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  1. #1
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    Default Revisiting horizontal fill on guard rails - testing by the "4/50 guideline."

    Looked at another million+$ house yesterday as a "new house inspection," the entire structure has been passed by the AHJ as acceptable to code. As usual these days, all decks, stairs, balconies, etc. used horizontal cable infill. While at it I set up the recommended test (see photo). I am using a 4 inch rigid plastic ball and applying a force to it with the tape and scale. (The scale measures to 75lbs. force (note "lbs. force", not "pressure", maximum and gives a good reading at 50lbs, near mid-range) Obviously no AHJ checked this. The cables were 1/8 inch on 3.5 inch centers and the ball fell through the cables with no force at all. I guess most jurisdictions now are just ignoring this as not worth the fight. I am not sure what to tell owners and buyers in these situations, I don't want to get in the habit of poking local code enforcement agencies in the eye with a sharp stick. Something about hibernating bears?

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    Last edited by Allen Ingling; 03-02-2014 at 03:00 PM. Reason: clarify test procedure
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Revisiting horizontal fill on guard rails - testing by the "4/50 guideline."

    Allen, I think you should just tell them what you found and what the rule is. They can decide for themselves along with their realtor if they want to take it up with the builder.
    The builder will most likely do nothing about it, but that is not your fight.
    There is no denying the information in your report, tho.

    They are pretty ugly railings, IMO.

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

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Revisiting horizontal fill on guard rails - testing by the "4/50 guideline."

    Agree with John.

    But out of curiosity, how many of you guys do this "test" as Allen does?

    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Revisiting horizontal fill on guard rails - testing by the "4/50 guideline."

    Horizontal cables like that also act like a ladder allowing adults and children to climb it. That is worse than the spacing issue, IMVHO.

    The 4" sphere is used by many inspectors(not me) but I have never seen anyone using a force gauge.

    Last edited by Scott Patterson; 03-03-2014 at 07:14 AM.
    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Revisiting horizontal fill on guard rails - testing by the "4/50 guideline."

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Abram View Post
    This is another example where "Code" does not properly address safety issues.
    Jim,

    You keep saying that.

    How many code change proposals have you submitted?

    The code is a consensus MINIMUM level of safety. The code is not and does not attempt to address things to a higher standard. I am glad that YOU like higher standards, just as I do. ... However, you seem to fail to recognize that the code is a MINIMUM standard.

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

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Revisiting horizontal fill on guard rails - testing by the "4/50 guideline."

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Abram View Post
    Jerry - This configuration was prohibited for many years until it disappeared from the Code. Who knows why ?
    It wasn't prohibited for many years in the various code agencies which produced the various codes.

    When the ICC was formed, the various code agencies combined the various codes into the ICC codes by consensus. In doing so some things in the individual codes were dropped.

    I agree that - in my opinion - horizontal infill should be prohibited, but it is not.

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

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Revisiting horizontal fill on guard rails - testing by the "4/50 guideline."

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Abram View Post

    Jerry-

    The 2000 International Residential Code (IRC) states that guardrails . . . shall not be constructed with horizontal members or other ornamental pattern that results in a ladder effect.

    This was removed in the 2001 code cycle and was published in the 2001 IRC supplement. It has remained that way and is in the 2003 or 2006 publications of the IRC.

    So you are confirming that it was not required "for many years"?

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

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Revisiting horizontal fill on guard rails - testing by the "4/50 guideline."

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Abram View Post
    Never has been required as far as I know . It was prohibited by BOCA and IRC c.2000.
    Okay ... I will use your wording ...

    "So you are confirming that it was not PROHIBITED "for many years"?"

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

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Revisiting horizontal fill on guard rails - testing by the "4/50 guideline."

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    Horizontal cables like that also act like a ladder allowing adults and children to climb it. That is worse than the spacing issue, IMVHO.

    The 4" sphere is used by many inspectors(not me) but I have never seen anyone using a force gauge.
    If in doubt I use my fist.

    Steven Turetsky, UID #16000002314
    homeinspectionsnewyork.com
    eifsinspectionsnewyork.com

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Revisiting horizontal fill on guard rails - testing by the "4/50 guideline."

    Obviously no one is concerned (except some of us) about the ladder effect. But the spacing I believe is a much greater choking risk for toddlers and younger who are not big enough to try climbing it but will definitely try to stick their little (4", pinheads?) heads through it. That is what the four inch spacing on any sort of guard is about anyway. I have yet to see one of these close up that I think would not be a choking risk way beyond the "ladder risk."

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Turetsky View Post
    If in doubt I use my fist.
    Steven: You must be one big guy! My fist is only about three inches wide (and lacks a built in force gauge).


  11. #11
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    Default Revisiting horizontal fill on guard rails - testing by the "4/50 guideline."

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Turetsky View Post
    If in doubt I use my fist.
    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Ingling View Post
    Steven: You must be one big guy! My fist is only about three inches wide (and lacks a built in force gauge).
    I'm not a big guy either and I use my first too. It's just shy 4", if I can move my fist side to side much at all in the opening, I measure the opening.

    While my fist does not have a force gage either, if I can put my fingers in the opening and spread the infill apart, be it cable or 1/2" square tube over spanned for its strength, and I know that I do not have even 20 pounds of force in spreading my fingers - probably not even 5 or 10 pounds of force, I know that the infill will not meet the requirements of 50 pounds/sq ft.

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

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Revisiting horizontal fill on guard rails - testing by the "4/50 guideline."

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    Allen, I think you should just tell them what you found and what the rule is. They can decide for themselves along with their realtor if they want to take it up with the builder.
    The builder will most likely do nothing about it, but that is not your fight.
    There is no denying the information in your report, tho.

    They are pretty ugly railings, IMO.
    John: You ain't seen ugly until you look at this! These cables are on 4" centers. In places the ball goes through without touching. You would think that this was someone's mountain hideaway but it is actually my alma mater's demo house. I am embarrassed to say where it is. "Demo" in this case should mean demolition, not demonstration. I particularly like the added "spacers."

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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Revisiting horizontal fill on guard rails - testing by the "4/50 guideline."

    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Ingling View Post
    Obviously no one is concerned (except some of us) about the ladder effect. But the spacing I believe is a much greater choking risk for toddlers and younger who are not big enough to try climbing it but will definitely try to stick their little (4", pinheads?) heads through it. That is what the four inch spacing on any sort of guard is about anyway. I have yet to see one of these close up that I think would not be a choking risk way beyond the "ladder risk."

    - - - Updated - - -



    Steven: You must be one big guy! My fist is only about three inches wide (and lacks a built in force gauge).
    I'm not real petite at 6'1" and 260lbs but my fist is also right at 4". Makes for a quick measuring device if I'm in doubt....

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

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