, which sistering joists would apply. (See ICC Section 2308.8.2)

I’d leave the split joist installed and add a new joist on each side of it. I doubt the joist has sagged much and could easily be jacked back into position without damaging plaster walls, cracking windows, etc.

The new joist should sit on the beam in the same manner as the damaged joist (minimum of 1 1/2” bearing) and installed in a matching hanger on the other end.

In order to keep the new joists from possibly creating a squeaky floor, I’d use epoxy on top of the new joists.

I’d glue the damaged joist together and install a splice on each side to hold the joist together. Nail with 16d at 24” o.c. Staggered each side. (It’s just to keep the old joist together. It’s not supporting anything anymore.)

  • Thanks Lee. I've edited and added some photos. I'm not sure if they change your recommendations or not. – Sean Bright May 23 at 21:44
  • Also, when we go to eventually sell the house will the inspector balk at this? – Sean Bright May 23 at 22:18
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    @SeanBright No, I’m not changing my opinion since you’ve posted the pictures. Time wise: this is a one day job for two workers, unless there’s difficulty in getting the 10’ joists into the basement. When finished you’ll have 3 joists spaced about 6”-8” on center. I doubt a buyer will think it’s a problem. – Lee Sam May 23 at 22:47
  • This makes a lot of sense to me. It should be a relatively easy job because (a) it is only 10' - which is easy to get and easy to maneuver - and (b) you have full access without having to tear into walls or floors. If it was a 20' joist spanning over/through interior walls it would be a different story. – manassehkatz May 23 at 22:50
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    @JimStewart Actually, there is. Little known fact: The Code allows certain stresses for various types of wood, which most everyone uses. However, when the lumber is used in a repetitive installation, like floor joists, roof joists, etc., then those values can be increased. (Most designers don’t use those higher values, because we don’t want floors to be springy , leaves a nice safety factor, etc.) In this case, if it happened under my house, I’d just jack it up, screw It together, and then go have a Starbucks. (That split is pretty minor.) – Lee Sam May 24 at 12:31

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