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  1. #1
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    Default Guardrailing question

    The end of the metal guardrailing is about 4" from the stone, but the top part of the railing is not attached to the stone. The railing has "some" movement/flex in it, about 1/2" movement. At the bottom of the rail, there are two bolts holding the railing into the concrete steps.

    Would you guys recommend the top of the railing be attached into the stone or is this me being toooooo nit picky again.


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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Guardrailing question

    Quote Originally Posted by brianmiller View Post
    The end of the metal guardrailing is about 4" from the stone, but the top part of the railing is not attached to the stone. The railing has "some" movement/flex in it, about 1/2" movement.
    First, define "about 4" from the stone" - the requirement is that the space not allow a 4" sphere to pass through, and check that when the guard is deflected as far as possible each way - the opening must be *LESS THAN* 4 inches.

    The top of the guard is required to resist a 200 pound force applied to the top of the guard in any direction, including "up". Do you think the guard will support that 200 pound force and not fall over?

    The guard in-fill panel must resist a 50 pounds per sf force applied horizontally to the in-fill panel (and the "air" space is counted in the square foot area size - that means there may be as many as 4 balusters or only 3 balusters in that area, depending on the spacing and size of the balusters).

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

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Guardrailing question

    Thanks, Jerry....it was hard to determine if it was 3 3/4" or 4 " due irregular stone I was measuring from...but based on what you described, when you add in the 1/2" deflection, the opening would definitetly fail the 4" sphere criteria.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Guardrailing question

    Brian,

    I carry some flat plastic 'flat' "spheres" with me in my clip board - cut them from a flat semi-rigid plastic sign I purchased at a big box store. They are easy to carry, take up very little space in my clip board, and I can turn them any angle (to replicate a sphere) to see if they will go through.

    First I hold them up to the openings with the flat sides facing horizontal (the flat disc is vertical) to see if the opening is smaller or larger than the 4" flat disc; then I hold the flat disc horizontally to see if the disc fits through that way; then I can position it at any angle I want to check when the balusters have sides which are anything but straight (curved balusters, placed side-by-side, can create an opening which allows the 4" sphere to pass without the 4" sphere being able to pass through at other heights on the baluster.

    I made the 'flat' "spheres" in three sizes: 4", 4-3/8", and 6". That addresses any guardrail opening size you will find in a dwelling unit. For guards at mechanical equipment on roofs at commercial structures, the spacing is 21" - I just measure those openings.

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

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Guardrailing question

    4 inches,and railings need to be secure.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Guard railing question

    The 4 inch sphere standard is a good standard to keep a child's "Head" from going through But really does not apply here. Not sure if code addresses this, but an open space like this could easily allow a child's Neck (less than 4") pass through this opening and get wedged in, and if not choked could really do some damage on the rough brick against the skin. I can see a kid climbing on that and wedging himself (neck or crotch) into that space.

    Last edited by Larry Morrison; 03-04-2013 at 08:42 AM.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Guardrailing question

    Quote Originally Posted by brianmiller View Post
    Would you guys recommend the top of the railing be attached into the stone or is this me being toooooo nit picky again.b
    I would not be advising a repair / correction. As for being picky - that depends upon how you present the issue. A 200 lb lateral force on the top of a standard height railing would generate about 1,700 lb of pressure at its mounting. It sometimes can be difficult to make a judgement. I see nothing improper about making a remark that the resistive characteristics of the railing are unknown or may be in question. I suspect that most buyers would decide to live with the condition.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Guardrailing question

    1st, no guard is required if the porch is < 30". The photo doesn't show how high it is.

    2nd, there is no way for a home inspector to accurately determine whether a railing meets the 200 lb force requirement. Use your judgement.

    3rd, the risers appear to be different heights. FYI.

    Joe Funderburk, CBO, CMI
    Alpha & Omega Home Inspections, LLC
    Serving SC & NC

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Guard railing question

    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Morrison View Post
    The 4 inch sphere standard is a good standard to keep a child's "Head" from going through But really does not apply here.
    Someone caught that, and in the interest of completing your statement, explain what does apply there.

