Gift For Business Owners Buyers, Sellers & DIYers
Inspection Conference
Results 1 to 39 of 39
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    2,325

    Default Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    So, it's obvious these wood pull-down stairs interupt the firewall in a garage ceiling (if/when it's intended to be one). Does anyone have some idea as to how one of these could be modified to make it acceptable?

    I'm thinking along the lines of overlapping the drywall to cover the seams? Or, is there always going to be a problem since it's not sealed?

    I find that telling people their firewall is broken pretty much goes in one ear and out the other. Offering a solution would be nice.... if there is such a beast out there.

    Similar Threads:
    ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images

  2. #2
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
    Jerry Peck is online now Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    22,266

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    I find that telling people their firewall
    Unless it truly is a fire-rated ceiling assembly (it is not a "fire wall", and it is also very unlikely that it is a fire-rated assembly), I would stop calling it a "fire wall" and call it what it is: "separation", in which case the fix is easy ... install 1/2" gypsum board over it.

    Of course, though, now it may weigh more than the springs will hold up, in which case it is the wrong pull-down stair and it would need to be replaced with a proper one, one which comes with 1/2" gypsum board on it, or is capable of remaining closed with a layer of 1/2" gypsum board applied to it.

    Will they fix it? Probably not if it is a lot of work, if they think of all they have to do it attach a layer of 1/2" gypsum board - maybe they will fix it ... nah ... but it was worth a try.

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

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Santa Rosa, CA
    Posts
    2,054

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    Seems to me that ducting can penetrate a garage separation wall if it is... umm.. 26 gauge, I think. If that is the case, then what about sheathing the plywood with a sheet of 26 ga sheet metal?

    CREIA CCI & Evil Genius
    http://www.FullCircleInspect.com/

  4. #4
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
    Jerry Peck is online now Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    22,266

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    Seems to me that ducting can penetrate a garage separation wall if it is... umm.. 26 gauge, I think. If that is the case, then what about sheathing the plywood with a sheet of 26 ga sheet metal?

    Gunnar,

    The duct is considered a "through penetration", that is, it goes into, and through, the wall/ceiling, coming out someplace else.

    The pull-down stair is considered a "membrane penetration", that is, it is (basically speaking) 'a hole in the wall/ceiling'.

    The duct starts at the air handler/furnace and is sealed to the air handler/furnace, all of its joints are sealed, an the duct then goes "through" the wall/ceiling, coming out someplace else. If there is a fire in the garage, the fire would first have to 'get through' the 26 gage sheet metal, which is why they do not allow (no longer allow) flexible ducts in the garage. The flexible duct would quickly melt down or burn up in a fire, leaving a hole through the wall/ceiling.

    The pull-down stair is basically just an attic access opening (where you cut out the gypsum board within the framed in area, then support the gypsum board cover on some type of suitable trim/support), thus, attaching a piece of 1/2" gypsum to the bottom of the wood stair door provides the same protection as the rest of the ceiling.

    Not sure I fully explained it right?

    How about this: If there is a fire in the garage, the fire is going to heat up that 26 gage sheet metal attached to the wood pull-down stair, catching the wood cover of the pull-down stair on fire. Whereas with a 26 gage sheet metal duct, there is nothing inside the duct which will burn, so the metal gets hot ... that's all ... for an amount of time which is acceptable, before it deforms and begins to fail at the joints (supposedly all works that way, anyway, in reality it does not, as the duct deforms, creating openings around the duct where it goes through the gypsum board, which is which is why that type of installation is not allowed in non-dwelling units - there are special firestopping requirements for those ducts which hold the duct in place so it does not deform, or, has sufficient intumescent material to expand and fill the opening where the duct goes through the wall/ceiling/floor).

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

  5. #5
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly is offline Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Fort Worth, Texas
    Posts
    5,375

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Gunnar,

    The duct is considered a "through penetration", that is, it goes into, and through, the wall/ceiling, coming out someplace else.

    The pull-down stair is considered a "membrane penetration", that is, it is (basically speaking) 'a hole in the wall/ceiling'.

    The duct starts at the air handler/furnace and is sealed to the air handler/furnace, all of its joints are sealed, an the duct then goes "through" the wall/ceiling, coming out someplace else. If there is a fire in the garage, the fire would first have to 'get through' the 26 gage sheet metal, which is why they do not allow (no longer allow) flexible ducts in the garage. The flexible duct would quickly melt down or burn up in a fire, leaving a hole through the wall/ceiling.

