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How to decide if it is a load bearing wall?

How to decide if it is a load bearing wall?

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  #1  
Old 07-18-07, 11:59 AM
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How to decide if it is a load bearing wall?

Hi,

My house was built in 1961. My main bedroom closet is very old and I would like to replace it. The metal doors are sliding and hung from the ceiling rail. The back of the closet is the wall to the other room. the left side of the closet is the wall to outside. The right side of the closet is a short piece of wall (26 inches wide X 4 inches thick X 96 inches tall) which I am thinkg of removing. There is no extension of the wall from this short wall to the other room, so looks to me the only purpose of this short wall is just to make up the closet.

To remove the whole closet, looks like I need to remove the short wall, the 2 doors and inside rack and one long shelf. I plan to install IKEA PAX wardrobe.

My question is how do I decide if that piece of short wall is a load bearing wall or not? The opening to my attic (no pull down ladder. It is just a piece of squre ceiling) is close to the wall, so I can go up there and see if it extends to the roof, which I need to do tonight. I hope it is not load bearing, so I can just demolish it without worrying. But, what criteria do I need to consider before I take it down?

Thanks
fh2000
 
  #2  
Old 07-18-07, 01:18 PM
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It probably isn't load bearing but you need to find out for sure. Depending on where the access is located versus the closet you might be able to just look and find out with a flashlight although physically checking it is always better.

The other concern is if there are any elec wires or other mechanicals inside the wall.
 
  #3  
Old 12-22-07, 12:24 AM
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Hope this thread is still active.

I am doing something very similar this winter break to my closet.

So when I go up into the attic, how would I know if the small wall is load bearing or not?

Thanks.
 
  #4  
Old 12-22-07, 07:32 AM
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Identifying a load bearing wall and its likely interior systems can be tricky, and a short closet wall can definitely be canidate - usually an experience home inspector or remodeling contractor can identify walls as “likely to be load bearing”, but often even experienced observers won’t know for sure until walls and ceilings are open and hidden structure exposed. (This is also the true, BTW for plumbing and electrical within them, which can also be expensive to relocate).

Here’s an example I saw a recent home inspection here in Chicago: it appears likely that the kitchen has been remodeled to open it up to the living room and a beam installed across the opening in the location of a previous load bearing wall. If so, it’s likely supported by a post of column embedded in the short side wall of the closet at right, which did not appear to me to be original to the house. (I’ve sketched in the likely column location in white).

[IMG]"http://paragoninspects.com/images/structural/beam-kitchen-deflect.jpg"[/IMG]

The beam was visibly deflecting (bending downwards), likely it’s under size for the load it is supporting. Beyond the beam in the living room there was a ceiling crack running the length of the room perpendicular to the joists, an indication that the joists were deflecting. Up in the attic the reason because clear – even though there was no immediate point load above the beam. there were struts transferring roof loads down to the ceiling joists midway between the beam and the exterior walls – loads which had likely previously been better supported by a load bearing wall at the beam’s current location.

So someone is going to have to open up the ceiling and wall and evaluate the beam, its supports, and their footings (the concrete pads on which they sit - which may not be present if the columns were added after the fact) and improve them as required, and the city where this house is located will require that the design of this repair be performed by an architect or engineer.

I chose a pretty straightforward example for this post, but when looking for load bearing walls you also need to keep in mind that loads can get transferred around in some high unintuitive ways, for example the floor structure that supports the opening around a stairwell often transfers considerable loads to walls surrounding it but placed in locations and orientations different from the “typical” configuration of load bearing walls near the center line of a structure and running perpendicular to the joists.

So the answer to you question is that though articles like these:

http://www.askthebuilder.com/397__Lo...fication.shtml
http://www.ehow.com/how_2074043_iden...ring-wall.html

will be of some assistance, you often can’t be sure until the wall is opened, and if you then have any doubt have the structure it evaluated by a qualified person.
 
  #5  
Old 12-22-07, 07:35 AM
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Identifying a load bearing wall and its likely interior systems can be tricky, and a short closet wall can definitely be a candidate - usually an experience home inspector or remodeling contractor can identify walls as “likely to be load bearing”, but often even experienced observers won’t know for sure until walls and ceilings are open and hidden structure exposed. (This is also the true, BTW for plumbing and electrical within such walls, which can also be expensive to relocate).

Here’s an example I saw a recent home inspection here in Chicago: it appears likely that the kitchen has been remodeled to open it up to the living room and a beam installed across the opening in the location of a previous load bearing wall. If so, it’s likely supported by a post or column embedded in the short side wall of the closet at right, which did not appear to me to be original to the house. (I’ve sketched in the likely column location in white).



The beam was visibly deflecting (bending downwards), likely it’s under size for the load it is supporting. Beyond the beam in the living room there was a ceiling crack running the length of the room perpendicular to the joists, an indication that the joists were deflecting. Up in the attic the reason because clear – even though there was no immediate point load above the beam there were struts transferring roof loads down to the ceiling joists midway between the beam and the exterior walls – loads which had likely previously been better supported by a load bearing wall at the beam’s current location.

So someone is going to have to open up the ceiling and wall and evaluate the beam, its supports, and their footings (the concrete pads on which they sit - which may not be present if the columns were added after the fact) and improve them as required, and the city where this house is located will require that the design of this repair be performed by an architect or engineer.

