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BellinghamBen 03-21-2013 05:00 PM

House Framing making me nervous...
Hi! We purchased our 1978 ranch home a couple years ago and ever since then, I have heard cracking noises in and around the vaulted ceiling in our living room. In addition to the noises, there is some deformation in the drywall leading me to think I may have a problem with the roof/walls.

The framing seems a bit odd to me (a novice); there are no collar ties and no ridge beam. It's basically a half vaulted ceiling, with the low end resting on an 8' exterior wall and the high end sitting on a half wall, which is supported by a beam. I'm pretty sure the roof rafters are only 2x4's with probably a 15' span. Is this an acceptable method?

After doing some searching online, it seems that the half wall may be acting like a hinge and bowing outward. I confirmed this today, nearly 3/4" out of level with a 2 ft level.

Should I be calling a Structural Engineer? I wanted to get some second opinions before letting my wife know...


Msradell 03-21-2013 10:10 PM

It sounds like you definitely need to call a structural engineer about this problem. It was refractors are really 2 x 4's on a 15 foot span (which I highly doubt) you have some real problems.

cleveman 03-21-2013 10:13 PM

To hell with the structural engineer, you need to call a moving company.

danpik 03-22-2013 07:21 AM

The only way to tell what is going on in that cieling is to open it up. Whoever did the drywall in that house did you no favors anyway as wavy as that corner is. I doubt that the rafters are 2 x 4 but nothing anymore will surprise me.

joecaption 03-22-2013 07:35 AM

Around here we would also have to have hurricane ties on those rafters to top plates.

How far does those window jambs stick out past the framing?
In that picture it sure looks like more then 1/2"

SPS-1 03-22-2013 09:02 AM

Yes, it would seem that the "half wall" can "hinge" where it sits on the primary wall. The end walls would provide support for the "half wall" from bowing out, but that is all. How long is that half-wall?
This must be a renovation by somebody who did not bother to take out a permit. But that would be interesting to check with the City if any such permits had been given.
I would be nervous too. Time for a professional opinion.

hand drive 03-22-2013 09:10 AM

from the inside at the inner plane of the drywall pull a string line across the entire wall end to end to determine the rate of bow outward in the middle of the wall span. as the rafters settle downward the walls spread outward, that is hoe it works if there's nothing to keep them from spreading.

jagans 03-22-2013 09:29 AM

First if all, there is no way to tell with a 2 foot level. Secondly it sounds like the 2 x 4 statement is pure speculation, so making comments against speculation is hot air.

Open up the connection points, and hire a good structural engineer.

BellinghamBen 03-22-2013 05:52 PM

Thanks for all the replies. The framing is original to the house, I have a picture of the house when the building permit was issued.

The half wall is about ~25' long and less than 4' high (hence the 2 ft level...). I was able to get a tape measure up into the ceiling and as many of you suspected, my guess of 2x4's was wrong. The rafters are 2x8's. I'm not too surprised to find the rafters bigger than I thought, since the sagging is mostly at the half wall and not in the middle of the span.

I removed some more drywall on the half wall (not really ready to start ripping drywall off the other walls/ceiling yet). As I suspected, there appears to be a gap below the bottom plate and the beam(s) it is sitting on, leading me to believe the top of the half wall is leaning out. I can't tell if the top plates are nailed together, but I would think that would prevent the wall from leaning out.

I've already contacted a structural engineer, but does anyone have any possible solutions? I've read about creating a "plywood sandwich" to stop the hinge motion, but I think the walls need to be vertical to start with...

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