    The pull-down stair is basically just an attic access opening (where you cut out the gypsum board within the framed in area, then support the gypsum board cover on some type of suitable trim/support), thus, attaching a piece of 1/2" gypsum to the bottom of the wood stair door provides the same protection as the rest of the ceiling.

    Not sure I fully explained it right?

    How about this: If there is a fire in the garage, the fire is going to heat up that 26 gage sheet metal attached to the wood pull-down stair, catching the wood cover of the pull-down stair on fire. Whereas with a 26 gage sheet metal duct, there is nothing inside the duct which will burn, so the metal gets hot ... that's all ... for an amount of time which is acceptable, before it deforms and begins to fail at the joints (supposedly all works that way, anyway, in reality it does not, as the duct deforms, creating openings around the duct where it goes through the gypsum board, which is which is why that type of installation is not allowed in non-dwelling units - there are special firestopping requirements for those ducts which hold the duct in place so it does not deform, or, has sufficient intumescent material to expand and fill the opening where the duct goes through the wall/ceiling/floor).
    You know Jerry. I thought of everything you just told Gunner. Now as far as putting it all to words.

    You must get some serious head aches.

    Ted Menelly, Castle Home Inspection Services
    www.inspectmycastle.com
    Fort Worth, Keller, Southlake, Plano, Flower Mound, DFW, TX

  6. #6
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
    Jerry Peck is online now Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    22,266

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    You You must get some serious head aches.
    Couldn't make out a think you said, speak softly, my head is throbbing ... now, what did you say?

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

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    483

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    I recommend installing 5/8 inch type X sheetrock to provide proper firewall separation. 1/2 inch sheetrock does not meet code, at least in this part of the country.


  8. #8
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
    Jerry Peck is online now Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    22,266

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    Quote Originally Posted by Trent Tarter View Post
    I recommend installing 5/8 inch type X sheetrock to provide proper firewall separation. 1/2 inch sheetrock does not meet code, at least in this part of the country.

    Trent,

    "at least in this part of the country"

    Does your local/state code (or IRC Amendments) require 5/8" gypsum board on the garage ceiling when there is no living space above? I've been told that the ICC codes apply in Washington State - don't know about any amendments, though.

    If so, I agree with you.

    Would you post that code section/Amendment? Thanks.

    Added with edit: I looked through the Washington State IRC Amendments on line and did not see anything about that.

    Last edited by Jerry Peck; 10-23-2008 at 11:03 AM.
    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    483

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    Jerry I don't have the code to post. However all of the new construction projects that I have been involved in have required 5/8 inch Type X (One hour fire-rated drywall) to be installed in the ceiling and the wall the joins the house. I know that 1/2 inch meets code in some areas and in some situations. However I still recommend 5/8 sheetrock for garage fire-wall separation even if it is over and above what the current building code is.


  10. #10
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly is offline Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Fort Worth, Texas
    Posts
    5,375

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    Quote Originally Posted by Trent Tarter View Post
    Jerry I don't have the code to post. However all of the new construction projects that I have been involved in have required 5/8 inch Type X (One hour fire-rated drywall) to be installed in the ceiling and the wall the joins the house. I know that 1/2 inch meets code in some areas and in some situations. However I still recommend 5/8 Sheetrock for garage fire-wall separation even if it is over and above what the current building code is.
    5/8 just makes a better separation, it does not make a fire wall. I also use to put 5/8 fire code in the garage as well. Or 1/2 C rock which has the same rating as 5/8.

    Fire wall would have to be a complete system with firecode on each side.

    Ted Menelly, Castle Home Inspection Services
    www.inspectmycastle.com
    Fort Worth, Keller, Southlake, Plano, Flower Mound, DFW, TX

  11. #11
    David Banks's Avatar
    David Banks Guest

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Trent,

    "at least in this part of the country"

    Does your local/state code (or IRC Amendments) require 5/8" gypsum board on the garage ceiling when there is no living space above? I've been told that the ICC codes apply in Washington State - don't know about any amendments, though.

    If so, I agree with you.

    Would you post that code section/Amendment? Thanks.

