removing wall at top of stairs

Old 01-19-09, 01:32 PM
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removing wall at top of stairs

The stairs going upstairs in my house have full walls on both sides, going all of the wall up both stories. At the top, there is a hallway on the left and the load-bearing wall is on the right. I Can I remove the wall on the left that separates the hallway from the stairway? It seems like more heat would be able to rise to our frigid upstairs? I do not think that this is load-bearing because it does not run the length of the house, like the other. Also, it only runs the length of the hallway (15 ft).
Old 01-19-09, 01:38 PM
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Why not put louvered doors in the stairway? Then the heat could be drawn up the stairway by convection all the time, not just when the doors are open. Kind of like a chimney effect.
Old 01-19-09, 09:57 PM
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The distance a wall runs is not a valid indicator of its "load-bearingness." A better way to assess is to go into the attic and see if there are any structural members supported by it.

As for getting heat to the upstairs, removing the wall or installing louvered doors/vents won't have much effect if there isn't a way to remove the cold air in order to draw in warm air. In other words, a cold air return to your heating system. If there isn't already a return installed, the project could get really messy.

Or, you could just crack a window for exhaust and spend some of your money for heating the great outdoors. Beware the global warm-mongers with that approach. You've been warned!


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Old 01-20-09, 03:47 AM
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If your problem is conditioning the air in the upper portion, it would be best to zone the HVAC system, upstairs apart from the downstairs. If you remove that wall your upstairs will get alot hotter than the downstairs to the point of being unbearable if the downstairs thermostat is set reasonably. Cold air falls and it will tell the thermostat to keep the heat running. Likewise in the summer the cooler air will tell the thermostat to turn off and the hot air will be trapped in the upstairs part.
Old 01-22-09, 12:26 PM
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I had the same problem in my 2 story old farm house. Our stairway was totally enclosed so you froze in the winter and about died in the summer. We had our contractor remove one of the walls (which was load bearing) and add a LVL beam for support. Chandler hit it right on with "zoning"! I had the upstairs zoned and couldn't be happier! Definately the way to go!
Old 01-22-09, 01:17 PM
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Removal of any wall requires a building permit. It is always best to have a structural engineer to assess whether wall is load bearing or not. Sometimes contractors give it a best guess.

Depending on age of the home, the home plans may be on file at the local building inspector's office. A stop by the inspector's office will let you know if the plans are on file, what is required as to getting a permit, and any other requirements.

If forced air, when thermostat is located downstairs, it kicks off when desired temperature is met downstairs, leaving upstairs cooler. If there are vents upstairs and ductwork is properly insulated and not leaking warm air and properly located, then zoning with a thermostat upstairs is usually recommended.

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