How to Identify a Load Bearing Wall

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A load bearing wall gives a building structural integrity. It carries and distributes weight from the roof and top floors down to the foundation. Damage to a load bearing wall can cause floors to sag, finishes to crack and the entire structure to collapse. Before beginning a home remodeling project, learn to identify a load bearing wall.

  • Know that the outside walls of your home are always considered to be load bearing because these walls support the roof. Additional support has to be given to these walls when any modifications are performed.

  • Look for foundations, concrete footers and girders in your basement. If there is a wall or beam directly above these on the next floor of the house, that wall or beam is load bearing.

  • Locate interior walls of your home that run perpendicular to the rafters. These are load bearing walls.

  • Check out areas above and below the wall in question. If the wall above has a support beam or there is a wall below, it's probable that it is a load bearing wall.

  • Call a professional structural engineer to assess whether or not a wall is load bearing.

  • View the original building plans of your home to see which walls are load bearing. When building a new home, ask the contractor to tell you which walls carry the load.

Tips & Warnings

  • Find a professional structural engineer in your phone book.
  • The only way to make sure a wall is load bearing is to investigate the entire length of the wall.

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