How to properly patch a two hour rated wall.

Welcome back. We are still hunkered down in the Halpert Home and still talking about how to properly patch a rated wall. I’m having a great time putting together these videos for you and can’t wait to share them with you.  We are going to stick to the same topic as last week, which is patching rated walls. Now you know how to patch a one hour rated wall but that document didn’t really give you enough specifics to know how to patch a two hour rated wall. We can fix that today though.


If you know me, you know I used to live in Las Vegas. Las Vegas is in Clark County, NV and  the building officials are county officials.   The only reason this matters is because they have this awesome document that relates to the discussion of patching rated walls. They took the Gypsum Association document I shared with you last week and mandated that for repair of rated gypsum walls.


Here is their Field Inspection Guide (FIG). If you have any questions about what to do, this is a great place to start.  The Gypsum Associate document I share last week didn’t really get into specifics about how to patch a two hour rated assembly the way the FIG does, so I wanted to share this with you as well. Of course you can always reach out to your drywall manufacturer to get help finding solutions. US Gyp and National both have stellar people on staff who can help if you need it or you can always call me. I’m happy to help as well.


Terrorism Protection by Design

What if there were a terrorist attack on one of your projects? If you are a builder or a developer or even part of the AEC team you can assume a day in court, but did you know you can protect against the outcome and insulate your firm from the litigation?  This article will help explain how.

If you have other questions you can reach us here.

Thank you to CONSTRUCTION EXECUTIVE for understanding the value of this discussion for both building owners and builders alike.

We will be at the Tri-State AIA conference tomorrow to discuss this very topic.

Hospital Fire- One Death

I just returned from Utah doing firestop training for a great group of guys. Installers, hospital facilities guys, GC’s, electricians and special inspectors. It was a long day, but I hope they learned a lot. Then I get home and hear about a hospital fire resulting in loss of life.


If any of you need help to ensure the life safety is done right on your projects, don’t hesitate to give me a call. Many of you know I don’t charge for simple calls to help get you on the right track. I always support those of you who want to do it right.


Let’s look at the ONE listed detail for microduct in wood floors

You are NOT using the right firestop on your phone lines. Part 2

Installing Phone and Data Lines? This video series is for you.

Why would I hire a Firestop Consultant?

If Your Project is Running White Plastic Phone/Data Lines- This Post is for YOU.

If you are working on a project that involves phone lines, we would like to ask you to take a closer look at the firestop installation for these materials.


This next blog series is going to discuss a few challenges we have found with firestopping phone and data lines and we are going to start our discussion in wood framed buildings, despite the fact that much of this information is relevant to other construction types.  Your phone/date teams such as Verizon, Comcast and the rest of them are likely creating a liability on your project when they run their data and phone lines. To those of you who think that I should inform these big companies, I have tried unsuccessfully to find the right person to speak with. The only solution I can think of now is to let the rest of you know about this issue and hope that you can at least make a difference on your projects.


These phone and data installers use two different materials from what I have seen. If you see something different in your area, please let me know. One is the white plastic HDPE lines that are relatively small, maybe 5/8” OD and may be run as single lines or may be run as bundles. They cause an array of issues. The first of which there is that only ONE firestop manufacturer that I can find who has LISTED detail for these microducts . That means that if your installers are using a different manufacturer, they are creating a liability because they are not using the materials as they have been designed and tested. It could be worse than that. They could be installing something that we know WON’T work in a fire scenario.


This blog series will address the following issues. First, we will discuss HDPE, microduct through wood floor ceiling assemblies as a single line. Next, we will look at what to do when they are in bundles through floor ceiling assemblies. The UL nomenclature for both of these applications is FC 2000. After that, we will look at gypsum walls. These are WL 2000 series details.  Then we will discuss concrete assemblies. We will group CAJ, FA and WJ details in this same discussion and finally we will look at FE details which are similar to FC details except that FC is wood framed, where there is a plywood floor on top of wood trusses and drywall ceiling to complete the rated assembly. FE details are fluted metal deck topped with concrete sitting on metal trusses and then the ceiling on the underside of the assembly is part of the rated floor ceiling assembly. It is similar to FC, but due to the metal framing there are some unique differences that we will discuss as a separate section that, knowing me, will lead us to a whole new discussion about problems with FE assemblies. Here is a common rated floor assembly in case there is any confusion regarding what type of assembly we are talking about.


