What are the building code requirements for a door from the garage to the house?
Tuesday, July 10, 2018
Flammable liquids, such as gasoline, paint thinner, degreaser, and other solvents, are often stored in a garage. A car in the garage can leak gasoline onto the floor, and the gas itself or its vapor is easily ignitable by a spark. Also, the carbon monoxide fumes generated by a car left running in the garage are deadly if allowed to seep into the home. So, for all these reasons, the International Residential Code (IRC) and Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC R302.5) have safety standards for a door that separates the garage from the house interior.
The door cannot open directly onto a room used for sleeping purposes (bedroom) and must be one of the following types:
- Solid wood door not less than 1-3/8” thick.
- Steel door, with a solid of honeycomb core, not less than 1-3/8” thick.
- A door with a 20-minute fire-rating.
Here are examples we see during our inspections of when the safety standard has not been met:
- An opening has been cut into the bottom of an otherwise acceptable door to install a pet door.
- A steel door with a fixed glass panel that is not fire-rated has been installed. We check the “bug” on the glass and it is usually safety glass, but have yet to find one with glass that is fire-rated. The door shown below is an example.
- A remodeler doing a “flip” house changes out all the doors in the home to update the interior, and replaces the old door to the garage with a hollow-core interior door.
We recommend that the door between garage and residence should be equipped with a self-closing device, although no longer required by the IRC and FBC. Every few years there is a news story in Florida about someone, usually an older person, asphyxiated by carbon monoxide fumes because they left the door to garage open with their car running while they rushed into the house on a quick errand, then became distracted and stayed in the house, while forgetting to turn off the car or close the door.
It is further worth noting that a carport is required to have a minimum of two open sides by the IRC. If a third side is closed, it must be treated as a garage. Go to our blog post What is the difference between a carport and a garage? for more on this.
Also, see our blog post Can a bedroom door open into the garage?
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