Possible structural failure due to a hoarder's heap?
April 30, 2007 6:56 PM Subscribe
I am concerned about the possibility of structural failure due to a hoarder's heap.
posted by Kevin S to human relations (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
My 80+ year old mother has a woman friend in her 60's who lives with her much of the time, occupying a spare bedroom. The friend is a "compulsive hoarder"; i.e., a person who is constitutionally unable to discard anything - newspapers, boxes, magazines, old clothes etc. Her room looks like a dumpster (fortunately there is no organic matter and no odor). The debris "mass" occupies about 75% of the 15' x 13' room and on average is about 4 feet deep but in places approaches 6 feet. There is not even a goat path to get from the door to the bed; she crawls over the pile to get there.
There is a vague "plan" to get her stuff out of the room. But in the meantime I have numerous safety concerns (fire hazard, dust, mites, emergency egress), some of which are likely code violations.
I am wondering specifically about floor loading and the possibility of structural damage/failure. The heap is an undifferentiated mass, so I really don't know what the average density is (e.g., if it is 10% paper or 75% paper). So assuming (in the extreme case) that it is mostly newspaper/magazines, is there a possibility of structural failure? It is a 1950's frame house. The room is supported by wooden joists that run the 15 feet between the foundation wall and the beam running down the center of the house. Each joist is about 1" x 8 " with 45 deg X's cris-crossed between the joists. Sitting on the joists is the plywood subfloor, with hardwood above. Looking up from the basement, there is no obvious sign of damage.
Any advice or suggested analytical approach would be appreciated.