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Old 11-13-2009, 04:07 PM   #1
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Load Bearing Wall- In wall Fish Tank


So I am installing an in-wall fish tank in my house. This requires me to cut an opening in the main support wall of the house (runs down the middle of home) The wall is garage on one side and family room on the other side. The rough opening will need to be 30" tall and 62" wide. I am needing some clarification on the support method to use when cutting out the studs and installing the new header.
I have seen numerous illustrations of how to use a 2x6, 2 4x4s, and a pair of jacks to support the ceiling. The alternative to this would be to build a temporary 2x4 wall about 3 feet back from the actual wall. In either case, this needs to be done on both sides of the wall simultaneously, correct?
I have also seen a technique that is used on a balloon framed house where you lag an appropriate sized piece of lumber into the existing studs as a temporary header and then use 2x4s to support that. You then cut the studs, place the header remoce the lagged temporary header. Does that make sense. Can this technique be used on a regular framed house? I would prefer this method since I am only opening up the garage side of the wall right now to do the framing......
Thanks in advance for any guidance!

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Old 11-13-2009, 04:43 PM   #2
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Load Bearing Wall- In wall Fish Tank


An in wall fish tank sounds like it could be quite heavy, obviously depending on the size of the tank. It is also partway between a distributed load and a point load. You need to size the required header before you decide exactly how to install it. Sizing the header can be done by a structural engineer, an architect, or by you if you have knowledge of structural mechanics. You may want to check with the building code enforcement official first, in some jurisdictions only a licensed professional engineer or architect can do the design work.

Because of the nature of the load, you are not going to be able to size the required header using standard tables. The tables are generally useful for distributed loads only.

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Old 11-13-2009, 04:52 PM   #3
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Load Bearing Wall- In wall Fish Tank


The fish tank will be on its own stand sitting on the concrete slab in the garage and won't be tied into the wall. Basically, think of it as a pass through opening.


I am really looking for guidance on the temporary support of the wall while I am cutting the opening and installing the new header...

Last edited by cmh1027; 11-13-2009 at 04:57 PM.
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Old 11-13-2009, 04:58 PM   #4
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Load Bearing Wall- In wall Fish Tank


Figure 10 lbs per gallon for support of the tank
Then figure a bunch more for people standing there looking at the tank
You are opening a wall between the house & the garage?
Are you taking the garage doors down & making it a living area?
If not then you need to re-establish the firewall once you are done
Contact an engineer/architect/lumber yard to size the header

I'd build a Temp wall on whichever side you will NOT be installing the tank from

Then - (if the garage side ):
The other side possibly the lag bolts to studs with a 2x12 across the opening
I'd have the 2x12 extend past the opening on both sides as much as possible

Make sure the tank stand has a distributed load along the floor & not sitting on posts which will concentrate the load at those points
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Old 11-13-2009, 05:29 PM   #5
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Load Bearing Wall- In wall Fish Tank


Look in the attic to see if the roof is framed with trusses. If you have trusses on a one storyhouse and the trusses run parralell to the wall you want to take out you don't needany teporary support because it is a non-loud bearing wall. If it is a two story house use the 2x12 lagged into the livingroom side. You will have to enclose the garage side to have a firewall and to be able to heat and cool the existing areas properly.
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Old 11-13-2009, 10:56 PM   #6
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Load Bearing Wall- In wall Fish Tank


Thanks for the replies! The house is two story and the joists meet at the top of this wall (joists from front of house and joists from back of house) so it is load bearing. to me it seems that it would almost always be easier to lag a temporary header and do it that way instead of building a temporary wall. Am I missing something?
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Old 11-13-2009, 11:01 PM   #7
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Scuba Dave, just ran across one of your posts on RC! Small world!
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Old 11-13-2009, 11:04 PM   #8
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Load Bearing Wall- In wall Fish Tank


Quote:
Originally Posted by cmh1027 View Post
Scuba Dave, just ran across one of your posts on RC! Small world!
AH ! I was actually going to point you over there, guess I don't need to
I spent a year over there reading threads before I setup my 125g tank /240g system

Somewhere in my future I may get to setup my 300g
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Old 11-14-2009, 02:36 PM   #9
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Load Bearing Wall- In wall Fish Tank


Sounds like you are just sizing a header for a load bearing wall.

1. The fish tank doesn't come into play, is that correct?

2. The standard headers tables would work - if, there are no other concentrated point loads in that wall. Are all the studs exposed single 2x4, or 2x6? Are any doubled or 4x4, or 4x6?

3. In the attic, are any struts or roof supports bearing on that wall or the one above? (either installed plumb or at an angle)

4. Are any trusses or rafters anywhere bearing on that wall or the wall above?
Be safe, Gary
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Old 11-14-2009, 03:33 PM   #10
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Load Bearing Wall- In wall Fish Tank


So things are a bit more clear. You need to install a 62 inch long header. As previously discussed, you can size the header from tables if the actual loads in your house match the loads in the header tables. Seems like your real question is how to temporarily support the joists which are supported by this wall.

I did a similar project to connect my kitchen to the dining room. I installed an 11 foot steel header to replace a bearing wall. In order to temporarily support the joists while I put in the header, I built two temporary walls on either side of the bearing wall. The temporary walls consisted of a pair of 2x12's, supported on doubled 2x4 studs. The 2x12's were about 12 feet long, and the studs were supported on oversized wooden plates that spanned two basement joists. It went surprisingly smoothly, no real excitement.

Once the temporary walls were in place, I cut out the bearing wall, salvaged the lumber, and installed a pair of tripled 2x4's on either end to support the steel header. In your case, a pair of doubled 2x4's would be sufficient. I slid in the steel beam, bolted it to the posts, and removed the temporary walls. You could certainly accomplish the same thing using temporary jacks (the screw jack types), but you would need two per joist, and that seems like it would be costly compared to the temporary wall technique.
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Old 11-15-2009, 10:24 AM   #11
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Load Bearing Wall- In wall Fish Tank


dave points out fire rating. dont believe the tank will meet this on garage side unless enclosed in a new rated room
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Old 01-08-2010, 06:08 PM   #12
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Load Bearing Wall- In wall Fish Tank


So I put this on hold to tackle a few other project and am now ready to proceed!
I figured I would post a few pics to clarify a few more questions:
This is the garage side of the wall, where the tank will be installed and a room will be built around it to meet fire codes.

It is 10.5 feet from floor to ceiling.
This is the den side where the tank will be viewable from:

This is 8.5 feet from floor to ceiling. This side has "Popcorn" ceilings so I am hesitant to build the temporary support wall on this side, as I'd rather not screw up the ceilings. My understanding is that I would need a temporary wall on both sides. Is that correct, or is one side sufficient? I am thinking both sides would be required since this wall supports the floor joists above....?

Thanks in advance for all of you input!

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Old 01-08-2010, 06:15 PM   #13
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Load Bearing Wall- In wall Fish Tank


floor over garage or truss?
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Old 01-08-2010, 06:20 PM   #14
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Load Bearing Wall- In wall Fish Tank


the wall in question runs right down the middle of the house. The master bedroom is above the garage and there is another bedroom above the den. The floor joists must meet at and be supported by the wall in question

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