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Don't let your garage/house separation burn your home down! Many house fires begin in an attached garage. A multitude of flammable materials are commonly found in garages including gasoline, motor oil, brake fluid, paint and solvents. These fluids may also create explosive vapors. A garage often contains a water heater, furnace, or clothes dryer which can ignite the flammable materials. Therefore, a garage that is physically attached to a home must have fire-resistance-rated wall and ceiling assemblies in place. These assemblies restrict the spread of fire long enough to allow the occupants time to escape. Here are some of the key components to look at in a garage:
The International Residential Code (IRC) states that openings in a garage/house separation must be equipped with a solid wood door not less than 1-3/8" in thickness, a solid or honeycomb core steel door not less than 1-3/8" thick, or a 20-minute fire-rated door. If the door has a window, it must be fire-rated. If a pet door has been installed, the fire rating of the door has been ruined and it should be replaced. This door should be self-closing, and although this requirement is no longer listed in the IRC, it is still highly recommended. Openings from a garage directly into a sleeping room are prohibited. This is one rule I see violated quite frequently when conducting home inspections.
Walls and Ceilings
The garage must be separated from the residence and its attic area by not less than 1/2-inch gypsum board or equivalent applied to the garage side. A garage beneath habitable rooms must be separated by not less than 5/8-inch Type X gypsum board or equivalent. All drywall joints must be taped or sealed. If there is a non-fire-rated attic ladder installed in a garage ceiling, there must be a fire-resistance-rated assembly installed between the garage attic and the house attic.
Ducts penetrating the wall or ceiling separating the dwelling from the garage must be at least 26-gauge sheet steel or other approved material, and cannot have any openings in the garage. Quite often, I see dryer or HVAC ducts penetrating a garage wall that violate this rule.
Steve Stenros- First Choice Inspections is a CREIA MCI and ICC certified home inspector serving San Diego, Orange, and Riverside counties in southern California. Clients receive a FREE lifetime appliance RecallChek with every standard inspection. Steve can be reached for home inspection appointments at 888-335-3040. Use this article as your guide to make sure you don't let your garage/house separation burn your home down!
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.