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I'm trying to do drywall repair on a ceiling where the joist hangers were poorly installed, with the worst offender hanging 1/4" below the joist it is supposed to hold.

The intention is to place furring strips along the edges of the hole, and screw both the existing and replacement drywall into those strips. Ideally I would also screw the drywall into the ceiling joists.

My problem is that this will push the drywall down where the hangers are. The joists are level, but the joist hangers are not. Did I mention this is my first time doing drywall repair? I thought I could just notch out the top of the drywall where the hangers are, but I've been told that cutting through the drywall paper will compromise the integrity of the gypsum.

Trying to remove and re-anchor the joist hangers would be entirely beyond my expertise, and would require a considerably larger hole than I already have. What other options might I have?

This is the overall area (note that the sides have not yet been properly cut out): Overall area, including joists

There are significant gaps between the bottoms of the joists and bottoms of the hangers: Another view of worst offender

In the worst case, the joist being supported is held 1/4" above the bottom of the hanger: Joist 1/4" above bottom of joist hanger

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    Those wouldn't be "furring strips". They're just floated backing.
    – isherwood
    Aug 24 '21 at 13:58
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enter image description here

Although not optimal I would be comfortable if the joists were in the same position in relation to the beam but were attached with a bracket like this on each side.

I would be confident since 44 years has elapsed and there is no evidence that the joist has dropped from proper elevation.

Guess what? The OP has this situation. The bottom of his joist hangers are not currently holding any load. The side nailing on his hangers have held the joist even with the beam.

Therefore no structural support will be lost by smashing the hanger bottom flat with the joist bottom or cutting that protruding piece off.

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  • "Would everyone be comfortable if the joists were in the same position in relation to the beam but were attached with a bracket like this on each side". NO. At least not unless you can show me the engineering data that such a connection can carry the required load. I know (at least from the Simpson catalogue), what a properly installed joist hangar can carry. I don't think the connector you showed is designed for that type of connection.
    – SteveSh
    Aug 24 '21 at 23:56
  • So in your world the fact that it has not moved in 44 years counts for nothing? I would not spec this as best practices methodology either but OP need not remediate these improperly installed hangers because as we can see the side nails have held the joists in proper position and will continue to do so with the offending metal out of the way. This will allow a drywall repair to proceed.
    – Kris
    Aug 25 '21 at 0:12
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    I understand the point about "it's been there for 44 years". Your question was "would everyone be comfortable ...". My answer is no.
    – SteveSh
    Aug 25 '21 at 0:54
  • I will re phrase
    – Kris
    Aug 25 '21 at 1:06
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I agree that the only issue here is an aesthetic one. If the joists were going to settle, they would have.

I'd take a BFH (big freaking hammer) and smash the descending hangers up tight, then replace the drywall. I'd cut a slightly oversized patch, trace it on the ceiling, then cut that out. Presto. Perfect fit. The only place you really should float backing is at the corners.

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    Exactly or side grind the intrusive hanger bottom off and let the side nails continue to carry the load.
    – Kris
    Aug 24 '21 at 14:37
  • I'd lean toward keeping them there as insurance.
    – isherwood
    Aug 24 '21 at 14:46
  • +another for the "cut the patch, then make the hole match" tip!
    – FreeMan
    Aug 24 '21 at 15:18
  • I agree. This is clearly hammer time
    – Machavity
    Aug 25 '21 at 14:57
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The 'right' thing to do is pull the joist hangers off and replace them. That would mostly solve your drywall problem.

The next best thing is to get some shims into the voids between the bottom of the joists and at least support them properly.

Regarding drywall, go 4' wide with your cutout, and the bulge in the middle won't be noticeable. Be delicate screwing the middle section, as it's easy to break through the paper when the drywall is floating. If you're doing this solo, make yourself a t-shaped support to hold the drywall in place while you are screwing it. (You could also use the t-support to hold the sheet of drywall up there while you mark the lines for the cutout... getting an exact 4x8 rectangle on a ceiling isn't easy.)

