As the title says, I recently bought a home and am in the early stages of finishing the basement. However, after tearing down the old ceiling tile, I found that my floor had experienced water damage and that for some reason, the joists were cut and sistered using very short lengths (as seen in pics) My question is: how soon do I need to get this fixed and what kind of damage to my wallet can I expect?

Pic 1

Pic 2

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    It's really difficult to tell what's going on here but it looks like the original joists have been cut short of the supporting wall and then extensions screwed or nailed to the ends. This repair does not appear to be sound to me since these are not "sistered" but just added on and are going to be significantly weaker than the original joist. – jwh20 May 12 at 15:19
  • I only see one patched joist. Are there more? – isherwood May 12 at 15:20
  • @isherwood There is one other that looks similar. – James R. May 12 at 15:22
  • @jwh20 From what I can tell is that there was some water damage beneath the square piece nailed to the floor to cover it up. Based on that, I'm assuming that the joists had experienced similar damage to the point of someone wanting to cut them off and "sister" them. – James R. May 12 at 15:24
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    There looks to be no movement in the joists. I myself would put a large simpson tie on these with 10-15 nails a piece before closing it up. As long as the area won't have a piano, treadmill or something really heavy it is really of little concern. – DMoore May 13 at 17:54

I tend to answer in practical terms, and not in strictly code-compliant or legal terms. In cases like this, code doesn't really apply since it's old work and you're making improvements. We're only talking two joists, right? That's not so terrible.

  • No, this repair was not done well. Short joist patches only work if they're fastened really well. These aren't.
  • No, your floor won't immediately collapse (unless you store grand pianos or stacks of aquariums above).
  • Yes, I would seek to fix the situation. Full-length sistering isn't normally too difficult. I'd do that, and take precautions such as temporary posts if you're removing lumber to fit new. The sting in your wallet will only be due to the crazy price of lumber at the moment.
  • I'm a little bit nervous about strictly repairing the floor joists because it looks like the header joists have experienced water damage as well (behind that particular joist is a ledger board that is holding up a badly designed deck, so I'm wondering if water somehow got behind the ledger to the header.) – James R. May 12 at 18:29
  • Is that a question or a request for more information? What's a "header joist"? – isherwood May 12 at 18:31
  • Header joist aka rim joist. Mmm, no it is not a question or a request for anything, just a layman's observation. But I would certainly welcome any responses. – James R. May 12 at 18:53

Edited to add additional comments.

I agree with Isherwood answer to your questions. The extension is weak because it does not overlap the original cutoff joist enough and only 5 nails to connect the extension to the old joist.

Those short 2 x 6 on the inside are only to support the plywood platform to support the boards above. Most likely the ends of the boards were cut off because of the rot.

I would look into what caused the original water damage, as the second photo shows a watermark after the repair. Your comment about water damage on the joist rim maybe because their is still a leak.

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  • Agreed, my plan was to remove the platform supporting the subfloor to see if there is rot again, and to possibly find the source of it. Behind the water marks of the second picture is a ledger board for a very old and worn out deck. I'm expecting an unsealed gap in the ledger to be the source of this leak. – James R. May 14 at 11:28

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