Counter Beam Sizing

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Ron Van

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Hello. I’m planning on removing a section of a load bearing wall in our house (we moved into this house about a year ago). Trying to figure this house out is truly a mystery since it was built in several stages over a number of years.

The wall to be removed originally was an exterior wall built in 1970 but somewhere in time, a 20’ by 27’ addition was added on to the house outside of this wall. There were also additions added on other sides of the house as well. At some time, the roof, including the truss system, was removed and a new roof truss system was installed over the entire house bonding it all together.

The question I have is about finding a load table for a Counter beam. I have tables for Hanging beams, strutting beams, combination Hanging and strutting beams, and concealed beams but I can’t find one for Counter beams.

Here are my facts:

Attached to my Counter Beam will be one concealed beam (A), and two Hanging beams (B and C). There is also a strut above Beam “A” supporting the roof peak.

My Counter beam will be 14’ long (ideally) and be supported at both ends but if need be, my wife has approved another support post in the middle of the house splitting my proposed counter beam at 11’ on one side and 3’ on the other. This additional support post would be under concealed Beam “A” and also nearly under the strut supporting the roof Peak. Since the wall I want to remove was originally an exterior wall, there is a foundation wall under it for the end posts to sit on.



Code in my area says:

Ground Snow Load - 10 Pounds Per Square Foot

Wind Speed 90 Miles Per Hour

Seismic Design Category - C

Subject To Damage From:

Weathering - Moderate



I’m going to say the proposed counter beam will be, conservatively, supporting 222 SqFt of roof (probably less) at (local code supplied) 10lbs/sqft snow load equals 2,220 lbs roof load. The weight is unequally applied to the beam at three points. Most of the weight comes from concealed Beam “A” which is closest to an end post (or could be above optional wife approved post).



Questions:

1. Does anyone have a table or formula for sizing this type counterbeam? I was thinking two 2X12s sandwiched together. Is that enough?

2. Is the optional wife approved post necessary?




Kitchen 011-005 smaller with ceiling joists.jpg


Kitchen 011-005 smaller with ceiling joists - side view.jpg
 

bud16415

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I know you supplied a lot of information, but I’m still getting lost to some degree.



If a new full truss roof has been added outer wall to outer wall as you show in your drawings then that causes a big unknown as the trusses should need no load bearing walls if designed properly and spaced properly and if the outer walls are sized for the load.

I would strongly advise you to hire a pro with a proper eng. background to come in take a look and make a plan for you to follow.
 

Snoonyb

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You may be wanting the load chart as a self-interest for the design, however most building depts. will require an engineer signature, prior to approval.

Something else to consider, and your drawing doesn't contain enough information to address it, is that a building, which exceeds 3 X it's width, in length, requires an additional shear wall.
 

Ron Van

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If a new full truss roof has been added outer wall to outer wall as you show in your drawings then that causes a big unknown as the trusses should need no load bearing walls if designed properly and spaced properly and if the outer walls are sized for the load.
Bud, You are correct. I used the word truss when indeed this is a rafter system built onsite that looks somewhat like a truss system in that there are no underpurlins or strut beams but the struts go from the center of the rafter to a center point on the ceiling joist (forming a "V") that is supported by a load bearing wall. They used hanging joists half way between the load bearing wall and the exterior wall. In the kitchen/dining area, it is open with no center load bearing wall so they installed a concealed beam "A" In hindsight, it seems they added on to the original roof system and then re-roofed the entire house to make it look the same. The attic is one continuous space indicating that they removed the original gable when adding the new 20X 27' room. It looks like a rafter system that somewhat mimics a truss system.


1632508353956.png
This is the original house. In this photo, you can see the hanging joists and the Beam "A".


1632508400566.jpeg
This is the addition. In this photo there are just hanging joists.


1632508534175.jpeg

This is the end of the Beam "A" where it rests on the original exterior wall. To the right of the double Beam "A" is hanging joist "C" which extends behind me as I took the picture.

1632508712559.jpeg

This is the roof strut from the ridge to the original exterior wall. Notice the 15" offset from the roof ridge to the Beam "A".
 

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Ron Van

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You may be wanting the load chart as a self-interest for the design, however most building depts. will require an engineer signature, prior to approval.

Something else to consider, and your drawing doesn't contain enough information to address it, is that a building, which exceeds 3 X it's width, in length, requires an additional shear wall.
This house is old and funky (like me). It was build in several stages over 51 years of time. There are (besides numerous additions), a second house built on to the first and connected together. they are truly separate structures but connected internally. The original structure with the addition in question is only 62.5' long and 25' wide. The new addition has a new shear wall (on the right side of the drawing below), so it shouldn't need a secondary shear wall. The wall to be removed, has a door in the middle of it which used to be the entrance door. I'm thinking (hoping) that the wall on each side of the door has shear wall bracing. I'm only removing the wall on one side of the door so there will be extra shear bracing.

whole house w Kitchen detail 011-001.jpg
 
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Snoonyb

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Thanks for the clarification.

