There maybe several locations in a home that require safety glazing. The 2012 International Residential Code has at least seven specific instances where safety glazing must be installed due to the configuration of the surrounding construction.
Section R308.4.3 addresses glazing located in windows and the four conditions which must be present before requiring the use of safety glass. The first condition addresses the overall size of the glass and specifies the pane must be greater than 9 square feet. The next two conditions deal with height above the floor or walking surface. Safety glass will be required when the bottom edge of the glass is less than 18 inches above the walking surface, and the top edge is more than 36 inches above the walking surface. The last of the four items address the horizontal distance of the glass to the walking surface. When the glass is within 36 inches of a walking surface, it is required to be safety glass.
Again, I would like to emphasize that all four of the above conditions must be present in order for safety glass to be required under this section of the code. There are also a few exceptions to this code, which include the use of decorative glazing, safety rails, and multi-insulated window panels.
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The 2012 International Residential Code (R311.7.9) requires the illumination of both indoor and outdoor stairs, and refers the reader to (R303.7)*. This section of the code requires an artificial light source in the immediate vicinity of a landing or stairway.
The artificial light source must be able to provide a minimum of 1 foot candle power (11 lux), measured at the center of treads and landings.
The code (R303.7.1) also requires the installation of a wall switch at each level of interior stairs. This section of the code only applies to stairs with six or more risers, and is also not required when lights are on continuously or automatically controlled.
* The code actually references section R303.6, but this is clearly a typographical error.
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The 2012 International Residential Code (N118.104.22.168) requires certain elements in the building thermal envelope to be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions and Table N122.214.171.124. There are a total of sixteen specific building components listed in Table N1102.4.1, each with a corresponding set of criteria for how the items must be installed.
The thirteenth item in the list is labeled, Shower / tub on exterior wall. The corresponding installation criteria for this location calls for insulation in the wall cavity and an air barrier separating the tub / shower from the wall. I would like to point out that the code calls for an air barrier at this location and not a vapor barrier. This difference in terms often confuses both installers and inspectors.
The definition of an air barrier can be found in the beginning of the energy chapter; “Material(s) assembled and joined together to provide a barrier to air leakage through the building envelope. An air barrier may be a single material or a combination of materials.” There is no definition of a vapor barrier in the energy chapter, however; the definitions for vapor permeable and vapor retarder class can be found in Chapter two.
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The 2012 International Residential Code (G2417.1) requires installation of gas piping to be visually inspected and pressure tested to ensure materials, design and fabrication meet code requirements. The code (G2415.19) also requires the testing of all gas piping before it is put into service.
The test medium (G2417.2) must be either air, nitrogen, carbon monoxide or an inert gas. Air cannot be used as the test medium. The test pressure (G2417.4.1) must not be less than 1.5 times the proposed maximum working pressure, and never less than 3 psig.
The test pressure measurement (G2417.4) can be taken with a mechanical gauge, however; the highest reading on the gauge’s scale cannot exceed five times the test pressure.
So what pressure is natural gas delivered to most homes? The local gas company in my area delivers gas at 6 inches of water column, which is approximately 0.25 pounds per square inch. Multi-family, commercial and industrial customer’s pressure may range from 2 psi to 5 psi.
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The 2012 International Residential Code (P2713.3) addresses the potential for scalding hazards at bathtubs. This section requires the use of a temperature limiting valve, which limits hot water to a temperature of 120 degrees at the faucet. The valve must conform to ASSE 1070 or CSA B125.3.
The tempering valve can be located near the bathtub faucet, and is often found in a nearby cabinet under a sink fixture. The valve can also be placed near the hot water source, but placement at this location will temper the hot water at all fixtures including the dishwasher, which may be undesirable to some homeowners.
This tempering valve is not required if the tub is a combination shower / tub unit served by a combination pressure balance and thermostatic mixing valve (P2708.3) with an ASSE 1016 designation. Additionally, the International Plumbing code (P607.1) does not allow for water to be tempered at the heat source.
For more information on ASSE 1016, ASSE 1070 and scald prevention, click HERE.
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The 2012 International Residential Code (M1506.2) requires exhaust openings to terminate a minimum distance of three feet from any operable or non-operable opening. These types of openings may include; windows, doors, vents, etc. The code (R303.5.2) also does not allow the exhaust air to be directed onto adjacent walkways.
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The 2012 International Residential Code (M1403.2) requires heating and cooling equipment to be set on a support or foundation. The foundation must be raised at least 3” above the ground.
A second reference to ground clearance and support (M1305.1.4.1) can be found in the under floor section of the mechanical code. This section requires equipment and appliances to be supported on a level concrete slab or other approved material. The slab must extend a minimum of 3” above the surrounding ground.
A third reference with similar language to ground clearance and support (G2408.4) can be found in the gas chapter of the code.