If we don’t get sidetracked before we get to the end, we may address ENT. This is Electrical Non-Metallic Tubing or what I have heard in the field called innerduct. It’s the orange corrugated flexible lines that are between one and one and a half inches in diameter. They have very thin walls and the corrugation gives the material flexibility and strength while keeping it light weight for the installers. This is a different material with different fire dynamics so of course it needs a different assembly.


One thing to know before we launch into these individual discussions, is this. Several firestop manufactures’, when asked for a detail for microduct have sent me details for ENT that specifically list PVC. HDPE has very different fire dynamics than PVC. If you were to read about it you may see that it requires a higher melting point than other PE plastics. Polyethylene, when compared to PVC will typically melt much faster. It is true that HDPE requires higher melting temperatures than other PE plastics but let’s put this into the reference of the ASTM E814 fire test. If you have been following this blog for a while, or involved in the industry,  you will already be familiar with the time temperature curve. For this discussion we are going to look at it in reference to plastic pipes.


If we were to say that all of these typical plastics, including the CPVC used for sprinkler pipes will melt between 200F and 500F. The difference seems inconsequential when you consider that a one hour fire test will reach 1700F at the one hour mark and 1000F at the 5 minute mark. The difference between 200F and 500F seems inconsequential for this discussion, but the lower temperature plastics will often need a much more aggressive intumescent material to survive the ASTM E814 test. The only way to know what is needed for different applications is to check the third party test details. If you have any questions about a specific installation feel free to reach out for help.


When installing (or inspecting) plastic pipe installations the annular space the type of firestop material used and the type of plastic are all critical to ensuring the installation will perform as expected in a fire scenario.  This discussion is not breaking down all those details. We are only focusing on ensuring that the type of plastic you have in the field matches the tested and listed detail. This is critical.


Check in on the next blog to see if your team is installing these data and phone lines correctly. We will break each of these discussions into three parts we mentioned earlier.  We will start with the present field conditions we see. We will talk about the problem with that field condition and then we will discuss some solutions to consider.  See you again soon. Until then, keep learning and keep making the buildings you are involved with safer.


Please check in for the entire series if you are using this material we want to help ensure it is firestopped right. If we can help with anything please give us a call.

Do you have PEX on your project? Make sure this mistake isn’t happening.

Welcome back to the series where we talk about “stuff we see wrong in the field.” This blog is going to discuss a few challenges we have found with PEX lines in wood framed buildings.  If you are working on a concrete project that is using PEX, you should still read this just in case you are making the same mistake.  We hope it is useful.


Here is our field condition:

The plumber drilled a hole through the two by fours that are sitting on the plywood floor to frame the wall that will be built. The hole is less than ½” larger than the pex line they are running. This gives them just enough space for the bracket the plumber is using. In the field, they call them mickey mouse ears. I’m not sure what they call them in your area but here is an example of one.


The firestop installer simply smeared firestop around the pex line and covered the mickey mouse ears. It wasn’t until we did destructive testing that we discovered the problem. So, if you are an inspector on a project that is not going to require special inspection, please walk the site before the firestop is installed to see if they are using these things. If they are, you may want to ask a few questions. If you need some help give us a call.


The problem:

The mickey mouse ears use up all the annular space that you need for the installation of the firestop material. With plastic pipes you typically need to have an intumescent firestop material. This is one that is capable of expanding to fill the void created when the plastic pipe melts away during a fire. The intumescent material can close down the opening and prevent the passage of fire.


Intumescent materials act like most things in nature. That is to say that they move in the area of least resistance. That means if it is sitting on the top of the two by four and adjacent to the pex pipe, when it starts to expand its going to move in the area of least resistance. This will be away from the pipe.


