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Old 04-28-2012, 10:01 AM   #1
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Notching Top Plate in Load Bearing Wall


We are remodeling our kitchen and we just had our drop ceiling removed so that we would gain another 12" of height for our taller cabinets we are getting.

After the ceiling was removed I've discovered an electrical problem which will prevent the drywall to be extended up to the new ceiling. In order to get the wires out of the way, I'm going to have to drill or notch the top plate in that load bearing wall. This is a 2 story house in South Florida and this wall runs through the middle. The 1st floor exterior wall construction is concrete block, the 2nd floor is wood framed construction.

In the first 2 pictures I have an example shown that represents about how much I need to notch and how i was planning to reinforce that section. The 2x4 marked "A" would be fastened to the studs with nails or lag bolts. Then I have two smaller blocks "B" that would be fastened to the studs with 1/2" bolts/washers/nuts. I plan to put a steel protection plate/strap along the sides of the top plate to protect the wires. (The actual area I need to notch is between the next 2 studs to the right of the example with a truss sitting over the middle)

Will this provide enough strength to reinforce that section?
What type of wood would be the best, Pine, Pressure Treated Pine or ???

I have enough room to use a piece of 2x6 instead of the 2x4.

The other pictures just show more of the area I'm working with. I noticed a couple of those steel straps have only 1 nail and another nail off to the side! Makes me wonder how the builder (1983) can miss the strap completely!
Anyway, if you look at the last picture you'll see part of the poured concrete beam of the exterior wall. Should there be some straps here too? I'll upload some more pictures later if needed.

thanks!
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Old 04-28-2012, 10:48 AM   #2
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Notching Top Plate in Load Bearing Wall


interesting picture and framing. i know we always frame so studs land under joist or truss/rafter to carry load and not rely on top plates but that is just me. i like your solution to support top plate then notch it. i would take the to boards that you want to lag to existing stud and cut them to go all the way to floor like what you would do for any other header

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Last edited by jaydevries; 04-28-2012 at 10:51 AM.
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Old 04-28-2012, 10:54 AM   #3
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Notching Top Plate in Load Bearing Wall


then put nail plate over notch to protect wires like one in link

http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1...&storeId=10051
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Old 04-28-2012, 12:53 PM   #4
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Notching Top Plate in Load Bearing Wall


Been following your other thread.

Good idea. Basically build a header in a single cavity. I would recommend a few tweaks.

First double up A with 2 - 2 x 6 to be 3 in thick. With 6 in walls this leaves 2 1/2 in exposed. You should not notch more than 40% (2.2 in) anyways. Attach A to the studs with finishing nails or screws. The nails are to hold A in place, they won't carry any load. Do not use lag bolts into the end grain, the will weaken the structure

jaydevries is correct, B should be jack studs that go all the way to the base plate, secured periodically to the stud next to it. If you use a jack stud B can be a 2 x 4 because A is only 3 in wide.

There a few problems with B as it is now. All the load is being supported by the lag bolts in shear, so you want at least 2 lag bolts. This will be particularly a problem with the grain running up and down, as shown. The grain will crack, shear and slip. 2 lag bolts on a small piece of wood may introduce cracks. The minimum I would use for B is a 2 x 6 with the lag bolts 8 - 12 inch apart. Stagger the bolt holes so they are not in the same grain.

Studs work because wood is strong in compression. With your setup the weight is on the side of the stud near the end, so you have intoduced torque. The load wants to rotate the stud. Eventually, the stud will shatter about 18 in up from the base. The solution is to use jack studs (see above).

I thought the whole plan was to raise the ceiling, so your already doing some plaster work. This cludge seems to be to avoid plaster work. I would remove the entire sheet that is covering the electrical, not just the one bay, so you can cut cleaner lines. Actually, I would take down the sheetrock on the entire wall and use long sheets to get a better look.

I love putting up sheetrock (my wife likes the demolition).
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Old 04-28-2012, 01:00 PM   #5
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Notching Top Plate in Load Bearing Wall


The previous post was a little long. I wanted to explain the science, not just, "It's against code, are you having it inspected?"

I forgot one thing. jaydevries and you mentioned you will cover the notches with metal plates. Not only is this required by NEC, but also for hurricanes. I believe the electrical plates are thicker, so you should be fine.
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Old 04-28-2012, 11:37 PM   #6
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Notching Top Plate in Load Bearing Wall


The top plate is as wide as the 2x4's on top. If I insert two 2x6s sideways that will leave me with 1/2" that I can notch and that will not be enough. The circuit breaker panel is just below the area I have to notch so I cannot put any jack studs to the floor.

