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Re: Plywood shearwall in Plumbing Wall

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Plumbing penetrations in a shear wall plate is a very real concern, depending on the size of the pipe there may be very little plate left.  Another problem aspect is when the penetration is in the top plates on multi-level projects.  The assumed top plate drag line is virtually severed and requires proper detailing to perform as intended.
We avoid using plumbing walls as shear walls.  I do not think you are being unnecessarily concerned. 
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, June 28, 2004 6:21 PM
Subject: Plywood shearwall in Plumbing Wall

I’m not sure how big a problem this is, but I am running across it a lot in plan checking light-framing. The engineer or architect of record is not paying attention to the location of designated shear walls and is placing walls where plumbing will penetrate the mud sill. By design, I am careful to avoid this as I believe it destroys the continuity of the shearwall plate. I’ve had situations where walls were accidentally placed in a plumbing wall and I have worked out details using 2x solid blocking placed between studs and secured with the 2x edge down against the remaining wood sill plate. I then end-nail the blocks through the studs and consider the plate to be repaired (once the plywood is nailed to the face of the block above the plate cut-out.


I am seeing this a lot and pointing it out as a correction, but since the code does not specifically address this issue, I don’t know if I am raising unnecessary concerns.


What are some of your opinions on shear walls in locations where the plate is interrupted or made discontinuous due to a utility or drain?


Thanks in advance,



Dennis S. Wish, PE

California Professional Engineer

Structural Engineering Consultant



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