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PODCAST: Rules for house/garage common walls (with Adam Barthel)

In this episode of Structure Talk, hosts Reuben Saltzman and Tessa Murry are joined by Adam Barthel from Rum River Construction Consultants. They explore fire separation standards for homes and townhouses, focusing on the wall between the house and garage. The conversation covers crucial details such as material requirements, gap considerations in drywall, and proper installations. They emphasize the nuances and complexities of fire separation codes and stress the importance of following local building codes diligently. The hosts appreciate Adam’s insights and suggest future discussions on building codes. 


The following is a transcription from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it may be slightly incomplete or contain minor inaccuracies due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.

Reuben Saltzman: Welcome to my house. Welcome to the Structure Talk podcast, a production of structure Tech Home inspections. My name is Reuben Saltzman. I’m your host alongside building science geek Tessa Murray. We help home inspectors up their game through education and we help homeowners to be better stewards of their houses. We’ve been keeping it real on this podcast since 2019, and we are also the number one home inspection podcast in the world according to my mom. Welcome to the show. Welcome to another episode. Tessa, great to see you again. We’re getting back into the swing of things. We’re…


Tessa Murray: Yeah, we are. Good to see you too. I know it’s been a busy spring and summer this year, but it’s fun to be doing more of these podcasts on a regular basis.

RS: Yeah, we need to keep doing these regularly, ’cause I learned so much from these, especially having our guests on, I mean how much…

TM: Same, who do we have today Reuben? 

RS: Today we’ve got Adam Barthel and he is with Rum River Consultants. We’ve had the owner of Rum River on already in the past, Andy Schreder. In fact, he’s done a handful of podcasts with us, I think he’s done teaching for our home inspector group here, super knowledgeable guy but today we were asking Andy about doing some, we wanted…

TM: Adam.

RS: To do a podcast. Oh, Andy. I had actually asked Andy to come on the show and do this. I wanted to talk to him about fire separation and rules between the house and the garage and all that stuff. And he said “I can talk about it, but I’ve got somebody who knows way more than me about that in my company. This guy is a total geek when it comes to that, [laughter] So I want you to talk to Adam about this.”

TM: Nice, okay.

RS: This is his bread and butter. He loves this stuff. When I talked to Adam before the show, Adam was getting fiery on this topic with me on the phone.

TM: Getting fired up.

Adam Barthel: Pun intended.

RS: Pun intended absolutely, and I thought it’d be great to get Adam on here.

TM: Awesome.

RS: Adam, you work with Rum River Consultants. Just for our listeners, why don’t you tell us what Rum River does and what you do there? 

AB: Rum River is a contract code inspection company. We pretty much work with small to mid-size jurisdictions that don’t have their own building department. They contract with Rum River to provide building code administration. What I do for them is mostly plan review. So I’ll get the plans in from the contractor or the homeowner, go through those, make sure they’re all code compliant, work out any kinks in advance, then we issue the permit, so that’s my role is making sure those plans are dialed in, catch anything early.

RS: Okay, and how long have you been working with them? 

AB: About six and a half years already part-time.

RS: Okay, alright.

TM: What’s your background in Adam? 

AB: I came from the structural portions of residential construction, I was a trust designer, things like that, which I did wood specialist. I designed beams, headers, tall walls, and then at the lumber yard I started to be in that jurisdictions wanted, contracts to supply, like braced wall plans and things like that. What I ended up doing is just learning wall bracing too, which is a very complicated topic, probably beyond what we would cover in anything like this, but that was my background. Then I discovered building codes and I didn’t think I’d ever get into commercial stuff, I liked the residential. Now if I’m on inspections, I’m mostly doing commercial stuff, especially commercial multifamily.

RS: Okay.

TM: Wow.

RS: Got it. What I wanted to get into today is some of the requirements between the house and the garage, now I’ve blogged about this before kind of hitting some of the surface level stuff, I think the title of my blog post is something like, don’t call it a firewall or something like that.

AB: I remember that blog post.

RS: Okay. Yeah. ’cause so many home inspectors or homeowners or whatever they say, well you need to have a firewall between the house and the garage. Set this straight Adam, what is that wall between the house and the garage? What do we call it? 

