If you are about to perform extensive renovations on your house, you may have decided that you would like to have an open floor plan that would require that you remove one or two walls between rooms. However, if you try to remove a load-bearing wall that supports most or all of the structures in your house, you may wind up with a ceiling that comes crashing down. Before you start removing a wall, use the following tips to determine whether or not it is a load-bearing structure.
1. See If the Walls Are Perpendicular to the Floor Joists
One way you can determine whether a wall is load-bearing is by looking at the wall's alignment with the floor joists. You can do this by either going into the attic or basement and inspecting the joists that are over or under the wall.
While looking at the floor joists, if you see that the wall is perpendicular to them, the wall is most likely load-bearing. Because the structures are crisscrossed, the wall is better able to support the foundational structures of the floor.
If you find that the floor joists are parallel to the wall, the wall is most likely not supporting the weight of the floors. However, you should also look for other signs to make sure.
2. Look for Supporting Structures That Are Located under the Wall
Whether or not you find that the floor joists are perpendicular to the wall, you should also look for supporting structures that are located under the wall by going into the basement or crawlspace. Typically, these supporting structures are placed directly under and along the wall to further support a load-bearing wall's ability to hold up the house's floor, walls, and even roof.
While looking for these additional supporting structures, try to find any metal poles or wooden beams wrapped in metal. They will be positioned along a larger horizontal beam.
If you see these structures but are not completely sure if they are located under the wall you wish to remove, go back into your house, and measure the distance between one exterior wall to the one in question. Then, use those same measurements underneath to see if the wall is reinforced with these supporting structures. If so, the wall is load-bearing and should not be removed.
If you see the above indicators during your investigation, there is a good chance that the wall is load-bearing and should not be removed. If you are unsure, however, speak with a home renovation contractor who offers home renovation services so that they can fully inspect the wall to determine its removability.