    Added with edit: I looked through the Washington State IRC Amendments on line and did not see anything about that.
    Separation required in MA is 5/8 gypsum.

    5309.2 Separation Required.
    The garage shall be separated from its residence and its attic area by not more less than 5/8 type x gypsum board or equivalent (15.9mm) gypsum board applied to the garage side. Garages beneath habitable rooms shall be separated from all habitable rooms above by not less than 5/8 (15.9mm) gypsum board or quivlant..........................etc.


  12. #12
    Luc V. L.'s Avatar
    Luc V. L. is offline Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Washington
    Posts
    70

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    Would a 5/8" section of drywall that is fit into a scuttle hole access in an attached garage that is otherwise properly "separated" suffice or does it need some sort of air-stop/air-seal to be acceptable? No living space above the garage but the attic space is open above the finished garage ceiling into the attic space above the home.

    Last edited by Luc V. L.; 07-10-2011 at 05:40 PM. Reason: added extra info.

  13. #13
    Ken Rowe's Avatar
    Ken Rowe is offline Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    St Paul, MN
    Posts
    1,443

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    Matt,

    Before you call out the attic hatch check to see if the wall between the house and garage in the garage attic has the barrier. Here in MN 80% of the time the fire separation goes all the way up through the attic so there's no need to call out the hatch.

    MinnesotaHomeInspectors.com
    Minnesota Home Inspectors LLC
    ASHI #242887 mnradontesting.com

  14. #14
    John Kogel's Avatar
    John Kogel is online now Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Southern Vancouver Island
    Posts
    3,876

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Rowe View Post
    Matt,

    Before you call out the attic hatch check to see if the wall between the house and garage in the garage attic has the barrier. Here in MN 80% of the time the fire separation goes all the way up through the attic so there's no need to call out the hatch.
    Your advice comes a little late there, Ken. He posted that back in 2008.

    I don't see a lot of those here, because most attics are obstructed by truss webs. Which is a good thing. But I often advise people that have them to build an insulated box with an insulated lid above the stairs. They tend to nod their heads and forget everything I tell them.
    Some of the worst cases of attic mold are in attics with those contraptions attached.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  15. #15
    Phil Brody's Avatar
    Phil Brody Guest

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    Seems to me that ducting can penetrate a garage separation wall if it is... umm.. 26 gauge, I think. If that is the case, then what about sheathing the plywood with a sheet of 26 ga sheet metal?
    That's exactly what some require around here, true eventually the metal will heat up and ignite the plywood but that's going to take a while, and still substantially better than exposed plywood.


  16. #16
    David Valley's Avatar
    David Valley Guest

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    If the attic space is needed for storage, simply recommend a 5"8 F/R Sheetrock installation above the divider wall in the attic.

    ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images

  17. #17
    Tabb Jensen's Avatar
    Tabb Jensen is offline Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Dayton,Tn
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    Common sense approach - Firewall separation is required/needed between the garage and living spaces - not between garages and attics of such - they are part of the garage ( garage with storage) . The ceiling rqmt's are for those that have living space above- usually don't have an attic in the middle. This approach would be that the fire separation would need to be on the bottom of the floor above if the ceiling is not able to be fire rated due to ladder. The important part is the firewall separation not so much its location. This may not be code - but I'm not a code inspector - The safety of my clients is my concern. Tabb Jensen - Home Inspector Dayton,Tn/Jensen Inspection-Chattanooga,Tn. Cleveland,Tn. East Ridge,Tn | Home Inspector Dayton,Tn/Jensen Inspection/Home Inspector Tn


  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Snowbird (this means I'm retired and migrate between locations), FL/MI
    Posts
    4,095

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    The single wall- appliance vent connectors (below the B-venting system) have clearance to combustible requirements. It also includes free air (i.e. not abutted to duct insulation blankets.

    The framed opening for wood pull-down stair appears to encroach on same. It also appears that the plywood back and wood pull-down stair assembly when pulled down will also encroach upon that clearance. Further, in-use positioning of same may subject the user to a proximity problem and to be burned (side clearance up stair/ladder).

    Regarding the roof assembly separation protection - one would necessarily need to consult the original plans. Oftentimes architects specify a true floor/ceiling separation assembly and same is noted upon the plans.Penetrations to such are generally covered within said UL floor/ceiling separation assemblies.

