The firewall is one of the most important aspects of the home’s safety and one that is frequently overlooked. However, a professional home inspector makes it a priority to check the state and condition of a home’s firewall. Many homeowners and often either buyers or sellers never fully understand the importance of the home firewall and how it enhances the house’s safety. JMark Inspections will explain what the firewall is and why it is an essential part of any home inspection.
What is a Firewall in Construction?
The firewall is the material that is in the center of the garage wall and the home or living spaces. As many fires can start in a garage, the firewall is designed to slow down a garage fire from spreading to the rest of the home. To prevent fires from spreading, fire resistant materials are used on the garage wall that connects to the rest of the home. The materials used should be able to slow down the fire for an hour before it is able to spread to other parts of the home. Often this one hour window provides enough time to get the household out of danger and fire support to your home.
What Does a Home Inspector Look for in a Firewall?
In the garage often the ceiling is covered with drywall. If not, and the garage rafters are exposed, it is important that the firewall extends all the way and connects to the roof. This is one of the aspects of the firewall that a home inspector will look for. If the rafters in a garage are exposed and the firewall doesn’t reach to the top, this poses a major fire risk. Another aspect of the firewall a home inspector looks for is breaches. If the firewall has a hole or breach, the fire wall cannot properly slow down the fire. If the firewall was cut to make repairs, outlets are not covered, or other odd maintenance occurs without proper repair, the home is at risk. The firewall must use a 5/8 thick fire-rated drywall. If the drywall itself doesn’t meet this standard then the home is at risk. If the home has a second story and living space sits on top of the garage the ceiling will also need to meet the same requirements. Both the ceiling and firewall will need the proper drywall to improve the home’s safety. Again, a home inspector will look for the drywall thickness and fire-rating. They will often look for an exposed piece usually along a door or window or possible cutouts to determine the wall’s thickness. The ceiling in one story isn’t considered a major issue, even open ceilings can pass inspection. Again, the firewall much extend to the top of the roof. Another common problem home inspector often finds is attic access points. Many homeowners will install a pull down ladder to access the attic from the garage. Unfortunately, pull down ladders are not fire rated. Attic access doors are often covered with a thin sheet of drywall or plywood which will slow down the fire. To make sure attic access in the garage is safe, cover it with a 5/8 fire rated drywall. Additionally, make sure the cover piece fits tight as air pockets will fuel and allow the fire to spread.