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Im trying to determine why there would be 7 inch on center studs above a gas fireplace, and if it’s load bearing

Im working on mounting a TV with an in-wall electronics box above a gas fireplace. When checking out the wall the studs are 7” on center above the fireplace which I haven’t seen before.

Any insight on if this may be load bearing or and why this stud spacing may exist?

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My normal GC is on vacation and I was hoping to complete this over this week. I’ve done this before at my old house but had normal 16” on center studs above the fireplace there. I can’t find anything that would explain the stud spacing, I know that builders can be closer than 16” on center but not sure why they would do this close.

This wall is at a 45 degree angle to the floor joists above, and obviously the studs don’t go down to foundation since there’s a gas fireplace there but the do land on a pair of 2x6s.

I removed a 14x12 inch section to get some pictures.

Any insight would be appreciated!

Dropbox link to photos (it won’t let me upload them here): https://www.dropbox.com/sh/9qbvr3hmychc3gc/AAChHWuBowk4yt2Jtou7m8gXa?dl=0

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  • Usually a short spacing on stud walls is to keep 16 inch stud spacing/nailing. Would check if that wall gets warm/hot from the fireplace, since electronics do not like heat/dust/dirt. TVs above a fireplace might look nice, but TVs usually do not like it there.
    – crip659
    Dec 26, 2022 at 20:18
  • @crip659 thank you, it’s 5 7” on center studs between two doubles. Temp is okay, after 4 hours lit the space only reaches 72* and the box has added R8 fire rated insulation below it. Box would be 4’ above the nearest fireplace component.
    – nc963y
    Dec 26, 2022 at 20:29

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The chosen stud spacing may be extra support in anticipation of heavy tile or masonry veneer or heavy shelving above the fire place.

It's excellent for TV support. (But you do have to consider fire place heat when placing electronics like a TV)

Whether the fire place wall is load bearing depends on what is above and underneath, and how the ceiling joists run above the fire place. The stud spacing for an inside wall would usually still be 16"OC, so the 7" spacing is no tell.

Sometimes there are double or triple king & jack studs supporting a header, but rarely 7in spacing bearing on a header.

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  • thank you, there is a bathroom above this area, the wall is at a 45* angle to the joists above, the top of the wall looks to just be a single 2x4 with plywood above it. I’m leaning towards it’s not load bearing and planning to notch the middle stud base on what I see so far
    – nc963y
    Dec 26, 2022 at 21:52

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