Attached and detached garages present fire risks for the following reasons:
- Car fluids such as gasoline may drip onto the floor and go unnoticed
- There are a huge number of flammable materials that may be stored in the garage
- Heaters or boilers located in the garage could provide enough spark to ignite any of these materials. Car batteries may do this as well
- Electrical tools are often used in the garage. Improper use of certain electrical equipment could lead to fire
Weatherstripping on the door leading from the attached garage into the home should be tight to prevent fumes and smoke from entering the home. Carbon monoxide can easily make it through doors that are not well sealed. Self-closing doors may seem like a hassle, especially when carrying groceries and small children to and from the car, but the reality is that these self-closing devices save lives. If the door between your garage and home features a window, it needs to be fire rated. Pet doors should not be installed in fire rated garage doors as they work against the goal of keeping fumes and fire out of the home.
Walls, Ceilings, and Ducts
If attic access is provided in the garage, the hatch needs to be fireproof. The area surrounding the hatch needs to be sealed with fire rated materials as well. A floor to roof firewall should be in place between the attached garage and the living space of the home. This firewall should extend to the roof of the home if the ceiling of the garage is not fire-rated. All drywall joints need to be well taped. Small holes and other penetrations in the firewall such as from air-conditioning refrigerant lines, water supply and waste plumbing lines, and any holes made for electrical wiring should be sealed with noncombustible material such as drywall joint compound or fire rated caulking/foam. Dryer ducts, which can present a fire hazard regardless of placement, should not be vented into the garage.
Safety Tips To Prevent House Fires
- Never store propane tanks inside the home or garage
- Keep all flammable liquids away from any source of sparks or open flames
- If the water heater is in the garage, store flammable items well away from it
- Keep the floor space clean and clutter-free
- Never use light bulbs that exceed the recommended wattage
- Keep electrical cords out of walking areas or tape them down so that they cannot be suddenly pulled from the wall and create sparks
- Electrical outlets should never be overloaded. Triple taps and plug extenders, allowing you to plug in multiple items into one outlet, should be avoided
Schedule a home inspection should you have any concerns over the condition of your attached garage. Home inspectors are trained to spot many different types of hazards and can make recommendations for changes that will make your family safer. Fire containment can be accomplished through both construction elements and preventative measures.