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  1. #1
    Jon Randolph's Avatar
    Jon Randolph Guest

    Default fireblocking at laundry chute

    1969 home yesterday, I wrote up a laundry chute from the 2nd floor to the basement (12' from top of chute to bottom, ~20' from top of chute to basement floor) as a violation of required fire blocking. The laundry chute was actually a metal 4x16 between stud heating duct open at the wall on top and through the bottom to the basement and had a hinged plywood door at the top that swung out into the room.

    I know that fireblocking is required every 10 feet, but is this being too picky?

    Would the duct be considered fireblocking within the wall itself, even if it is in contact with wood?

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  2. #2
    Aaron Miller's Avatar
    Aaron Miller Guest

    Default Re: fireblocking at laundry chute

    Jon:

    Though the IRC does not specifically mention laundry chutes it does say this:

    R602.8 Fireblocking required.
    Fireblocking shall be provided to cut off all concealed draft openings (both vertical and horizontal) and to form an effective fire barrier between stories, and between a top story and the roof space. Fireblocking shall be provided in wood-frame construction in the following locations.
    1. In concealed spaces of stud walls and partitions, including furred spaces and parallel rows of studs or staggered studs; as follows:
    1.1. Vertically at the ceiling and floor levels.
    1.2. Horizontally at intervals not exceeding 10 feet (3048 mm).
    2. At all interconnections between concealed vertical and horizontal spaces such as occur at soffits, drop ceilings and cove ceilings.
    3. In concealed spaces between stair stringers at the top and bottom of the run. Enclosed spaces under stairs shall comply with Section R311.2.2.
    4. At openings around vents, pipes, and ducts at ceiling and floor level, with an approved material to resist the free passage of flame and products of combustion.
    5. For the fireblocking of chimneys and fireplaces, see Section R1001.16.
    6. Fireblocking of cornices of a two-family dwelling is required at the line of dwelling unit separation.
    R602.8.1 Materials.
    Except as provided in Section R602.8, Item 4, fireblocking shall consist of 2-inch (51 mm) nominal lumber, or two thicknesses of 1-inch (25.4 mm) nominal lumber with broken lap joints, or one thickness of 23/32-inch (19.8 mm) wood structural panels with joints backed by 23/32-inch (19.8 mm) wood structural panels or one thickness of ¾-inch (19.1 mm) particleboard with joints backed by ¾-inch (19.1 mm) particleboard, ½-inch (12.7 mm) gypsum board, or ¼-inch (6.4 mm) cement-based millboard. Batts or blankets of mineral wool or glass fiber or other approved materials installed in such a manner as to be securely retained in place shall be permitted as an acceptable fire block. Batts or blankets of mineral or glass fiber or other approved non-rigid materials shall be permitted for compliance with the 10 foot horizontal fireblocking in walls constructed using parallel rows of studs or staggered studs. Loose-fill insulation material shall not be used as a fire block unless specifically tested in the form and manner intended for use to demonstrate its ability to remain in place and to retard the spread of fire and hot gases.
    R602.8.1.1 Unfaced fiberglass.
    Unfaced fiberglass batt insulation used as fireblocking shall fill the entire cross section of the wall cavity to a minimum height of 16 inches (406 mm) measured vertically. When piping, conduit or similar obstructions are encountered, the insulation shall be packed tightly around the obstruction.
    R602.8.1.2 Fireblocking integrity.
    The integrity of all fireblocks shall be maintained.

    It it is a commercial building IBC 707.13 applies. Even if residential, check with the municipality. Many of them specifically mention laundry chutes in the IRC amendments.

    Aaron


  3. #3
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    Default Re: fireblocking at laundry chute

    Fireblocking issues not withstanding, laundry chutes are safety hazards, especially if there will be any kids living in the building. When I see them, I recommend having them permanently sealed shut for safety.


  4. #4
    Jon Randolph's Avatar
    Jon Randolph Guest

    Default Re: fireblocking at laundry chute

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    Fireblocking issues not withstanding, laundry chutes are safety hazards, especially if there will be any kids living in the building. When I see them, I recommend having them permanently sealed shut for safety.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Randolph View Post
    The laundry chute was actually a metal 4x16 between stud heating duct
    You must have missed the chute size


  5. #5
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    Default Re: fireblocking at laundry chute

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Randolph View Post
    1969 home yesterday, I wrote up a laundry chute from the 2nd floor to the basement (12' from top of chute to bottom, ~20' from top of chute to basement floor) as a violation of required fire blocking. The laundry chute was actually a metal 4x16 between stud heating duct open at the wall on top and through the bottom to the basement and had a hinged plywood door at the top that swung out into the room.

