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Failure to Install Header

Michael_Kalman | Posted in General Questions on

I failed to install a header on a wall that I thought it non bearing but ended up being load bearing because of a ridge beam.

The window top currently has a 2×6 horizontally placed and is already sheathed and tyveked from the outside. I am thinking about putting a 1/4” piece of steel across it to help prevent deflection under snow loads. I need some advice, thanks guys!

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  1. maine_tyler | | #1

    It sounds like a gable wall with a center ridge beam? Is the window directly beneath the beam load-path? What IS the load path of that beam?

    Assuming you do need to make the window load displacing, and you still have exposed framing on the interior, could you cut out your studs/cripples above the window and slide in a header?

    Having someone look at this in person might be a better approach than internet forum advice, given the many unknown variables.

    1. Michael_Kalman | | #2

      Correct! It’s the gable end wall! I only have about 1-2” over cripples to be taken out and it would only fit maybe a 2.5-3” header, I might be able to take out the cripples and install a small header if it’s better than nothing,

  2. maine_tyler | | #3

    could you head off the load above that? Like in the gable triangle or directly beneath the beam, and then not worry about the header directly above the window?

    1. Michael_Kalman | | #6

      What does this mean? How do I head off the load?

      1. maine_tyler | | #10

        It's hard to answer without knowing more detail, and while I echo Bill and Malcolm's sentiments, I'll just clarify:
        By head off the load I mean to transfer the load around the window opening. This is what is typically done directly above the window opening with a 'header', but it could theoretically be done higher up, using the same principle, and assuming the load is above that theoretical point.

        Many ridge beams are supported by a post. If your window is directly beneath that post/load-path, that's a potentially serious load, and nothing to shrug about. If it's not beneath the post, it may not be seeing much load at all—but it's impossible to know without seeing this, and knowing the load paths.

        I feel you about not wanting to dump money into an engineer or the like, but consider just finding some other local eyes to get on it. Anything you do now to ensure a safe and sturdy structure will pay itself back to you in the future.

        1. Michael_Kalman | | #11

          You’re right. I’ve found an online engineer to review the situation and try to solve a problem. I’ll definitely have to fix it!

  3. Expert Member
    Akos | | #4

    You can also slide a steel lintel in there, a 3" one can span a smaller window. It would still need some cripples for support though.

    1. Michael_Kalman | | #7

      Is there any solution without removing the lintel that is already in there?

  4. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #5

    I would recommend having an engineer come look at this.

    What you’re really doing with a header is taking a distributed load and turning it into a concentrated load on the two ends of the header. You need to be sure everything involved, all the way to the foundation, can handle this concentrated load. If your header is holding up a ridge beam, you have a LOT more load on the header than you normally would, making everything else much more critical.

    Don’t cut corners on structural issues. Have someone look at it. If you don’t want to go right to an engineer, get an experienced framer or Carpenter to look at it, they’ll a least be able to give you a good idea if it’s an easy or complex change you’re going to have to make.


    1. Expert Member
      MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #8


      Isn't this the same house the had the roof collapse while you were framing it?

      I echo Michael Maines' advice in that discussion, and Bill's in this one. You need to become a lot more serious about structural issues, and shouldn't continue to work on things you don't understand without the input of a building professional or structural engineer.

      1. Michael_Kalman | | #9

        You’re right. I just don’t have the resources to hire a structural engineer to look at the situation and fork over loads of cash for an answer.

        I’ll rip out the lintel and replace it with a header.

        1. AJ__ | | #12

          Have you contacted structural engineers to determine what the cost would be? What is loads of cash for you? It was just under CAD$1000 to have engineered drawings for my 980 sq ft project.

          Please, seriously rethink your position. Who will be occupying that building and how much is their life worth? I'm just an owner builder with some limited construction experience in the middle of my own project and your posts scare me.

        2. creativedestruction | | #13

          Where are you sourcing your materials? Most lumberyards have structural engineers on staff and would provide you with a sound framing plan for very low cost when you purchase through them. If you can afford to have the roof fail and rebuild it again, as you have, you can afford to have it done right.

          1. Michael_Kalman | | #14

            I hired an engineer. Thank you all for suggesting it as my gable ends and even my trusses are not strong enough as per the engineers specs. I am reinforcing the trusses with LVL and the gable walls with 3/4” fir which will suffice.

          2. Expert Member
            BILL WICHERS | | #15

            I’m glad to see you’ve gotten an engineer involvement and have gotten some help getting this structure built safely.

            The big thing to think about with structural issues is “if I cheap out or make a mistake here, I could kill someone if it fails some day”. ALWAYS think like that with structural issues. NEVER cut corners here. As I like to tell my clients at work, “this is not the place to save money”.

            Once you have a sound structure, you can do whatever you want finishing things to your personal preferences and budget knowing your place is going to be safe. It’s also much easier to change our finishes than it is to fix serious structural issues down the road.


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