AB: It’s a separation.

RS: A separation, that’s it.

RS: It’s not a fire-rated assembly, it’s just called, in IRC they call it a separation.

TM: Oh, not even a…

AB: Like a separation of the house, nope nope not even a, not…

TM: Okay, not even even a fire separation.

AB: Nope, nope. Just calls it a separation, and that’s gonna be achieved with half-inch gypsum board, that’s your house to wall separation. I know even some building inspectors that will remain nameless who said well, nope, we got to penetration through that wall, now make maybe they want to put a laundry sink out there or something and they’re requiring intumescent, fire caulking around that pipe, which is like a firestop.

TM: Yeah.

AB: That is not gonna be, there’s no such thing as firestop in the IRC unless if you’re in very specific circumstances, so what the code is really looking for is some level of protection from smoke and fire from the garage to the house. You can mud right around any penetrations and things like that should they exist, and that’s really about the end of it, there’s not much to it. It doesn’t need to be tested assembly or anything like that.

RS: Wow, yeah. This is blowing in my mind ’cause…

TM: I know, me too, Reuben and I are just sitting here speechless because I’ve always thought, and this is apparently wrong and a myth that any penetration through the garage wall of the house had to have the intumescent caulking and the collar around it, radon mitigation system piping or anything like that, and you’re saying that that is not necessary.

AB: Correct it’s gonna say in the exceptions that it doesn’t need to meet the testing requirements when it’s used in those applications, correct, yep. That’s gonna be all in chapter three of Minnesota Residential Code.

RS: Wow, okay.

TM: That all straight.

RS: That’s fascinating.

AB: Yeah. And well even the doors, I used to work at a lumberyard. I’d sell doors and if you Google, does that door need to be self-closing? ‘Cause contractors would ask me all the time, do I need to order my door with this, well base IRC says, yes, you need self closing hinges or a closer Minnesota residential code, they invented that out. It just needs to be a door, needs to be…

TM: Okay.

AB: The hinges and things like that are not required. Is it a better idea? Absolutely, could I enforce making spring hinges be installed? No.

TM: Okay.

AB: Not if I wanna keep my job.

RS: Sure, yeah.

TM: Can you dive a little bit deeper on the door requirements? I mean, what type of door do you have to have between a garage and a house for it to meet the Minnesota codes? 

AB: Basically, it’s going to be a solid door, like an exterior-grade door. You don’t want to see a bedroom door or a closet door type material. It should be metal. It can have the honeycomb material inside there and things like that. It can be ’cause if people think it needs to be 20-minute rated because that’s one of the options listed that you can install for that door, it doesn’t need to necessarily be labeled as a UL 20-minute door, it just needs to be a solid door that closes and seals. So basically, any type of exterior grade door will work. There’s always that question on, well, can I have a window in that or a peephole or something like that. That gets a little into the weeds, I would not recommend that, something like that.

AB: But a small peephole to me is going to be pretty minimal for if we’re looking at a separation, that small peephole might be giving away for a person to walk by and see like, holy crap, what’s this orange coming from that light? There’s a fire in there, if it’s a solid door, you’re not going to notice that. So I don’t get too bent out of shape over if I see something really little like that, that’s going to be kind of inspector to inspector. I’m kind of looking at what’s the hazard, what’s the risk? Is it keeping out carbon monoxide, and keeping out smoke? And that’s how I tend to look at that, that’s why I’m not representing anyone else’s opinions here, but that’s how I take it anyway.

RS: Okay, and so you need half inch dry wall between the house and the garage, and that’s on the garage side.

AB: Correct.

RS: You can’t count the dry wall on the inside of the house on the other side of the studs.

AB: Correct.

RS: You need it on the garage side, and what about gaps in that dry wall? How big of a gap is an allowable gap? 

AB: This is a fun one, so it’s not going to tell you in the residential code, but if you look at like the gypsum association manuals or UL instructions, the gypsum shall be tightly fitting, that’s the answer, so it’s…

RS: Oh, so exactly that.

TM: Very clear.

RS: Okay.

AB: A little arbitrary, tightly fitting yep, that’s what we’re looking for.

