Laundry Chutes

laundry chute

An old fashion common architectural detail that has fallen to the wayside is the
laundry chute. Not all households would see this architectural detail as useful, but some
households would certainly use this building feature if one existed.

Why have laundry chutes disappeared from new house construction? The most
common answer is the fire code. Laundry chutes are an avenue for flames to travel rapidly
from floor to floor. Most municipalities have outlawed the construction of these receptacles.
In my opinion stairwells are more guilty for spreading fires and their flames from floor to
floor. Why haven’t staircases been subjected to fire doors and chambers to eliminate
flames from traveling from floor to floor?

The other life safety code concerns that most people would possibly have concerns
about a person or child deciding to take a ride down the laundry chute and getting
seriously injured. Maybe a laundry chute door should be required so many inches from the
floor with a safety locked door?

Is there a way to construct a laundry chute and follow the fire code and protect
people from accidentally or purposely riding down? The answer is yes in
my opinion but check with your building inspector before installing one in
your home or anyone else’s home.

The laundry chute would have three components. First, I would frame the shaft and
strictly follow all fire blocking codes relevant to a multi-story shaft. Secondly, I would
install fire rated drywall on all sides for the shaft with a bed tape coat. Lastly, I would
install tubing if desired and an air-tight, fire-rated chute door with a minimum of 3’-0”
from a finished floor. I would also install a hatch door on the bottom of laundry chute. This
door would be airtight and would require opening the door to access the laundry. Apply for
a permit or speak to your building inspector before beginning any endeavor.

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