Removing Your Basement Brick Columns?

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Topic: Removing Your Basement Brick Columns?

Home and Garden December 14, 2011 at 11:28 am

Removing Your Basement Brick Columns?

We are on the verge of a basement renovation of our Petworth row house, and are trying to figure out how to get rid of the three large brick columns that support the main header basement beam that holds up the rest of our house.  We prefer an open floor plan…and the trio of 2’x2′ brick columns are really putting a hamper on our plans for a downstairs dance floor. 
For the record, we probably wouldn’t replace the existing wooden header beam with something smaller because we have all of our radiator pipes running along it (see pic)…so no sense in replacing the header beam with a smaller steel beam if the pipes are there anyways (although I am curious what others have done with their radiator pipes) . Rather, I was thinking more along the lines of replacing the large brick columns with new steel support vertical columns that have a smaller footprint…and maybe even see if we could get away with two columns instead of three. 
Although I am a big advocate of DIY, I realize this will require the input of a professional…but I’d love to hear what others in the PoP community have done with their brick columns and existing pipes in an effort to open up their basements. 

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You  can use lally columns, but keep the same number. You might be able to change spacing, but they are there for a reason. My house has three lally columns and steel holding up the original wood header as do my neighbors

I think you need to talk to a structural engineer, and I also think your idea of replacing them with steel columns will work. These are probably going to be 3.5″ – 4″ tubes and you can probably have one every 5.5′ – 6′ and maybe you can have 2 instead of three. The structural engineer needs to find out if the existing foundation for the columns will work with the new columns, or if you are relocating, he will tell you what is the foundation needed for the new columns. Hope this is helpful.


I have no idea about your house, but in my basement there’s a steel beam along the ceiling and one steel support about halfway along the length of the house.  If this was not there originally, then perhaps replacing the beam with steel allowed fewer supports?  So perhaps your house could get away with 2, or even 1 support – but there’s no way to tell without having a professional evaluate your particular situation.


You can replace them with lally columns like others have said.  You have so many because it’s a wood beam.  When you replace them, you will almost definitely need to excavate below the existing slab and pour a new footer (or at a minimum, excavate and inspect the existing footer).  I highly recommend Robert Wixson at APAC Engineering — the structural engineer we used on our reno — if you decided to explore this further.  An initial site visit will run you a few hundred bucks and be well worth it.

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