TM: Okay.

AB: Yep, and, so there’s…

TM: And it I mean just like. Oh, go ahead, go ahead, Adam finish that train of thought.

AB: I was going to say that there’s products out there, fire tape, that’s not something that’s listed in the residential code, fire tape doesn’t exist. A lot of this stuff is clever marketing, so those seams, it’s not prescribed in the code book to treat those seams or those fastener heads. So a lot of guys will still, they think they need to mud that, is it better? Yes as a code official, I’m looking for D-minus absolutely worst allowed by law, that’s what I need to inspect to. So technically those seams don’t even need to be treated, if it’s a commercial application and it is a true one hour fire assembly, and if it was tested with those joints taped and screw heads covered, then it needs to be constructed that way ’cause that’s how it was tested. But what we’re building in residential is not a tested assembly for the house to garage.

RS: Okay. Now I’ve heard some building officials say they don’t allow a coin to fit in between the gaps.

TM: Oh my gosh.

RS: That’s kind of their own thing. What would you consider acceptable? 

AB: I would think that, especially if it’s spliced over a stud or if there’s some kind of backing, that would probably be a good metric to use, and the nice thing about that is that you’re always using that equal to all people. If it’s a homeowner or a contractor, you’re not going to be picking on anybody by having that magic number. So I find magic numbers like that in commercial multifamily where we have a double wall. We have to fire block that top, the double top plates. And then some of that insulation will fill from blowing in from the floor assembly above. It’s going to clog up. It’s going to act as a fire block. But I pick up my own magic number, I say one inch. If it’s over one inch, stuff that with mineral wool, then you can blow your cellulose insulation in on top of that. So we all will have our own little bit of variations on how we inspect, what level we inspect to. But to me, if they’ve got a coin, if that’s what’s been working for them, that’s probably just fine.

AB: Especially if it’s over a stud ’cause then it’s solidly blocked. If they’re running that gypsum horizontally, now you’re going to have an eight inch or what is it, 15 and a half inch or 14 and a half inch wide space between each stud with a horizontal seam that’s not back, that’d be less than ideal. But if you stand those sheets up where all the seams are on a stud, that’d be much less of a risk.

RS: Yep.

TM: Adam, so you specialize in obviously in Minnesota code, but do you have any perspective on how Minnesota stands in comparison to our fire codes versus other states? We’re talking about Minnesota specifically and what it requires. Is that pretty standard? Are we pretty strict or are there other states that are even tougher? 

AB: On residential, we pretty much adopt the IRC and we don’t really make a lot of changes to those sections regarding the fire separations, where we do make such separations or differ is going to be more in the commercial multifamily. We’re actually less restrictive on fire sprinklers than the base IBC would be. That’s a different animal altogether, but regular single family dwellings and things like that. We’re going to be pretty much the same code that’s adopted in, what? 49 states. I think Wisconsin might finally be coming on board. We have the same rules that everyone else would have.

TM: Okay, that’s helpful ’cause we have a lot of people that listen to this podcast that aren’t necessarily in Minnesota, so I just wanna try and make what we’re talking about relevant for other people too, if it is.

AB: Absolutely, so this is that’s… The house to garage separations have been in there, nothing’s changed. I don’t think Minnesota has ever amended that at any time.

TM: Good.

RS: And then what about the ceiling? What’s required there? 

AB: So, it depends that’s the famous code answer, it depends. If it’s habitable space above, then we need 5A’s Type X gypsum installed at the underside of like those attic trusses, or if you have floor trusses over that, making a room. Then we’re looking at 5A’s Type X gypsum attached then also we need to cover those members that are supporting those floor trusses, say if it’s a wall, that wall now needs that half inch type X gypsum, or… Sorry, half inch gypsum to protect those studs, the idea is that if a fire starts in the garage, it’s gonna be structural members holding up that habitable space have some level of separation from the garage itself, so if…

TM: Okay.

AB: Your floor trusses are running left and right, or say it’s an attic truss is running left and right, put the left and right side of that into your garage, you need to be rocked with half inch, your lid needs 5A’s gypsum, and that’s your separation.

RS: Gotcha.

