Please, shut the door!

Home Inspector with VICO Home Inspection NACHI07070602

It seems everyone knows that the door leading to an attached garage from the residence needs to be at least a one hour burn through fire rated door.  A hollow core non fire rated interior type door to the garage is not an option.   (below a picture of a common hollow core door)


It seems that during my inspections, I find that in many homes one small but extremely important device is overlooked.  This door must have a device or hinge that automatically closes the door to the garage.  Not only in the case of a fire but in those cold times when, in a poorly insulated garage especially, you may need to warm the car up for a period of time.  As you go back in the house for a cup of coffee, or whatever, the fumes from the car are allowed to enter the home, without such a device.  Carbon monoxide from your vehicle can enter the home and it is very harmful to your health.   Even if your area has no "building codes" that requires this device, your health and safety depend on it!  Please, automatically shut the door!

Posted by

InterNACHI Certified Inspector
Vince Chinell
VICO Home Inspection
Affiliate Member of the Tri-Lakes Board of Realtors

Comments (34)

Marshall Brown
Mid America Inspection Services, LLC - Fargo, ND

This is one of the (many) things that makes me miss being a project manager. In days gone by I would have directed the doors be changes out and self closers installed. Period!

Alas, now I must simply suggest it, to help improve safety, and I always do. I would offer the same response as you did when asked about a time frame for making the comment in my reports.

As many/most home inspectors do, we do not quote code, since it is often difficult to determine exactly what code might have applied at the time of construction. We report on safety, functionality and likelihood of failure. In fairness code is often an ongoing attempt to help improve safety and, in some cases reliability, so we certainly pay close attention to it.

Jan 07, 2013 09:26 PM
Reuben Saltzman
Structure Tech Home Inspections - Minneapolis, MN
Delivering the Unbiased Truth.

You're right when you say that an interior door shouldn't be used between the house and garage, but "one hour burn through fire rated door" ?   National codes require a 20-minute fire rated door -or- a metal door -or- a solid wood door.  As far as I can tell, your area has adopted the 2009 IRC.  Is there some exception/amendment in your area that requires a one-hour door?  If so... I'm sorry to hear it ;-)

The requirement for auto-closers on garage/hour doors was removed from the code a long time ago because they found it did more harm than good - too many people were getting their fingers broken from the door closing on their hands.  

Jan 07, 2013 09:41 PM
Rafi Footerman
Mid Jersey Inspections - Edison, NJ
Home Inspector, Mold Inspector, Radon and More!

Less than 10%of the homes around here have them, and less than 2% will actually close the door all the way to being latched.

Jan 07, 2013 11:26 PM
Dave Brice
Pacific West Home Inspections - Salmon Arm, BC


Where he resides, the town, city or municipal that has jurisdiction may have additional or change code requirements for fire rated doors. The same for auto-closures (light door hinge type - that don't crush fingers or cause physical harm).

Sorry to hear it you need to rip through someone to get your day going. Be nice for a change 

Jan 07, 2013 11:43 PM
Ron Aguilar
Continental Mortgage - Saint George, UT
Mortgage & Real Estate Advisor since 1995

Excellent point, I see this far to often

Jan 07, 2013 11:45 PM
Theresa Akin

I'm not an inspector nor would I try to quote code. If you are an inspector, you need to know the code for your area, whether it be city, county, or state.  Inspectors I know in my area are very informative. Life is priceless. Make sure it's up to code for your area.

Jan 08, 2013 12:47 AM
Joetta Fort
The DiGiorgio Group - Arvada, CO
Independent Broker, Homes Denver to Boulder

Thanks for the reminder - getting the proper door and closer on our house is on our 'to do' list.  But just an interesting note - it's actually against the law here in our town to let your car warm up unattended.  It's called puffing, and those cars are a major target for thieves.  Since creating that law, puffer thefts have dropped dramatically.

Jan 08, 2013 01:00 AM
Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County

Sounds like common sense. I don't think the code here requires the auto closer but it makes so much sense and would save lives I am sure!

Jan 08, 2013 01:52 AM
Vince Chinell
VICO Home Inspection - Branson, MO

Thanks everyone for your comments and opinions.  The next to last sentence in my blog was the main idea.  Remember; codes are a minimum requirement. 

Jan 08, 2013 02:21 AM
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA


I'm pretty sure that we don't have this requirements as well( LA county, CA), but it does has a lot of sense. Now I'm going to pay attention on all garage doors:) Thanks for sharing!

Jan 08, 2013 03:23 AM
Reuben Saltzman
Structure Tech Home Inspections - Minneapolis, MN
Delivering the Unbiased Truth.

@Dave - "be nice for a change" ?   I thought my comment was perfectly nice.  Please read it again.

Do I know you?  Did I hurt your feelings at some point?

Jan 08, 2013 05:02 AM
Ann Wilkins
Golden Gate Sotheby's International Realty - Oakland, CA
Oakland, Berkeley, Piedmont CA
Do building codes ever change with the times? I agree with Reubon on this one, how many garage fires do you hear of these days. Newer cars don't catch fire they way older cars did. I would spend my money on a good fire extinguisher for the kitchen since most home fires are due to cooking. Would also make sure that I have plenty of smoke alarms ...that are in working order.
Jan 08, 2013 06:23 AM
Bob Miller
Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty - Ocala, FL
The Ocala Dream Team

Hi Vince, very good post.  We had not thought about that!

Jan 09, 2013 12:49 AM
Vince Chinell
VICO Home Inspection - Branson, MO

Thanks Bob, seems sometimes it takes a tragedy for people to react.

Jan 09, 2013 01:51 AM
John DL Arendsen
CREST "BACKYARD' HOMES, ON THE LEVEL General & Manufactured Home Contractor, TAG Real Estate Sales & Investments - Leucadia, CA
Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & Contractor

This is great advice. Can't tell you how many time I've actually seen this situation.

Jan 10, 2013 10:50 AM
Dana Basiliere
Rossi & Riina Real Estate - Williston, VT
Making deals "Happen"


Good point, Fire, Co, not to mention the cold air from a poor door.

Jan 10, 2013 11:31 AM
Vince Chinell
VICO Home Inspection - Branson, MO

John,  Young children and older adults are first at risk.  Great picture of your family.

Jan 10, 2013 01:11 PM
Vince Chinell
VICO Home Inspection - Branson, MO

Dana, It goes both ways, heat will escape to your garage and waste fuel economy.  

Jan 10, 2013 01:13 PM
Cheryl Dickson
Retired Realtor / Retired Home Inspector - Oklahoma City, OK
Retired Realtor, GRI / Retired Home Inspector

I just LOVE at night when showing a home, turn the garage lights on. Turn off the lights in the house. You see the garage light showing around the seems into the kitchen. All the gaps that fumes can seep into the house are so easy to show to the buyers that way. They FINALLY "get it".


Jan 19, 2013 11:34 PM
Vince Chinell
VICO Home Inspection - Branson, MO

Cheryl,  It's like a light bulb coming on...Thanks

Jan 20, 2013 02:19 PM

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