Confirmation I'm Raising A Header Right?


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Old 06-18-06, 02:06 AM
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Question Confirmation I'm Raising A Header Right?

Hello! My first post! Thank you all in advance for the help. If no one responds... well, I hope you won't be reading about me in the papers (a la "Moron Dies When Roof Collapses On Him").

Anyway, I'm undertaking a small project and wanted to run what I've come up with after searching here and elsewhere by a second set of eyes.

The situation:

1) I'm in a converted garage.
2) I'm replacing an exterior door (and the jamb) on a load-bearing wall in a one story garage.
3) I have already stripped the whole shebang down to the rough opening (about 38" X 79")
4) I have a pre-hung door that is 80".

As you may have deduced, I need to raise the header a few inches. As I have learned, since the door is in a load-bearing wall...certain particulars need to be taken care of.

Is the following correct?:

1) I will need to support the ceiling when I'm raising the header (note: the ceiling is finished).
2) I can do that by running a 2x4 along the ceiling parallel to the door opening (within two feet of the wall - but is less better?) THEN I must extend two more 2x4's down to the floor.

Is that good enough? It seems weird to me - since the 2x4 "temp top plate" will be pushing up against the finished ceiling. It seems like the material the ceiling is made off could crumble under the weight? Or am I understating it's strength and overstating the extra pressure applied by just one or two missing studs?

Also, the floor is concrete so I can't attach the 2x4's to the floor. Since it's concrete, do I need to put a 2x4 on the bottom to distribute the weight? Also do I need to nail the whole thing temporarily into the ceiling? Or can I just cut them tight enough and wedge them in? And really, just what is my real risk of damage to the structure in a one story structure by not supporting the roof properly across a 38" wide door opening while I'm shortening the header (I'm going to try...but "properly" is the operative word)? I mean... I'm not reframing the whole wall, just a 36" stretch of door.

As for raising the header, the current one is one of those pylwood sandwiched between two 2xsomething deals. I haven't pulled the drywall off yet to see how tall the header is - and if it goes all the up to the top plate - but I don't think so because it's 14" inches from the current header to the ceiling. My guess is there are some cripple studs above it. So I'm planning on shortening those to raise the header. Then I know I have to add height to the jack studs, re-run my header plate across the gap. Then nail the whole thing in. I might even add a few metal brackets.

(Of course, should I be shocked if the header doesn't connect to the top plate? I have my doubts about the prior dude who built this thing...)

In sum, if you don't want to bother answering each individual question (which would REALLY be fantastic!)...does it sound like I'm doing this right?

I know this is a lot... so thanks again for the help.
 
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Old 06-18-06, 02:17 AM
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One other question... I just noticed that the planks (joists?) that hold up the roof extend past the end of the house. In other words, if you walk out the door and look up, you will see the roof-holding planks sticking out of the roof above you. Another way of saying it is that they run perpenicular to the wall my door is on and continue on and down past the outer wall of the house.

Can I just use 2x4's to hold up the one plank that is over the door I'm raising the header on? After all, it seems to me that that part of the roof is the only part that is really suffering while I work on shortening my door header.

I like that option better because:

A) I can nail the 2x4 to the actual roof plank (seems sturdier).
B) The support will be outside and not in my way while I work
C) It's close to the ground so it'll be easier to drive with the 2x4 in my car from the lumber yard.

Thanks again!

Steve
 
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Old 06-18-06, 04:37 AM
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Steve: Welcome to the forums. Slow down. Take a reciprocating saw and cut up into your existing header one inch, put the door in and watch the game.
If you still feel like changing the header out, option two is just fine. Your roof probably won't fall for the 10 minutes you have the header out. The header prevents the pressure from above from sagging the top plates and causing your door from binding.
Good luck with the installation and post back if we can help further.
 
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Old 06-18-06, 11:32 AM
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Thanks Larry! Your suggestion was my first thought and I'm TOTALLY game to give that a try. The problem though is the rough opening right now is about 79 7/8" of an inch and my pre-hung door is about 82" inches - so I'd have to cut out about 2.25 inches.

