Seattle Home Inspector's Blog


Even a rabid dog can tell you that “foam” is not the answer!

At first glance, this room looks pretty nice.  The door looks nice.  The transom looks nice.  The hydronic floor looks nice.  The painting looks nice--nd I can even live with the yellow.  Ok, yes, the receptacle at the right side of the door is a little “less than professional”---but still cosmetic.

The door from the house to the garage 

There are a couple of hints that things may not be OK.

Can you see that little gap at the top of the door and the transom?

Can you see that there is absolutely no gap between the bottom of the door and the floor?  Well, I admit---that is hard to see in the picture—so you will have to trust me on that one.

There is actually a WHOLE lot wrong with the door and the transom installation that is better seen from the other side of the door.  When I tell you that there is a garage on the other side of this door a whole list of things should immediately occur to you---or at least to your home inspector.

Because of the garage we now know that it cannot be a flimsy interior door.  It must be a solid wood fire-resistant door at least 1-3/8” thick, or a 20 minute fire-rated door.

Next is the glass.  Typically glass is not allowed between the living space and the garage space.  Of course there is “fire-rated” glass that you could use for such purposes but that would be extremely unusual in residential construction—and this certainly is not fire-rated glass.

To make matters worse—this is not a “door” at all.  I realize it has a handle—but again if you look VERY close (this will require supper top secret military-grade photo-shop) you will see it has no hinges. Actually it has ½ hinges.  The door halves are present but the jamb halves are not.

If you are now scratching your head as much as I was—let’s take a look at the installation from inside the garage.  Of course we won’t be able to get into the garage through this door because, as we have already discussed, it ain’t a door.


The door from the garage to the house 

That foam is probably not fire-resistant foam, so while it might stop some air movement, it is not really helping our fire-resistant assembly very much.

Now we can see why there is that little strip of light above the door on the room side.  It is not really a transom after all.

And you thought it was going to be complicated?

Of course on the garage side we can now see that, in addition to all the problems with the “door,” the wood wall between the house and the garage is not covered with proper fire-resistant materials---typically ½” drywall. 

But, it is not over yet.  Now look and see what we have just to the left of the door in the previous picture.

The window from the garage to the house 

Yup--another window—no fire-rated glass in this one either.

Someone is going to be rabid, when they find out all the work that there is still left to be done at this recent remodel—including verification of proper permits.


Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle

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Comment balloon 65 commentsCharles Buell • September 05 2013 05:52AM
Even a rabid dog can tell you that “foam” is not the answer!
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