    Actually, it is more complicated than just that, the top opening does need to meet the 'less than' 4 opening (keep in mind that a 4" opening WILL allow a 4" sphere to pass through, so the opening must be LESS THAN 4").

    I will let you provide what the guard along the open side of the stair must meet.

    I use the 4" for everything, if the contractor does not know the code (know what they are doing), then let them make it 4" even on the open sides of the stairway.

    Think about it a minute ... open risers have a maximum opening of less than 4", so why would the guard be different?

    Larry, post the size for the open sides of a stairway.

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

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Guardrailing question

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Barker View Post
    A 200 lb lateral force on the top of a standard height railing would generate about 1,700 lb of pressure at its mounting.
    And the code specifically states that the 200 pounds the top rail must resist is 200 pounds from any direction on the top rail.

    For the guard in-fill panel, the load is specified as being applied horizontally.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Funderburk View Post
    1st, no guard is required if the porch is < 30". The photo doesn't show how high it is.

    2nd, there is no way for a home inspector to accurately determine whether a railing meets the 200 lb force requirement. Use your judgement.

    3rd, the risers appear to be different heights. FYI.
    Agreed on 1 and 3.

    A home inspector may have a proper tool for checking #2 - so I wouldn't say that "there is no way for a home inspector", I would put it more like "it is highly unlikely that a home inspector" would have the proper tool to check the top rail.

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

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Guard railing question

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Someone caught that, and in the interest of completing your statement, explain what does apply there.

    Actually, it is more complicated than just that, the top opening does need to meet the 'less than' 4 opening (keep in mind that a 4" opening WILL allow a 4" sphere to pass through, so the opening must be LESS THAN 4").

    I will let you provide what the guard along the open side of the stair must meet.

    I use the 4" for everything, if the contractor does not know the code (know what they are doing), then let them make it 4" even on the open sides of the stairway.

    Think about it a minute ... open risers have a maximum opening of less than 4", so why would the guard be different?

    Larry, post the size for the open sides of a stairway.
    I don't think there is a size for this. Sometimes Code does not see a potentially hazardous situation as this is!
    What I'm trying to point out is; the 4 inch size limitation is there to Keep a child's Head or body from going through. The problem with this railing is that if a child were to climb on the railing and fell, Their neck being easily less than 4 inches across, could go between the top post and the brick and entrap them. If a child fell from the top, their neck could easily enter that space (from the top) even if it were maybe 3 inches or less. Hope you are getting what I'm trying to point out.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Guardrailing question

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    A home inspector may have a proper tool for checking #2 - so I wouldn't say that "there is no way for a home inspector", I would put it more like "it is highly unlikely that a home inspector" would have the proper tool to check the top rail.
    You are correct. There may be a home inspector somewhere in the galaxy that uses one of these devices. See Photo 1.

    http://www.structuretech1.com/wp-con...okTestData.pdf

    Joe Funderburk, CBO, CMI
    Alpha & Omega Home Inspections, LLC
    Serving SC & NC

  13. #13

    Default Re: Guardrailing question

    I don't think the "4 inch" rule really applies here. I would be more concerned about the open top end of the railing being a "snag/trip/fall hazard for clothing and carry straps.

    True Professionals, Inc. Property Consultant
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  14. #14
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    Default Re: Guardrailing question

    Question. Would there be any "grandfathering" here. Is it required to bring the handrail up to current regulations, or if it was correct when installed, would it be OK today unless it was to become altered?

    Greg Filian
    http://www.MobileHomeInspectors.com
    714 612-3564

  15. #15

    Default Re: Guardrailing question

    Altered or not, a hazard is a hazard. Since I don't quote code or enforce it, not being the AHJ, I simply report on potential actual hazards. Catching a coat pocket or purse strap and falling down the stairs is a real thing. Hell, I catch my pockets of my cargo type pants on the damn drawer pulls in my own kitchen all the time. Ripped those puppies out more than once.

    True Professionals, Inc. Property Consultant
    877-466-8504

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