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Can't believe this hasn't been asked before, but I can't seem to find anything so...

I've currently got a very light, very thin 32" TV mounted on the bedroom wall. It's perfect - except for the fact that I'd love to make it a bit more minimalist and put the cables through the wall it's mounted on, into the fitted-cupboard in the room behind it.

In my mind, the best way of handling this is to drill a hole straight through the wall into the cupboard, reinforce it with a bit of metal piping or something, then block both ends with some sort of plastic/sponge filler.

However, I'm worried about fire safety - I've heard that if you start to play around with holes between walls, it can seriously degrade the compartmentalization of the rooms and fire can spread more easily.

Am I insane? Too cautious? Or are there serious considerations when mucking about with the integrity of 'rooms'.

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possible duplicate of How do I run wires for a wall-mount flatscreen TV? –  Tester101 Apr 10 '12 at 11:29
    
possible duplicate of How do I wire my wall-mounted HD TV? –  Tester101 Apr 10 '12 at 11:30
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Edited the question, hopefully it allows to stand on it's own. –  Spedge Apr 10 '12 at 12:30
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I wish I could "unvote to close" after a question is edited. Absent that, consider this comment a -1 on the close count. –  BMitch Apr 10 '12 at 12:59
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I assume you have a door between the rooms too. That's a pretty big hole. ;) –  DA01 Apr 10 '12 at 14:16

3 Answers 3

up vote 14 down vote accepted

To the best of my knowledge, the only fire retardation requirements that exist for a residence apply to slowing the spread of fire between connected units - say in a duplex or row home.

In the case of your personal dwelling, there is almost no way to restrict the spread of fire within a residence without making it extremely inconvenient to navigate in your own home.

Now if you installed fire proof doors between every room, with airtight seals (ie: like your exterior doors), and fire retardant barriers like cinder block and fire-resistant foam between the walls, then your concern over putting a hole in your wall would be relatively worth considering, but I suspect that like most homes, these other barriers do not exist on the inside of your home, and so you're worrying over something that, in the grand scale of overall fire safety, won't amount to much.

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Great minds think alike. :) –  BMitch Apr 10 '12 at 12:57
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Ah well - you're greater than me. You were thinking, "We both have great minds!" while I was just thinking, "I win!" ;) –  The Evil Greebo Apr 10 '12 at 12:58
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I don't think this answer is correct. Certainly it depends on what country you live in. You will want to ensure that the escape route from your bedrooms is protected from fire. Even ordinary non-rated doors give some fire protection, enough time for you to escape, and plasterboard walls give significant fire protection. You can buy intumescent collars that will expand and crush your cable trunking in the event of a fire. –  flamingpenguin Apr 11 '12 at 9:29

As BMitch and The Evil Greebo both point out, you may not be required to seal the penetrations. However, if for your own peace of mind you wanted to do it, here is what I'd do.

  • Install a single gang electrical box on each side of the wall (not back to back. And don't use low voltage boxes for this application).
  • Connect the boxes using flexible metallic (or nonmetallic) conduit.
  • Pull the low voltage signal cables between the boxes (remember you can't put the power cord through the wall).
  • Seal the conduit openings using Duct Seal Compound.
  • Install desired cover plates.
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Maybe instead of duct seal you might use fire caulk –  lqlarry Apr 11 '12 at 1:48
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@lqlarry I like duct seal, because it can be removed and reused. So if you want to add an extra cable, it's not a problem. –  Tester101 Apr 11 '12 at 11:28

In a single family residence, with the exception of a garage, I don't believe there are any codes concerning the spread of fire. There are requirements to have smoke detectors to notify you of a fire, and other requirements to avoid creating a fire, but not to stop it's spread.

If there were, you'd need fire rated doors that seal to the floor between rooms, fire rated drywall separating sections of the home, spring loaded vents that automatically close to keep fire out of the HVAC ducts, etc. It is a good idea to prevent fires from going between floors by sealing around ducts and other utility lines.

This completely changes when you get into multi-family dwellings. But in that scenario, it's all about preventing a fire in one unit from spreading to another in under an hour (the typical time for fire rated drywall and doors). The hope is that the fire department puts out the fire in that time. For these builds, we have to use fire rated drywall on all common walls between units and adjacent to common areas. The ceilings also received fire rated drywall and even the attic was partitioned between the units even though homeowners didn't have access to the attic in one of our builds. Electrical boxes on common walls were enclosed in a box which was further sealed with fire rated caulk on all sides to keep the fire from spreading through the outlets. All openings between floors are sealed with special insulation or fire rated spray foam. And even the HVAC ducts have spring loaded mechanisms to close in the event of a fire.

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Hah, beat you by 6 seconds! ;) –  The Evil Greebo Apr 10 '12 at 12:57
    
How much does using fire rated material add to the cost? With the pervasiveness of plastics in modern homes resulting in smoke reaching lethally toxic levels much faster than a generation or two ago I'm wondering if hardening parts of the house's interior would be practical and cost effective (vs sprinkler systems). In particular I'm thinking about bedrooms since they're likely to have closed doors when people are sleeping and at greater risk of being overcome by smoke. –  Dan Neely Apr 10 '12 at 15:05
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Fire rated drywall adds a couple bucks per 8x4 sheet. For home use, the best investment you could make is interconnected smoke detectors in every bedroom and floor, so if one goes off, they all do. –  BMitch Apr 10 '12 at 17:25

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