    Blocking and stopping are also covered. Generally plywood has an equal to or greater than flame spread index of 25.

    The single wall vent connectors below the b-vent system must be maintained proper spacing (air space and distance from combustibles) and/or shielding as per codes; it must also be properly supported, this includes at offsets. Shielding, and the backer for same, and when and if this may result in a clearance spacing reduction, are further covered in the codes.

    One wonders just what access would be possible for such a pull down stair in that orientation and proximity to wall, and clearance from the suggested (by duct insulation, and single wall appliance connectors) present mechanical and HVAC ducting ceiling penetration(s) so near same the opening and stresses of operation, i.e. structural stability/remediation and if said pull-down stair encroaches upon ready access of same. One also wonders if lighting has been installed above since the addition of the pull-down stair. Unkwn if actual (attic floor/garage) ceiling joists or was truss construction (bottom chords), and/or if gyp board was directly attached to same, don't think Matt said either way.

    L.V.L. brought this older thread back up, not K.R. who was responding, John K.



    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 07-11-2011 at 09:02 AM.

  19. #19
    Craig Barr's Avatar
    Craig Barr is offline Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Utah
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    I have been reading some of the replies and now I am wondering if I missed the radon system piping. I recently performed an inspection where the client had a radon system that ran through the garage and up and out of the garage through a bedroom closet above the garage. The pipe used was 4 Inch PVC and had a metal collar that held the 90 degree elbow that went up through the ceiling in the garage. The question I now have is, should they have used a 26 gage metal pipe in the garage? The pipe runs from the basement through the wall that connects the house to the garage and then up and across the garage ceiling and up to the bedroom above. I called out the collar in the ceiling because if was not sealed properly but never gave a thought about the PVC pipe and the fact that it will melt during a fire leaving one or both holes exposed. Should they have used 26 gage metal in the garage?

    ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images

  20. #20
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
    Jerry Peck is online now Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    22,266

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Barr View Post
    I called out the collar in the ceiling because if was not sealed properly but never gave a thought about the PVC pipe and the fact that it will melt during a fire leaving one or both holes exposed. Should they have used 26 gage metal in the garage?
    That collar is a rated firestop collar. The material in it expands when the area heats up, and, as the PVC melts down, the collar material expands into the melting pipe and seals off the opening. The material in that collar is called an "intumescent" material.

    In this case, with that firestop collar, the PVC pipe would be okay. Without a firestop collar installed, yes, the pipe should then be minimum 26 gage metal.

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

  21. #21
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
    Jerry Peck is online now Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    22,266

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    Seems to me that ducting can penetrate a garage separation wall if it is... umm.. 26 gauge, I think. If that is the case, then what about sheathing the plywood with a sheet of 26 ga sheet metal?
    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Brody View Post
    That's exactly what some require around here, true eventually the metal will heat up and ignite the plywood but that's going to take a while, and still substantially better than exposed plywood.
    That does not provide the same protection as installing 1/2" gypsum board over the wood door cover, and thus it is not "equivalent" to 1/2" drywall.

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

  22. #22
    Craig Barr's Avatar
    Craig Barr is offline Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Utah
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    Thank you for that extra info, so they really should have had two collars, one on the house wall to the garage and one on the gargae ceiling as shown in the picture. Thanks again I am a better inspector because of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    That collar is a rated firestop collar. The material in it expands when the area heats up, and, as the PVC melts down, the collar material expands into the melting pipe and seals off the opening. The material in that collar is called an "intumescent" material.

    In this case, with that firestop collar, the PVC pipe would be okay. Without a firestop collar installed, yes, the pipe should then be minimum 26 gage metal.



  23. #23
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
    Jerry Peck is online now Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    22,266

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Barr View Post
    so they really should have had two collars, one on the house wall to the garage and one on the gargae ceiling as shown in the picture.

    Yes, but that is a bit overkill on a residential garage of a single-family home. Those are used on other fire-rated assemblies such as in non-residential construction and high-rises.

    For a dwelling unit, using 26 gage galvanized metal would be more cost effective ... IF ... 26 gage is allowed. By that I mean, if that is for an appliance which does not allow 26 gage (because the 26 gage is not positive pressure rated) and PVC is required - then those firestops may be the only option available.

    With a radon mitigation exhaust in your example, maybe the 26 gage would work?