TM: So I think… So would this be a good example, Adam like if you’ve got a house that has posts in the garage, and the posts are there because they’re structural support for living space above, those posts have to be covered in sheetrock, even if they’re metal, steel, what have you? 

AB: Yes, they would need some level of protection. Now, yeah, that one gets a little tricky because now we’re… The code, I don’t really think really will address that. I have had guys, I’ve seen them, they did it on their own. They wrapped it in gypsum because it was the smart thing to do, a lot of contractors, even though I can enforce to code minimum, they don’t build code minimum, especially something as cheap and easy as putting a layer of gypsum around a six by six.

TM: Yeah.

AB: And that six by six is going to take a long time to char before it ever fails too, for what it’s worth. Steel will deform under heat but yeah, we’re not gonna be enforcing someone to do like a spray applied fireproofing on a steel beam or steel column in a garage. Steel beams do get wrapped… I don’t, if you’re talking about vertical structure numbers in the columns, but steel beams and things like that would need to be wrapped as well, it would be recommended now, I would have to dig in further to see if I could require, sure good question though.

TM: Well, we see a lot of that when we’re inspecting, especially the steel beams and steel posts, so it’s always something that, correct me if I’m wrong, Ruben, the structure tech report kind of mentions covering them in sheetrock, yeah.

RS: Alright, [0:15:47.7] ____.

AB: I think that’s practise.

RS: Yeah, definitely. And then what about if you have other penetrations? Like what if you’ve got recessed lights in your garage and you’ve got living space above? Is that cool? 

AB: On a residential world, I would say it is, yep.

RS: Okay.

AB: Similar to currently, like if you have floor trusses or I-joists on a new build in your basement, you have to apply a half inch rock on the underside of those floor systems because what was happening was in a fire event, those two by fours and a floor truss would burn out. Or that narrow, that three-eighths inch plywood web on an I-joist would burn out in a fire, but the cords, that’s the top and bottom, that’s remained intact. So what’s happening was firefighters would walk on that floor and then the structure of it would collapse. They’d fall nine feet in a pile of ash, they’d break their leg. Not a good situation to be in, so that’s why the code started requiring the, what we call fire protection of floors.

AB: When that first came out, some guys, some inspectors, some building officials were saying that any penetrations through that floor assembly now has to apply like it’s a commercial assembly, which you need to have one hour rated boxes then for your recess lights, you can’t have a bath fan in that assembly without having a damper. That’s not what this is, this isn’t the one hour assembly, it’s that separation again, the floor needs a level of protection. So I would say that that recess light and stuff would still be okay in a garage, the problem that it creates is getting proper insulation around it and maintaining your thermal envelope properly.

TM: Your ceiling…

AB: Anytime you have can lights in a ceiling, it can get a little wonky, which I’m sure you’ve probably seen more times than me. But yeah, I mean, there’s technically nothing that says that it’s not permitted to do that on the horizontal assembly separating the garage or the ceiling of a basement.

RS: Well, and I’ll take a little sidetrack talking about can lights. As far as I’m concerned, can lights should just completely be a thing of the past because now we’ve got these little flush mount LED things that are about the thickness of drywall. They’re way easier to install. You don’t need to fasten them to anything other than the drywall and they don’t stick up into your thermal envelope. They don’t compromise any of your insulation space. So as far as I’m concerned, that’s all you should ever be using anyway. Great. But that’s…

AB: I see a lot of those getting installed and including one, unfortunately, it was on a condo and he drilled all those three inch holes in this really nice condo. And the building construction types, this is not going to be your single family dwelling stuff, but the building construction type required that ceiling, you just put all those holes in to be 1-hour rated… So oh oh.

RS: Oh no.

AB: Now what do we got to do? And he was able to find what they… It’s from the manufacturer, like a little hat type of thing that installs to the top of that. And that’s been tested for a 1-hour assembly. That was a monster building…

RS: Interesting.

AB: That’s why that needed to be required. It’s not typical. And I wouldn’t know it by looking at the building to say what construction type it was. In this case it was a type III-A which means that it’s gonna have protected elements more so than unprotected elements. Lest you go do a little bit bigger building. We don’t need to go into construction types, but there’s always new products on the market that are fire rated. Would it be ideal to… If it was my house, would I use a 1-hour listed cam light in my basement? Probably, ’cause I know what the hazard is, but is it required? No. No. Nope. Yeah.

