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Old 08-25-2010, 06:48 PM   #1
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What is holding up my ceiling?


Hi all, this is my first real post (excepting my introduction post here).

I'm hoping to move a wall around, so I've been trying to figure out whether it's load-bearing or not. I checked out the basement and the attic, and came away quite confused.

First, I'll describe the structure: it's a 32' wide by 24' deep rectangle with the floor joists running parallel to the short side. There are beams in the floor, supported by lolly poles, bisecting it in either direction (therefore the floor joists have a 12' span). On the main floor, there is a ~7' wall, perpendicular to the joists, centered in both directions (so it's directly above the beam in the floor). The other perpendicular walls are offset from the floor beams, by about 2' on one side and 4' on the other -- because of that offset, I don't expect them to be load-bearing.

Now, here's the scary part: when I looked in the attic, I saw that the ceiling joists ran the same way as the ones in the floor, and are the same 12' span (i.e., two separate joists that meet in the middle). But there's no beam! I figure the joists towards the back could be cantilevered over the walls I previously figured were non-load-bearing, but then what's holding the joists on the front half up?!

The only other clue is that there is a 2x6 (oriented horizontally) and 2x4 (oriented vertically, so as to make an L-shape with the 2x6) laying across the tops of the ceiling joists at about mid-span on each side (i.e., ~6' from the front and 6' from the back), but surely that can't be the real structural support, right?

I realize my textual description is probably confusing; I'll try to post pics and/or diagrams shortly.

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Old 08-26-2010, 02:35 PM   #2
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What is holding up my ceiling?


That is called a strongback, search above on this site to read more. The builder added it because he didn't want to install a center beam to carry the ceiling load. Sometimes a 2x4 will tie this to a few rafters for more strength. The two walls offset are still carrying the loads above, don't remove them.

Be safe, Gary

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Old 08-26-2010, 11:28 PM   #3
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What is holding up my ceiling?


So that 2x6 (oriented on its weak axis) and the 2x4 it may or may not be properly laminated to are holding up my ceiling? Yeesh...!

The wall I want to move was the one offset from the center by 2'. I want to push it forward so that it's still offset by 2', but in the other direction (towards the front of the house). I was also planning on either putting a big cut-out in it (with a header, obviously) or only making it a pony wall (it's dividing the kitchen from the living room, and I plan to put in a breakfast bar).

I think I should seriously consider installing a proper beam in the attic. But that would put a concentrated load on the ends (not that there isn't one where the strongbacks are already, of course) that I might have to worry about carrying down into the foundation....
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Old 08-26-2010, 11:53 PM   #4
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What is holding up my ceiling?


I did some searching about strongbacks as you suggested, and I ran across this picture:



Sadly, it confirms my suspicion that whoever built my house was an idiot, since my 2x4 and 2x6 are reversed from the picture (not that I didn't know anyway).
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Old 08-27-2010, 08:39 AM   #5
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What is holding up my ceiling?


Is this what you're describing?
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Last edited by Willie T; 08-27-2010 at 11:15 AM.
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Old 08-27-2010, 09:22 AM   #6
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What is holding up my ceiling?


Any major work to remove bearing walls should always require either a competent architect or structural engineer’s approval as there are point loads to consider when moving bearing walls.
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Old 08-28-2010, 05:15 PM   #7
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What is holding up my ceiling?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Willie T View Post
Is this what you're describing?
No, this is.

What I intend to do is move the wall to the other side (i.e., so that it would look like a mirror image of how it is now).
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Last edited by JackG; 08-28-2010 at 05:45 PM.
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