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Drywall/Fire Protection requirements over Boiler?

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Ahomeowner
Ahomeowner Member Posts: 23
I need to remove some drywall over our oil-fired boiler to inspect the floor system above. Boiler is installed in the unfinished basement of a single family home. The basement ceiling is 8 feet high.  It seems like there’s way more covering than necessary and I would like to *not* reinstall all of it. Right now the drywall is about 12 feet wide side to side and the boiler is centered in the middle of the 12 feet. The drywall runs from the outside wall to the center beam of the house. It’s also nailed vertically onto the double sill plate and I’ve never been able to inspect that area for termites.  Right now the basement is uninsulated but I plan on insulating the rim joist area, so if I use rockwool to cover the rim joist and sill plate, could I skip the drywall on the sill plate and just put it on the ceiling? Can anybody tell me the fire protection requirements? Thanks for your help!

Comments

  • leonz
    leonz Member Posts: 1,180
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    If there is sheet rock over the boiler it is most likely fire resistant sheet rock per national plumbing code and you should leave it there.

    A pest control company should be able to inspect the entire area with a video camera cable snake by drilling very small holes in the joists for the camera snake.




    STEVEusaPA
  • Ahomeowner
    Ahomeowner Member Posts: 23
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    Thanks Leonz. I wasn’t entirely clear on my intent. I need to inspect the floor system because the floor above is sagging and I will probably need to install additional blocking from below, so I will definitely be removing some of the drywall for that project. Afterwards, I do not want to replace all 12 feet of it because I want to have access to as much of the framing as possible for termite inspection, rim joist insulation installation, etc. We had a pest company come out and there were no cameras. The previous owner also had termite treatment and there is no evidence that this area was ever inspected via camera or otherwise. This is NJ so maybe practices are different from other areas of the country, but they basically give you a disclaimer that says that they can only inspect what they can see. So I will be removing some of this drywall and I need to know the requirements so I know how much to replace. I have some 5/8” drywall that I was going to use. Existing is only 1/2” but I’m pretty sure it’s marked for use in this application judging from what I found in the garage.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,792
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    Since you state you are in NJ like I am I will tell you that there is no drywall above my boiler, and the inspector didn't blink. My basement joists are lower than yours, like 6'-6"

    I'm unaware of what the code in NJ is for that, but in my single family residence, the inspector didn't say peep

    NJ Steam Homeowner.
    Free NJ and remote steam advice: https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/new-jersey-steam-help/
    See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el

    Mad Dog_2STEVEusaPA
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,915
    edited May 2023
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    Since you state you are in NJ like I am I will tell you that there is no drywall above my boiler, and the inspector didn't blink. My basement joists are lower than yours, like 6'-6"

    I'm unaware of what the code in NJ is for that, but in my single family residence, the inspector didn't say peep


    Mine is 5' 8" or so above the floor and there's no sheetrock. I had to put a small piece of steel under a joist where it's close to the single wall pipe to the B-vent.

    Mine was inspected by a NJ state inspector.

    However, rules may be different in multifamily buildings etc as well.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Ahomeowner
    Ahomeowner Member Posts: 23
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    Paul and Chris, that’s interesting. To be honest, I’m not sure how dangerous a heating oil system is, as far as fire danger, but it seems to be required by code. And most of the homes that I’ve been in have had drywall above the boiler or furnace, except the really old homes. And now that I think of it, our old house actually had a wood ceiling above the boiler. I guess it depends on the inspector. I won’t be getting it inspected, but I have the drywall so I don’t see a reason to *not* have it up to code. I just don’t want to put more than code. Our plumbing code in NJ is the National Standard Plumbing Code, which according to the state is not substantially different from the IPC, but I have been unable to find the requirements online.
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,241
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    I don't know NJ code, but it should be similar to NYS.  Fire rated Sheetrock, wonderboard. Inspectors our area never cared but last 8-10 yrs they do.  Oil burner can go on fire 🔥 just as easily as gas.  Irrespective, its a smart idea 💡 as well as a Fire 🔥 sprinkler head above boiler.  Most inspectors have pet peeves and things they always look for..other things they don't bother with.  Mad Dog 🐕 
  • PC7060
    PC7060 Member Posts: 1,240
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    There’s no code requirement for the drywall in that area that I’m aware of unless it’s called out by the boiler manufacturer. Such a small area I doubt it would do any good anyway. 
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,505
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    Unless you have a flue pipe clearance to combustibles issue, you can take it down. Was probably there for the first boiler which was a lot larger. It's not even fire rock.

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • Bob Harper
    Bob Harper Member Posts: 1,048
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    Your boiler will state the clearances to ordinary combustibles. That includes framing and drywall. There is no other requirement in the IRC for noncombustible materials in a mechanical room or near heating equipment. Commercial is different.
    realliveplumber
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,388
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    Hi, To be safe, do you have adequate water supply to be able to install fire sprinklers in the area? With sprinklers, the drywall question would go away.

    Yours, Larry
  • PC7060
    PC7060 Member Posts: 1,240
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    @Larry Weingarten – Virginia has an exemption to the IRC requirement for sprinkler heads in residential housing. If you add even one, then the whole house has to become compliant including closets etc.
    Larry Weingarten
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,241
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    As a general rule 1" can supply two fire Sprinkler heads.  In NYC, last I checked, yiu could run up to 25 heads off if your domestic water piping. After that, you're going for a separate service for fire line. When I renovated my Old Hitchcock Farmhouse, I brought in a separate 2" K copper Fire service and Sprinklered all 4 levels.  Silver Brazed joints.  I haven't counted in a long time but I have 22-25 heads.  One over the boiler.  A designated High temp head that covers the Wood burning fire place.   Certain Towns & Cities require them over a boiler. City of Long Beach ⛱ for example.  I remember about 12 yrs ago, NYS Senate or whatever passed a law, that ALL new construction..even single  family homes, would be Sprinklered...I was THRILLED....Who fought and stopped it?   The General Contractors associations and developers! Nice!  Landscaping, granite countertops, and Body jets in the shower 🚿 are more important....to them.  I'd rather see a Sprinkler head fed off of a 1/2" copper tee than nothing at all...its going to help quench the fire.  Mad Dog 🐕 
    STEVEusaPA