RS: Okay Alright.

TM: Can I move on to a different question? I don’t wanna cut this discussion on garages short, but one thing I’m dying to know about Adam, is if you can talk a little bit about fire separations between attics in attached town homes or condos. Like is that a requirement? When was it a requirement? What should we be recommending as home inspectors? Because there are some buildings that have a separation, and some that don’t.

AB: And that gets real complicated really quick, doesn’t it? 

TM: This is not a short answer. Is it? [laughter]

AB: No, no, no. And we were talking about this earlier, like what is a duplex? And to me I asked what is it? ‘Cause a two unit building could be an IRC two, which is a two family dwelling that has the 1-hour horizontal or vertical separation. Under three stories open on two sides. So it gets very specific, in the scoping of the code on what is a single-family dwelling or a two family dwelling. And one thing that is often missed is it says that each side needs to have its own separate means of egress. So a two family dwelling, you should be able to go down the stairs and walk out a door. You should not have to cross into any kind of shared portion of a building that’s a higher hazard. ‘Cause now you depend on what they’re doing downstairs.

AB: Hopefully they’re not gonna burn the place down. So that separate means of egress comes into play pretty quickly. So if I see two doors on a building and one goes directly upstairs that’s my two family dwelling. Some people would call that a duplex. But I have come across where it’s a two unit townhouse. Minnesota now this is where it’s gonna get weird. Minnesota amended the definition of a townhouse. So we arguing to this where we can have two or more buildings as a townhouse, base IRC, it’s gonna be three or more. So that is a significant, because as soon as it reaches the definition of a townhouse, now we’re gonna have that 1-hour assembly from the foundation all the way up to the underside of that roof sheathing. Or they’re gonna have parapets, things like that.

AB: And not only do they need that separation, they’re gonna have separate addresses, separate utilities and structural independence. So if one townhouse unit is destroyed in a fire, the adjacent townhouses are not affected. And they’re gonna be able to stand, they don’t even lose their certificate of occupancy. People can stay in those houses safely ’cause they were designed to be independent. So that structural independent part comes in significantly on townhouses when that applies.

RS: No. Making it structurally independent like that, would that separation be called the firewall? 

AB: That, not necessarily an IRC. They will call it a 1-hour wall, but they don’t really describe if it’s gonna be what we would call in the code world, as a fire partition. A fire barrier, or a firewall, it doesn’t really say that. ‘Cause those have different uses and different methods of the framing. So in IRC it’s really hands off. It would be in a townhouse or in that… So let’s go back to the two family dwelling. If it has that horizontal assembly separating a lower unit from the upper unit, that’s where those cam lights. They need to be 1-hour rated. So that’s where all these things start coming into play. Any penetrations of like MEP mechanical, plumbing, electrical through that rated assembly now that needs the intumescent fire stopping materially around it. You won’t see a lot of that stuff as home inspector unless you’re getting in there pre-gypsum. But it brings a lot more stuff into play as soon as you have that true 1-hour horizontal assembly.

AB: And again, just like our garage, that horizontal assembly needs to be protected with the same or equal level of protection. So your bearing walls now need to be covered with the proper gypsum too and attached per the UL listing. So it opens up a lot more of a challenge to contractors that are used to just doing a remodel. And now you’re suddenly in multi-family and it just throws them for a loop sometimes ’cause it gets way more complicated really quick. But yeah, as for those townhouses, that can be done a couple different ways too for those separations. They can build two 1-hour walls. So there’s an air space between those. So you’d have basically from the inside you’d have your gypsum, your studs, insulation, gypsum airspace, gypsum studs, insulation gypsum going from one unit to another.

TM: Two separate walls with a little air space in between them.

