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centaurette 05-02-2012 10:52 AM

Main support beam question
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We recently got our basement waterproofed. Now, we are getting ready to make plans to build a couple rooms with the support beam as the dividing line between the 2 rooms. My dilemma is this:

When we decide to build walls, what can/should I do with the wires that run perpendicular under the main support beam? To get electric to the other side of the basement, some wires were run from the service panel, along a floor joist, across the underside of the support beam and then off in different directions from there. Should we just leave the wall that much shorter and use shims? Box out around the area? With the water drain and other various reasons, we will probably put in a suspension ceiling...if that helps any.

I've read conflicting answers as to drilling a hole through or notching the beam.


AndyGump 05-02-2012 01:35 PM

I suggest not drilling or notching the beam in any way.
Build out a soffit or chase for any of the wiring instead.


CallMeVilla 05-02-2012 05:44 PM

Do not drill or notch. This destroys the structural integrity of the support member. Use a soffit and do not "bury" any junction boxes. You will be just fine.

nealtw 05-02-2012 05:53 PM

I would build the wall to one side of the beam and then build a drop to hide wires and pipes. If you really want to put the wall where the beam is build the drop first to hide beam wires and pipes and the build the wall below that.
To build a drop we do not build the short ladder wall as many do as the floor joist or often not level across. We would nail a 2x2 to the floor joists just far enough away from the beam to clear all the wire. We then nail plywood or osb to the outside of that. About 3 inches lower than the beam. Add another 2x2 to the inside bottom of the plywood, leave it down 1/4 of an inch and level it as you go across the room. If you are building to a wall you just level over to the wall and add another 2x2 there. Nail some 2x2 blocks between the two to hold everything straight.
If you are going to build the drop first and then the wall you just do the plywood drop on both sides and block between them and a few block to the beam to hold it all straight.
You do want a good level and a chaulk line and screws work good if you can't get your hands on a nail gun.

AlwaysOneMoreProject 05-09-2012 06:20 AM


Originally Posted by centaurette (Post 72214)
When we decide to build walls, what can/should I do with the wires that run perpendicular under the main support beam?

The joists must run perpendicular to the beam also. Is something obstructing the wires from being rerun over the beam and between the joists?

About that beam: are we looking at an i-beam that is boxed in? Or a timber that is sistered with 2x's?

centaurette 05-18-2012 10:06 AM

Sorry for taking so long! Been dealing with a possible dead pc after a power failure.

Anyway, AOMP, what do you mean by "rerun over the beam and between the joists"? In the pic, that is the support beam down the middle of the basement ceiling and the service panel would be in the far right corner.

No, it is not an i-beam and it is not sistered with 2x's. What seems like 2x's are the ledger strips for the floor joists.

@nealtw...seems you're coming to my rescue a lot! Thank you for the play-by-play. It helps a lot. Since the pvc water lines run parallel to the beam and along the bottom of the joists, I'm going to have to build a box out a bit further to accommodate them too. :-( I'll have to build another soffit for the drain pipe too. Ugh.

GBR 05-24-2012 12:17 PM

Be sure to plan on an egress sized window or door directly to the exterior from the basement, required by minimum Code;
(Since your window is too high, and small).


nealtw 05-24-2012 05:11 PM

GBR makes a good point, each bedroom is to have an egress sized window.

CallMeVilla 05-25-2012 06:06 PM

Not just egress sized but how about height? Windows too high are a big code issue, yes?

centaurette 05-25-2012 08:42 PM

Thanks GBR, but I'm not putting in any bedrooms. 3 is enough. :D Making a play area (to get all the toys and game consoles out of the dining and living rooms) and a small room where I can put my massage table. The only room that will have a door will be my massage room.

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