I am removing a center load bearing wall in a ranch house and planning on a replacing with a recessed beam supported on 2 ends with post...

Pretty straightforward, however the ceiling in this home has radiant heat with 1/4 inch copper tubing embedded in the ceiling plaster. Putting in temporary support walls is almost impossible given all the copper tubing in the ceiling.

Is there a way to temporarily support the ceiling joists from above? Attic has roof rafters with non load bearing ridge beam.

Thermal image of radiant heat

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Thanks for any help.

  • 1
    Do the heating pipes cross through the top of the load bearing wall? Or can we presume that all the work of replacing the wall with the beam can be done without affecting the pipes, and the only issue is providing temporary support without damaging the ceiling?
    – jay613
    Commented Mar 16, 2023 at 19:20
  • 1
    The pipes do not cross the walls.. verified with thermal images
    – Zander
    Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 0:45
  • 3
    Is this common in your area? I'm familiar with heated floors, but a heated ceiling seems like a good way to waste energy by heating the roof space above.
    – Criggie
    Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 11:27
  • 2
    @Criggie, such systems usually have reflective layers behind, and the radiant energy heats surfaces like furniture and floors. It's a very comfortable strategy. If it's uncommon it's because it's labor-intensive to install.
    – isherwood
    Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 13:34

2 Answers 2


It's just not necessary to support the framing from above. Temporary walls are put up under drywall all the time, and the gypsum doesn't crush. Actual plaster certainly won't.

Just use a 2x6 or wider top plate for rigidity and to spread the load, and use thin padding like commercial carpet against the plaster for even more protection. Use studs every 16" or so.


It might be possible but something you really should have an engineer design.

That ceiling sounds heavy with the plaster and tubing. The problem with supporting it from above is the weight pulling down will tend to want to push out sideways at the bottom of the rafters.

If stuff is not well attached then the rafters might fall down or the walls might push out(or both). Not happy times.

Might be able to do it the normal way if you spread out the force on the ceiling by spreading the area covered. Support wall holding up 4x8 sheets instead of just 2x4s. But really get an engineer, remember I am not going to be the one wearing a ceiling as a hat.

  • 3
    Had engineering design the beam size, at the time we didn't realize the radiant heat was in the ceiling... May need to pay him again to help design the temporary supports. His original plan said temporary support walls 3 ft from beam location...... Now we know that not going to work
    – Zander
    Commented Mar 16, 2023 at 18:18
  • @Zander They should be able to design something that supports and is safe for the piping/plaster. It probably won't cost as much since they know the house. It is problem that people on the internet don't like to give as much information because of all the stuff that is hidden in peoples houses, that we do not know about. Load bearing walls are bad since we might only see the wall itself if lucky and not the swimming pool above it.
    – crip659
    Commented Mar 16, 2023 at 18:54

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