I just had a new water heater installed in my garage. My city building / plumbing codes require that the water heater overflow drain be drained to the outside of the house.


The heater stands next to a wall separating garage and house that is about 10 feet from the garage outside wall. There is a door in the garage wall to outside right at the corner of the wall the heater is next to.

To run a drain pipe from the water heater to outside, the plumber simply ran the pipe along the wall and supported it with braces. BUT - to get to outside, a hole needs to be drilled along the long side of the jack stud and king stud framing the door. BUT the plumber stopped short of going through the outside wall because of reluctance to cut a hole through the long side of the studs. The city inspector has failed the installation.


Is it really OK to drill through the jack stud/king stud and it won't weaken the wall?

  • 4
    A picture or diagram would be very helpful in understanding the exact nature of the problem here. Oct 11, 2013 at 13:05
  • Your description of what the plumber did is a bit confusing, adding a diagram would be helpful. With that said... There is no reason to drill or bore through a jack and king stud, since that would mean you're running utilities in/across a doorway.
    – Tester101
    Oct 12, 2013 at 12:19
  • @Tester101 Turn your mental drill 90°, not into the doorway, but through the jack/king next to the doorway to get out the wall. The door is apparently installed extremely close to an adjacent wall.
    – BMitch
    Oct 12, 2013 at 12:51
  • I'm imagining something like this
    – Tester101
    Oct 12, 2013 at 13:23
  • Why not 45 right through the inside corner?
    – Justin K
    Oct 12, 2013 at 14:06

3 Answers 3


There are general guidelines for dealing with cuts in wood framing. For load bearing the basics are that you can notch 25% of the stud or 40% diameter for a hole.

enter image description here Note: Notches should not be square - this provides a weak point in the stud. Half circle your notches if you can.

Now there are ways around this if you need a bigger notch or hole. In my area local inspectors will let you double up the studs and go 35%S and 60% respectively on load bearing walls. This doubling up is a one time allowance - I couldn't do a whole wall like that.

For electricity these guidelines are more than enough to run several lines through a wall. For plumbing though you might need to use different width boards (frame wall with 2x6) or use structural bracing.

enter image description here

Note that in the picture you see both wall plates (which offer little structural support) and bracing around the plumbing cut-outs. When you buy bracing for plumbing there will be guidelines on the use of the product. Follow those to figure out hole and notch sizing.

For this instance: If I read right you need a pipe to run perpendicular to the studs. The same rule applies. I we are talking 2x4 construction that means that you have 1.5 inches going across. Mean you can notch 3/8" which isn't much. There are several ways to handle this is you have a larger pipe (a heater shouldn't need much though) needing out.

  • You could notch a little out of each jack and king. Would be enough for a 1/2 inch pipe and I would feel perfectly fine about a half inch hole with a jack and king supporting each other.

  • You could rip the king out. Flip the king stud around sideways and install 2 kings and bore a hole through the center of it. If you needed a bigger hole you can use 2x6.

  • Buy a structural brace/shoe. With a properly installed shoe you can cut out the whole stud and have a ton of space to run things. Downside is they are expensive (relatively) and getting what you want isn't always easy.

I am sure there are other options but I would need to see a picture. I would also add if you want to get it passed by local municipality then I would just ask your inspector what he/she wants.

  • +1 for the reference. From my reading of the question, the OP wants to make a notch 100% of the width of a load bearing structure. That's just a bit over the 25% limit. I'm also more careful around doors and windows since there aren't adjacent studs to support the header. A notch there is the same as notching every stud above the header to the other side of the doorway.
    – BMitch
    Oct 11, 2013 at 14:55
  • @BMitch - I didn't get exactly what they were asking. I just know that I had to buy braces that cost me $25 a piece for a plumbed wall that we couldn't turn to 2x6. The guidelines aren't exactly written well either. Reading them correct I would say that for jack/king that you are still held to 25/40%. I do not infer that you get the extra allotment since that is the required framing - not extra stud for support.
    – DMoore
    Oct 11, 2013 at 15:00
  • I take requirements as a minimum suggestion and go above the minimum when it makes sense to me. There aren't many people notching a king/jack since there's going to be a door on the other side of that notch. I do everything possible to get the straightest lumber at the ends of walls and at doors/windows. Notching those is the exact opposite of what you want to do for a stable and plumb doorway.
    – BMitch
    Oct 11, 2013 at 15:15
  • @BMitch - It would really depend on the setup to determine how far I would go. I wouldn't think anything in putting a hole to rum electric. But you are right on bringing the doorway situation up - I have done work on 30-40 houses in my life and can't remember ever having a dilemma about notching out doorway framing. Seems like there wasn't planning.
    – DMoore
    Oct 11, 2013 at 15:28
  • @DMoore - The diagram and photo in your answer show holes/notching for running pipes parallel to the wall. The OP needs to make a hole perpendicular to the wall ... that is, a hole 3-1/2" deep.
    – mike
    Oct 11, 2013 at 17:59

No, it's not ok to essentially cut a jack or king stud into two pieces. In addition to providing support to the wall from the door opening and closing, they are carrying all the load of the wall over the door via the header. You'll need to find a different location to run your drain line.


