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Gap between (supposed to be bearing wall) and ceiling joists

Gap between (supposed to be bearing wall) and ceiling joists


Old 09-23-13, 12:23 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: USA
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Gap between (supposed to be bearing wall) and ceiling joists

Hi folks,

I'm mid way through the renovation of my wife and I's early 1900s rowhouse. I had to remove the ceiling from a bedroom, which allowed me to get a good look at what I thought was a load bearing wall. I was surprised to find that the wall in fact does not appear to support the ceiling joists. There's a gap between the double top plate and ceiling joists of between 1/2" and 3/4" running the entire visible length of the wall. The wall appears to appropriately conduct weight downward because the other units have similar walls and the basement contains brick pillars supporting the area through the basement; the wall in our unit just doesn't support the ceiling joists.

Joists meeting exterior wall
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Gap between joists and double top plate
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My questions:

Is there a reason that the wall was built to come close to the ceiling joists but not actually touch them? Is there an easy fix to change the wall into a bearing wall in this circumstance.

The reason that I ask is my wife and I were planning on adding on a rooftop deck in the not so distant future. I'm wondering if this is a lost cause without putting a substantial amount of work in shoring up the structure of our unit. Would it be better to bring a structural engineer in now, while the walls are open. I've taken a peek at the span tables and I can't imagine a roofdeck is a possibility unless I can get the wall to act as a support.

Thank you all in advance for any help you may be able to provide.
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Old 09-24-13, 07:54 PM
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Location: NY
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Yes, let someone look at it while everything is visible.
Old 09-24-13, 08:21 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: USA
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Key words are probably, "what I thought was a load bearing wall."

My guess is that the wall is probably not load bearing if there is a gap, I suspect that the wall was built underneath preexisting lathe and plaster (since removed) which would account for the gap you are seeing. If you want the wall to help share the load, you'd probably just push the joists up far enough that you can slip a rip of 3/4" plywood under them. But that's just a guess. A structural engineer will be able to tell you for sure. Without a diagram of your entire framing laoyout, along with measurements and without being able to inspect the load paths, we would be guessing at best.

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