All of the examples above reference the use of a support or foundation under the appliance. The code (M1401.4) requires that these supports or foundations must prevent excessive vibration, settlement or movement.
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The International Residential Code (R3126.96.36.199) sets requirements for size and shape of handrails. These requirements are especially important because of the potential for falls associated with stairs. According to the National Safety Council, falls are one of the leading causes of unintentional injuries in the United States.
Stair handrails must be configured in a way that provides a graspable and continuous surface along the entire length of the stair. To accomplish this, the code divides railings into either a type 1 or type 2 category based on size and configuration.
A type 1 handrail may be circular or non-circular, however the diameter size may not exceed 2 inches for circular shapes, and 6.25 inches for non-circular shapes. Type 2 handrails are different from type 1 in that there is no maximum diameter size. The additional allowance for size requires graspable finger recesses on both sides of the rail.
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The 2012 International Residential Code (R302.1) sets requirements for exterior walls, openings and projections in regards to fire resistant construction.
The first step in determining if a fire rated assembly is required depends on whether the home is equipped with fire sprinklers. There are two tables in the IRC (R302.1 (1) & R302.1 (2) which list requirements for both sprinkled and non-sprinkled dwellings.
Wall projections in non-sprinkled dwellings require a minimum 1 hour fire rating when the fire separation distance is less than five feet. Although the construction in the photo above shows fire protection of the projections side walls, the code contains an exception that excludes fire protection requirements for walls which are perpendicular to the line used to determine fire separation distance.
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The 2012 International Residential Code (R806.1) requires the venting of enclosed attics and rafter spaces. The appropriate amount of cross ventilation (R806.2) can be achieved by the installation of openings at a rate of one square foot for every one hundred and fifty square feet of space (1/150).
The total volume of openings can be further reduced to a rate of 1/300 under two conditions;
1. The construction is located in climate zones 6, 7 or 8, and a class one or two vapor retarder is utilized.
2. 40% to 50% of the upper roof area is ventilated with vents.
Below are some links to online venting calculators.
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The 2012 International Residential Code (R312.2) requires fall protection at operable windows when they meet a combination of two specific height requirements. The first requirement addresses the height of the window above finished grade while the second height requirement addresses the lowest part of the window’s opening on the interior side.
Fall protection is required when the exterior height above grade exceeds 72 inches, and the lowest part of the interior opening is below 24 inches above the finished floor. If a window happens to fall under these two conditions, the opening must be treated much like the code requirements for a guard rail, which limits opening size to 4 inches.
Like most codes, there are some exceptions to the rule. Fall protection or opening control devices may be used in lieu of the opening requirement, but must comply with ASTM F 2090 standards. Lastly, the built-in sash stop mechanisms on most windows do not comply with the ASTM F 2090 standards.
For More information, click on the links below.
Technical bulletin from the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) – click here
My Building Permit tip sheet – click here
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The International Residential Code (R302.11) requires fireblocking at six specific locations in wood framed construction. The first location identified in this section is concealed spaces between stud walls and partitions; which also includes furred spaces. Fireblocking is required vertically at ceiling and floor levels, and at horizontal intervals that cannot exceed 10 feet.
Fireblocking materials (R302.11.1) can consist of various types of materials and thicknesses including; 2 inch nominal lumber, wood structural panels, particleboard, gypsum board, cement based board, mineral wool, glass fiber and cellulose insulation tested for the specific application.
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The Residential Building Code (R502.6.1) requires floor joist to be lapped a minimum of 3 inches when located over a bearing support. The two opposing joists should be nailed together with a minimum of 3 nails. The nails must be 10d, which equates to three inches in length.
The code (R502.7) also requires lateral restraint of the joists over supports. The blocking thickness should not be less than 2 inches nominal.
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The Residential Building Code (R806.1) requires ventilation of enclosed attic and rafter spaces. Energy requirements also mandate the use of attic insulation, which if installed improperly may either block or limit air circulation. The code directly address this situation (R806.3) by requiring one inch of air clearance between the insulation, roof sheathing, and at the location of the vents.
One inch of air space clearance can be difficult to achieve and maintain with blown in types of insulation, so the energy section of the code (N1102.2.3) requires the use of eave baffles at soffit vents. The baffles must maintain an opening size equal to or greater than the size of the vent and extend over the top of the insulation. Lastly, I typically find the baffles are made up of a corrugated cardboard material similar to a common box, but the code allows for the use of any solid material.
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The Residential Building Code sets certain conditions on how dryer transition ducts can be used. Information regarding transition ducting can be found in the mechanical portion of the code (M1502.4.3), and in the gas chapter (G2439.5.4).
The transition duct must consist of a single section and not exceed 8 feet in length. The duct must also be listed and labeled in accordance with UL 2158A. Lastly, the transition duct cannot be concealed within the construction.
Click here to read a FEMA report regarding clothes dryer fires.
Click here to learn more about clothes dryer fires from the US Consumer Protection Safety Commission.
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