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Replacing Your Load Bearing Interior Wall With a Beam
Replacing a load bearing interior wall with a beam to make your room more spacious is a major structural alteration. You need to hire a structural engineer to examine you interior wall, compute the loads, make a temporary support plan, size the columns and the new beam and recommend materials and a beam installation procedure.
Examining a Load Bearing Interior Wall
Most load bearing interior walls are perpendicular to the direction of ceiling or floor joists. If the walls are parallel with the joists, they usually have inside them columns or posts. These indicate that the wall is supporting a lot of weight.
Most load bearing walls also have various kinds of utility cables and wires within them. You can remove part of the covering of the wall on one side to see what is inside. If you do not want to damage your wall because you are not yet decided on replacing it, you can buy a handheld electronic detector with an LCD feature. This detector will show where the cables, wires, duct work and studs are. It can penetrate wood, plaster or drywall.
You can transfer these utility connections to other walls. Keep in mind however that this entails demolition of other walls and increases your interior wall removal costs.
Install a temporary support on both sides of the interior wall you are taking out. Hold the support in place about two-and-a-half feet from each side of the wall. But before you put in place the second support, put up the new beam beside the interior wall to be removed. This way, you would not have much difficulty in putting the new beam into its final position later on.
Installing the Beam
Remove the upper portion of the interior wall to create an opening for the beam. Slide the replacement beam into the opening. This beam will now bear the load previously supported by the bearing wall. Make sure that the posts or columns at the ends of the beam are standing on solid footing. This could be a thickened slab, steel, wood beam or a spread footer. The total load of the structure supported by the new beam will be shifted to these solid bearing materials.