    Maybe not as the radon being blown through the exhaust duct might leak out the joints - for that someone with radon experience would need to answer as that is beyond what I know.

    Can someone take it from there and answer that question: Is regular 26 gage single wall vent allowed for use with a radon mitigation system?

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

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    New Westminster, B. C., Canada
    Posts
    161

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    Hi (ALL) &

    Am thinking - a true fire-rated hatch (like what would often be found in a common Condo building hallway), then a properly fitted and installed pull-down stair with a drywall separation between the metal hatch-cover & the wood stairs. Otherwise, a custom metal stair...

    CHEERS !

    -Glenn Duxbury, CHI

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    California
    Posts
    79

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    If the ceiling is a required fire separation, the access door would be required to be self closing when not in use.


  26. #26
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
    Jerry Peck is online now Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    22,266

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    Quote Originally Posted by David Bertrams View Post
    If the ceiling is a required fire separation, the access door would be required to be self closing when not in use.
    Except that the ceiling isn't a required fire-rated separation and therefore does not require a fire-rated door or cover.

    However, attic access hatch covers are somewhat self-closing in that if you lift them they will fall back down by gravity anyway ...

    The pull-down stair is also not required to be fire-rated, it is only required to maintain whatever level of "separation" is there - if there is no living space above the ceiling then only 1/2" gypsum board is required, if there is living space above the ceiling then 5/8" Type X gypsum board would be required, but ... if there was living space above the ceiling then it would be unlikely to have any need for a pull-down stair as there would likely not be enough room above the ceiling for storage which would need access of a pull-down stair.

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

  27. #27
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    California
    Posts
    79

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Except that the ceiling isn't a required fire-rated separation and therefore does not require a fire-rated door or cover.

    However, attic access hatch covers are somewhat self-closing in that if you lift them they will fall back down by gravity anyway ...

    The pull-down stair is also not required to be fire-rated, it is only required to maintain whatever level of "separation" is there - if there is no living space above the ceiling then only 1/2" gypsum board is required, if there is living space above the ceiling then 5/8" Type X gypsum board would be required, but ... if there was living space above the ceiling then it would be unlikely to have any need for a pull-down stair as there would likely not be enough room above the ceiling for storage which would need access of a pull-down stair.
    The ceiling has no rating but in this case it is a separation that shall be maintained. With the stairs extended, there is no separation. Not allowed here.
    The wall between a dwelling and an attached garage has no rating but a door in that wall is required to be self closing.

    Last edited by David Bertrams; 07-15-2011 at 05:57 PM.

  28. #28
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
    Jerry Peck is online now Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    22,266

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    Quote Originally Posted by David Bertrams View Post
    The ceiling has no rating but it is a separation that shall be maintained. With the stairs extended, there is no separation. Not allowed here.
    So, no attic access openings are allowed in garages in your areas either? Interesting.

    Okay, to carry that a step further, not only is the ceiling required to have separation (which you said must be maintained) but the walls are required to have separation too, so ... no door to the living space is allowed either ... VERY INTERESTING ...

    So, all access to the garage is to exit the house to the outdoors and them come back into the garage through either the overhead garage door or a side door from the garage to the outdoors. That is very unusual.

    But, if that separation must be maintained at all times (i.e., the pull-down ladder to the attic is not allowed to be opened), then NO doors or other openings are allowed into the attic or the living space.

    I suspect you are now realizing that what you said is not what the practice is in your area nor what the code says either?

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

  29. #29
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    2,325

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    Here are pictures of what I did to my own pull-down. The added weight of the 5/8" sheetreock causes the stairs to hang open a bit which is something I'm still working on. Also, I need to fire stop the hinged side where I had to stop the drywall to allow the door to open. But, overall I think it's better than it was before.

    The pull down is in the garage ceiling and the area above is floored off for storage with 1/2 being above the garage and 1/2 being above the kitchen. So, extending the separation wall to enclose only the garage would be somewhat inconvenient as it would cut off much of my storage... not to mention the work involved in building the wall.

    ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images

  30. #30
    John Kogel's Avatar
    John Kogel is online now Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Southern Vancouver Island
    Posts
    3,876

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    Here are pictures of what I did to my own pull-down. The added weight of the 5/8" sheetreock causes the stairs to hang open a bit which is something I'm still working on. Also, I need to fire stop the hinged side where I had to stop the drywall to allow the door to open. But, overall I think it's better than it was before.
    Thanks Matt. I see you have a young admirer, or is she just trying to get her picture taken? I see you have a nice marlin and a nice hard top for your convertible.