I can put some longer "B" blocks so that I could add a 3rd bolt without weakening the "B" blocks (I could use some hardened grade 1/2" allen bolts with washers & nuts from work place) Now that I think about it, I could probably get a couple pieces of steel angle iron or solid steel blocks and would not have to worry about the wood blocks. (just got to worry about the shear strength of 4 1/2" bolts - 2 per side)

Next week at work I'll see what materials I can get my hands on.

ps: How hard is it to add the drywall to go up the additional 12" and when it's done and painted that nobody could tell what was done? I would hate to see a smooth 12" section and the rest of the wall shows the effects of 25+ years and several coats of paint. Oh, and no inspections here.

thanks!
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Old 04-29-2012, 09:56 AM   #7
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Notching Top Plate in Load Bearing Wall


it looks as though your A B diagram will work. the top plates are 3 1/2" wide so just be sure and not notch more than half - 1 3/4" out of the width of the top plates. Cut the drywall down 4' in that stud bay and add the vertical supports ( B) that bear up against the 2x4 -A. Make sure the verticals go 3 or 4' down the stud and nail the #$^$ out of them. In fact, I would cut the drywall over to the studs on the right and left of your ( wire stud bay) leaving a 4' wide opening that exposes the three stud bays. this will allow you to nail the vertical supports from both directions ( nailing through vertical support into full length stud and also nailing through full length stud into vertical support) and make it strong.

during the whole process as long as you do not notch the top plate more than half you should be good to go. you also might want to make the board designated as A a 2x6 instead of 2x4 and notch out of the vertical supports 1 1/2" so that they notch around the 2x6 making a little seat pocket to sit the A 2x6 board onto and to tie it in tight.

edit to add... do not make the vertical supports less than 3 or 4'. floor to ceiling is the best approach but get it as close to that size length as possible to increase shear value significantly.

this was a lot to try and explain, please ask if you have any questions

Last edited by hand drive; 04-29-2012 at 10:35 AM.
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Old 04-29-2012, 10:02 AM   #8
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Notching Top Plate in Load Bearing Wall


Can you simply use a plane to shave off just about 1/4" and spread out the wires so that they are side by side instead of having to pass through in a thick bundle? To me that would requires the least amount of notching.

The other option is since you are so close to the electrical panel. With all the work you will need to do the notching on the front side, adding the studs and header etc...you might consider disconnecting those wires and pull them off the panel, drill two holes on the top plate, one on each side of the truss but very close to the existing wall studs, pull the wires through those holes in two bundles one on each side and reconnect. Shouldn't really be that much more work I counted 16 wires?

Last edited by miamicuse; 04-29-2012 at 10:08 AM.
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Old 04-29-2012, 02:18 PM   #9
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Notching Top Plate in Load Bearing Wall


The circuit breaker panel is just below the area in question, I certainly can't let the "B" blocks sit on top of the cb panel !

I can make the"B" blocks longer, 12"-15" but that is all. I can use 3/4" bolts and maybe use a couple steel support blocks.

All those wires are going through two 2" pipes. So I would at least need two 1.5" holes drilled into the top plate. That would make the wires a tight fit. If I drill four 1.5" holes I should have plenty of room.

I would still try to reinforce that section.

Thanks!
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Old 04-29-2012, 03:34 PM   #10
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Notching Top Plate in Load Bearing Wall


Quote:
Originally Posted by fredm54
Oh, and no inspections here.

thanks!
Why not?
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Old 04-29-2012, 07:50 PM   #11
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Notching Top Plate in Load Bearing Wall


Quote:
Originally Posted by fredm54 View Post
The top plate is as wide as the 2x4's on top. If I insert two 2x6s sideways that will leave me with 1/2" that I can notch and that will not be enough. The circuit breaker panel is just below the area I have to notch so I cannot put any jack studs to the floor.

I can put some longer "B" blocks so that I could add a 3rd bolt without weakening the "B" blocks (I could use some hardened grade 1/2" allen bolts with washers & nuts from work place) Now that I think about it, I could probably get a couple pieces of steel angle iron or solid steel blocks and would not have to worry about the wood blocks. (just got to worry about the shear strength of 4 1/2" bolts - 2 per side)

Next week at work I'll see what materials I can get my hands on.

ps: How hard is it to add the drywall to go up the additional 12" and when it's done and painted that nobody could tell what was done? I would hate to see a smooth 12" section and the rest of the wall shows the effects of 25+ years and several coats of paint. Oh, and no inspections here.

thanks!
Sorry about that I saw B was narrower than the studand assumed B was 2 x4 and the stud was 2 x 6.

If you have a clean edge at the top of the drywall, there aren't too many layers of paint or skim coat, with a little care you should be able just add the drywall to the top without shadows.
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Old 04-30-2012, 09:54 AM   #12
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Notching Top Plate in Load Bearing Wall


Without shadows? The "B" blocks were a couple pieces of 2x3s I had laying around, I have no idea why I had them! Well, I think it's obvious I need to reinforce that section, so what type of wood would be the strongest?

Yellow Pine ?
Pressure Treated Pine ? (might have a corrosion problem so I may need to use SS bolts?)
Douglas Fir or something else?

thanks!
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Old 05-15-2012, 10:08 AM   #13
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Notching Top Plate in Load Bearing Wall


I went ahead and used a 14" piece of 12 gauge steel Powerstrut material (solid, no holes) secured with 1/2" bolts. I drilled four 1.5" holes in the top plate and ran the wires through them. I think and hope this will be sufficient.

thanks!
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