Does that sound okay to you to still "give it a try"? The reason I ask is, I'm not sure how big the header is above - nor what the code is (and actual physical requirements) are of how big the header should be.

If I do your idea, would you still recommend me tearing off the drywall and plywood above the door to see what I'm looking at? For example, maybe the header was built out of 2x8's and I'll be just fine. Or, if it's smaller, perhaps there is a metal bracket I can run across the top?

Thanks again! This forum is awesome!!!
 
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Old 06-18-06, 11:34 AM
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(I broke this out into two responses)

Regarding Option 2 and your comments about the risk of sagging - that is good to hear. But I'm just curious...are you saying the ten minutes is no big deal WITHOUT me putting in an extra support or WITH me putting in the extra support? I'm going to put it in anyway, but I'm just trying to get a feel for the situation.


Thanks again!
 
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Old 06-18-06, 11:43 AM
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Just one thought I'll interject...

When you look at the header from below, can you actually see each 2x10 (or 2x12 or what have you) standing vertically which are separated by a 1/2" spacer? My point is that if you can't see the 1/2" spacer, it's possible that your header is covered up on the bottom side by framing that could be removed- it could be that the header is already at the right height, since 82 1/2" is a common height. It could be that there is a 2x4 and 1x4 laid flat underneath the header, and all you would need to do is remove it or cut it out as Larry suggests.

Often the framing is completed in a standard manner, and then when the installer puts the door in, he might have added some framing under the header to get a tighter fit on your shorter than normal door.
 
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Old 06-18-06, 11:55 AM
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If it was me, for my peace of mind, I would like to know what the header is made of. Some folks used to do some shady things and you don't know unless you look. Heck, there could be a couple of 2 x 4's up there for all we know. Call the local building inspector for your local requirement for the header. Some areas like to go for overkill.

You can use a stud locator to "see" where the header is without tearing apart the wall though.

Have you thought of trimming the door down??
 
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Old 06-18-06, 12:21 PM
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XSleeper...I actually can see the 2x? separated by the 1/2" spacer when I look up into the door. As for the ?, my stud sensor says the header only goes up 5". Since I could be off by a bit... I'm guess it's a 2X6.

Nap...I was out with the stud sensor and noted that the header seems to run the entire length of the wall. Since I live in earthquake country, I guess I'm not surprised. There also appears to be just one cripple stuff roughly off-center. However, the studs on the entire wall seem to be 21-22" apart....

As for trimming the door, it's in a pre-hung jam and made of steel...

One other thought. I was thinking that maybe I could cut into the header the length I need, then lay another header on top of what was left on the old header (braced by the jack studs)...?

Curious as to your thoughts! Thanks again, guys!
 
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Old 06-18-06, 12:38 PM
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P.S. The house was built in 1939...
 
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Old 06-18-06, 01:17 PM
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As for trimming the door, it's in a pre-hung jam and made of steel...
That would expalin it .
I also thought that an 80 inch door would go into an 81 inch opening.

With a 2 x 6 header, I would (personally) not cut out the 2 plus inches needed to install the door without plans to add some additional support. If what you have is actually sheetrock (1939?) I would remove whatever is neccesssary and rebuild the opening. Not that tough. A new header, a couple of crips and a couple jacks and you are home. If you have a full length header, you will not be able to put in additional king studs unless you cut out a portion of the current header.

If you decide to cut into the old header, I would run the new header out past the current one and add the appropriate studs. The cut will be the weak point and I would want to get outside of it for support.

I would suggest a talk with the local building department as to the requirements for the header, especially in your area.
 
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Old 06-18-06, 02:15 PM
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Yeah, since you've established that it's a 2x6 header, you wouldn't want to cut 2" out of it- there wouldn't be much left! And I agree w/ what nap said about rebuilding the opening. But what you say about the header running the length concerns me. I'm not at all familiar with seismic requirements so checking w/ a building dept. is a good idea.
 
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Old 06-18-06, 03:36 PM
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Thanks all! I will check with the local authorties and let you all know how it turns out!

Just curious about a few things general education-wise...

If you have a full length header, you will not be able to put in additional king studs unless you cut out a portion of the current header.

