Everything You Need To Know About Shaft Wall Access Panels

Everything You Need To Know About Shaft Wall Access Panels

Everything You Need To Know About Shaft Wall Access Panels

For your building construction to last longer and withstand any outbreak, you need to install a shaft wall access panel. Now you might be wondering what a shaft wall is all about. This article summarizes everything you need to know about shaft wall access panels.


What Is A Shaft Wall and A Shaft Wall Access Panel?

A shaft wall is an enclosed space that extends vertically through one or more building floors, thereby joining floors and roofs.

Shaft wall access panels are interior fire-rated wall assemblies that provide critical life safety, and fire-resistant protection for stairwells, vertical chases, laundry chutes, elevator shafts and mechanical closures.

Shaft wall access panels found in elevators and stairwells are one of the most important assemblies in a building because they are the only means of escape or evacuation in emergencies.

Mechanical enclosures and vertical chases keep important power, communication cables, fresh air and exhaust systems intact in a fire outbreak.

Shaft wall access panels are a crucial part of the construction and design of commercial buildings, having a variety of important features, which are;

It provides a protective structure that can be incorporated at the early stage of construction without scaffolding. It can be built vertically and horizontally, to provide a fire-rated membrane.

It has a higher certainty if installed acoustic performance. There are two standard methods of designing a shaft wall access panel:


●     Masonry

In some conventional shaft wall designs, architects developed a structure that covers the shaft before the construction of the building. This approach uses poured concrete or concrete masonry units(CMUs).

Since the basic task of this masonry is to support itself and provide fire ratings, it has to be fire-resistant and structurally sound.

Having a dense mass, this masonry provides good sound attenuation, keeping noise away from the stairwell or elevator confined to the shaft. However, masonry shaft wall access panels require engineering attention to create the right footing needed.

A major flaw of masonry systems is that it is difficult to install, making them more time-consuming.


●     Gypsum

This option involves creating the shaft wall access panel from floor to floor once the building structure has been erected. It offers a balanced mix of installation and performance benefits.

Their components are lightweight compared to masonry, allowing for more detailed design and simplifying the installation. The gypsum system can be installed quickly and is more economical than the masonry system.

This gypsum system is fire resistant because it contains water that is gradually released as vapour during a fire outbreak.




Shaft wall Access Panel Application

The three main types of shaft access panels in construction and commercial buildings are stairs, elevators and mechanical. Some of the principles apply in some shafts, while some are unique.


Stair Shaft Wall Access Panel

They are unique when compared to other shafts, in that they have framings within the shape (stair and landing framing) that need to be fixed.

All you have to do is run both layers of wall gypsum up the face of the wall and attach the stair and landing framing to the shaft wall.


Elevator Shaft Wall Access Panel

Some design considerations and wall assembly options for the stair shaft access panel also apply to the elevator shaft wall.

Acoustical designs in this shaft wall are more pronounced than stair and mechanical shaft walls. The distinguishing factor is the railing support.

Additional blocking and strapping are provided around the shaft wall to transfer the horizontal elevator forces into the area.


Mechanical Shaft Wall Access Panel

Many design assembly options for stair and elevator shaft walls can also be applied to mechanical shaft walls.

The major difference is that they are relatively small enough such that physically getting into the shaft to finish any gypsum application is impossible.

To solve this issue, frame all or some sides of the shaft wall with shaft line panels for easy entry.


What Does Fire Resistance Ratings Mean?

Fire-resistance rating is when a building component, assembly or element maintains the ability to confine a fire and perform its structural function.


Do Shaft Wall Access Panel Need to Be Fire Rated?

Yes! Shaft wall access panels are required to have a fire-resistance rating of not less than 2 hours when connecting four or more stories and a fire-resistance rating of not less than 1 hour for shaft walls connecting less than four stories.


Safety Precautions 

  1. Attach protective covers to rotating parts, including shaft couplings. Touching the unit with bare hands or fingers while running may cause electrocution.
  2. Do not seal completely, and be sure to provide sufficient ventilation when installing it.
  3. To prevent danger, always install safety measures on the equipment.
  4. Do not turn on the equipment while installing the product.
  5. Tighten the bolts using a screwdriver or torque wrench.
  6. Do not disassemble or remodel the unit.
  7. Do not store or use the product in environments that may affect it.
  8. Handle the shaft wall unit with care. Dropping it may result in damage.
  9. Work with care to prevent back injuries during transport or to drop the unit on foot.
  10. Wear safety gear such as safety glasses and gloves, etc., when working because The edges of it may cause injury during installation or removal.
  11. When fixing a shaft hole or a keyhole to a shaft coupling, do not open a shaft hole that exceeds the maximum shaft hole diameter in the catalogue.
  12. Be sure to use within the acceptable value of misalignment. Making use of it over the allowable value may cause damage to the shaft coupling and adversely affect the peripheral tools.
  13. Do not use screws other than those specified by the company.
  14. For equipment with a large load instability, apply adhesive to prevent screws from loosening,
  15. In cases of abnormal noise or vibration during operation, stop operation immediately and check for alignment, shaft interference, loosened screws, etc.
  16. Do not touch the unit immediately after it stops running. It may become extremely hot, which will cause burns.


On A Final Note;

Shaft walls are important in the design of fast-rising construction buildings. They serve as a means to direct electricity, water, and conditioned air up to the upper floors.

In cases of fire outbreaks, ensure to use the easiest escape route to exit the building. Adhere to the safety precautions when installing shaft wall access panels.

At USG ME, our Securock Brand Glass Mat Shaft Wall FireCode Mold Tough is a good choice of shaft wall panels.