Never Assume

Consider this part 2 of the post from yesterday. What had been the conclusion of that post was, in fact, premature. I had opened up a corner of the wall, but it was just one corner.

Today I opened up the corner the rest of the way to the floor. There was one vertical post, so I was able to work my way down to the floor.

Unfortunately, there was not an obvious beam there. All I could see was at least three inches of mortar surrounding the base. Maybe a beam, maybe a foundation wall. We’ll have to wait until we open the floor to find out.

Across the top of the opening between the two sections of the house, though, I was able to keep pulling away plaster and lathe to expose the hoped for lintel. It did keep going, but only the width of what must have once been a window. It does not go all the way across.

West side of opening, with the stone lintel.
East side of opening, after the stone lintel ends.

The other end looked like the fields stone back wall of the house, with nothing specific holding it up above the wood frame.

Digging deeper, I was able to find wood holding up the stone. Maybe a 2×8 or so, set horizontally, so not a lot of structural support for the stone wall that is over a foot thick.

So, never assume what you see at one point keeps going to another.

Keeping that in mind, I decided to keep going to see how the beam I found at the top of the wall was supported.

North-East corner of Dining Room

This corner view has a lot going on – not least of which is the wallpaper pattern – but the beam is sitting on a post in the corner. That part was good news. How the hot water pipes for the radiators were cut into that beam, however, is concerning. Almost half of that 8×8 beam had been hacked away to make room for two 1″ copper pipes.

It begins again

It’s been a while. There have been projects, and I may post them eventually, but I also thought this was the best way to share the discovery process that is the first step of a new project.

First, some context. This is the dining room, a room in the older, wooden part of the house, looking north through an opening to the family room in the cobblestone section. There is work to be done in this dining room, and we wanted to know if the two sections of the house, what were probably two separate buildings originally, are actually attached.

Dining Room wall

We started by opening the wall. Odd that the wood studs holding the lathe and plaster are at an angle, but there is always something to learn when we start a project. In this case, we wanted to understand the wall structure so we could potentially attach the two buildings and find out what was holding the stone wall up above the opening – hopefully something structural.

Starting in a corner, I took off the plaster. The lathe is split, not sawn.

Going deeper, I found why the studs were at an angle. They are not structural at all but are just between the beam at floor level and the beam at ceiling level.

It’s an 8″ x 8″ beam and still looks good and straight. The doorway, however, has dropped. We noticed that when we moved in, and in fact I measured it at the time to make sure it wasn’t still dropping. It’s not, but now it’s clear what’s going on:

The post next to the doorway has dropped. I didn’t open up the floor, though that will be part of the upcoming project. It’s likely there is a beam along the floor, but it’s resting very close to the ground so has probably weakened and sagged in the middle, bringing the door frame down with it.

Likewise, looking at the joists going from that beam across the dining room ceiling, it’s clear that the weight above has been too much. There’s a whole bathroom that was added above the middle of the dining room, and it doesn’t look like the ceiling joists were sized to hold it. They’ve split, which is why the floor above slopes so much.

The real question was if there was anything holding the rock wall up above the door.

There is! I can’t tell if it’s stone or concrete, but it’s solid. So, there is something above the doorway holding up the rock wall. It makes sense that there is, but it’s reassuring to find it.