Don't Let Your Garage/House Separation Burn Your Home Down!

By
Home Inspector with Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula
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:

 

Doors

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


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!

 

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Re-Blogged 5 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Toni Weidman 08/08/2011 05:01 AM
  2. Dan Edward Phillips 08/08/2011 01:25 PM
  3. Anne M. Costello 08/08/2011 01:37 PM
  4. Gene Riemenschneider 08/13/2011 05:45 PM
  5. Dan Edward Phillips 08/15/2011 02:49 AM
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Rainmaker
1,387,596
Cheryl Ritchie
RE/MAX Leading Edge www.GoldenResults.com - Huntingtown, MD
Southern Maryland 301-980-7566
My understanding is that attached garages cost more to build than detached.
Aug 09, 2011 09:37 AM #18
Rainmaker
138,326
Steve Stenros
Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula - San Diego, CA
CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego

You hit the nail on the head, Mike! We home inspectors see this time and time again!

Aug 09, 2011 09:57 AM #19
Rainmaker
733,403
Eileen Hsu
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Manhattan, NY
LICENSED REAL ESTATE SALESPERSON

This was definitely well received information.  Having those simple systems in place sound like they will make all the difference if a fire occurs in the garage.

Aug 09, 2011 09:58 AM #20
Rainmaker
138,326
Steve Stenros
Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula - San Diego, CA
CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego

Cheryl: I don't know. You have one less wall to build with an attached garage. Have I told you I love your dogs?!

Aug 09, 2011 10:00 AM #21
Rainmaker
138,326
Steve Stenros
Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula - San Diego, CA
CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego

They sure will, Eileen! Thanks for stopping by!

Aug 09, 2011 10:02 AM #22
Rainmaker
83,998
Ernest Villafranca
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate - Oakland, CA
3923 Grand Ave. Oakland CA, 510-418-9443

Thanks for the safety video.

Most of the violatons in houses I see is due to clutter, junk that no one uses. All the junk is good for is to fuel a potential fire. And the clutter prevents seeing other problems or leads to other problems. Good housekeeping solves a lot of problems.

Aug 09, 2011 10:41 AM #23
Rainmaker
138,326
Steve Stenros
Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula - San Diego, CA
CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego

It sure does, Ernest! Some people make Sanford & Son look neat!

Aug 09, 2011 01:35 PM #25
Rainmaker
138,326
Steve Stenros
Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula - San Diego, CA
CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego

We have the same problem in CA, Erica! A hot fire will blast right through one of those pet doors!

Aug 09, 2011 01:38 PM #26
Rainmaker
2,187,267
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
DFW FINE PROPERTIES - Flower Mound, TX
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Steve,

I find your posts to be so informative and educational. More people need to read them. If there's one thing we should never take for granted is that we are protected in our house. Many home fires start because of owners neglect. I see that doggy door a lot on garage doors and it 's such a hazzard!

Thanks for another great post.

Your Friend from North Dallas (Flower Mound) Texas

Aug 10, 2011 01:09 AM #27
Rainmaker
138,326
Steve Stenros
Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula - San Diego, CA
CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego

Thanks for the kind comments, Patricia! I love dogs, but Fido is going to have to learn how to knock!

Aug 10, 2011 03:24 AM #28
Rainmaker
1,431,717
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

OK Steve it is the end of the week and I am looking for reblogs.  You have good material and I will keep coming back.

Aug 13, 2011 05:45 PM #29
Rainmaker
138,326
Steve Stenros
Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula - San Diego, CA
CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego

Thanks, Gene! I'm glad you'll be back! Appreciate the comment!

Aug 13, 2011 05:55 PM #30
Anonymous
David

Hey Steve, just saw your video with the attic stairs in the garage ceiling.  In this video, you stated that the ladder would be ok if the attic wall between the garage and living space were not compromised.  As a journeyman electrician in Northern California for 25+ years, I've seen alot of residential construction. Houses that did not have the garage lid rocked, would have the firewall rocked with 5/8 all the way up to the rafters to create the fire separation.  Houses that did have the garage lid rocked with 5/8 did not require the firewall to go up to the rafters.  So the fire envelope or separation was created by the firewall and garage lid.  Such is the case with my house and I am planning to install an attic ladder and thought that if I installed a fire-rated ladder, the fire envelope would not be compromised, or at least no more than it is by the door that leads to my kitchen.  What are your thoughts?  Thanks Dave 

Nov 23, 2011 02:21 PM #31
Rainmaker
138,326
Steve Stenros
Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula - San Diego, CA
CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego

David: Have you found a fire-rated attic ladder?

Dec 04, 2011 06:50 AM #32
Anonymous
David

Yes and no. I found a ladder from Century Ind. with a door that has "a 9 mm thick plywood panel pressure treated with DRICON and/or Pyro-guard and that has a U.L. stamp signifying an FR-S rating which certifies a 25 or less flame spread and smoke developed value, when tested in accordance to UL723, ASTM E-84, NFPA 255, and UBC Standard No. 42-1, extended 30-minute test." However, the words " 30 minute fire rating" do not appear with the stamp, so any inspector would have to be familiar with the stamp to know the fire rating info, which could be problematic.    Again, what is your professional insight to my previous comment about the fire envelope in the garage? Am I on the right track?

Dec 09, 2011 04:58 PM #33
Rainmaker
138,326
Steve Stenros
Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula - San Diego, CA
CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego

David: If the firewall is sheetrocked all the way to the roof, you would not have to be concerned about whether the attic ladder is fire-rated or not. You still have a fire-resistant rated assembly between the garage and the house.

Dec 10, 2011 04:02 AM #34
Anonymous
David

Well, as I stated earlier, my firewall is NOT sheetrocked all the way to my roof.  Instead, my garage ceiling is sheetrocked and the firewall is sheetrocked only to the garage ceiling. I believe that this combination creates my "fire-resistant rated assembly" between the garage and house, and this is why I'm searching for a fire-rated ladder. Do you agree with this assessment?

Dec 10, 2011 05:18 AM #35
Rainmaker
138,326
Steve Stenros
Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula - San Diego, CA
CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego

David: Yes, I agree. If you find an approved fire-rated attic ladder, I'd keep the documentation posted near or on the ladder assembly so it doesn't become an issue in the future.

Dec 10, 2011 05:53 AM #36
Anonymous
David

Thanks, Steve.

Dec 11, 2011 03:28 AM #37
Anonymous
Randy

My garage has sheetrock wall and ceiling. I'm considering installing wood over the sheetrock ceiling. Will a wood ceiling be in violation of the firewall code in Texas.

Jul 23, 2017 08:53 AM #38
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Rainmaker
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Steve Stenros

CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego
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