AB: Two separate walls. Yep, yep. And there’s still seems to be 1-hour listed. And then what happens if they go and they start putting electrical outlets and things like that in there? That’s what we call a membrane penetration. And these are in the IRC. It’s gonna kick you into IBC on how to do it. So, electrical outlets now need to be labeled. You’ll usually say like, UL listed WC. And WC means it’s tested for wall or ceiling assemblies. So once I see that, I’m like, “Sweet, we got the right stuff.” You don’t wanna see a non-listed box ’cause then you gotta get the electrician back out there. Or they have to find another way to bring that up. Basically, the listing would kind of pretend that that opening’s not even there. That’s how the level of fire protection needs to be restored. So you will find that on the townhouses and things.

RS: So back to Tess’s question, as a home inspector, if we’re inspecting a condo, we go up in the attic and we can just crawl across the attic and get to the neighbor’s dwelling unit and we can just pop open their attic access panel.

AB: Yeah.

RS: You’re saying it might be okay? 

AB: Well, in an attic on a so… Related story, it probably is not okay for current standards, but existing buildings, I wouldn’t be able to go and enforce that. Now I had a house that had fire damage on both sides. I think smoke got to the second one. They just said, “We’re gonna demo this all out.”

AB: The old structure, ’cause I was there before, was, they had to get like new roof trusses and things like that on there. The question was, do I have to put a draft stop in the attic system? Or do I need to reframe all these existing walls to run all the way up to the underside of my roof sheathing? And we started looking at it and I walk out front, it has two separate addresses. It had its own means of egress, it had its own separate utilities. I’m like, Like current standards, this would technically be an IRC-3, two unit townhouse, and then you’re bringing in structural independence and all that stuff. So that didn’t quite seem right. But if you, if I didn’t do the digging, that’s probably where I would’ve stopped. But what I did on this one because I’m a good guy, I looked into historical records.

AB: This house was like a 1940 build. The original build, original CO, two family dwelling. So that got them out of doing all these structural modifications to bring it up to like, it would be an IRC-3 townhouse. But basically what he had to do was his trusses spanned over both units. He had to do 5/8 and this is still in the code, 5/8 Type X to the underside of those roof trusses. And then you need to draftstop between the units. And what a draftstop is, is basically just something, think of it like that separation. It’s something to prevent free passage of flame and smoke from one side to the other. It’s not a fire rated assembly. And that can be done with plywood. It can be done with gypsum. Draftstopping is pretty forgiving. So yeah, you shouldn’t be able to see straight across to a neighboring unit necessarily. But that’s for new stuff. Old stuff was probably two code when it was built and it’s permitted to remain that way in our eyes as a code guy. I mean, maybe not home inspector. So yeah, that’s how I look at that.

TM: And what would you define as new and what would you define as old? 

AB: New is…

TM: I’m doing the air quotes for anyone that can’t see.

AB: Well, anything… When the permit is pulled, that’s when it’s new construction. And as soon as that certificate of occupancy is issued, that gives them legal occupancy, any work after that becomes an existing building. So new is under construction.

TM: I guess my question was what years did that separation kind of start being required with the new construction? Are we talking like anything after 1980 should have that typically, or 2000? 

AB: I couldn’t tell you that number. It’s been there…

TM: Okay.

AB: Been in there as long as I’ve known, but I’m not, I’ve not been in the game for a long, long time and…

TM: Sure.

AB: But, I don’t feel a lot of stuff is…

TM: I stumped you Adam. I didn’t think that was gonna happen on this call. You know every, I mean you…

AB: Oh, no, no.

TM: You’re like the encyclopedia on this stuff, but it’s a tough question because I think as home inspectors, we go in a variety of different ages and like you said, I mean, we’re not going in and saying, “Well, this house is built in 1900 and this staircase is not up to current standards, so you have to rip it out and rebuild it.” No, of course not. It was different standards when they built it and it is what it is. But when it comes to fire safety and all those things, it’s just kind of helpful to have a marker of like, okay, at this decade, things kind of changed and we’ll start seeing fire separations at this point on.

RS: Yeah. And, but we do make recommendations based on safety, like you said, Tessa and it’s like, okay, this is an old house and it has really wide spacing on the guards. It was acceptable at the time that it was put in. But we think it’s important enough to bring it up to today’s standards so a kid doesn’t slip through and get their head stuck and strangle them.

TM: Yeah.

