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detecting load bearing walls


Many times on the show they talk about replacing load bearing walls, but what I would like to know is if you don't have access to the original building plans, is there any way to determine whether a wall is load bearing or not without actually tearing into the wall or ceiling?

Re: detecting load bearing walls

This can be both simple and complicated to determine as I have found out. The one thing to remember is consider all outside walls as supporting walls.
A lot depends on the age,style,design,construction of the home and if any previous remodle was done. Interior supporting walls can be for the support of the roof or support of floors or both. They are generally used for supporting roof joists and floor joists. Since these can run a distance that would exceed their capacity and available lengths a support wall is located usually mid way. Or there is an interuption of the run for an opening like a stairwell then the support would have to be transfered to other structure which may need support.
In a basic home that uses tradional and conventional framing with roof rafters and roof joists the wall that is located in the center of the house that runs perpendicular would be the supporting wall. If the home has a basement you would also notice a large beam running perpendicular to the floor joists right under the wall above. This would indicate that wall above is a supporting wall and in a two story that supporting wall would have a wall right above that one.
You can have supporting walls that run in the same direction as the floor joists as well. If there is an opening for a stairwell you can have support going with the direction of the joists and perpendicular.
In modern building using engineered roof trusses generally there isn't any center support walls in a basic design of home. That depends on the design of the home and how complicated the roof and floor plan is. This can be the same with modern engineered I joists or trusses used for floor structures but also depends on the length and the layout.
Sometimes there is a need to open walls and explore the structure for determining where the support is.

If you do an Internet search there are lots of articles about this and probably better described than what I have done.

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