Can this support be replaced with something smaller?

Hi,
Here's an odd space in my house under the stairs that I would like to convert to storage:
http://freeboundaries.com/Stairs.jpg
There is that big triangular block in the middle that supports a stair. I would like to replace that block with something smaller to save the space. For example, I could put a steel bar across the whole thing, or something like that.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks,
Sam
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Hard to tell from the pic, but isn't that the middle stringer for the stairs?
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The municipal building code shows whether your existing stairs conform to the code and what possible changes the code would allow. The code may not be compulsory for owner-occupiers (as it is for commercial landlords) but is a good practical guide to safety. In some places, building licence (permit) clerks are a good source of free engineering advice.
--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
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Hey Don. A plans examiner, or indeed any of the counter clerks in a building department, are almost assuredly not engineers, as they'll be the first to point out. In this particular instance with the OP's question about the stairs, it's not a big engineering deal, but it's dangerous to try to make a non-engineer into an engineer because the price is right (free advice).
As far as what code requires, it will not apply to the OP's situation as he is not changing the stairs - only looking to swap out a support. The existing stair is acceptable as is, whether or not it conforms to the current code. The only time compliance rework would be required would be if substantial work was being done on the stair, or a large percentage of the building as a whole was being renovated (generally over 50%).
R
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The orientation of that picture is a little odd, but if I'm reading it correctly it's a block to keep the stair tread/riser from flexing too much. It's in a location where it could be the middle stringer as Mike said, but I can't tell from here.
What I don't understand is what removing that block will do to increase storage. It's up in the ceiling, right? I don't see how weakening the stair to gain a miniscule amount of awkward and barely accessible storage makes any sense at all. Explain what exactly you're trying to do.
R
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Thanks for not answering. It shows a willingness to ignore someone trying to help you - that makes me feel ever so special. Sheesh.
I'll give you a hint only, as you made me do your work. Make the top of the storage unit bear the load.
R
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Hi,
Thanks for the response.
Yes it's kind of a stringer, but for single step. It's not a staircase, per se, as it only consists of a single step and that one piece supports it. It can be taken out by itself and there is space for steel, as someone mentioned would be a good idea.
Does that change the recommendation?
Thanks again,
Sam
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Nope. Stiffness requires depth. The easiest and cheapest thing to do is to make a "sub-tread" under the existing tread, and have the storage unit support it at either end. Two layers of 3/4" ply glued and screwed together will give you all the support you need and take up very little height.
R
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Sam Takoy wrote:

How wide is the stair?
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About 32".
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Couldnt tell diddly about the pic but if you want a narrow stringer you have to reinforce it with something stronger than wood. Steel works great. When I added a french door in a load bearing wall the header was speced out as being made of 2x8s but I didnt have that much overhead room so I used 1/4 flat steel in the header and reduced to the width of a 2x4. Inspector was happy with it.
Jimmie
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On 10/8/2011 4:00 PM, Sam Takoy wrote:

Like several others said, it looks like a stringer to me, which basically means don't mess with it, or the entire staircase will go bouncy on you. Stairs can be re-engineered, but you would have to open up the entire bottom of the staircase to see what is attached to what, and doing what structural function. I'd just live with it- box it it for a storage cubby if you want, and just deal with the divider in the middle.
-- aem sends...
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