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Old 02-05-2011, 03:13 PM   #1
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Windows installed with no headers


I'm wondering if my side windows might have been installed without a header.

With balloon frame construction, I can see down wall cavities and I was photographing to check which cavities I need to insulate. Noticed the 2x4 framing over a 53" wide window below the ends of the rafters.

So I measured the depth of the cavity, it's 10" deep from the old lath and plaster ceiling (bottom of joists). The height from the window openning to the ceiling is 14 1/2". Span tables say this should have 4x6 headers, and clearly I have a 2x4 on top of any header I may or may not have (is this normal?) And the ceiling below is drywall, so that is somehow installed over the lath and plaster.

Does it seem like I have proper headers or not? The room goes across the whole width of the house, and there is a support beam across the middle that is sagging, so I'm wondering if there is a structural issue with the window openning that is a contributing factor.

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Last edited by WillK; 02-05-2011 at 03:34 PM. Reason: Changed my question, was originally more certain I didn't have headers, now my question is if I have headers or not.
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Old 02-05-2011, 03:45 PM   #2
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Windows installed with no headers


Really need pictures of all areas in question.

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Old 02-05-2011, 10:05 PM   #3
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Windows installed with no headers


Okay, well one picture below is one of the shots I took inside the wall caviy from above. The other picture is an overall picture of the room below with the sagging beam and the window on the exterior wall. The view from the window shown looking the other way would be pretty much the same.

Like I said, previous owners of this house have definitely been doing half-baked repairs on its issues. When we bought the house, the drywall on the walls under the stairway to the second floor and the drywall covering the beam did not have cracks, cracks have since developed - we bought the house August of last year. Now that I look, I can see where cracks have been patched previously, including at the locations where we have cracks now.
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Windows installed with no headers-wall_cavity_above_window.jpg   Windows installed with no headers-room_below_with_sagging_beam.jpg  
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Old 02-06-2011, 09:14 AM   #4
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Windows installed with no headers


Take a wider angle shot of the second area in question. Appears that a Load Bearing wall was taken down, but hard to tell from that close up.
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Old 02-06-2011, 11:38 AM   #5
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Windows installed with no headers


Towards the left of the image, what looks like a crack is actually a series of 1" holes I drilled so I could see what is behind the drywall. It is 5 widths of 2x lumber, I'm pretty sure it's 2x6. 3 of the pieces are slightly deeper than the other 2, as if it was originally a triple 2x6 beam built with 2" dimensional lumber, and then later an additional 2 pieces of 2x6 were added that were the 1.5" wide by 5.5" size more currently available.

I've also seen other similar houses in the area that have a triple 2x6 beam in the living room from searching photos in nearby realtor listings.

Photos I've taken running down the floor joist cavities show signs of mildew on the floor joists further in.

I'm aware that this is an issue, I'm looking for opinions on whether the windows are also an issue because when it get to the point that I'm dealing with the beam, which will be part of a larger project including possibly moving the bathroom, closing off the openning to the front room and changing that back to a porch, rebuilding the staircase and so on - all with the intent of reconfigrunig the first floro to support what will later be done with the second floor.... Anyway, I want to understand the whole scope of what needs to be improved structurally. I think I have a handle on the beam, I'm uncertain about the window.
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Old 02-06-2011, 01:38 PM   #6
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Windows installed with no headers


You really don't know on the windows, unless you know that the house was built that way. If this is a old farm house, most likely yes, it may be just some 2x4's nailed for the header, you really don't know.
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Old 02-06-2011, 01:59 PM   #7
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Windows installed with no headers


Well, I'm more certain than not that the opennings for these windows is alterred... Similar houses that have not been updated (the house next door is identical in original size to ours and still uses the original oil burning furnace) only have 24" x 36" windows (visual estimate, I only know that they are taller than narrow and not anywhere close to as wide as these windows).

Without naming names, I know the company that put the windows in and it is a major company in the area that advertises on TV, has their own factory and has a good reputation for having good windows (although I also know they got zapped by the EPA for not following lead paint procedures such as providing the brochure 3 weeks before a job and so on)

Let me ask this way, hypothetically, if a window company was installing enlarged windows, wouldn't they be obligated to ensure proper headers existed and if not, would they have an obligation to only install in a properly framed openning with appropriate headers?

I do also know that windows went into the dormers, which at the time were shed roof dormers, and that these windows also had no headers - and ya know, I'd think that having to fix that should've been a no quote situation unless they were able to do like for like.
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Old 02-06-2011, 02:54 PM   #8
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Windows installed with no headers


Again, you really do not know, unless you start tearing down walls, and just taking some random measurements are not going to tell you this. Sorry to state this, but when you purchase a home from someone else, you inherit any problems they caused, or the original builder & owners caused.

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