For a small brick ranch, two windows (24” and 28”) were added to a load bearing wall. 2x4 header was used over jack studs. However, the header is laying flat rather than on edge. I know having the 2x4 header on edge is superior but for two small window openings, would it be overkill to rip everything out and redo it?

I cannot find any uniform code reference for 2x4 header orientation. One other thing to note, header is directly under top plate if that matters.

It is a single plate, but the room is a converted carport, I just found a 2x8 beam running above the top plate so the wall, while exterior, seems to not be load bearing.

Essentially, previous homeowner had the carport closed in sometime in the 80s.

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  • How does a 2x8 determine if the wall is load bearing? Does the wall have joists or rafters sitting on it? Is there a strongly oriented 2x8 on top of the wall, where ceiling and roof members tie into that instead of sitting directly on top of the wall?
    – popham
    Commented Nov 6, 2023 at 2:02
  • Yes, please take the tour. All information should be in your post, not down here.
    – isherwood
    Commented Nov 6, 2023 at 17:43

2 Answers 2


The fact that there's a 2x8 rim joist running over the window makes it all moot. That acts as a proper header. Carry on.


For the 24" window, see Table R602.3(5) from the IRC. Assuming that you have one floor and a non-habitable attic, then the stud spacing requirement is 24". A normal inspector in my area would let it go, but technically you're too wide by 1-1/2" plus your rough opening gaps along the window sides.

For the 28" window, the bending strength of a correctly oriented header is a constant times 1/6(3in)(3.5in)². The bending strength of your header is the same constant times 2/6(3.5in)(1.5in)². Taking the ratio, your header has 43% of the correct header's strength. Guessing at your snow load, building width, and header position within the building, IRC Table R602.7 provides a 3'-1" maximum span length. Assuming that this table value was predicated on a midspan point load instead of a uniformly distributed load, where that's a plausible assumption, length scales linearly with strength and that 43% implies a maximum span length of 0.43(37in) = 15.9in.

Depending on your snow load, etc., your maximum span length could easily be less than that. An inspector should reject it. If it's off-the-books, I would look at the rafter position above the header. All rafters sitting within 5" of the inner jack studs (based on IRC R602.3.3)? I would call that good (probably after implementing the top plate fastener schedule between the "header" and the existing top plate), but otherwise I would rework it.

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