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  • As I mentioned to SteveSh, this situation has existed undisturbed for 44 years, and is likely to exist elsewhere in the house, so I'm trying to avoid a sudden explosion in the scope of the repair. With respect to using a 4' wide cutout, I think I might not have to since the top of the existing drywall is more or less flush with the bottom of the joist hangers. i.e. In person it looks like I might just be able to shim it, patch it up, and be done with it. If I do have to fix the joist hangers, I would definitely need to hire a contractor. Aug 24 '21 at 11:38
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I would remove and replace the joist hangers.

The way they are installed, with the joist not bearing firmly on the bottom/heel of the hanger, means that the load carrying capability of that joint is severely compromised.

The nails/fasteners that are driven perpendicular through the hanger into the beam aren't doing anything from a load carrying standpoint.

The joist is basically fastened to the beam with the 4 or 6 nails that go in on the diagonal, essentially a toe-nailed type of joint. This is not acceptable IMM for this type of application - attaching a joist to a beam.

Like I said, remove and replace the joist hangers.

Edit 1 - Standard Joist Hanger

Are you saying your joist hanger is like this one?

standard joist hanger

(Screenshot from FamilyHandyman.com).

Even so, I'm sure the load carrying capability of that joint depends on the joist resting on the bottom/heel of the joist.

Could be what you're seeing is effects of the joist drying out and shrinking. Since the joist is constrained by the nails driven into it, when it tries to shrink, it has to move off the bottom of the hanger. Though from your photos it looks like the hangers were deliberately set a bit below the beam to which they're attached. I don't know why the builder would have done that.

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    There are actually 20 nails per hanger, though none go in diagonally: 12 go straight into the joist that supports the hangers, and 8 go straight into the joist being supported. But this has remained undisturbed for 44 years, and my untrained eye sees no indication that it is failing. And if these hangers are a problem, the same situation probably exists all over the house. How bad is it for me to patch the drywall and close it back up? Aug 24 '21 at 11:29
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    This is just unnecessary. Once upon a time hangers weren't even used, and it was rarely a problem. It obviously isn't in this case. The only issue is an aesthetic one.
    – isherwood
    Aug 24 '21 at 13:38
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    If the joist was being supported by the bottom of the Hager it would be touching the hanger bottom. The joist is being held fir 44 years by the side nailing
    – Kris
    Aug 24 '21 at 14:37
  • @isherwood- But they don't do that (hangers weren't used) anymore, right? Why is that? Because using hangers properly reduces the possibility of a marginal installation.
    – SteveSh
    Aug 24 '21 at 14:51
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    Right, but this situation has been time-tested. I don't disagree that it could be considered an appropriate fix, but it would dramatically expand this project.
    – isherwood
    Aug 24 '21 at 15:59
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Since the drywall is probably 1/2 and the worst drop is around 1/4 I'd just shave the back of drywall off until it is flat as is needed in the problem areas. You could also consider just floating the drywall surface so it all blends in instead of trying to adjust anything from the inside.

If you really want to adjust the hangers then you could do 1 at a time. Make a small sturdy brace from the floor up to the joist. Get a 4 ton jack and jack the joist up a bit, put the brace under it. Let the weight sit on the brace. Cut off the nails on the joist hanger with a reciprocating saw. Rejack the joist to the correct height and put on a new hanger. After all this is done you'll probably have cracking in a few places in the existing drywall that'll need mending. You'll have to consider what is above the joist and what the floor can hold. There are also quite a few unknown variables. Personally I could just go with shaving the drywall.

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  • No indication that the joist has dropped at all Jacking is not appropriate in this case
    – Kris
    Aug 25 '21 at 21:00
  • @Kris No one said anything about dropping. Since this is an aesthetics thing, not structural, and they don't like where the joists sit in proportion to the drywall, jacking is an option so the drywall is flat is what is being said. Aug 26 '21 at 14:15
  • Oh, why didn't I pay closer attention to "Since the drywall is probably 1/2 ..."!? I measured with a caliper and was fully convinced it was 5/8", but then when I put the patch in place, it stuck out below the adjoining drywall, and I realized I should have used 1/2". Surprisingly that was my only big mistake on this repair. Aug 29 '21 at 3:42

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