What I'm Seeing Now


Breaches In The Garage Firewall

Now and then I see breaches in the garage firewall.

These are not permitted.  Holes, gaps, punctured drywall - any opening - is considered a fire potential and a danger!

This townhouse garage is beneath the living room.

This is only a small part of the section entitled "Separation Required," and is from the International Residency Code, 309.2:

Garages beneath habitable rooms shall be separated from all habitable rooms above by not less than 5/8-inch (15.9 mm) Type X gypsum board or equivalent.



Cars don't explode or catch on fire that often, but it is possible that they can. 

But even more, garages are often used for storage of flammable liquids, paints, and propane tanks.  And there are other flammable things there - paper products, or even water heaters with pilot lights.

When fire happens it expands rapidly and will exit any place allowed.  Holes like those above can become chimneys that will direct the speeding fire to where ever it can get the quickest. 

And it WILL go there quickly!

The cable company made these holes to run a new connection.  CABLE COMPANIES KNOW THEY SHOULD NOT BREACH A FIRE WALL! 

This will have to be repaired correctly and with the proper material.  Type X drywall is not typical drywall, and must be used by fire code.

My recommendation:  look around in the garage.  Is there anywhere fire can expand through and escape?  If so, go about finding a way to have those locations sealed properly.  Every opening is a danger!  Your life and the lives of others may one day depend on it!



Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


Comment balloon 10 commentsJay Markanich • May 11 2016 02:52AM


This all makes perfect sense, Jay Markanich. By the way, we love your new profile photo; it is just YOU! Reminds me that you might be the ideal replacement for Max Headroom.

Posted by Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI, Presence, Persistence & Perseverance (HomeSmart Realty West & Geneva Financial, Llc.) over 3 years ago

One hot guy, right S&N?  Chicks still call me all the time.  Okay, they're realtors, but still, it's a true statement ... sort of.

I will have to work on that Max Headroom stutter!

Looks like my nose is a breach in MY firewall!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

What we see often is that someone has replaced the door to the attached garage with a wood door because they liked the way it looked...without regard to how it protects !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 3 years ago

I've seen that too, S&D, and the fabled cat door.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

Someone wasn't receiving proper training at the cable company!

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, kat@thehousekat.com) over 3 years ago

Good morning Jay,

Thanks for the tip.

Now I will have to take a look at the garage as there is a collapsing ladder that goes up and is of wood!

Make yourself an astonishi day.

Posted by Raymond E. Camp, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) over 3 years ago

Good morning Jay! Shortcuts can be fatal! The easy path is not often the best! Enjoy your day!

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker - Retired (Wayne M Martin) over 3 years ago

Pet doors.... aarrrgghhh! See them way to often in garage/house doors! 

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) over 3 years ago

Never really gave the concept of garage below the living quarters much thought.  After reading your post, I would never live in a home with that configuration.  I've never had a garage fire, but you see them on the local news often enough that the odds are stacked against you.

Posted by Stephen Weakley (Nationwide Mortgage Services) over 3 years ago

That, or ignored it Kat!  Bad either way.

Those ladders are another issue Raymond, but only if there is no fire protection above the ceiling.  Where the garage abuts under a room there is never a ladder.

Wayne - possibly so here!  That cable guy wanted in and out, and off to lunch.

Fred - once the pet door I saw was big enough for me to get through!  Yep, fire wall.

Stephen - fires expand and move very rapidly.  Even a couple of minutes of protection can mean a great deal.  Under-room garages are all over out here.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

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