For this reason, the intumescent material needs to be forced into the opening so that the two by four, the concrete or the drywall can contain the sealant as it expands so it is forced into the center of the opening. This enables the material to close down the opening as the plastic pipe softens in a fire and yields to the expanding intumescent sealant.


This is also why, when a plastic pipe touches the side of the opening, its required to have a bead of sealant, which is a build-up of material along the edge of the penetrant and against the rated assembly.


However, when a detail allows for annular space to be 0-1” for example it does not mean that you can have 0 annular space all the way around the opening. If this is allowed the detail should say “continual point contact” and few details do.


The solution:

There are a few ways to handle this. One would be to not use the Mickey Mouse ears. Another would be to install the firestop first and then force the sealant into the opening as you push the bracket into place. Inspection would be difficult and ensuring proper sealant depth during installation would be imperative.


If you run into this issue, let us know how you handle it.


Thanks for taking the time to read this. We hope you found it valuable. If you did, please leave comments and let us know what other topics you would like to see us address in future blogs. Share this with anyone who can benefit and keep learning. Check back for more in this blog series as we discuss other field issues we encounter.



Does your Construction Project have a Bar or Restaurant? You may want to read this!

Firestopping Soda Lines- 

This blog series is going to highlight some issues we have seen on projects that are easily overlooked if you are moving too fast, or if you are new in the game. It is our hope that by sharing these things with you and your team that you can avoid the mistakes. If you have any questions let us know. Especially if you have suggestions for supporting the rest of the people out there who want to do firestop right, then please share your ideas. Thanks for taking the time to learn.


If you are on a project such as a high-rise office or maybe a hotel that will have a bar or restaurant, then there is a good chance you will have soda lines in your project and they likely won’t get installed until towards the end.   The conduits look like any electrical conduit so it’s easy to understand how someone inexperienced would allow this conduit to be firestopped with a standard detail that allows for steel, cast iron, electrical conduit as the listed type of metallic penetrating items. This would be a mistake.  The fire dynamics are going to be different for metal than they will be fore steel and there is a chance that the firestop requirements will be different as well.  If they are different, then the protection method could be different as well.


Then there is the liability. If you firestop it with a detail for steel and something goes wrong, then you are potentially liable for this mistake if you installed this or supervised the installation in any way.


Is there a difference, really?

YES, there is a difference between these two metals. Consider this. Melting point of steel is 2750F. Melting point of aluminum is 1221F.  If you have been following this blog, then you may remember the “time temperature curve” (see below). This shows the temperature inside the furnace, for example at the 10-minute mark the temperature inside the furnace will be 1300F.


While I have not witnessed a test with aluminium pipe, I have seen photos and videos of the aluminum transoms and mullions of exterior facades and I have seen them drooping and deformed.


Is it really going to be firestopped that differently?

Here is a detail that allows a max 8” diameter aluminum pipe but it requires a minimum annular space of ½” and it needs a full inch of sealant. A typical steel detail would only need ½” or in some cases ¼” of sealant and would allow the pipe to touch the edge of the opening.  or this one that allows a 10” aluminum pipe but requires wrap strip at the top and bottom of a floor assembly. If it’s a smaller pipe the parameters are a bit more familiar. These two details and the differences between the standard metal pipes you are likely familiar with should serve as a reminder to look at these details closer if they are on your project.


How do I tell the difference?

First thing to do is to ask the question. The vendor installing the bar or restaurant equipment would be the first place I would go.


Second thing is to touch a magnet to the pipe. If you wonder whether or not it’s steel, a magnet will tell you. It won’t be attracted to aluminum, so it won’t stick to it.  But be careful because this is not a guarantee that you are dealing with aluminum, because magnets may not stick to stainless steel. So, this brings you back to asking questions of the right people on the team.


Third thing to do is to keep your eyes open. You can see in the photo that its clearly marked on the floor SODA.  After today, that should be a red flag for you to stop and ask questions before anyone firestops this.

If all you remember, is to ask questions whenever there is a restaurant or bar, then the time we took to write this was well spent. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact us.  We are happy to help if we are able.