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No lintel installed above partition in solid concrete wall

  • 02-01-2022 11:47pm
    Registered Users Posts: 137 ✭✭ burkey2k0

    I'm In the middle of renovating a mid-30s solid concrete semi D in Dublin. After removing wallpaper I've seen there looks to be no lintel installed over what was a partition separating two rooms. Am I in trouble here?

    For further information The wall continues in the same location up to the first floor, and the joists upstairs run parallel to the direction of this wall


  • Moderators, Home & Garden Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 16,500 Mod ✭✭✭✭ DOCARCH

    Always best consult a structural engineer.

    The partition may have been structural? Or, there may be reinforcement in the concrete wall over the ope to form some sort of beam? If you are leaving ope permanent, would probably be advisable to install some sort of (concrete or steel) lintel to the ope.

  • Registered Users Posts: 137 ✭✭ burkey2k0

    Thanks. Only bought the house a year ago, but nothing was mentioned in the surveyors report about this particular ope. Two others were mentioned that are definitely in structural walls, but not this one which adds some support that this may not be an issue. However it wasn't as exposed as it is now with wallpaper removed.

    But totally agree with what you say, a structural engineer is the only way to be fully confident.

  • Registered Users Posts: 37,505 ✭✭✭✭ Mellor

    By solid concrete, do you mean solid concrete blocks, or actually solid concrete.

    If the latter I wouldn’t expect the find a lintel.

  • Registered Users Posts: 137 ✭✭ burkey2k0

    Solid concrete, not blocks. And thanks, appreciate the opinion.

    I am leaning toward the opinion that it's probably fine. But I've already had to replace the roof of an extension on this house, whose issues weren't noticed by the building surveyor, so I find myself doubting everything now.

  • Registered Users Posts: 37,505 ✭✭✭✭ Mellor

    Thanks good news. A solid concrete wall doesn’t required a lintel. It could be built off of one of course, but would make little sense.

    Lintels are only required to hold small building units. Like bricks, blocks, or stones.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 137 ✭✭ burkey2k0

    I get you. Of course, I see now, the load is distributed throughout the wall as opposed to discrete units and does the work the lintel or even a beam would do anyway.

    Thank you so much for the insight.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,686 ✭✭✭ 10-10-20

    <not structural advice/not a structural engineer> OP, do the cracks propagate into the wall above at all, or do you know yet?

    By the look of the cracks there was deflection downwards - and while the house may be solid concrete, the "lintel" may have been block. I'm considering whether the cracks coincide with mortar joints, with these now failing from loading.

  • Registered Users Posts: 137 ✭✭ burkey2k0

    Unfortunately the walls upstairs have been skimmed and painted already, so I can't be certain. From memory I don't recall obvious cracks upstairs.

    However after what you said, it does bloody look like there's blocks above the span for some reason. Tried to show here where it looks like mortar between two distinct blocks, with the cracks indeed coinciding with the joints.

    I've sent a couple of mails today to some surveyors to have a look.

    Thank you for your response.

  • Registered Users Posts: 692 ✭✭✭ lostcat

    If there was an infill partition in that ope which you took down, that might well have been doing some supporting work.

    Does this wall offer support to the first floor or roof?

  • Registered Users Posts: 303 ✭✭ Dr. Greenthumb

    Based on the level of cracking I'd advise getting a structural engineer to review it. I'd imagine he'll advise a lintel to be installed. Even if it's solid concrete it was built in the 30's and without doing a scan of the wall you have no idea how much rebar is in there. If it's concrete block, they could have put in a rough buck / door frame and built around it to save on using the lintel, which isn't right but I've seen older houses where lintels weren't used in the past.

    As you're renovating it now I'd get a lintel in for peace of mind. Get an engineer to look at it and not a surveyor. If you get a surveyor you'll be paying twice as only the engineer will be able to sign off on the lintel design.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 137 ✭✭ burkey2k0

    For clarity, I didn't remove any infill. Was like this when I bought it, so a few decades it's been here I'd guess. Was just covered in wallpaper. Previous owners were here 40 years.

    I wouldn't even pretend to know whether it's supporting or not, but from googling, as it's parallel to the joists upstairs, probably not. This wall goes up to the first floor, so supporting that weight only I think. But I'm not relying on my presumptions.

  • Registered Users Posts: 137 ✭✭ burkey2k0

    Thank you. That advice regarding an engineer rather than a surveyor may save me some expense. Appreciate it!

    I've already had to replace a roof of an extension on this house which was costly enough. I'm being taught that surveyors (as in the ones I hired pre purchase) are not worth a damn.

  • Registered Users Posts: 137 ✭✭ burkey2k0

    Just another update. The wall above this seems to actually be a stud wall. So not as big an issue as I thought. Would mean that the timber under the span is supporting a bit of wait of the blocks.

    TBC but I'm 99% sure.

  • Registered Users Posts: 303 ✭✭ Dr. Greenthumb

    What you could potentially do is make a bit of a feature out of it. Instead of putting in a concrete / steel lintel you could put in a wood beam that would act as a the header for the door frame and provide support to the load from above. Then finish it so it stands out. At least with the money you spend is on something that provides a visual aesthetic and a talking point rather than just being covered up, never to be seen again.

    You would have to support the load overhead once you take out the existing door frame, and demo 300mm back either side of the door opening to provide the bearing for the wood beam / lintel.

  • Registered Users Posts: 137 ✭✭ burkey2k0

    Great idea. Unfortunately I'm under time pressure as plasterers looking to get into this room next week. So a fix rather than a feature is on the cards.

    I got a builder I trust to look at it today. And after knocking off more plaster, it turns out it is an actual concrete header over the span, but there are two hairline cracks as per my pictures (along with imperfections that made it look very much like mortar joints).

    Solution is to replace the crappy timber that's there and replace it with 7x2 timbers that will provide further support to the span (current timber doesn't provide any).

    We're satisfied it definitely isn't structural, so personally I think I'm happy with this resolution. As I mentioned previously, I've already had to replace the roof of an extension on this property due to dodgy works being done, so I expected the worst here. This was not as bad as I thought.