    I know that fireblocking is required every 10 feet, but is this being too picky?

    Would the duct be considered fireblocking within the wall itself, even if it is in contact with wood?

    Wait... Fireblocking in the laundry chute? How do the clothes go down? Wouldn't they get stuck?

    Department of Redundancy Department
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: fireblocking at laundry chute

    For the Golden State group:
    CBC-2007-707.13.1 Refuse and Laundry Chute Enclosures: A shaft enclosure containing a refuse or laundry Chute shall not be used for any other purpose and shall be enclosed in accordance with Section 707.4. Openings into the shaft, including those from access rooms and termination rooms, shall be protected in accordance with this section and Section 715. Opening into chutes shall not be located in corridors. Doors shall be self-or automatic closing upon the actuation of a smoke detector in accordance with Section 715.4.7.3, except that heat-activated closing devices shall be permitted between the shaft and the termination room.
    707.13.2 – Materials: A shaft enclosure containing a refuse or laundry chute shall be constructed of materials as permitted by the building type of construction.
    The code goes on to say that refyse and laundry chute access rooms and Termination Rooms shall be separated from the remainder of the building by a fire barrier that has a fire-resistance rating of not less than 1 hour.

    I opine that laundry chutes are allowed, but they appear to be very costly if installed to current building code and personally should I find one in a R-3 occupancy I would write them up as providing a potential for spreading a localized fire, yada, yada, yada….

    I also suspect that Gunner has one in his abode and may be employing it the same way Dagwood did by diving down the laundry chute to escape Blondie's request for him to do household chores?

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

  7. #7
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    Default Re: fireblocking at laundry chute

    WC Jerry,

    That is quite similar to what the IBC says regarding laundry chutes.

    From the 2006 IBC.

    - 707.13 Refuse and laundry chutes. Refuse and laundry chutes, access and termination rooms and incinerator rooms shall meet the requirements of Sections 707.13.1 through 707.13.6.
    - - Exception: Chutes serving and contained within a single dwelling unit.
    - - 707.13.1 Refuse and laundry chute enclosures. A shaft enclosure containing a refuse or laundry chute shall not be used for any other purpose and shall be enclosed in accordance with Section 707.4. Openings into the shaft, including those from access rooms and termination rooms, shall be protected in accordance with this section and Section 715. Openings into chutes shall not be located in corridors. Doors shall be self- or automatic closing upon the actuation of a smoke detector in accordance with Section 715.4.7.3, except that heat-activated closing devices shall be permitted between the shaft and the termination room.
    - - 707.13.2 Materials. A shaft enclosure containing a refuse or laundry chute shall be constructed of materials as permitted by the building type of construction.
    - - 707.13.3 Refuse and laundry chute access rooms. Access openings for refuse and laundry chutes shall be located in rooms or compartments enclosed by a fire barrier that has a fire-resistance rating of not less than 1 hour. Openings into the access rooms shall be protected by opening protectives having a fire protection rating of not less than 3/4 hour. Doors shall be self- or automatic closing upon the detection of smoke in accordance with Section 715.4.7.3.
    - - 707.13.4 Termination room. Refuse and laundry chutes shall discharge into an enclosed room separated from the remainder of the building by a fire barrier that has a fire-resistance rating of not less than 1 hour. Openings into the termination room shall be protected by opening protectives having a fire protection rating of not less than 3/4 hour. Doors shall be self- or automatic closing upon the detection of smoke in accordance with Section 715.4.7.3. Refuse chutes shall not terminate in an incinerator room. Refuse and laundry rooms that are not provided with chutes need only comply with Table 508.2.
    - - 707.13.5 Incinerator room. Incinerator rooms shall comply with Table 508.2.
    - - 707.13.6 Automatic sprinkler system. An approved automatic sprinkler system shall be installed in accordance with Section 903.2.10.2.

    The problem is that the IRC does not address laundry chutes, or other shafts.

    In a fire resistive building, shafts are required to have minimum fire resistance rated walls enclosing them, however, the IRC covers buildings which are not fire resistive in those aspects.

    Thus, providing a 'comparable' shaft enclosure to that provided for in the rest of the building (i.e., 1/2" gypsum board) and providing self-closing doors at the bottom and at all access locations should provide that 'comparable' protection.

    Laundry chutes are not dis-allowed, nor are they specifically allowed, and, as shown in the IBC, laundry chutes do not need fireblocking 'within' the laundry chute itself.

