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Just removed the drywall and need help to confirm if it's a non-bearing wall. It's a 1900 duplex house and there is a similar wall on the first floor but it is not aligned, about 10" distance. Basement joists seems to be parallel to this wall.

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The framing definitely looks like it's a add-on room divider. I can also see that you've got 3-prong outlets so the electrical has been upgraded or you're not to code, when was the last time the house was renovated? Can you measure the lumber itself, if it is 1.75" 2x4s then it is much more modern than 1900, still could be load-bearing from a renovation but would provide us with more insight to the situation. – Jason Sep 8 '13 at 16:21
Thanks for the helps! Bmitch, I just remeasured and I am 100% confident that it is a 10" off from the 1st floor wall and the 2nd floor wall. (By the we are in the second floor) How can I determine if this wall is directly on top of the basements joists? Haven't checked the roof yet. Added a few more detailed photos. – John Sep 8 '13 at 16:47
Jason, the measurement for the lumber are 2"x3"x103". We have no clue when it was last renovated. We have been living there for more than 20 years, and the wall always have been there. – John Sep 8 '13 at 16:59
Thank you all for your help. Just posted a few more pictures and we started to remove the frame without any signs of weights. Please let me know if there is any attention I must pay attention from the latest photos. Again, thank you so much! – John Sep 8 '13 at 22:51
They are cross framing. – John Sep 10 '13 at 16:11

Given the direction of the joists in the basement, the location of the wall in the floor plan, the offset of the wall below, and the gap between the adjacent wall in some of your photos, it's likely that this wall is not load bearing. To be certain, I'd look at the the floor/attic above to see if there are joists resting on top of this wall.

Some of the reasons you can't use to know the wall isn't load bearing include:

  • Fully dimensional lumber (2" instead of 1.5"). This means the wall is likely original to the home, and not a renovation after all the load bearing structure was already in place. Of course there are non-load bearing walls in the original construction.

  • Double top plate. This is a good building practice and required with load bearing walls. But it's possible that the builder did a second top plate throughout the home to make measurements for studs easier, and a better build quality.

When removing the wall, I'd use a sawzall to cut the studs in half. If the sawzall blade starts to bind from the wood compressing on both sides, there's a load on this wall, and you'll need to take additional precautions. And if it doesn't bind, then you know there isn't any load and should be safe to remove the wall.

Note, this is just the advice of a random person on the internet that's only seen a few photos. If you're not sure, it doesn't hurt to call in a professional to give you a better assessment. This is one of those cases where being wrong can be very expensive and dangerous.

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For some reason, the way they build the attic was inaccessible. Therefore, we decided to remove the middle lumber to see if there is weight or wood compressing signs. There was none. We also make a bigger hole in the ceiling to check if there was perpendicular or parallel joists. It seems clearly that it is parallel. I have added a few more pictures. – John Sep 8 '13 at 22:43
"Double top plate. This is a good building practice and required with load bearing walls." In other words: one top plate == non-load bearing – mike Sep 9 '13 at 0:22
One top plate does not mean non-loading bearing. It means probably. – DMoore Sep 9 '13 at 4:16
Also cutting a wall with the sawzall and see if it binds is not a way to tell if a wall is load bearing - spoken from a big mistake I had years back by doing the same thing. For one if the wall was not built on the ground and the framing was tight, it will push on the saw not matter what. The flip side is that the section you cut was not framed tight but surrounding areas were - so there won't be much pressure. Eventually the joists might sag but not fast enough to make your sawing experience different. – DMoore Sep 9 '13 at 4:20
If there's a single top plate, and it's load bearing, then it isn't built up to current code. No idea if that would have been allowed in the distant past. For the sawzall test, you're right. It's a warning that you need to stop what you're doing immediately, not that it's ok. My "should be safe" is relevant to this OP only, and not to any situation. – BMitch Sep 9 '13 at 10:22

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