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Practical steps for fire code in basement garage

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My home was built in 1977 and has the basement garage open to the rest of the house.

Plumbing for both bathrooms is in the back half  of the ceiling of the garage.  I am planning on replacing the drywall on the ceiling in the front half with fire-rated and building new walls to segregate garage from the rest of the basement, but short of moving bathrooms to another location in the house, what can I do for the ceiling?
asked in Car Garage by kkingcqe (120 points)
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1 Answer

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Hi Kkingcqe,
I’m not sure that I fully understand what you described and your question about the ceiling… You can find the garage ceiling requirement information in my attached garage firewall post - http://checkthishouse.com/744/garage-fire-wall-separation-wall.html
The following is a quote from this post but I’d suggest to read the entire thing:
In order to achieve this garage wall fire rating, the house – garage common wall needs to be sheathed with at least 1/2? thick drywall, and the ceiling surface requires minimum 5/8? thick, type X gypsum board.
All drywall seams must be taped / finished with joint compound and some jurisdictions might require fire rated joint tape for this purpose.
From your description I understand that at this moment the garage is simply occupying a designated for that purpose section of your basement, and has unfinished walls and ceiling (exposed framing). Please let me know if you still have any questions after reading my garage firewall post. Just click “comment” below.
answered by darekrudy (21,730 points)
Thank you for the response.  Yes, I did read this section before asking the question.  So, the only solutions are 1) move the bathrooms so they are not above the garage, since it would not be wise to permanently seal supply lines and drains above the drywall or 2) do not use the area as a garage.


  • Moving bathrooms would be extremely expensive, it’s like saying that you wouldn’t install a bathroom on the second floor of your home because the kitchen underneath would have to have an open ceiling / exposed framing so you can always have access to the plumbing.  
You rarely (if ever) need access to the plumbing pipes. If you are planning some remodeling work on your bathroom above, you can simply install fire rated metal access panel(s) for the areas like P-traps, valves, etc. 
You can also drywall the entire ceiling (those access panels are quite expensive $200.00 - $300.00) and draw a blue print of the pipes inside the ceiling (just in case something happens), including measurements from the side walls. If you ever need access, just make a cut-out in that area and replace / patch the drywall after finishing the job.
Even if you ever have to replace an entire 4x8 sheet of drywall you are still talking about $40.00 in material cost (drywall, tape, screws, and compound) plus labor.
  • About not using the basement as a garage… If those pipes are your only concern and you can properly and safely “separate” that area from the rest of your basement / house… I don’t see any problem with this project.