Don’t Install a Pet Door to Your Garage! Until your read this first

By Rick Venturini • January, 2020

When I was an active building contractor, I would get asked by some pet owners, Can I install a pet door to my garage? Or are dog or cat doors from my house to garage legal?

The answer is NO, unless it’s approved by the fire or building departments. Pet doors should not be installed in fire-rated doors or fire rated walls unless the pet door is fire rated. Common pet doors will violate the integrity of a fire barrier.

Think about it, it’s like you are cutting a hole in your garage wall or door and making it so the fire could race into your home much faster.

What does a fire rated firewall or fire door mean?

If your house, town home or condo has an attached garage, that wall and door between your home and garage is fire rated.

A residential firewall to your garage (also called a fire-separation wall or fire barrier) is normally a 1 hour rated i.e. it takes a fire 1 hour before your firewall will fail during a fire.

The door to your garage is 20 minute fire rated, that means it takes a fire about 20 minutes before your door will fail during a garage fire.

If a fire starts in your garage the firewall and fire door acts to slow down a fire from entering your home to protector you and your family’s safety. It’s a two way street, also if a fire starts inside your home the firewall will slow down the fire from getting into the garage.

All homes in the US and Canada use the (UBC) Uniform Building Code but that was replaced in 2000 by the new (IBC) International Building Code or the (IRC) International Residential Code.

The most common residential fire separation wall construction has 5/8 inch (type X) fire-rated drywall on the garage side (also called sheetrock or gypsum board) with 2×4 or 2×6 wood framing, with 1/2 inch drywall on the interior of that wall. Both the drywalls have to be fire taped.

Should I replace my existing pet door to my garage with a fire rated pet door?

Yes, if you have an existing pet door to your garage now, you should replace it with a fire rated pet door. Think about it, if you have a fire in your home or garage then you are taking a big risk in the future for you and your family’s safety.

What you should never do with a pet door

Never install a pet door from a bedroom to your garage! It’s 100% illegal and unsafe at any time.

Most homeowners or renters don’t know that when they are buying a pet door for the garage wall or door it must be fire rated. So only buy a fire rated pet door. Well now you know

What you can do with a pet door to your garage

Use only an approved fire rated pet door to your garage. I have seen some folks have two doggie or cat doors:  House to Garage and then Garage to Outside so their pet has free access to the outside. Also some folk install a pet door in the garage door.

In summary, attached garages should only have fire rated pet doors installed so that fire may be contained.