Home Wall Construction Question

In my continueing project of removing the fireplace, I have another construction question. In the middle of the wall, horizontally, about 4ft. high is a large cross beam. Ideally, I would remove this for plan 'A'. I cannot tell if this is a load bearing header, or if it was put there to be support for the very heavy mantel that was on the wall above the fireplace. If I remove this beam,or just cut it flush with the opening, will the second floor come crashing down? The void that it goes across if 50 inches, is this too long a gap to not have support for an exterior wall? Its not much wider than for a window. Are there any alternatives to getting around this obstruction?
Heres some pictures:
http://home.earthlink.net/~peverheart/images/fireplaceproject/DSC00011.JPG
http://home.earthlink.net/~peverheart/images/fireplaceproject/DSC00015.JPG
Thank you for your advice.
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Is it an iron L-beam? If it is, are there bricks sitting on it? Without seeing it my suggestion would be that it is a lintel there to hold up the brick going up the "house" side of the chimney. Is it near the opening of the fireplace? As such, if it is, and you are removing the brick, then you can remove it. Otherwise it will have to stay to do its intended job.
PS: Get someone in to check to be sure. I had an architect come in to check a 6' bearing wall project I have. Cost me $190. Good, cheap insurance against thousands in potential costs if I screw up!
Good luck

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Don't have your original post so I don't know what "Plan A" is, but based on what I'm seeing (or thinking I'm seeing) that's a load bearing header (same as over a window, for example).
Can't go further since I don't know what your plans are for the area.
REnata
On 15 Jul 2003 20:33:13 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (P.E.) wrote:

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The biggest question is which way the joists run inthe ceiling above, and whether they terminate on top of this wall. You need to support the ceiling above while you take out the beam the posts supporting it, and the studs above it, then put in taller posts, and put the beam back, high enough to be clear of whatever you're planning. That would be far easier to accomplish if you were openning the ceiling up, too. Then you could just prop up beams on either side of the wall.
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By chance did you happen to notice that the studs through your house are 16 inches on center? And now you have to ask again if it's OK to have a 50 inch gap in the studs without a header, and under a second story no less. As I stated in another post, you need to get someone in that has some idea about building codes before you either wreck the house or get it condemned by the building inspectors.
Tom J
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Or, look at it the other way... If you go see the building inspector and ask nicely, you can often get him to come by and look at the project and tell you if it's load bearing. Just tell him that you want it done right and would like his input. Then he can tell you if you need a permit or not. The project is so small that you will probably only pay $20 or so for the permit *and* it will be legal.
Pretty cheap for an on-site consultant to review your project for applicability and conformity to local codes, eh ?
Bob
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My advice is for you to get someone that knows construction code in your area to help you with design before you proceed any further. You are going to put yourself in a position where the building inspectors will either condemn your house, or make you spend thousands of dollars you didn't intend to, correcting your mistakes.
Tom J
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (P.E.) wrote in message

Check at the ceiling leve and tell us what you find there. I't possible that there is a double 2 by in line with the wall on either side of the shaft you are reworking. It is important to know whether or not the floor joists run parallel or perpendicular to the wall with the window shown in your photo.
Tom Baker
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Thanks for everyone's advice, I did listen and installed a new header at the top of the ceiling. Not a huge deal, nothing a small sledge hammer couldnt overcome! ;-)
Check the site for updates, I just finished sealing off the top of the chimney using some galvanized sheet metal to cap it off. Now I can get to the fun stuff of actually building something that people can see...

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