I, were it mine, be interested, from a historical point of view, in researching any documents presented for the roof reframing, or if there are records of those permits, on file.
 

bud16415

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I’m sorry but your problem is well above my pay grade on this one. I have never seen a roof framed quite like that.



It seems that your rafters are continuous from the ridge to the outer walls so all loading is going in that direction and the bottom chord is the issue where the rafters want to push the end walls out under load. The diagonal truss like members were done to help with the length of the rafters distributing the bending force back into the old load bearing walls.



How you go about figuring out how much of that load is on that one line where you wish to remove the wall section I don’t know how to figure but I have a feeling with the direction the roof runs is the same direction the wall runs it isn’t going to be real high.



You could maybe add collar ties similar to what this new beam will want to do and help some.



These other beams that will hang from the new beam are mostly holding the weight of the ceiling not the weight of the roof IMO.



Again it is hard to tell as the framing kind of loops around between is the roof holding the beams or are the beams supporting the roof.
 

Ron Van

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It seems that your rafters are continuous from the ridge to the outer walls so all loading is going in that direction and the bottom chord is the issue where the rafters want to push the end walls out under load. The diagonal truss like members were done to help with the length of the rafters distributing the bending force back into the old load bearing walls.

You could maybe add collar ties similar to what this new beam will want to do and help some.
I agree. It seems to me that the rafter force on the end walls is a bigger issue than my Wall Removal Project. Are you suggesting a collar tie on the rafter above my wall to be removed or all the rafters? I'm thinking all of them. Also, I think adding struts from the center load bearing walls up to the ridge would help with this rafter loading as well. What do you think about that?

I have a feeling with the direction the roof runs is the same direction the wall runs it isn’t going to be real high.
I agree with this as well with the exception of the strut from the ridge to the Beam "A" above the wall. It potentially has some loading on it. I think this strut (currently) is holding 240 sqFt of roof load, which at 10lbs/sqFt snow load (Supplied by local code) equals 2400 lbs of force. I say "currently" because by adding another strut from the center load bearing wall to the ridge, I can reduce this roof area loading in half making it 1200 lbs. With that number, I probably won't need the optional wife approved post.
These other beams that will hang from the new beam are mostly holding the weight of the ceiling not the weight of the roof IMO.
The hanging beams "B" and "C" are for sure just supporting the ceiling.

Again it is hard to tell as the framing kind of loops around between is the roof holding the beams or are the beams supporting the roof.
You got me thinking though . . .I see what you are saying about the ceiling joists in most of the house are continuous from end wall to end wall and would be in tension with the rafter load keeping the rafters from pushing the end walls outward but where Beam "A" was installed, the joists were cut and attached to Beam "A" compromising the ceiling joist tension strength. The hanging beams that run parallel to Beam "A" probably transfer some (or all) of the tension load from the rafters, around Beam "A" to the wall I want to remove. This is why you are suggesting the collar ties? If, the hanging beams, rather than imposing a down force, could be a tension force pulling outward. Is this the way you see it?
 

Ron Van

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I, were it mine, be interested, from a historical point of view, in researching any documents presented for the roof reframing, or if there are records of those permits, on file.
What kind of info would I get from these documents? More than what I can actually see was done?

The weird thing is I know for a fact at least a lot of the projects were not done to code, especially with the electrical. Check this out...

IMG_8498.jpg
This is a dryer outlet (old style 3 prong). The black romex in back is the 240v supply. The black wire goes to the left lug. The neutral white goes to the center and the red goes to the right lug. That part is okay. The white Romex is to tap a nearby 120 volt outlet into this circuit. The black is attached to the left lug, The ground from the white Romex is attached to the center neutral lug, and the white neutral wire is attached to the right lug.
At the outlet . . .

IMG_8497.jpg

The black (Hot) is attached to the silver screws (should be neutral), the ground (that was attached to the neutral at the dryer plug) is attached to the hot side of the outlet, and the white wire is unused. Holy smokes! Who would do this?

We had a home inspection done last year before we bought this place. Since then, I have crawled under the house, explored the attic (installed lighting in both places) and fixed many wiring issues. I built a wall, installed an exterior door, built shelves, installed a boat lift, and even built an attic lift requiring the removal of two floor/ceiling joists.


IMG_8011.jpg

IMG_7752.jpg
I try to do everything I can partly because I'm cheap and also because I like doing it.

I did hire someone to build a retaining wall since I knew it would take me forever to do it. The first guy who I called for a quote said that drainage wouldn't be needed behind the wall. NEXT! The guy that ended up doing the work was more expensive but did a good job. I am happy with the result. Proper drainage was a big part of the plan.

IMG_8519.jpg
 

Snoonyb

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Looks like fun.

I'd be interested to find out if the gussets that are creating a stick-built truss were engineered, and what was recommended, as material.

