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I am currently demolishing all the walls in my basement in preparation for upcoming renovations.

I keep reading that walls perpendicular to joists are most probably load-bearing. But this was not the case in a few of the walls I've demolished so far, where the frame was perpendicular to but not even touching the joists above with about half an inch of clearance.

I have another wall here that seems obviously non-load-bearing (at least to my layman eyes). The aluminum studs are flimsy and I can jiggle and twist them easily with my hands. I had a foundation inspector in the other day and randomly asked him if he thought it was load-bearing. He said he wasn't a structural engineer, but it really didn't look like it was bearing ANYTHING and that he would just take it down.

enter image description here enter image description here

Then there's the wall next to it, also visible in the pictures:

enter image description here

The fact that these walls run right under and along the main beam is what's causing my hesitation. The 2nd wall (with the wood panel on it) is beefier than the first, not sure if it is bearing any significant load. The foundation inspector (again, not a structural engineer), pointed out that the load is probably being held up by the metal columns (there are two visible in these pictures and a third out of frame off to the left, they are equidistant), and that the wall was probably built later for separation only (house was built in 1955).

Any thoughts? Are there any obvious clues I should be looking for when trying to determine load-bearing vs non-load-bearing?

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    The metal studs are probably not built for load bearing, one clue. I would need more information about the beam and posts and what is above, but placing a wall to hide the posts is done. Usually a beam/posts does not need a wall to hold up the beam, but walls right above that beam will be load bearing. Having a structural engineer signing off that wall is not load bearing is a good idea. The beam itself might have been found to be too weak or the people did not like the look of the posts out in the open.
    – crip659
    Mar 10, 2023 at 22:44
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    I would not trust one of us, using your pictures to give you the correct answer
    – Traveler
    Mar 10, 2023 at 23:10
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    In the second frame, it looks like the white-painted column is taking the load from the middle of that beam. But emphatically do not take my word for it. Are you really willing to literally bet the house on someone's say-so on the internet?
    – keshlam
    Mar 11, 2023 at 1:34

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I can't tell for certain either. But I'm sure the beam that I've circled in yellow is the main load bearing member that runs along the center of your house. One hint here is that the floor joists rest on that beam (the fact that they're notched is for another discussion).

enter image description here

Usually, main beams like that are supported by steel or 8"x8" (or bigger) wood posts, spaced every 10', 12', 16' apart, depending on the size of the beam. They also are set into a notch in the concrete/block wall on the ends.

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Those shiny folded sheet-steel studs aren't holding anything up, that dodgy looking pine stud doesn't look structural either.

I'm seeing multiple hardwood beams connected to the ends of the joists and these hardwood beams supported by white-painted steel pillars

But I'm not certain enough to bet anyone's life on it. That's an engineer's job.

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My 2 cents. It looks like the joists are notched and sitting on a ledger board? A little odd for a house built in the fifties. If there are steel columns under the main beam, the they should be carrying the load. Those steel studs can go away. Always best to get an engineer when in doubt

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