Advice on supporting stud?

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RinOakland

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Hi, homeowner here (not an engineer), but I uncovered a structural issue I’d like to remedy if anyone can advise on how best. Home is a 1928 single-story with some rooms below. *Sorry for all the pics, hard to explain otherwise :/

The issue is in the lower level (see photo): The header, in addition to only being one board and laid flat, is only toe-nailed at each end, so it's not properly supporting the middle stud. (For added fun, there’s a piano in the room above, and I’m in earthquake country.)

1.jpg

I discussed 2 solutions with a friend who studied architecture...they’re mostly the same: Make a new 3.5” tall header out of two stacked 2x4s, rest it on top of the porch joist on the left, and cut down the problem stud so it can rest on the new header. The difference -- and my question -- is in how the header is supported on the right...

Option 1: Cut out 3.5” of the stud on the right and insert new header into opening. Here, the header sits on top of the newly-cut stud, and the remaining stud below the top plate sits on top of the new header...so both transfer to the ground.

2.jpg


Option 2: Leave the right stud as-is, but sister a 9.5” tall 2x4 to it. Here, the new header sits on top of the sister…which transfers load to the stud next to it (top plate load at this stud is unchanged/fine.) *Also, that right stud is already sistered to another stud...so the bolts here can be around 5" if it helps add sturdiness.

3.jpg

To my untrained mind, option 1 seems more proper and sturdy, but oddly…my friend voted option 2. My fear was that a 9.5" sister wasn't sufficient to hold/transfer the load. That said, I’m not an engineer and really don't know how long of a sister is truly needed for this application...maybe this is totally fine? Obviously this thing’s been sitting on a toe-nailed board for decades and has likely been fine…but wanted to do things right.

Thanks so much for reading-
RT
 
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RinOakland

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And if I didn’t already write enough (🙄), I just realized something...

My plan was to remove the lower portion of that middle stud, below the red dotted line. But...it turns out (1) the porch joist (pink dot) and (2) porch ledger (blue dot) are both nailed into the lower portion of this stud. While it's certainly negligible what support the current header is even providing these two boards, removing this section would technically be a step backward.

new2.jpg

I suppose I could still cut the stud and install the new hanger as planned...but also add a Simpson hanger bracket from it around the porch joist to help support it.

Or.......maybe just nail 1/2” plywood over this entire space -- just like the shear wall next to it -- and call it a day. The truth is, the current, crappy header has very minimal deflection, so maybe there's not much load to be worried about here. So instead of tearing things up, maybe just add some plywood to transfer the load a bit will suffice?
 
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Hamilton

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My advice would be to contact a local structural engineer that could come out on site and evaluate the structure around this opening to determine the best course of action. With just the information you have provided, there are still a lot of unknowns (structurally).
 

RinOakland

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Thanks. I agree that would be best, but given this has likely been like this for decades and the current header shows very minimal deflection, I'd prefer not to spend hundreds on a consultation. To me, it's more a "nice to do" task, things aren't falling down. (The real joke is, I had a structural engineer here last year for some seismic work, but we never saw this as it was drywalled.)

But also, I truly think we can find a solution here. Really...the best solution is already known and it's super simple: Replace the current header with a proper one, and run two new jack studs down each side. That fixes everything properly...easy peasy. The problem is, it makes this doorway 2" shorter...and it's already super, super short. (This leads to the usable crawl space, and I already bonk my head on there 8/10 times :rolleyes: ) So...that's the challenge, finding a solution that improves the structural integrity, while also not reducing the door opening.
 
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TerribleTigzy

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Hang the new header with either HUC24-2 hangers or HH4 hanger at each end to the existing king studs. This eliminates the need for adding trimmers (jack studs).
 

TerribleTigzy

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Either one would be fine. Can't tell you if the (2) 2x4 holds the weight of the piano, but for that short span even (2) 2x4's is decently strong.
 

youngmotivatedengineer

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Unfortunately, you need to hire a local engineer to visually evaluate the situation. Based on your posts and pictures, there seems to be some misunderstandings on your part and your friend who studied architecture as well as potential major structural issues.

The wood you are identifying as the existing header, is not a structural header and looks like it is just a piece of wood used to frame the door opening. The vertical stud in the middle is just to frame the wall and secure the sheetrock. Stacking additional 2x4s on the flat will not increase the structural stability above the door. A header is typically made of a double 2x on it's side with bearing on both ends to foundation. The size of the 2x depends on the actual loads above.

If that is truly a load bearing wall for the floor joists above, you may need a new beam across the entire top of that wall.
 
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