    This shows that there is more to it than just telling people to cover the bottom with drywall.
    The weight is certainly a factor. The hinge is exposed. Could you cover it with metal flashing? Also, the corners of the drywall sheet are vulnerable to damage, and there's a risk of the drywall screws tearing through from the wear and tear action.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  31. #31
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Central PA
    Posts
    29

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    So, it's obvious these wood pull-down stairs interupt the firewall in a garage ceiling (if/when it's intended to be one). Does anyone have some idea as to how one of these could be modified to make it acceptable?

    I'm thinking along the lines of overlapping the drywall to cover the seams? Or, is there always going to be a problem since it's not sealed?

    I find that telling people their firewall is broken pretty much goes in one ear and out the other. Offering a solution would be nice.... if there is such a beast out there.
    I find this issue at least twice per week in homes around here. I recommend either removal of the pulldown ladder and replace with proper mudded/taped 1/2" or thicker drywall or replace with a fire-rated assembly. I do recall that there are metal pulldown ladders with a steel cover.

    I call the same thing out when I see wooden access panel covers (no ladder) but just the hatch/chase.


  32. #32
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    California
    Posts
    79

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    So, no attic access openings are allowed in garages in your areas either? Interesting.

    Okay, to carry that a step further, not only is the ceiling required to have separation (which you said must be maintained) but the walls are required to have separation too, so ... no door to the living space is allowed either ... VERY INTERESTING ...

    So, all access to the garage is to exit the house to the outdoors and them come back into the garage through either the overhead garage door or a side door from the garage to the outdoors. That is very unusual.

    But, if that separation must be maintained at all times (i.e., the pull-down ladder to the attic is not allowed to be opened), then NO doors or other openings are allowed into the attic or the living space.

    I suspect you are now realizing that what you said is not what the practice is in your area nor what the code says either?
    The answer to such a lame post is no, on all counts.


  33. #33
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    2,325

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    Thanks Matt. I see you have a young admirer, or is she just trying to get her picture taken? I see you have a nice marlin and a nice hard top for your convertible.

    This shows that there is more to it than just telling people to cover the bottom with drywall.
    The weight is certainly a factor. The hinge is exposed. Could you cover it with metal flashing? Also, the corners of the drywall sheet are vulnerable to damage, and there's a risk of the drywall screws tearing through from the wear and tear action.
    I didn't even notice my daughter made the picture.... She's never far away

    I used some of the plastic edge guards and glued them on and it worked pretty well. I think I'm going to either just use fire caulk or foam for the hinged end. As for holding it closed tightly, I'm still at a bit of a loss. I may just end up using an eye-hook but keep thinking I can do better. It's not bad now but I'd like it to be held tightly in place.


  34. #34
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly is offline Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Fort Worth, Texas
    Posts
    5,375

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    If a fire is ripping to the point where it burned thru the pull down stair ..... the garage and roof are gone as well and if it went that far it means you were not home and the house is more than likely gone as well. If a fire is going to the point of a smoke detector setting off then the fire department gets called and they put the fire out. If it is hot enough and that ferocious of a fire as I said to burn thru it then the walls are going moment later along with the rest of the home.

    Yes I understand safety but by a full metal rated stairs or something or place a smoke detector in such a place to give you early warning. If you have a home alarm system have the heat/smoke detector hooked into it so your alarm company calls the fire department immediately.

    Ted Menelly, Castle Home Inspection Services
    www.inspectmycastle.com
    Fort Worth, Keller, Southlake, Plano, Flower Mound, DFW, TX

  35. #35
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
    Jerry Peck is online now Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    22,266

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    Quote Originally Posted by David Bertrams View Post
    The ceiling has no rating but in this case it is a separation that shall be maintained. With the stairs extended, there is no separation. Not allowed here.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    So, no attic access openings are allowed in garages in your areas either? Interesting.

    Okay, to carry that a step further, not only is the ceiling required to have separation (which you said must be maintained) but the walls are required to have separation too, so ... no door to the living space is allowed either ... VERY INTERESTING ...

    So, all access to the garage is to exit the house to the outdoors and them come back into the garage through either the overhead garage door or a side door from the garage to the outdoors. That is very unusual.

