Pre-cast fireplaces were installed on many homes throughout California during the mid 70’s to the mid 80’s. We come across them frequently while inspecting homes here in San Diego County. Many of these fireplaces were cracked or damaged before they were even installed. Most of the cracks discovered are typically at the “insulation plate” which starts at the fireplace opening and extended to the smoke chamber . A damaged fireplace can allow smoke, fire and carbon monoxide to enter the home which is a serious safety concern and fire hazard. During a recent home inspection, I came across this pre-cast fireplace that was severely cracked (one of the worst I’ve ever seen) and not safe for use. The only fix for this fireplace would be to tear it down and build a new one. If you are concerned about the fireplace in the home that you currently own or one installed at a home you are considering purchasing, be sure you have it thoroughly inspected by a qualified expert before attempting to use it.
When inspecting a home, the inspectors of John Robinson’s Inspection Group are always thinking about the health and safety of the current and future occupants of that property. When it comes to health and safety, Fire Protection is always at the top of our list.
Did you know that materials like gypsum board provide passive protection against the rapid spread of a fire?
In single family homes, townhouses and condos with attached garages, a minimum of 1/2 in thick gypsum board or equivalent must be installed on the garage side of the walls and ceilings common to the house or shared attic space to maintain proper fire separation. Also, 5/8 in thick Type X gypsum board must be attached to the ceiling of the garage under habitable rooms.
There should be no direct openings between the garage and sleeping rooms. The door to the house from the garage is required to be 20 minute rated, 1 and 3/8 inches thick, solid wood or steel. There should be no duct openings in the garage (i.g. no central air or heat vent openings that terminate in the garage common to the house). Ducts that penetrate the common/firewall must be 26-gauge steel.
The most common issue we see are voids, holes or separations in the firewall to allow the passing of water lines, gap piping, and electrical wires from the garage to the home. All voids in the fire separation between the garage and the home should be sealed with approved materials.
If you have any questions regarding fire-separations and/or possible voids in the firewall of a home you currently live in or thinking of buying, please do not hesitate to give us a call at 619-684-1444.