Replace Wall with a Beam

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Old 05-28-19, 06:46 PM
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Question Replace Wall with a Beam

Hi, thanks for reading. So I am trying to research what the process to replace my basements, load bearing, cinder block wall with a beam would be. The wall runs the entire span of the house, so I know I want to use a steel beam. My concern is that A: the beam will have to be so thick that I may as well leave the wall, and B: if the beam is a reasonable thickness that I will have to rest the joists on top of the beam rather than being able to hang them from the beam. This would make the beam sit too low to be a comfortable space. If you could share some knowledge with me I would appreciate it.
 
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Old 05-28-19, 06:50 PM
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This is the sort of thing you pay a structural engineer to investigate and calculate. There is NO WAY we can calculate your needs from 1000 miles away sight unseen. Sorry, this is not a DIY endeavor.
 
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Old 05-28-19, 07:31 PM
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I did this to my house some 20 years ago. Actually, the only thing I did was pay for it. Engineer, contractor, city permits, beam spec were all in place before any work done. You have to think about supporting the beam and that means footings under the posts. The original footings specified by the engineer were not accepted by the city and had to be even deeper and wider. Having all that done was a real comfort to me. Totally agree with XSleeper: not a DIY job unless you have lots of money to rebuild your house.
 

Last edited by edee_em; 05-28-19 at 07:35 PM. Reason: add info
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Old 05-29-19, 03:18 AM
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I totally agree that this isn't a DIY thing. I was trying to research it so that when the time came to find a contractor I would be knowledgeable enough to know if I'm dealing with someone who knows what they're doing or not.
 
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Old 05-29-19, 03:30 AM
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Then do your research. You can measure your basement to see how long a beam would need to be. Then you can look up the size of beams that might be used to span that distance. That will give you a good idea if the beam can be hidden in the floor bay or if it will be so big that it protrudes below the basement ceiling height. Very roughly though when you get around 20' you'll want to consider a column to cut the span.
 
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Old 05-29-19, 06:05 AM
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One of the things I would research is whether they can use a microlam beam instead of the iron beam. This might address your concern of joist placement as you can put joist hangers on the microlam beam. We went iron in my place back in late 1990's. LVLs were around then but don't know many guys using them. Now they are more commonplace. Our beam was, I think (should measure it) 8" deep and 12" wide and it spanned 24' but columns with footings (can't sit on your basement floor) were set at around 16' (or approx. 4' in from each end of the beam). I was lucky in that the hvac trunk ran where the beam was going and that had to be boxed in anyway so the beam didn't play any role in loss of height that I would have lost anyway with the ducting. I am passing this along for your research. Your house is different from mine from what's on top of the beam to the dirt your footings are going to sit on. That's why we are all recommending an engineer/architect to spec it out for you. Then you will know definitively what you can and can't do. The engineer can also most likely help you locate the proper contractor to handle the job.

BTW, good call on making sure you get the right contractor. I had one guy come in and without measuring or mention of permits he could put up a bunch of 2x10's to support everything. No measuring tape, no span tables, no permits = no work. Lost his business card before he left the driveway.
 

Last edited by edee_em; 05-29-19 at 06:10 AM. Reason: Add info
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Old 05-29-19, 08:01 AM
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Well thanks for the advice everyone.
Pilot Dane I was trying to do my own research. All Google had to offer was very vague, generic steps on how to do it I.E, support the floor above, knock down wall, install beam. That is why I came here. I wanted to be pointed toward some better sources.

Sounds like I won't be able to get any real answers about what I need until an engineer takes a look, so I'll move towards that. Thanks again
 
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Old 05-29-19, 10:09 AM
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There are tables for various sizes of I beam. Since you know your dimensions and the load (roughly) above you can look at the load tables and get at least a good guess at the size of beam needed.

Another option is to make up a laminated beam. This can be done with a vertical plate of steel sandwiched between traditional dimensional lumber or LVL's or glue lam's. Because of the complexity and many different combinations I've never seen any load tables.

Lastly there are LVL and glue lam beams. There are span tables online from most manufacturers so you can get a good idea what size beam you will need.

With any beam make sure you understand the different deflection values on the tables. A beam may be able to safely carry the load but it can flex/sag under load or worse, bounce as people move about the house. I would never install a beam that is to the minimum specification (L/180) because of the potential for floor bounce and worst case cracked sheetrock or tile.
 
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Old 05-30-19, 05:31 PM
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One last thing I want to add Hidiety is, if my house collapsed around me I had the engineer, architect, contractor and city that I could go after for damages. If I did the work myself I would be looking around and seeing only me. Good luck.
 
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