Most new homes have fire stops already installed, but they are a rarity in vintage structures. If you are restoring an old Victorian, chances are you, or your contractor, will be redoing the wiring and the plumbing. That means installing fire stops and sealing them with fire stop caulking. Below is an outline of what fire stop caulking is, and how it's used.

What is Fire Stop Caulking?

A fire stop is a barrier built to prevent fire from spreading from one room or compartment to another. Fire stop caulking is one of the materials used to build and/or maintain those barriers. It acts as a sealant to help plug up any gaps and is often sold in tubes or buckets at local hardware stores. There are two basic types.

  • Intumescent caulks or sealants expand when they are exposed to heat. In a fire situation, the swelling caulk prevents additional oxygen from entering the space, giving the fire less fuel to burn. These are often used around electrical wires, fuse boxes, and any other combustible connections that go from one room to another.
  • Non-intumescent caulks don't expand. They are used around metallic pipe connections and other non-combustible items. This type of caulk is often used for plumbing joints and for connection on heating and air conditioning duct systems.

Should You Use Red or White?

Fire stop caulking usually comes in red or white, but the colors are usually interchangeable. If you are doing the fire sealing on your own, be sure and read the label to make sure you are using the intumescent or non-intumescent caulk correctly.  If your caulking is on a light background, the red caulking usually makes your work more visible to an inspector. The reverse is true for the white.  If the work isn't in plain sight and the ratings are correct, you could decide based on that.

Benefits of Fire Stops and Fire Stop Caulking

In addition to preventing a fire from spreading, using fire stops and correctly rated caulking has other benefits.

  • Some building materials contain substances, such as resins or plastics, which produce toxic smoke and gas. Fire stops act as a barrier for both.
  • Most fire stop caulking is water resistant or water proof. Check the label before buying the material.
  • Fire stops keeps heat generated by the fire contained for as long as possible, which helps to prevent rapid fire spread. This gives more time for people to get out of the building and for the fire department to respond.
  • Most insurance companies offer lower rates on structures that do have properly constructed and sealed fire stops.

To learn more, contact a company like Walser Contracting Ltd demolition