    The problem I see is that "stud wall cavities" were used as the laundry chute.

    "Stud wall cavities" are specifically addressed in the IRC even for use with return air, and, if not properly closed at the bottom and each accessible location, would this not become a "return air duct" in that sense?

    From the 2006 IRC. (underlining is mine)
    - M1601.1.1 Above-ground duct systems. Above-ground duct systems shall conform to the following:
    - - 7. Stud wall cavities and the spaces between solid floor joists to be used as air plenums shall comply with the following conditions:
    - - - 7.1. These cavities or spaces shall not be used as a plenum for supply air.
    - - - 7.2. These cavities or spaces shall not be part of a required fire-resistance-rated assembly.
    - - - 7.3. Stud wall cavities shall not convey air from more than one floor level.
    - - - 7.4. Stud wall cavities and joist-space plenums shall be isolated from adjacent concealed spaces by tight-fitting fire blocking in accordance with Section R602.8.

    "7.3. Stud wall cavities shall not convey air from more than one floor level."

    That means that even return air ducts are required to be limited to one floor and the floor or ceiling area below/above, and then fire stopping beyond that point.

    A separate 'special use' chase should have been constructed, with the chase lined with 1/2" gypsum around the outside the chase, with the metal laundry chute duct inside it. Along with the self-closing covers at the bottom and at each access location.

    Is it wrong to have a laundry chute in a single-family residence? No.

    Is it allowable to construct one as stated in the original post? No.

    Are the clients going to remove it or close it up? Unlikely.

    Should the clients be made aware of it. Yes.


    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  8. #8
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    Default Re: fireblocking at laundry chute

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry McCarthy View Post
    I also suspect that Gunner has one in his abode and may be employing it the same way Dagwood did by diving down the laundry chute to escape Blondie's request for him to do household chores?

    Sounds like fun.

    I used to work in an old 12 story hotel in downtown L.A. and they had a laundry chute that extended from the 12th story to the basement. Wahoo!

    Department of Redundancy Department
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  9. #9
    Aaron Miller's Avatar
    Aaron Miller Guest

    Default Re: fireblocking at laundry chute

    Is it wrong to have a laundry chute in a single-family residence? No.
    Is it allowable to construct one as stated in the original post? No.
    Are the clients going to remove it or close it up? Unlikely.
    Should the clients be made aware of it. Yes.
    ECJ:

    You forgot the most important question: Is it stupid to have a laundry chute in a single-family residence? YOU BET IT IS!

    Is that going to stop stupid people from installing them? HELL NO!

    Can your report stop stupidity? NOT A CHANCE!

    I say, let the stupid MFs burn. Maybe they'll remember you told them so as they turn from medium to well done, but I doubt it.

    Aaron



  10. #10
    David Banks's Avatar
    David Banks Guest

    Default Re: fireblocking at laundry chute

    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron Miller View Post


    ECJ:

    You forgot the most important question: Is it stupid to have a laundry chute in a single-family residence? YOU BET IT IS!

    Is that going to stop stupid people from installing them? HELL NO!

    Can your report stop stupidity? NOT A CHANCE!

    I say, let the stupid MFs burn. Maybe they'll remember you told them so as they turn from medium to well done, but I doubt it.

    Aaron
    I have one in my 1952 Ranch and I am not changing it.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: fireblocking at laundry chute

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Are the clients going to remove it or close it up? Unlikely.

    Quote Originally Posted by David Banks View Post
    I have one in my 1952 Ranch and I am not changing it.
    See? That's what I said.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  12. #12
    Michael Cothran's Avatar
    Michael Cothran Guest

    Default Re: fireblocking at laundry chute

    I suppose that a laundry chute could be in the same class as a stairway from floor one to floor two....only smaller.


  13. #13
    Richard Pultar's Avatar
    Richard Pultar Guest

    Default Re: fireblocking at laundry chute

    not picky,,,just wrong


  14. #14
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    Default Re: fireblocking at laundry chute

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Cothran View Post
    I suppose that a laundry chute could be in the same class as a stairway from floor one to floor two....only smaller.

    I guess ... if you consider the stairs as being concealed.

    Jeez, think about it first.

    The laundry chute is concealed, no one is able to see it (unless and until they open the access doors).

    That laundry chute chimney (that is what it was become) is the reason ducts using stud spaces *are not* allowed to go to more than one floor - to keep the fireblocking at the floor and ceiling levels.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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