I'm doing a bathroom remodel and adding a utility sink for my wife's art studio on the floor above. When we talked over the plan, I decided to go with the 2" drain they said I should use, but I had wanted to send it through an interior wall. However, they talked me into the exterior wall and said they would connect to the tub drain right where it came down. I even installed a ledger ahead of time and we talked about drilling through it for the drain.

Somewhere along the line though, the plumber changed his mind and went through 2 structural 2x4s. I was shocked when I saw it. There's less than an inch of wood on either side of the hole.

What should I do? Doesn't this weaken the wall? It even blocks me from installing the other ledger I'd planned and one of the joists it goes between has a huge gouge out of it I'd planned to deal with.

Here are some pictures:

Gouged joist I planned to work on

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Metal is resting on the drain

less than an inch of wood on the sides

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I thought I would add an earlier picture of the joist I was going to shore up. It's a little hard to see due to the shadow, but there's a horizontal chunk of wood that is missing just above the sister. My plan, before the pipe was unexpectedly routed there, was to add a ledger on either side. That joist was notched way too wide before I bought the house. Now with the pipe in the way, I'm not sure how to address this.

More pics - Adding a few more pieces for better visualization of the off-center stud hole:

lower shot of off-center hole

with tape measure

stud depth

stud width

hole through other stud is smaller and centered better

Update: I just spoke with the building guy at the township construction and code enforcement office. He pointed out that given the shape of my roof, it is a loadbearing wall. I forget the name of the roof type, but it's essentially almost like a pyramid (with a wide peak). I thought this was a significant detail I should add.

no wood in front

  • 2
    The minor annoyance is that he wasn't drilling guide holes before screwing through my shims I used to level the floor, but that's not a big deal. My main concern is structural integrity. How much of a concern is that? I mean, a hole through 2 exterior 2x4s that leaves less than an inch of wood on either side seems pretty alarming to me. When I was learning about doing this DIY, my understanding was to not do this because they're structural.
    – hepcat72
    Sep 4, 2021 at 1:57
  • Have him take it out, do it right, then sister the two studs. It’s only permissible to compromise the structural integrity like that if no alternative route is an option.
    – Kris
    Sep 5, 2021 at 14:08
  • @Kris I was debating whether to demand that or the stud shoe when the plumber boss comes. I was thinking though that if the shoe solution addresses the structural integrity issue, then they wouldn't have to redo all the work on the floor above (and I wouldn't be left with an empty hole in the baseboard up there.
    – hepcat72
    Sep 5, 2021 at 14:19
  • @isherwood - well, it says to double (I.e. sister) the studs and add stud shoes. That would mean that the pipe would have to be removed, a new sister installed, drilled through, and then the pipe replaced. If they have to remove the pipe to do that, I would rather they just reroute it directly up on the right side then still go through two studs. I feel like there's a case for that that I can make with the plumber.
    – hepcat72
    Sep 6, 2021 at 15:04
  • @isherwood - Respectfully, there are significant differences between this question and the proposed duplicate. Those were notches. These are off-center holes. That question was about an old install. This one is in the middle of a current job with the option to reroute. There are also issues with the pipe being above the joist/floor level with metal resting on the pipe. Undoubtedly, the current answers are similar, but the circumstances are not precisely the same. I think closing this question hampers me from finding an optimal solution.
    – hepcat72
    Sep 6, 2021 at 19:41

2 Answers 2


Since your house is the vintage it is

Old houses, like yours, that predate modern lumber dimensioning often can't use stud shoes, as you discovered. Since you're in that boat, you can try nailing a 8-10" piece of 2x blocking that's been notched to go around the pipe to the studs in question (this was what was done to reinforce the studs that were notched for the kitchen sink drainline in the 1950s ranch I live in).

For folks with modern studs...

This sort of problem is precisely why stud shoes are a thing. These are sheet-metal pieces that fit over the pipe-in-stud-hole and are nailed or screwed into the stud to reinforce the weak spot the hole created. I'd use Simpson HSS2-SDS1.5s (shown below) for this job; they're a bit trickier to install as you have to bend part of them around behind the pipe, but they're capable of transmitting both tension and compression around the hole, something regular stud shoes aren't rated for. (They also come with all the screws you need to install them.)

Simpson Strong-Tie HSS2-SDS1.5 stud shoe

P.S. If the shoe doesn't quite fit because the hole's too far forward, you should be able to use a shim between the front of the stud and the front of the shoe. The results won't be great, but they'll be better than what you have...

  • 5
    @hepcat72 If you look up the product pdf for the Simpson Strong-Tie stud shoes, the flange (part that appears to be in the way of installing over pipe) actually can be bent down 90 degrees to get it past the pipe, then you bend it back up.
    – anjama
    Sep 4, 2021 at 14:35
  • 9
    Seems like the sort of thing the plumber should come back and install as part of making the job correct. Anyone know if that's the case?
    – davidbak
    Sep 4, 2021 at 17:07
  • 4
    @davidbak -- yeah, the plumber probably should have installed them to begin with...*sigh* Sep 4, 2021 at 17:21
  • 3
    @JimStewart -- they are larger than what's normally allowed, but the OP described the pipe as 2" PVC, which is the largest pipe (OD = 2.375") that the Simpson shoes accept Sep 4, 2021 at 20:41
  • 2
    Are plumbers qualified to install stud shoes? I always heard that when the plumbers and HVAC techs cut framing they shouldn't it's the framers who have to restore the framing to acceptable structural integrity. Sep 4, 2021 at 20:58

There's really nothing to worry about here.

  1. Yeah, the holes should've really been centered. A stud with even 3/4" of wood on each side retains much of its original stiffness, and the strength lost for just two studs is not significant. A stud with what's effectively a large notch loses a lot of stiffness. However, it's not a concern for just two studs in a wall system like this.

  2. You don't need to repair this with hardware. There's a huge amount of strength in that wall system. Solid wood sheathing spans all those studs and ties them together. Nothing is going to fall apart. It's been done just like this for a century.

  • I just added another picture to the bottom of my question. It shows that there is essentially no wood to one side of the pipe. So it's not 3/4 of an inch. It's more like an eighth or less. Does that change your answer?
    – hepcat72
    Sep 6, 2021 at 15:07
  • Also, from a contractual standpoint, if the plumber changes the design that I approved, they should review changes with me before implementing them. I am essentially the builder responsible for making a call on something like this. Had I been consulted, I would definitely have opted for an alternate solution that did not go through the studs. The reasoning for making the drain connection 2 joists over is likely a valid one, however in that case I would have suggested bringing the pipe down in that section between those two joists instead of cutting through the studs.
    – hepcat72
    Sep 6, 2021 at 15:51
  • Not really. It's two studs (one, if you just consider the off-center one).
    – isherwood
    Sep 7, 2021 at 12:44
  • 1
    Answers like the popular one here get a lot of votes from laypeople who think that's a brilliant answer because it's simple and has a picture. Those votes are mostly based on emotion. Take them for what they're worth.
    – isherwood
    Sep 7, 2021 at 12:47

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