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I recently opened an exterior wall to add insulation. Along the kitchen wall where plumbing was added as part of a kitchen remodel the predated our buying the house, I discovered several of the framing studs, all load-bearing, had been drastically cut to make room for the new plumbing. I can't imagine the studs still meet code and I'd like to address the issue while I have the wall open. What would be the best way to reinforce the studs without removing the pipes? Has anyone had to deal with something similar?

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Update

These are some of the repairs I made. I didn't find any hardware available locally and so relied on sister studs and replacing portions of compromised studs.

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  • Do you get freezing temperatures? From adding more insulation where the pipes are, I imagine you do. It is a PITA but the best choice is to bring those pipes inside of the wall and add good 2x4s to those busted ones. Being an outside wall it does have load bearing use and what is left of those studs are not doing their job.
    – crip659
    Commented Sep 2, 2023 at 18:51
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    @Ruskes OP and the last picture say it is an outside/exterior wall. OP is there, we are not. In two pictures the studs look/seem like they are buckling
    – crip659
    Commented Sep 2, 2023 at 19:32
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    @Ruskes: The opening sentence of the question reads, "I recently opened an exterior wall to add insulation". "Exterior wall" is a big phrase word meaning "outside wall". Before making useless comments, please carefully read the question...
    – FreeMan
    Commented Sep 2, 2023 at 22:19
  • Something like this may suit you: macombgroup.com/2337059/product/macomb-group-approved-533-3 Can't say anything about pipes running through an exterior wall though. At least they appear to be drains, and not supplies.
    – Huesmann
    Commented Sep 3, 2023 at 13:21
  • 3rd pic down shows 2 pipes running through a stud. One appears to be smaller and slightly tan in color, which makes me believe that it's a CPVC supply line (I've got some of those in my house). TBH, I think that these studs need to be replaced to remedy the compromise in the wall structure. As huge as those holes are, I'm not sure anyone makes a stud shoe that would repair these...
    – FreeMan
    Commented Sep 4, 2023 at 20:04

2 Answers 2

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You have a lot of narrow spaces that will not allow new material added as a "flat stud to sister along side the existing. That would be my first option. The firring out of the wall as mentioned in the comments by matt. is a good option too, since the pipes will get more insulation around them to prevent freezing.

If neither of those are viable options, you may want to get a few metal gussets fabricated, perhaps if you are handy you can cut them yourself, by getting some 2"X1/4" thick bar stock about 6 ft long for each location, or perhaps one for each side, and notch to go around the pipes centered on the length where possible and drill the rest of it to take a LOT of structural screws, say about a dozen or more on each side of the pipe and a few along the narrow spot, to help prevent buckling.

Perhaps a few of the pipes can be temporarily removed, the plate drilled and the pipes reinstalled. If so a wider plate can be used to allow a clean hole with metal all around. If you do that, 4 ft pieces may do, instead of 6 ft.

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    thanks. Any recommendations for the studs that looks like they might be buckling a bit already? Just try to stop if from buckling anymore?
    – Conner M.
    Commented Sep 2, 2023 at 19:44
  • You could try to lift the wall up a bit, but it would need to be lifted at multiple points from the outside, with a temp. continuous sill on flattened dirt and "jack posts" driven in to take up the load over the length of the wall or the area in question. My suggestion would be 3 per stud repair, one at the stud, and one on the adjacent studs. This is to keep a heavy point load on just one jack post. Doing this, in any fashion may crack the wall material on the inside, so it may be best left as is. The wall settled over time and will not like going back in place all at once.
    – Jack
    Commented Sep 2, 2023 at 21:57
  • The steel plate with all the structural "shear screws" will keep it from buckling/dropping anymore.
    – Jack
    Commented Sep 2, 2023 at 21:58
  • Instead of making it up on the go and attempting more at-home-hackery, use a "stud shoe" that's specifically designed to repair a stud. They've actually been designed and tested and determined to be suitable for purpose as opposed to more "by guess and by gosh" which may end up with a collapsed house.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Sep 2, 2023 at 22:21
  • @FreeMan Your answer or the lack off, could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center
    – Traveler
    Commented Sep 2, 2023 at 23:11
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The International Residential Code (IRC) prescribes permissible notches, where there's one standard for exterior and/or load bearing walls and there's another standard for interior, non-load bearing walls. From the 2018 IRC:

2018 IRC Excerpt

For your exterior wall, IRC 602.6(1) prescribes a maximum notch depth of 25%. The builders have clearly violated this standard. Notice that the IRC carves out an exception for "use of approved stud shoes...where they are installed in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations." Before mail ordering stud shoes for repairing your damage, then, be sure to read these "manufacturer's recommendations" first to verify that they're a suitable for your use case.

For some of your nastier cuts, I know that Simpson makes a 3" wide shoe presumably for doubled up wall studs. I assume that you would sister up a new stud beside the mutilated ones and in between pipe interruptions so that the 3" shoe can wrap your new stud and the old one. Unfortunately that "manufacturer's recommendations" indicates that you can't just assume that they're up to whatever detailing that you throw at them. Well, if you're doing this without a building official breathing down your neck, then you can do whatever you want, but I wouldn't want to invest all of that effort into code non-conformant work.

Your case is clear cut in need of stud shoes, but sometimes you can repair such damage by installing replacement studs oriented 90 degrees from the familiar orientation. For interior, non-load bearing walls, you can install 2X4s on 16 inch centers at this skinny orientation that allows 2" of clearance before notching.

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