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I have a porch switch installed onto a 4x4x12 beam, and the beam has developed a crack that looks ~1 inch at its deepest, and ~4ft long. The wood beam is screwed into equidistant perpendicular 2x4s with 6 inch screws, so they should have gone ~1.5 inches into the 2x4s that are above the cement fiber ceiling. I used the same screws to attach the swing hinge to the 4x4.

Does anyone know what I should or can do to prevent this crack from continuing further and how to fix the issue if possible?

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4 Answers 4

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That's not cracking. It's checking, and all timbers do it. It's what happens when wood dries out. Wood expands and contracts across the grain, and unless it's dried over extremely long periods in controlled conditions it's unavoidable.

It's not a concern as it doesn't affect the bending strength of the member significantly. This assumes that your mounting screws go nearly or completely through the timber so they're not just hanging on the partially detached portion.

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your mounting method is incorrect, doing it that way will crack the wood every time, over time especially swinging on it. So either don't swing on it, or do your swing mounting like this that won't cause that kind of splitting:

https://ibb.co/zNStT77

it's not soley "checking", not with how his swing mount is on the end and the bolting of the 4x4 up into the ceiling is inwards away from the end, with the forces at play. The swing mounting is at least exacerbating the "checking".

from his pic this looks like what is happening :

https://ibb.co/86PFHYQ

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  • Unfortunately, I do not have access to go above the ceiling.
    – CroonsMix
    Jul 12, 2023 at 21:21
  • @CroonsMix you could bolt your swing anchors to the 4x4 before screwing it to the ceiling. With some care to remove a minimal amount of wood, you can make the bolt heads flush to the top of the beam.
    – Olivier
    Jul 13, 2023 at 13:43
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This depends a lot on what is above the 4x4.

Given the fastener positions, it looks like you have 2x4 (or greater) trusses and the 4x4 is lag bolted to them. What's odd here is the lag bolts stop at the closest swing anchor in your photo. I guess whomever mounted it considered it to be good enough that the swing appears to anchor into the porch joist.

See if there's another joist on the other side. Then add a couple of lag bolts. If I were you, I'd take the 4x4 down and replace it while you're at it. Wood glue is amazing, but I wouldn't want to bet on it fixing that board enough to support a 2 person porch swing.

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  • Above 4x4 is cement fiber ceiling (maybe 1/2in think or whatever the standard is), and then 2x4 trusses, which go perpendicular to the 4x4. I mounted it, and I used 6 inch screws so that ~1.5in of the screw went into the 2x4 truss. I used all the 2x4 trusses that were there, and unfortunately, there was no other truss after the closest swing anchor. Also there are no lag bolts, only 6 inch star head screws.
    – CroonsMix
    Jul 12, 2023 at 21:24
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Please rethink this entire installation.

The 4x4 needs to be supported on both sides of both chains.

The screws look too small. I can't be sure from pictures of course, but are they meant to support swinging weight hanging from the upside-down heads like that?

Those plastic hangers and those little baby riveted hinge pins just, nope!

  • Throw this all away.
  • Get a longer 4x4, make it long enough that you screw into two 2x4 trusses at each end, then the two hangers inside of those, then screw into every truss in between. Use heftier screws than you have here.
  • Go to the hardware store and look in any of the towing, climbing, hanging, hoisting sections for appropriate hardware for attaching the chains to the 4x4. I like @ron's suggestion to sit on top of it rather than screw into it. Use hefty eye bolts (not screws) with oversized washers and lock nuts sitting on top of the 4x4, then you can hang the chain directly on the eye bolts or use quick links or carabiners (but real ones, not key-chain imitations).
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  • A 4x4 will cantilever that far without issue and I think I see one of what's presumably a pair of screws under the near swing hanger. I do agree that the screws look a bit puny, though.
    – isherwood
    Jul 13, 2023 at 18:20
  • @isherwood If it was cantilevered in a typical way, resting on a beam and with a joist sitting on top of it, sure. But you have a couple of small screws pulling down on the cantilever, and the lever is a half inch washer. I don't pretend to understand the forces in play, but I think maybe you mean cantilevered more properly?
    – jay613
    Jul 13, 2023 at 18:29
  • Basically if your second suggestion is followed the first is moot.
    – isherwood
    Jul 13, 2023 at 18:51

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