UK answers in particular please ...

The underside of the staircase and main escape route in my new house is in my kitchen, and has my fridge immediately underneath. Is there an easy way to check whether the board on the underside of the stairs is fire-rated? Will the pink fireboard paper be revealed if I carefully scrape off some paint, or will the pink colour come off with the paint? And has it always been pink?

An added complication is that the house was built in 1960, so if the stairs are original, then this board may be asbestos, not plasterboard. Asbestos provides very good fire protection, but must not be cut or drilled into. For which reason, simply attaching an extra layer of fireboard onto the existing board may not be wise. (I'm assuming board attached with dabs of plaster isn't much use in a fire).

Background: I have recently learned that fridges are no longer the incredibly safe appliances they once were, but are now packed with flammable insulation and are using flammable hydrocarbons -- basically lighter fuel! -- as refrigerant. I'd move the fridge if there was anywhere else to put it, but there isn't. And yes, I do have plenty of fire alarms.

  • Many fridges have blends I know the UK has approved flammable mixtures but from the research I have done in the past the flamability of the blend was not a concern unless the line was cut releasing the entire charge at 1 time. What is the type of refridgerent in your fridge? I know you are asking about the plaster board but it may not be a concern depending on the blend of refridgerent.
    – Ed Beal
    Nov 30, 2017 at 14:28
  • That sounds paranoid. For paranoids you want AFCI+GFCI protection. The usual 30ma RCD doesn't cut it, you want an 8ma RCBO device on the branch circuit, then AFCI protection (whatever you call that) on top of that. Ideally a dedicated circuit for the fridge so other appliances don't trip it. Nov 30, 2017 at 16:20
  • Maybe paranoid, but 1. I need to sleep, and 2. it was a fridge that sparked the Grenfell Tower catastrophe, also a smaller fire that reached me through the grapevine (fortunately daytime, property damage only). The rest of Harper's comment doesn't work in the context of UK wiring rules and regs. The fridge is on a ring main, not a radial circuit, for starters.
    – nigel222
    Dec 5, 2017 at 9:09
  • @Ed_Beal: My new fridge is R600a (Isobutane). [H][C]FCs are banned for new domestic fridges. I'm not worried about slow leakage (fridge explosions don't seem to be a thing). I'm worried about what has been reported several times: an electrical fault igniting the flammable foam insulation and then, presumably, that fire boiling and bursting the refrigerant system. I wouldn't keep a large can of (say) WD40 under my stairs, but my fridge is basically the same risk with a built-in potential ignition source!
    – nigel222
    Dec 5, 2017 at 9:31


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