    But, if that separation must be maintained at all times (i.e., the pull-down ladder to the attic is not allowed to be opened), then NO doors or other openings are allowed into the attic or the living space.

    I suspect you are now realizing that what you said is not what the practice is in your area nor what the code says either?
    Quote Originally Posted by David Bertrams View Post
    The answer to such a lame post is no, on all counts.
    Now that's a lame answer if I've ever seen one ... you make a statement which makes no sense, I try and offer all the options I can think of which would go along with your statement - and the you simply do not answer in any helpful way.

    You do not allow a pull-down stair because, your words, the "separation that shall be maintained", and that statement begs the questions about ALL OTHER openings which are temporarily opened and which doing so does not maintain the separation ... either separation needs to be maintained or it does not - pick one, but make up your mind first.

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

  36. #36
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    California
    Posts
    79

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Now that's a lame answer if I've ever seen one ... you make a statement which makes no sense, I try and offer all the options I can think of which would go along with your statement - and the you simply do not answer in any helpful way.

    You do not allow a pull-down stair because, your words, the "separation that shall be maintained", and that statement begs the questions about ALL OTHER openings which are temporarily opened and which doing so does not maintain the separation ... either separation needs to be maintained or it does not - pick one, but make up your mind first.
    I guess you are not willing to concede that you missed the fact that a gapping hole in the ceiling presents a problem. I gave you a clue when I pointed out that a man door to the dwelling shall be self closing and the same applies to the pull down stairs or any other access.

    You do not have it in you to admit that you blew it. You instead, put out a bunch of smoke to hide your mistake. Have you ever been wrong? When you are inspecting and miss something, do you make it right or do you let it go because you can't handle making a mistake? What was I thinking, you don't make mistakes. Your attitude is a scary one for an inspector.

    The way you handle your mistakes is to belittle that person that caught you with an asinine diatribe. Read what you said. " No doors allowed from the garage to the dwelling", "No access allowed to the attic". How ridiculous.

    How about all the H/O inspectors that see your statements and think "Well if Jerry Peck says it's ok it must be ok". You don't fool me for a minute and you don't fool yourself either.

    Last edited by David Bertrams; 07-17-2011 at 07:25 AM.

  37. #37
    Mike Schulz's Avatar
    Mike Schulz is offline Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Fuquay Varina, NC
    Posts
    1,069

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    Here is a ruling in Oregon about plastic penetration through the garage.
    http://www.bcd.oregon.gov/programs/s...erps/92-25.pdf

    Also here I find attic stairs in the garage and it seems as long as it has the sticker stating fire resistant they allow it.

    Mike Schulz License 393
    Affordable Home Inspections
    www.houseinspections.com

  38. #38
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
    Jerry Peck is online now Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    22,266

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    Quote Originally Posted by David Bertrams View Post
    I guess you are not willing to concede that you missed the fact that a gapping hole in the ceiling presents a problem. I gave you a clue when I pointed out that a man door to the dwelling shall be self closing and the same applies to the pull down stairs or any other access.
    I guess you are not willing to concede that you missed the fact that a gaping hole in the wall presents a problem. The door, even though self-closing, and by virtue of being self-closing, means the door IS OPEN and is a "gapping hole in the" wall WHEN OPEN, which is not unlike a pull-down stair which is a "gapping hole in the" ceiling WHEN OPEN.

    You fail to stand by your own statements - either an opening IS ALLOWED or an opening IS NOT ALLOWED, instead you try to justify why one opening is allowed some of the time.

    I guess you've never seen a self-closing door which did not self-close? Oh, wait, that would mess up your thought process.

    CAN you leave a pull-down stair open? Yep.

    CAN you leave a self-closing door open? Yep.

    ARE BOTH "gapping holes in the" ceiling/wall? Yep.

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

  39. #39
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
    Jerry Peck is online now Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    22,266

    Default Re: Firewall and attic pull-down stairs

    Quote Originally Posted by David Bertrams View Post
    The way you handle your mistakes is to belittle that person that caught you with an asinine diatribe.
    Read Q4 and A4 in the link Mike posted.

    Maybe you need to read up on how to admit being wrong ...

    Talk about a big ego, if it is not David's way is it not right - 'cause David said so ...

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

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •