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We’re looking to open up a wall that separates the kitchen and living room. The wall doesn’t reach the ceiling, currently has a 3ft doorway.

The house is a single story slab on grade located in SoCal. Wall ends about 6 ft from the ceiling.

Upon removing the drywall we found this 3” steel pole set in the slab. It sticks out of the slab about 3ft and is lagged to one of the studs. Waterline in the image went to the ice maker in the fridge and the sink is on a separate wall so I don’t believe this is related to anything plumbing.

Is this pipe providing some sort of shear strength to the house, or is it just there to stiffen the partial wall for out of plane loads, since it doesn’t attach to the ceiling?

Photos for reference: View from the kitchen

Pole in question

Set into the slab

Bolted to stud

View from the other side

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  • What part of the country is this located. It could be to help protect from earthquakes and or heavy winds. You could contact your local building department and ask if they are required and why.
    – Gil
    Nov 22, 2021 at 20:21
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    Hard to imagine this pipe providing any useful stiffening of anything other than the one stud it's attached to. And maybe not even that since the sill plate is broken to accommodate it. It's not attached to the wall near the ground, the doorway eliminates even whatever tiny effect the pipe might have for most of the wall's width. Maybe it was for stiffening but it was just a terrible idea poorly implemented.
    – jay613
    Nov 22, 2021 at 20:46
  • @jay613, that one stud connects to the entire wall via the top plate. That's where the stiffening effect occurs. The break bottom wall plate (not "sill plate") is irrelevant. #latetothegame
    – isherwood
    Jun 20 at 21:32
  • @isherwood #betterlatethannever -- Wow! Exactly two weeks ago I did something very similar, stiffening a bathroom knee wall with a flat steel bar to the joist below. I did not remember or see the resemblance to this question.
    – jay613
    Jun 21 at 11:32

3 Answers 3

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It appears to be a post intended to brace the wall and prevent it from flexing. Likely the wall flexed too much when bumped on that side of the door opening.

A wiser solution would have been to give the section of wall above a more substantial header.

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Hard to imagine this pipe providing any useful stiffening of anything other than the one stud it's attached to.

That's exactly what it does... now.

It's the bottom half of a floor support post. They used the holes where the pins go, and put through bolts into a stud that sits on an almost completely cut floor plate which was probably wiggling. And stopped wiggling when they put the bolts in, so they didn't have to go get masonry fasteners to attach the floor plate better.

Why is it there? Probably (temporary) when they cut that opening and/or blew out the roof (and became unnecessary). Or it's an OG artifact and the framer was more OCD than me and took the opportunity to strengthen the wall because there was a 'pipe' right there already with some holes in it.

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  • The one stud is connected to the top plate of the wall. The pipe indirectly stabilizes the entire wall via that connection. And there wouldn't have been a need for a steel post there. That home appears to have been built with engineered trusses.
    – isherwood
    Jun 20 at 21:30
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It looks like it was placed during original construction, when the slab was poured. It doesn't look like standard construction.

Does the open end smell like septic gas? Are the other vent pipes in the house metal or plastic? Is there any way to learn what the pipe was originally intended for?

If the pipe was meant to be structural, it could just be left alone. If it is a septic vent pipe it should be run out the roof, or capped with a one-way air vent valve. The one-way septic gas vents have been adopted by some local building codes.

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    A vent line wouldn't be thru-lagged like that though since each of those thru-lags create a leak point. It's clearly structural in nature, not part of the plumbing system.. Jun 18 at 19:50
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    It would have been eminently noticable if that was a sewer gas pipe! Well before now. Why would that sort of thing vent into a room? Even if capped, it wouldn't be secured with all those bolts!
    – Tim
    Jun 19 at 10:29

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