Why would one want to put in additional king studs if there already are? Just as extra support to buttress the doors?

And, now that I think about it...one more specific-to-my situation question...

If you decide to cut into the old header, I would run the new header out past the current one and add the appropriate studs.

To run the new header out past the current one...how far past? Also, how would I do that if there are king studs (which I suspect) next to one or both of the sides of the door?

Thanks!
 

Last edited by HomeWrecker; 06-18-06 at 03:53 PM.
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Old 06-18-06, 06:31 PM
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If you have a full length header, you will not be able to put in additional king studs unless you cut out a portion of the current header.

Why would one want to put in additional king studs if there already are? Just as extra support to buttress the doors?
If you truly have a full length "header",(essentially a short wall built upon another wall) there are no king studs in the wall at all. They are all only to the header (jack studs) and above the header to the top plate.(cripple studs). I can't really see this as the case but who knows what may have been done. You are the one who started this


And, now that I think about it...one more specific-to-my situation question...

If you decide to cut into the old header, I would run the new header out past the current one and add the appropriate studs.

To run the new header out past the current one...how far past? Also, how would I do that if there are king studs (which I suspect) next to one or both of the sides of the door?
Thanks![/QUOTE]Again, if you have a full wall length header, where would you have king studs? What you would be doing is setting a new header on top of the current header and supporting it under the overlap.(jack studs) The overlap would be just the thickness of the studs themselves.

If you do not have a full length header and have king studs, then I would simply take out the old header and install the new one with the correct height jack and cripple studs and utilizing the original king studs.

Basically, you need to remove the interior rock and see what is actually there. It seems this is necessary regardless of how you fit the door.
 
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Old 06-18-06, 06:57 PM
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I agree with not cutting it if it is only a 2x6 header. Usually they are built of more substantial lumber (2x10 or 2x12), where it could easily be cut and not jeapordize the structure.
 
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Old 06-20-06, 02:13 AM
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Thanks again, all. I may have mispoke about the header running all the way across the door. It "appears" that way...but after gaining a little more experience with the way my stud sensor is reacting to the walls in this house, that may not be the case. I suspect that it's possible that the door is not necessarily built up against any king studs at all and the header just runs past the jack studs (several inches) to the nearest adjacent king studs.

As for cutting into the header... my rough opening now is 79 & 7/8". And the door plus jam total height is 81 1/2". Leaving absolutely NO room for shims, I would need to cut out 1 5/8" from the header. But let's say 1 6/8" for a little wiggle room.

Question: would any think I could get away with that? Both from a structual support POV and also from a "Dude... no way you'll be able to get the door in proper with that little wiggle room" way?

Either way, I'm going to open up the wall and have a look see and report back. Thanks again!
 
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Old 06-21-06, 01:31 AM
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Well, a builder friend came over...looked at blueprints, crawled in the attic and looked at the door and said in a thick Venezuelan accent, "Well...not a serious load-bearing wall. Cut the header."

I guess there are 4X4s on each end of the wall and a big 2X10 or 12 running on top of that (as the top plate?...if I have that term right). All being held up by several kings. So I guess, if I understood him correctly, the absence of ANY support across my 36" span is not a problem since the 2x10 is more than supported by the 4x4's and the other studs.

His feeling was that the current header ain't doing squat to hold up that wall and I could easily cut 2.25 inches out of the door's header.

Sound about right?

The fly in the ointment...one thing that concerns me. He looked up and saw the plywood sandwiched between the 2x6's for the header and was like, "Whoa! What kind of crap is that?" I don't think he had seen that before. But I know from reading that headers are often made of that. It sorta surprised me that he hadn't heard of it. When I pointed it out, he said, "Maybe it's an East coast thing."

Does it sound reasonable to you guys that a guy who came to Los Angeles from Venezuela and learned his trade here would not be familiar with the plywood sandwich method? Or could it be indicative of him not knowing his game very well?

Thanks again!
 
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Old 06-21-06, 03:14 AM
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The more you describe things, the more it sounds like your building is a post frame building (pole building). If this is the case with the 2 x xx ledger running the length of the building, then not, the door header is not really doing anything, but be sure it is of this type of constrruction.

