It’s hard to notice, but your house is constantly shifting and settling. Because of this, your chimney and stove vent pipes are not connected to your house, even when they are passing through floors and walls. This allows your home to move while your chimney stays in place, and keeps your venting from making contact with your home. However, it also allows for gaps between the rooms and floors in your house. You may not think a little gap is something to be too concerned about, but these gaps can actually be a safety hazard in the event of a fire. Small gaps allow for a fire to spread more easily from one room to another. Fortunately, there are measures you can take to cover these gaps and make your home safer.
What is a Firestop?
Venting pipes may pass through several floors of your home. When they do, they need to be framed and have at least a 2-inch clearance from the floor as well as any wall they travel through although some local fire codes may have larger clearance requirements. This clearance keeps combustible materials from making contact with hot vent pipes. Further, even at relatively low temperatures of 200 – 300 degrees, wood can become chemically altered, making it more combustible. However, the clearance also allows for flames to spread easier from one floor to the next in the case of a house fire. That is why it is important to have firestops installed in your home.
A firestop is simply a square piece of sheet metal with a hole cut in the middle of it. Your vent piping runs through the hole and the sheet metal around the hole covers up the clearance area at the ceiling, floor, or wall. Some local codes will also require fire-blocking foam to be sprayed in and around the clearance area along with the firestop.
How Do I Know if I Need a Firestop?
Almost all fire codes require firestops, however, older homes may have worn out or missing firestops. The best way to determine if your firestops are in place and correctly installed is to have a Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) certified chimney sweep inspect your chimney system. At Northeastern Masonry and Chimney, we knowledgeable and up to date on all local clearance and firestop fire codes. If you aren’t sure if your home is up to code, please schedule an appointment with one of our CSIA certified technicians today!