It depends on the diameter of the hole (i suspect 7/8" or so hole for 3/4" copper pipe) and it depends on what other studs are in proximity. Since the king/jack of the passage-way door are in a corner, there are other studs within 0-5" of the king/jack, most likely two others, possibly three others.

As @BMitch comments, a 1" hole across the width of a 2-by removes 2/3's of the wood, and is a significant structural change ... to that stud.

Nearly all species of framing lumber have a 'parallel' compressive strength significantly greater than 5000 PSI. After drilling a 1" hole in a 2x4, the narrowest cross section will be 3.5" x 0.5" = 1.75 square inches. As a first estimate, such a 2x4 could independently directly support a 1.75 x 5000 = 8000 pound load, or an 8-ton loaded header, which is equal to the dead+live full load of at least 160 sqft of a 2nd story plus roof. However, the second floor and roof loads are typically split between 2 parallel walls, so the figure is more akin to 320 sqft of a 2nd story plus roof.

That being said, I don't think the compressive strength is a linear function of area and I am not sure the intended valid range of cross-sections for the data in this table that is based on U.S. Forest Products Laboratory data:


Yet even if the 5000 psi figure is meant for 8x8 posts, and is off by a factor of 10 when applied to cross-sections on the order of 3.5x0.5, the drilled out jack stud could still support 8 200 lb people standing on top of the header. There is not even enough room for 8 pairs of feet on 36" header.

So while 1" hole in a 2-by takes away 2/3rds of it's compressive strength, the compressive strength of framing lumber is so great that the resulting 2-by is still overly sufficient as a jack stud.

In the OP's situation, due to the fact that king/jack are in a corner, the wall is significantly over-built from a structural load-bearing perspective.

In fact, from a structural load-bearing perspective, nearly all corners in general are significantly over-built because they are framed with one or more extra studs that are there merely to provide a backing for the edge of sheetrock. These extra studs are not needed to satisfy load bearing requirements.

So, from the structural viewpoint of the wall, a 1" hole is a non-issue in the OP's situation. Go ahead and drill it, preferably with half the hole in the king stud, and the other half in either the corner stud. If the king is serving as a corner stud, then half in the king and half in the jack. Or half in the jack and half in void between the jack and the door jamb (temporarily fill the void to drill).

From a code viewpoint, the inspector might understand this, or might not. Ask him/her before you drill.

enter image description here

  • A 1" hole along the length of a 2x6 is going to remove 2/3's of the wood on that stud, a significant structural change. That's 1" out of 1.5", not out of 3.5". Remember, they aren't running the drain into the doorway, but out the wall beside the door.
    – BMitch
    Oct 11, 2013 at 19:00
  • @BMitch - Agreed, a 1" inch hole through the width of a 2-by will remove 2/3's of the wood, which is a significant structural change to the stud. Since the corner is likely over-built due to the king/jack being in the corner, such a hole is not a significant structural change to the load carrying capacity of the wall. Note the door's header is roughly 36" long since it is a passageway door as opposed to the drive-through garage door.
    – mike
    Oct 11, 2013 at 19:14
  • @BMitch - i've edited your comment and my comment into my answer.
    – mike
    Oct 11, 2013 at 19:29
  • 1
    @BMitch - I think the 1) end nailing from the king into the header, 2) nailing of the exterior sheathing into the top plate(s), cripples, full-studs and 3) 1/2" bearing of the jack are more than sufficient to prevent any drop of that end of the header even if the jack is not nailed off to the king, bizarre scenarios aside. Of course 'actuality' (euphemism for my opinion) doesn't matter, what matters is the inspector's opinion.
    – mike
    Oct 11, 2013 at 20:01
  • 1
    Im with mike no way 1" hole anywhere in a house is going to make it fall down. Except maybe if it is through a gas line
    – Justin K
    Oct 12, 2013 at 14:05

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