To support or not to support?

Questions, answers and advice for people who own or work on houses built during the 20th century.

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Tayloraut
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Jun 14, 2006 8:33 pm
Location: Galion, Ohio

To support or not to support?

Post by Tayloraut »

How can I tell if a wall is a supporting wall? When we look up at the portion we are removing, there is wood along the ceiling that the lathe was attached to. :?

Phx Matt
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Location: Phoenix, AZ

Re: To support or not to support?

Post by Phx Matt »

Tayloraut wrote:How can I tell if a wall is a supporting wall? When we look up at the portion we are removing, there is wood along the ceiling that the lathe was attached to. :?
Hard to say. What's above it?

Tayloraut
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Jun 14, 2006 8:33 pm
Location: Galion, Ohio

Post by Tayloraut »

A bedroom...there is an oak board so I cannot see floor joists to see which way they are running.

Crash
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Location: downeast NC

Post by Crash »

The joists may span the shorter dimension of the room. So if you're wall runs along the lengthy side of the room, it may be carrying joists and you'll be dealing with a bearing wall.

If the wall you're working with is along the shorter room dimension, it may not be a load bearing wall.

Possible to check underneath and see if there is obvious foundation support for one of the walls over the other? Any headers in the wall that would suggest it's load-bearing?

Without seeing the framing, other evidence amounts to wishful thinking.

whackamole
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Joined: Sun Apr 02, 2006 11:05 am

Post by whackamole »

You can tell once the drywall/plaster is off...look for twinned or "tripled" 2x4's. Of course, this is an expensive way to check.

As crash suggests, looking in the basement is also a good way to tell...old house builders were big fans of putting in heavy-duty structural support, and they were also big fans of making this support obvious. (It must have been a selling feature at one time to have a "solid" house.)

For example, we have a beam made up of 7 (!) joined 2x8s, resting on 3 brick pillars, running down the centre of the house. Our joists (2x8) run out from the foundation walls to the middle of this beam so we have two separate joist systems, one to the left of the beam, and one to the right. Every 3rd-4th joist is twinned, and they are all cross-braced with 1x4 planks at their centres.

The main bearing wall runs right down the centre of this beam, and then the other main bearing wall, which runs up the side of the stairs to the 2nd floor, rests on the floor joists. A neat feature is that the main support poles for the stairs are twinned 2x4s, which are resting on those twinned floor joists that I mentioned. (which rest in turn, on that big supporting beam).

Anyhow, failing an inspection of your basement I think best way to solve your mystery would be to find a carpenter who is familiar with old houses and have him take a look.

Tayloraut
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Jun 14, 2006 8:33 pm
Location: Galion, Ohio

Post by Tayloraut »

The floor joists in the basement run the same direction as the wall we are removing. There is a wall that spans all three floors through the middle of the house. Upon removing the lathe board on the walls, I can see that the 2x6's are nailed to the floor and ceiling verses to another board. The framing would appear to be non-supporting. Am I correct in this theory or has the plaster dust eroded my brain? :D

whispertalos
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Post by whispertalos »

Generally speaking, if a wall runs the same direction as the floor joists it is a non supporting wall..but there are exceptions..<G>
Kassandra
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1907 Modified foursquare
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jeepnstein
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Post by jeepnstein »

Keep in mind that a non-bearing wall in an old house can wind up carrying some load. We looked at a really nice four square once that had the non-bearing wall between the dining and living rooms removed. It gave a wonderful open feel to the first floor. You could detect a noticable sag in the ceiling even though there was no bounce in the upstairs floors. A simple beam spanning that area would have prevented that and kept the open floor plan.

If I were wanting to remove a wall I would want to explore some kind of options for picking up the load even though the original builders may not have planned on the wall carrying anything.

J.

vito1966
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Joined: Mon Mar 06, 2006 12:29 pm
Location: New Jersey

Post by vito1966 »

this is lousy advice, but I give it anyway. start sawzalling out any wall you want to remove, GIVEN PRUDENCE TOTHE FACT THAT you think it is non load bearing

If you feel pressure or bind, or wood that freely flaps, you have an answer, though be careful. And like I said, lousy advice

jeepnstein
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Post by jeepnstein »

this is lousy advice, but I give it anyway. start sawzalling out any wall you want to remove, GIVEN PRUDENCE TOTHE FACT THAT you think it is non load bearing
Before you follow this advice be sure to crack open a beer and yell "Hey y'all, watch this!". Have a buddy take a video. At least it will make for memorable conversation at your wake. :wink:

I would say to measure twice and cut once on a job like this. Plan on putting in something to pick up the load from the increased span. It's your house, your money, your neck, do as you please.

J.

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