Long long ago, water damage was found when painting, and work was stopped so another crew could come in and replace a beam that the ceiling joists were nailed into. This required jacking up a temp setup to hold everything so the bad beam could be replaced.

When going to nail the joists back in, they added some metal (joist hangers) that attached the joist to the beam, but they did not do that for three of the joists as there was damage to the ends that made them look brittle.

These joists are 20' long, and about five feet of that is accessible, the rest is a double high ceiling. In an ideal world, I would sister the joists all the way across, but that would require a lot of work, scaffolding, etc.

Above is a roof decking where we walk around, etc.

There is no sagging or any other visible issue, but this is earthquake country and I have been thinking about this for the last 15 years. And I am about to have a team come in and skim coat and repaint, etc.

My thoughts at the moment are to open up the ceiling, sister the joists about four feet out, maybe on both sides, and use joist hangers for the width of the combination.


2 Answers 2


If the ends of the joist are not in a joist hanger and not fastened in any way, then I would definitely fix it properly. Especially in an earthquake prone area.

Another consideration is. If you are insured and something happens and the insurance company finds these joist, they will not pay out. If you hadn't known about them, you could have argued a case. But once you know about them, you will be deemed negligent if you don't get it fixed.


Your option should work.

I had an ele notch 6" out of a 9" nominal 2x10 doug fir 1920 wood with a 18' span. The civil engineer I brought in said it was already over span based on modern code. The ele was kind enough to notch the middle of the span and do it for 4-5 joists in a row. These joists spaned to the exterior over a newly finished deck and already had pipes and wires going through them so sister would have involved a month of work and a team of guys ignoring the cost.

I am in the pacific northwest so seismic is a thing here too.

The civic engineer spec'd a 3/4" plywood girdle for each side of each joist that could be notched in the same way. I think it had to be 2' on each side of the notch and glued and screwed into each joist. I guess the idea here is that instead of a 2x10 that was reduced to a 2x4 it becomes a 4x4 at this spot.

Your issue is much easier but you should just pay a civil engineer $500 to come in and give you a prescriptive fix. I often find I have to direct the civil engineer to the easier solution or sometimes they come up with hard and expensive options where there are easier solutions. There are probably various options - here are some that come to mind.

  1. Get some custom fabricated joist hangers - you can have them fab'd out of 1/4" steel often done for larger beams. Just make them a bit deeper so they have a deeper pocket for the joists to sit in.
  2. Laminate the beam ( sounds like you have it open )
  3. There are metal joist repair kits from simpson that handle cases where the plumber cut a hole that was too big. They might have something for end of joist is rotted - seems like a fairly common scenario.
  4. do the plywood girdle or partial sister like you propose and use the double hanger.

I'd be interested to hear which way you end up going. Good luck !

  • +1 for calling in an engineer. Just imagine if he says, "No, you're all good here, nothing to worry about"! He might say, you need a simple remediation, or it could be very complex. No matter what he says, talk about $500 well spent!
    – FreeMan
    Commented Nov 7, 2023 at 14:37

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