I chose this pretty straightforward example because it specifically addressed your question about short closet walls, but when looking for load bearing walls you also need to keep in mind that loads can get transferred around in some high unintuitive ways, for example the floor structure that supports the opening around a stairwell often transfers considerable loads to walls surrounding it but placed in locations and orientations different from the “typical” configuration of load bearing walls near the center line of a structure and running perpendicular to the joists.

So the answer to you question is that though articles like these:

http://www.askthebuilder.com/397__Lo...fication.shtml
http://www.ehow.com/how_2074043_iden...ring-wall.html

will be of some assistance, you often can’t be sure until the wall is opened, and if you then have any doubt have the structure it evaluated by a qualified person.
 
  #6  
Old 12-22-07, 11:42 AM
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Thank you for your reply and the photo.

I will open up the short walls and to see and will proceed with caution.
 
  #7  
Old 12-22-07, 10:54 PM
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I removed the drywalls on the front side of the walls. So is this a load bearing wall? I am inserting three photos.



http://www.flickr.com/photos/2026573...7603527158315/

I have an additional question that may belong in the electrical forum: how do I safely cap the electrical wires? currently the wires feed a switch and recess light. Just put a wire nut one on each conductor?

Thanks.
 
  #8  
Old 12-23-07, 06:28 AM
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It appears to be load bearing although the header looks a little undersized for the span.

If you are just temporarily capping off the elec, you can wire nut them and then tape to make sure the caps don't come off during construction. If you are permamently capping off this wire, it must be in an accessible elec box.
 
  #9  
Old 12-23-07, 07:45 PM
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Originally Posted by hoangnguyen3 View Post
I removed the drywalls...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/2026573...7603527158315/

... Thanks.
I looked at picture and would assume this area is in the attic - above the wall you'd like to remove.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/2026573...7603527158315/

See the 2x8 boards overlap one another for 12"? Due to these boards overlapping, it makes me believe the wall (under these horitzontal boards) is a support wall.

.
 
  #10  
Old 12-23-07, 11:05 PM
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How do I insert a photo to the posting? The insert image url takes you to my yahoo (flickr) set but this makes it hard to describe the photos?

What I wanted to do is to insert a photo and then add description, insert another photo and add a decription, etc...
 
  #11  
Old 12-24-07, 12:31 AM
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I have added descriptions to the photos. Please let me know if you have any questions.

since the roof joists run parallel to the wall but not directly over the wall, I am guessing that the closet wall is not load bearing. What I would do then is to remove the wall and header flush to both side walls and the ceiling. Do you see any problems?

Thanks and have a Wonderful Christmas.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/2026573...7603527158315/
 
  #12  
Old 12-24-07, 02:42 AM
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can I sneak a question in here?

Hello, I started a reno, and felt my wall that I was removing was not the bearing sort. One story bungalow, built in 1961. Wall runs perpendicular to basement floor joists, but in the attic nothing is above it (can't get under the insulation). The rafters run parallel to the wall. Cut the studs across and the blade gap closed afterwards. Now I am kind of nervous. Is this normal or am I in trouble? Ceiling didn't crack and the span being removed is 10'.

Other thing that is bugging me here is there is 2 headers in the basement (parallel with wall) and the wall in located 2/3 between them. Oh and double 2x4 top plate on wall.
 
  #13  
Old 12-24-07, 06:13 AM
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Looking at the wall, I don’t seen any evidence that it has been modified (added posts or columns, extra 2-3-4x wall studs) to carry additional loads. What I can’t tell from your pictures is what loads it may be bearing under the original design of the structure – for example where loads transmitted down from struts (“knee braces”) of the attic purlins are going – unfortunately that’s often an often inherent limit of trying to figure these things out on the internet.
 
  #14  
Old 12-29-07, 04:52 PM
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I'm a little unclear about which wall in the attic photos we're talking about, but I would reiterate what was stated earlier about joists lapping over the one wall. That would appear to be bearing. The wall I hope you are removing is the other one which runs parallel to ceiling joists and from the photos does not appear to be bearing.
With respect to bob101's question, the board closing on your saw cut does not in and of itself spell disaster, but there are considerations. Doesn't your ceiling rest on something? When you say "rafters" are you talking about roof framing or ceiling framing? The ceiling appears to be what you need to worry about. The wall's location relative to headers below doesn't tell much. More indicative of a bearing situation would be if the wall is close to center of the house and/or runs all the way thru, one end to the other. You need to peer up in the ceiling somehow and see if you have any joists or headers landing on the wall. Floor joists running perpendicular to roof framing is a little unusual, do you have a hip roof?
 
  #15  
Old 12-29-07, 06:57 PM
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My guess is it is a structural wall. Two reasons, the double top plate which is used on load brg. walls to stiffen the bearing surface for whatever is above it, and usually a non load bearing partition wall will only have a single top plate. 2nd, the extra framing around the opening (although the 2x6 header seams undersized for that span) suggests a loading situation above.
 
  #16  
Old 12-30-07, 12:07 PM
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The walls have been removed and I am about to intall new drywalls.

After I removed the ceiling and side sheetrocks, it was clearer to see that the closet walls were not load bearing walls. The double top plate and header was not an indication of a bearing wall as I thought.

Thank you for all your responses. This forum has been very helpful to me.

Happy New Year.
 
 

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