How To Look At A House
McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of
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Does garage door to house have to be fire rated?
Monday, April 13, 2020
Because so many house fires start in the garage, due to the numerous flammables stored there—not the least of which is a car gas tank—the building code requires a fire-resistant barrier between an attached garage and the house. The building code uses the words “fire separation” instead of “fire rated” for it’s standards for the construction of walls, ceiling, and door to the home.
So the fire separation standard for garage door to house gives you three options:
- 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.
Also, the door cannot open directly onto a room used for sleeping purposes (bedroom). Here are examples we see during our inspections of when the safety standard has been breached:
- 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.
Also, we recommend that the door between garage and residence 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.
For details on the full requirements for garage fire separation, go to our blog post What are the code requirements for fire separation between an attached garage and the house?
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