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lily1 05-15-2008 06:10 AM

Newbie with structural problem
Hi there

Please bear with me- I am a new homeowner with a lot to learn...

To make a long story longer, we bought a front to back split 2 years ago and started tackling the cosmetic stuff. Went well.

Then thought we would get ambitious and removed a wall. Consulted with contractor beforehand and he agreed that it was not loadbearing (parallel to joists, etc.) The wall was in the walkout basement with a bedroom clset/wall and attic above. You guessed it- the bedroom door wouldn't close after we took out the wall- floor sagged 1/4"

The wall spanned 12'. Joists are 2x6s, not 2x8s.

Called contractor in- he was very suprised that we had any play in the floor at all- thought the house must have settled on the wall that we removed. Contractor put up LVL beam and bolted it to the joist that was attached to the header of the wall that we took out.

Everything was fine for about a week, then bedrrom door started to stick again. Contractor came back, floor had sagged 1/8'. This time he sandwiched the double joist below the bedroom wall with LVL beams.

Worked well- no problems for 3 weeks after- until plasterer came in yesterday and hung ceiling in the room (now one large room) where we reoved the wall . Bedroom door abouve is just a touch sticky again and I am concerned that we are starting to sag again. I am assuming the weight of the blueboard and wet paster is pulling down.

I did put calls into a couple of structural engineers before having the pasterer in, but I couldn't get anyone out. Now I am paranoid that we do have a structural issue that we just spent good money to plaster over.

Am I right in thinking that 12 ft is actually a lobg span for 2x6 joists? I am wondering if the contractor assumed they were 2x8s, and tha's why we was suprised that we had a sag.

Any suggestions on what to do now? The door is just a touch sticky- but I obviously don't know if it is going to worsen.

And (of course) money is an issue- but I want to be sure my house is safe!

Thanks in advance- I'm learning a lot!

Termite 05-15-2008 07:56 AM

A 2x6 joist (depending on species) will span slightly more or less than 10' according to the code. However, that doesn't take unusual loading or point loads into consideration. I have been an inspector for years and I have yet to see a new home framed with 2x6 or 2x8 joists...It doesn't work very well so it is just not done around here. The only thing I see 2x6 floor joists for is stair landing platforms and such.

I think you were correct in contacting a structural engineer. Settlement is not uncommon, but your floor joists are very possibly doing more work than they're capable of. There are definately structural engineers in your area that will do evaluations of conditions like this. To locate them, I would suggest contacting your local building codes department and talking to an inspector. You don't have to go into detail, just ask for names of structural engineers that they know of that do residiential work. Around here, and engineer's evaluation will cost between $200-$400.

As for doors sticking and settlement, assuming your floor isn't the problem, there could be a lot of things causing it. Watch for foundation cracking. Make sure your house has good drainage to get the water away from the foundation and footing (downspout extensions, sump pump, slope, etc). My house is 50 years old and is still settling. It is a bummer but it sometimes happens.

lily1 05-15-2008 12:44 PM

Thanks for the reply!

Our house is about 35 years old, and even though it might be still settling, I have to assume the door sticking is due to our renovations downstairs. (As it happened right after we removed the wall below).

As far as the foundation, we do have a good size foundation crack near where the wall was removed. It doesn't appear to have movement an it has been filled. We live on a very sandy hill, so drainage has never been an issue.

Will a structural engineer be able to tell us much now that everything is plastered over? Or are we looking at tearing plaster down again?

The funny thing is, I came hoem today, and the door is significantly improved- it still catches a smidge, but way better than last night. I have to assume that it is because the newly hung plaster ceiling has had a day to dry (and reduce in weight)...

I know we need to rip it all down and have a structural engineer come in and tell us what to do... But in reality I just don't know if we can swing it right now.. Just wondering what the risks are of leaving 2x6 joists 16 OC? The whole house is built like this, and it has been around for 35 years now... Of course we had to go and remove a wall...

Thanks Again!

Termite 05-15-2008 01:17 PM


Originally Posted by lily1 (Post 123378)
I know we need to rip it all down and have a structural engineer come in and tell us what to do... But in reality I just don't know if we can swing it right now.. Just wondering what the risks are of leaving 2x6 joists 16 OC? The whole house is built like this, and it has been around for 35 years now... Of course we had to go and remove a wall...

Your floor is stressed to the point of deflection, but probably not anywhere near the point of failure. So, what you have is a deflection-related inconvenience caused by the way the floor is framed. The wall you removed was not intended to be load bearing, but was limiting the deflection of the floor system by sitting under it. So, I don't think there's probably much risk as long as you can live with patching cracks and sticky doors....No way to know 100% for sure unless and until you bring in an engineer (who may or may not need to see behind the plaster...You can determine a lot without tearing down the plaster if you know what to look for).

ncgrogan 05-15-2008 01:55 PM

At the company I work for we always put double joists under partition walls if there is no wall below. 2x6's are undersized at 12' for floor loads and are pushing it for roof loads even. We would require you to tear out sheetrock to determine what the problem is. The LVLs should support the partition so there is probably a connection issue from your contractor not bearing/installing them correctly.

lily1 05-15-2008 05:12 PM

HI all!

Thanks so much for the info!

We do have a double joist under the wall (2X6s), but still had a problem...

I am fine with dealing with deflection (stcky doors, etc), but am terrified of failure (obviously)... Good to know that it is less likely than I originally thought- I was thinking any floor sag would eventually fail...

Now that I think about it, when we came to the open house here, the previous owners had a king size waterbed in the bedroom... No wonder the wall below became load bearing!!!

Thanks Again!

Termite 05-15-2008 10:46 PM

Lily, there is a major difference between perceivable deflection/bounce in a floor and deflection to the point of failure. Unless your floor feels like a trampoline, I don't think you need to lose sleep.

lily1 05-16-2008 05:44 AM

Nope, no trampouline here!

I'll sleep better tonight!

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