Framing/Construction/Plumbing gurus?

EAM44February 4, 2014

Remember my Wall of Death? Here's what it looks like partially demo-ed. It was originally the outside wall of the home, a window over the kitchen sink and soffits 12" high by 13" deep hiding plumbing etc... I want to make that window opening as wide as possible but have some impediments: HVAC, electrical and plumbing. I can gain 1.5 inches on each side if I can move my beams over a bit. Ideally, I'd like the ceiling to continue through that window, but I don' know how to make that work. My questions:

1.) The plumbing from the bathroom above includes a gently sloping tub drain that wraps in front of, then joins a sink drain the same size, that then join the main huge pipe. Is it expensive/labor intensive to make those smaller drain pipes slope less and meet above the level of the ceiling, or should the slopes be left as is?

2.) I'd like to find a framing material that could replace the 2" x 4" beams that support the load over the opening - hoping for something thinner. In fact, I was hoping to find a way to support the load that would allow the ceiling to appear flush with that in the sun room. But they're holding up floor joists. Suggestions?

3.) I'd like to scoot the beams framing the window over on each side, to be adjacent to the plumbing or HVAC on the sides. Am I going to be able to do this myself (female, 5'3", good upper body strength)? I don't want to break my house.


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Circus Peanut

I'm sorry I can't advise, EAM, other than to recommend you get someone versed in structural engineering to give you their insight -- but I had to say, I love how your pipes are doing the samba!

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 5:04PM
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Being an ignorantly fearless 5' almost 3" tall, I can tell you there is no such thing as "scooting" beams over a bit. And by "supporting the load," is that window wall a load bearing wall? Former exterior walls just might be.

Although I do suggest you talk to a structural pro and a plumbing pro on all of this, particularly "scooting" beams, I do know a couple of things. You might already know, too.

As far as finding something thinner to support around your window, look at metal studs. Frankly, to make homes fireproof, we should all build with metal. I have no idea of the expense involved, but it might help.

Your drains need to have a certain slant, so many degrees per foot, or you get stinky back-up. It might not need to be as dramatic as the samba, er, the picture. That might give you room.

Do you expect to do the plumbing changes yourself? (Are you that brave!?) Be careful fussing with your main. What you're asking, in my head, involves cutting it to couple your drains in differently.

Good luck. You're way braver than this chick.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 5:45PM
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metal is not fireproof, it melts.

you need a licensed builder. but some years back while I was still not done with my education and was not earning a decent living, I hired someone to remove a load bearing wall and install an LVL beam to replace it, and the rough work came in at 1200 including all materials. this was not bad.

I had to figure out what to do with the wires and open walls after that, but finding my own electrician, and plasterer was only a few hundred more.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 10:01PM
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Thank you all for weighing in. Circuspeanut, I love the Samba, just not in my pipes...

CEF, I'm not touching the plumbing myself. Those are copper pipes. I doubt I could lift the pieces let alone cut and join them. Here's the thing... Everyone on GW says, move the plumbing. No biggie. I know the slope matters and my plumbing works flawlessly. I don't want to screw it up. But when this house was built soffits were standard, so I don't know whether they laid the pipe this way out of necessity, or whether it was done for convenience. it is indeed a load bearing wall, otherwise I wouldn't need to replace the beam, I'd just remove it. I've also scooted vertical beams before - after a while you learn to cut the nails, not the wood. Thanks for the compliment, but brave and stupid are two sides of the same coin my friend :)

Detroit, if you're telling me not to do it myself, I hear you. I can try to get a quote I guess. The plumber will charge me for the trip, but I can do a lot of the electrical myself - no wiring needed, just untacking and re-tacking conduit to eliminate slack.

I want to be done already. I want to cook. I want the snow to stop and winter to end. I want to go on a date with a nice guy. I want chocolate and a good night's sleep. I want a bubble bath. Better enjoy one before I un-samba the pipes.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 10:39PM
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"metal is not fireproof, it melts."

Mmmnnnnâ¦.not so much. When it gets hot, metal deflects. When it deflects, it loses it load bearing capacity. That's why they spray "fireproofing" on the structural steel of skyscrapers; it insulates the metal from the heat and subsequent deflection.

Wood maintains a remarkable amount of load bearing capacity despite being charred in fires.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 11:49PM
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1. You don't say how old your home is, but if it is relatively modern, no, you can't change the slope of the drain lines. Too much is as bad as too little. They've got this pretty well figured out by now.

2. Please remember that pound for pound, wood is stronger than steel. I'd forget about replacing your jack and king studs, you're not gaining enough to make it worthwhile. The header supporting the floor joists can be flush mounted. This is not a DIY project for the inexperienced.

3. You can't "scoot" the kings and jacks without extending the length of the header too. You can do this yourself; I've done it. It's much more brain power than muscle, but you can really screw things up if you aren't positive of the things you are doing. If I may be so bold, I can tell from your questions that you're way out of your league.

I think you should cook a meal for a nice guy who's a framer. You'd get three wishes in one.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 12:03AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Just from your questions and vocabulary, you are in way over your head. While the project isn't beyond the scope of an experienced and code educated DIYer, that's not what you present yourself as. Get some pros. Start with the plumber, then move on to a framer. Then to an electrician. Wires don't get ''scooted'' any more than headers do.

There are gazillions of books and videos available to educate yourself about construction. Avail yourself of them and maybe a class or two at a local community college. If you want to DIY, do it properly.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 7:42AM
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Trebuchet, I don't know you, but I like how you think.

Holly, I have so many degrees I've convinced myself I can do everything. That's what all the letters after my name mean, right? The thing is it's really not neuroscience. You look at how it's all put together and replicate.

If anyone else is planning to recommend professional help, save your fingers. I get the message. Thanks for your time.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 8:11AM
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