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Help...are the 4x4 posts load bearing??

6968 Views 7 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Ponderous
I have a 6' x 18' covered front porch. I removed the handrails. I currently have 2 full 4x4 posts that run from the porch floor to under the roof. They are simply nailed in. At the top of these posts they are only resting on a small decorative strip of wood that leads me to believe that they are only decorative and served the purpose of having something to attach the handrails to. Does it appear that these posts could be removed or are they supporting the roof line (and if they are supposed to be they are doing a crappy job of it)?
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I agree, I doubt if those are structural---they are not touching the beam above--

Cut a nail and see if there is weight on the column.
Picture of how they are mounted on the bottom?

There may still be weight on the column if the roof has sagged ever so slightly
Thanks for the replies gentlemen. Here is a pic showing the bottom side. Again the full height 4x4 is simply nailed into the porch floor on a couple of sides. The bit of 4x4 under the porch floor is attached to a pier block mostly buried in the ground which is intended for support of the porch floor itself I am thinking? I feel they align with the full 4x4 on the upper part of the porch for aesthetics more than support. But just needing to confirm my thought process here.
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I would not be too hasty in saying those posts are non structural.
They land on a Pile cap. The Builder would land them on the deck if they served a non-structural purpose, I think, and saved the dollars spent on the piles.
Also, the front of the "beam" looks like it might be carrying the truss ends. And there is a false gable on top of the truss tails. More weight than just the regular truss load.
Nope, assume they are more than decorative.
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You seem to have a beam over the front porch. Otherwise supported on the two ends. Perhaps twenty feet or so. I ask myself, would that beam be good without any intermediate support ? Really don't know for sure, but off-hand I would think you need intermediate supports.
There are a number of possible approaches to determining if you need the posts to support the beam above.

1. The radical approach. You knock the posts out, and if the beam falls down, you know you needed the posts. Not recommended.
2. The mathematical approach. You determine the size, span, species, and grade of the beam above. You determine the design load on the beam. You calculate the maximum bending moment and deflection of the beam if the posts are removed, and you determine if the beam is strong enough and stiff enough to hold up the roof without posts. Requires some knowledge of structural mechanics, and requires you to remove the facing so you can measure the beam.
3. A reasonable alternative. Install a temporary screw type jack to hold up the beam. Remove one of the posts, allowing the load to transfer to the jack. Slowly lower the jack. If the beam follows the jack down, the post is clearly load bearing. If the beam does not move as the jack is lowered, you will be able to see space between the top of the jack and the beam, and you will know that the post is not load bearing.

This is an internet chat forum, and if you leave your question up long enough, you will get a wide range of responses, ranging from "what are you waiting for, that post is clearly non-structural" to "that post is clearly carrying load". Since no one on this forum has visited your site, and you have not met anyone on this forum, you are likely not going to be able to figure out whether that post is really load bearing from a range of internet chat forum opinions. My recommendation is to ASSUME that the post is load bearing, although clearly poorly attached. You may want to use the temporary jack technique to be sure, unless you are confident in your structural analysis. Unless you know FOR CERTAIN that the post is not load bearing, I would install new posts using proper connection brackets top and bottom. The post looks architecturally appropriate, just badly installed.
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I told myself before I posted...any doubt do not take em out! So as of jlhaslip's reply yesterday my direction was changed. SPS-1 this morning has confirmed that decision. I am now moving on to adding some much needed bulk and beauty to the porch columns as well as adding some under porch skirting. I still got rid of the ugly handrail. I shall simply turn lemons into lemonade! Thank you all for your input. :)

Edited to add: Daniel we posted at the same time. I am definitely a caution girl, always have been and always will be. The posts stay. :)
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