The original floor plan of our split level home had the crawl space door in the garage. The previous owners converted half of the garage to a laundry room and put up wainscoting and a matching wood door in front of the crawl space. None of the improvements were done to code or with a permit.

The inspection states that we need to have a fire rated door to the crawl space. Can someone explain exactly what this means?

I found a fire rated utility access door at HD, but the biggest size is 22" by 30" and the actual door opening is closer to 32" by 36".

  1. Should it be framed in?
  2. Drywalled over?
  3. How do I get it to match the current wainscoting?

Further, why do I need a fire rated door when it's inside the house and the walls were not fire rated?

This is it: enter image description here


You could add 5/8" (16 mm) sheetrock to the back of the door. That would make it a fire rated surface. If that matched up with the sheetrock at the right, it would be almost a continuous surface. If I had to live with it, that is what I would do.

If it is to sell the house, the new owners either won't be used to the access or won't know about it. Sheetrocking it in would be cheap and easy.

  • 1
    Part of the fire rating process is to seal all the gaps between two spaces with fire rated caulk/foam or other rated materials. If the door is still operable, you'll have gaps that don't meet the fire code.
    – BMitch
    Oct 2 '13 at 21:50
  • You can buy fire rated door seals just google it and you will find them. I doubt your local hardware store would carry it.
    – Justin K
    Oct 2 '13 at 22:22
  • @wallyk - Thank you for the response! That's almost exactly what the employee at HD told my husband. So he conveyed that to our realtor who in turn conveyed it to the borrower. They said it was unacceptable. The borrowers were actually there with the inspector when he did the inspection and they want a receipt from a contractor but that is not written into the contract. Oct 2 '13 at 23:10
  • 2
    Given you and your husband's background, if you want to close the sale with them, it sounds like this is one of the times where it is more than worth it to just hire it out.
    – mike
    Oct 3 '13 at 0:35
  • 1
    @NikkiPeterson I was just pointing out that you can't simply add fire rated drywall or some other material to an existing access panel to make it fire rated, you need the seals around the door. Get something that's prebuilt for the requirement.
    – BMitch
    Oct 3 '13 at 1:19

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