RS: Like we’ll make recommendations that a building official couldn’t enforce.

TM: Right.

AB: Exactly.

RS: But so Tess, you’re going like, how important is this? Should we make a thing about this? And I’m, based on our conversation with Adam here, I feel like I’m leaning towards, no. Maybe the biggest recommendation we might make is say, Hey, maybe you wanna put a lock on your attic access so you neighbor can’t easily crawl into your unit and leave it at that.

TM: Yeah. Yeah. And just, yeah, I mean any problems you have in your attic are problems that other people will have in their attics or vice versa. If they’ve got mice, you’re gonna have mice. It’s like, just think of it as one big attic.

RS: Yeah. Okay. Now you’ve mentioned Type X drywall a number of times. What’s the difference between just standard 5/8-inch drywall or Type X drywall? What does that mean? 

AB: Well, you might stump me a little bit on this one. We’ll have to double check my definitions, but I believe I know that Type X is manufactured differently than regular gypsum is. It has… I think it has additional moisture content or something like that, perhaps. So that when flame and smoke hit that, I believe it releases that moisture and almost would like to steam and that’s gonna give it more fire resistance. I believe that’s how that Type X works.

RS: Okay. All right. And is it ever where the drywall is installed with the wrong side facing the garage? Or is it the same either way? 

AB: I’ve not seen it… I have seen where Type X was required and a guy grabbed the same thickness but not Type X. That was not a fun fixture for the drywall crews that day.

RS: Oh my goodness. Yeah.

AB: So it was the wrong materials being installed. But no, I’ve not really seen that installed backwards or anything like that. Luckily, knock on wood.


RS: Good. ‘Cause I’ve never even looked for it and it’s never crossed my mind until this show just now. So good.

TM: Well, and I don’t know what it looks like to even identify it really.

RS: Yeah. Well, it’ll say Type X on there, that’s about it. But if you paint it, it’s like…

AB: Yeah. That’s if they didn’t cover the… Yeah, paint it or something.

TM: Right.

AB: That’s gonna happen too.

RS: Okay. Alright. Cool. Well, I feel like there’s a lot more that we could dig into for fire. Well, I don’t even wanna say fire separation now.

TM: No.


RS: You’re making me bite my tongue for separation. But, I feel like that would be taking on a whole new show once we start getting into some of this. I think…

AB: Yeah.

RS: This is enough for me to wrap my mind around…

TM: Me too.

RS: Today, right now.

TM: Yep.

RS: This is all the new information I can process at once.


RS: We might have to come up with a list of questions for a follow-up show for you, Adam, and…

AB: Okay.

RS: And do some deep dives into those other ones, but this is great. Any other things that you would like home inspectors to know? Any things that you see? Any big red flags that you want the world to be aware of while you’re on here right now? 

AB: Not with the fire separation stuff. I think that it’s pretty well covered, pretty well detailed. I have some other ideas that I’d like to share maybe one day.

RS: Okay.

AB: But, no, the code, just remember that if it’s in, if it’s a single family dwelling, it’s a separation, rock the house to garage, rock the inner side of your floors. If it’s a 2 by 10 or less or floor trusses or I-joists, then rock the supporting members or put gypsum on those supporting members. I can’t use rock. That’s a brand name. Put gypsum on the supporting structure holding that assembly.

RS: Okay.

AB: Or the separation.

RS: All right. That’s great. Well, you are a wealth of information, Adam. Thank you so much for sharing all that.

TM: You rocked our worlds. Adam.


RS: Rocked. We see what you did there. Good one, Tess.

AB: Oh, oh, oh, I’m giving trouble.

TM: Okay. Time to wrap it up. Sorry.

RS: That was good. That was good. Well, if anybody wants to get ahold of you, we will put the contact information for Rum River in our show notes and can’t thank you enough for coming on the show, Adam. Sure, appreciate it.

AB: I appreciate you having me. It’s been fun.

TM: Yeah. Thanks, Adam. Thank you.

RS: Alright. Well then we’re signing off. If you have any questions, comments for the show, please send them to I’m Reuben Saltzman for Tessa Murray signing off. Have a good one. Take care.

TM: See you.