And the sandwich thing...............................................






Oh, sorry, that got me hungry, had to go and make a sandwich. Anyway, this type of construct for a header has been around for a long time. It's your calll on your friends competance but I wouldn't let him loose with a saw until he proves himself with a hammer.

Take him and give him a hammer, 10 nails and a 2 x. Blindfold him and tell him to drive all the nails home. If he calls a cab, don't trust his building skills. If he says "are a you a freakin' nuts, I amma not a gonna hitta my fingers, it'sa gonna hurt". Then I would trust him a bit more. (sorry, I don't do Venezualen, Italian is the best I can come up with)

BTW; I'm near Chicago. The sandwich thing......................................................................dang, that always get's me hungry.

ANyway, it has been hear for a loooooong time as well.
 
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Old 06-21-06, 12:38 PM
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Well, first off... LOL. 'Nuff said on that.

As for a pole building, I looked it up on the internet. Just found out lots of stuff about barns. Is it what it sounds like? Big poles (aka 4x4's?) hold up the corners and that's where the support comes from? This was a garage built a long time ago...then a room was added in the back. I have the plans. What would I specifically be looking for to detemine the pole-ness?

My friend did say repeatedly the door isn't doing anything.

As for his competence, well...until the sandwhich thing I didn't question it at all. Aside from how I know him as a person (which is very capable, very smart, and not one to bungle into something he didn't know about) he has his own company which he built from the ground up doing this stuff - as well being vouched for by a mutual friend who is an architect/contractor who builds houses all over L.A. (and whose competency is not in question at all by me). Wouldn't have doubted my South American friend's competency for a second... where it not for that sandwhich thing...which is why I was trying to get a feel for it. Like if some other Angeleno were out there and said... "Yeah, we dont' do that in SoCal" or something like that.

But thanks again!
 
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Old 06-21-06, 02:24 PM
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Basically post frame construction places a post (usually into the ground) every so many feet. I am not an engineer and don;t build the things for a living so I can;t tell you how far apart they generally are but I figure around 10-12 feet or so. Then girts are run horizontally on the outside. Then whatever sheathing is being use is applied to the girts. The inside can be prepped the same way so as to have a wall rather than exposed posts ang girts.

A ledger board is run the length of the building at the top of the posts and the rafters/trusses are set on these. That is why a doorway in a load bearing wall actually does not need a header, jack studs, cripple studs, and king studs. The wall, itself does not actually bear the load, the ledger and posts do.

If you have complete plans for the entire building, there may/should be wall details drawings. These would actually show how the walls are to be built. If you don;t see studs every 16-24 inches, you may have post frame construction.

There is one other possibility I can think of and that is very old style building. This is post and frame or timber frame style. It is similar in ways to post frame building but there are more structural members involved and there is a foundation that the framing sets upon. rather than posts set into the ground. This will give the same structural strentgth as the post frame building as far as the door opening is concerned. (google timber frame)

As far as the friend goes, I don't know if I would worry about this unless he is a stick frame construction builder. It is very common around here. Any other type of construction may not use this method. BTW, the sandwich is used because if you take 2- 2 x's and stand them on edge, they are not as thick as a 2 x 4 so you add the plywood in the middle to make up the thickness. I would suppose it adds some strength but I don;t know if it is as strong as a full thickness timber member but it would definately cost less. If you have an actual foundation that the wall sets on, then it may very well be timberframe construction.

If you have some plans, if you know how, you could link to them on photobucket or other host site.
 
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Old 06-21-06, 04:05 PM
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Thanks Nap! I will try to link when I get my DSL up and running. Crazy at work... but I'll report back.
 
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Old 07-03-06, 02:10 AM
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Whew....that was a long delay. Work kept me away. For so long, that I had to have someone come in and finish the job. Long story, short...yes, it was NOT a load-bearing wall. The wall was opened and header rebuilt a bit higher. A happy ending for the door - but I'm just sorry I couldn't do it myself (or maybe happy?). Either way, this was still very educational (and enjoyable) and I thank you guys for weighing in with your expertise!

Now on to attic fans, fences, and weather-proofing! But that's for a different thread...
 
 

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