I see you frustration with the 240V and understand that the person was attempting to satisfy the safety concern of having a grnd., and instead just availed a 240V in a 120V outlet. I would have just eliminated the grnd. at the outlet, and installed a GFCI recep.
 

mabloodhound

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Consider using a laminated beam(s). The manufacturers offer a lot of data for load carrying which may answer your question.
 

bud16415

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I agree. It seems to me that the rafter force on the end walls is a bigger issue than my Wall Removal Project. Are you suggesting a collar tie on the rafter above my wall to be removed or all the rafters? I'm thinking all of them. Also, I think adding struts from the center load bearing walls up to the ridge would help with this rafter loading as well. What do you think about that?


I agree with this as well with the exception of the strut from the ridge to the Beam "A" above the wall. It potentially has some loading on it. I think this strut (currently) is holding 240 sqFt of roof load, which at 10lbs/sqFt snow load (Supplied by local code) equals 2400 lbs of force. I say "currently" because by adding another strut from the center load bearing wall to the ridge, I can reduce this roof area loading in half making it 1200 lbs. With that number, I probably won't need the optional wife approved post.

The hanging beams "B" and "C" are for sure just supporting the ceiling.


You got me thinking though . . .I see what you are saying about the ceiling joists in most of the house are continuous from end wall to end wall and would be in tension with the rafter load keeping the rafters from pushing the end walls outward but where Beam "A" was installed, the joists were cut and attached to Beam "A" compromising the ceiling joist tension strength. The hanging beams that run parallel to Beam "A" probably transfer some (or all) of the tension load from the rafters, around Beam "A" to the wall I want to remove. This is why you are suggesting the collar ties? If, the hanging beams, rather than imposing a down force, could be a tension force pulling outward. Is this the way you see it?
I think you are seeing what I’m seeing in your last paragraph. Collar ties the lower the better will allow the rafters to take the full roof load on the end walls and off the interior walls with all that bracing. You still will be dealing with the weight of the ceilings and a lot of that now is shared between the interior load bearing walls and the roof system.



Some kind of a new beam should be put in there and going extra large over what you might think isn’t going to hurt for sure. It looks like a bit of a problem getting long collar ties up there.

When you go to take out the wall you will need to support it temporarily on both sides and during that process you may get a feel for how much load it will be supporting.
 

Ron Van

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I decided to buy two LVL beams today after considering a GluLam beam. It seems the LVL is what is used around here and the building supply down the street from me has plenty in stock. I bought two 11 7/8" tall by 1 3/4" thick by 16' long. I will nail them together using the pattern per the instructions.IMG_0128.jpg

Here's a composite picture I stitched together (out of 4 smaller pics) of the wall to be removed.

Wall-4.jpg

I sent off an asbestos test last week for both the insulation in the attic as well as the popcorn ceiling. As soon as that comes back (assuming it's negative for asbestos), I'll start the demo.
 

Ron Van

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I do have a question though.... These hanging joists in this photo

Hanging joist.jpg

Actually look like this...

Hanging joist drawing.jpg
I "think" this was done because the builder didn't use metal brackets to secure the joists to the hanging joist but rather used nails like in the drawing. If there is another reason for this please let me know. I would like to secure the hanging joists to the LVL beam with joist hangers but the flat (horizontal) part of the 2x6 hanging joist is in the way.

Hanging joist drawing-2.jpg
If the horizontal 2x6 is just a way to connect the ceiling joists, I don't see why the end near the LVL beam couldn't be cut to allow a joist hanger to be installed.

Hanging joist drawing-3.jpg
Or would it be better to use angled simpson strong tie connectors like this...

Simpson Strong tie.jpg

This is what I'd like to use
Simpson Strong tie hanger.jpg
 

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Ron Van

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Our asbestos test came back negative on both attic insulation and the popcorn ceiling so I starting demo'ing the wall yesterday. I have a feeling Chip Gaines would have been done by now.

Kitchen Wall 012.jpg

Beam "A" ( the main one) in the ceiling ...

Beam Diagram 002.jpg

Rests on top of the wall here...

Kitchen Wall 014.jpg
The 2 X 4 that the beam mainly rests on has been 60%-70% cut away to accommodate the light switch.
Kitchen Wall 015.jpg

The weight is being transmitted to the 2X4's on either side of the compromised one indicating to me that there isn't a tremendous amount of weight on Beam "A". Does this seem logical?
 

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bud16415

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Ya Chip would be kicking it down and making a big mess and then the real crew of about 30 real builders come in and clean up the mess and do the rest.



I think you will need to take the ceiling drywall down a few feet back on both sides where you will be setting the new beam in. you will need to frame a temporary wall on both sides to hold it while you take the wall down and get the beam in for a flush ceiling when done.



At that point you will better judge the weight of the ceiling that is mostly carried on the wall. The ends of the beam will be resting on what? Will that have support all the way to footings?

As to that switch box, why do people do things like that instead of just moving over to clear the stud?
 
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