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I am opening up a pass-through in my home and, ideally, the pass-through would open up all the way to the ceiling.

It is a load bearing wall, so it will need a header. A contractor told me it is possible to put the header in the ceiling so the pass-through is open all the way to the ceiling.

This doesn't make sense to me. How would the header support the joists if it is in the ceiling? Is this actually possible?

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A "flush beam" is on plane at the bottom with the joists it supports. The joists will typically be supported in one of two ways:

  • Using steel joist hangers attached to the beam:

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  • By resting on the beam with an engineered bearing point protrusion, often consisting of a doubled 2x4 top chord or single upright top chord.

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I've done this with a beam, in a fully engineered solution. You mount the beam (or header in your case) above the existing joists, and use long joist hangers to hang the joists from the new beam. Then you can knock out the existing supports.

Caveats: The new header/beam must be properly tied into the structure, hence the need for an engineer and a permit. (I had attic space above so there was room to do this.)

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