Walls are weak

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by strantor, Dec 10, 2013.

  1. strantor

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 3, 2010
    I knocked down a wall this past weekend to expand the living room. Since the wall was coming down, I took the opportunity to try what I've always wanted to: see how easy/hard it is to punch a hole through drywall (sheetrock). Turns out it isn't that hard. As long as you commit to it before throwing the punch, and punch through the wall (aim at spot 12" behind the wall), it doesn't hurt, and sheetrock is no match. If you do it with reservation and hit like a girl, you're going to hurt your knuckles and your wrist, and the sheetrock will laugh at you.

    The first punch only got through one side of the drywall. But I figured that was because I was aiming at the surface of the wall. After I decided to aim 12" behind the wall, I threw one punch (on a fresh patch of wall) and went all the way down to my elbow, waving my hand on the other side. Seems like I did not put forth any additional effort; the follow-through did the trick.

    I was also able to smash a good sized hole with my head. (I do not recommend this).

    The follow-up experiment was to see how fast I could create a doorway with my bare hands and walk through it. I did it in under 30 seconds. Punch a hole, pull on the sheetrock around the hole, and you can pull large chunks in no time. Then just kick down the other side with your foot.

    So I'm wondering how many people have died in burning houses because there was a fire at the bedroom door, and they didn't realize that they could make another door anywhere they choose (along an interior wall). It should be a piece of cake for an able bodied male of any age, and with enough adrenaline and confidence, probably a feeble aged female too.

    Also makes me feel less safe. If I can get out in 30 seconds, that means someone else can get in in 30 seconds. Of course, the cardboard door with pot-metal latch is no match for a determined assailant either, but beefing up this door would be time wasted. Makes me feel like I live in a paper house.
    PackratKing, killivolt and JohnInTX like this.
  2. #12


    Nov 30, 2010
    It's the outside walls that slow me down. They are made of concrete blocks. I have a metal-shop project chair that I call my fire escape. It's just a small, student size chair, that would fit a 10 year old person. It is made entirely of welded square steel tubing and it will take out any window I have in less than 30 seconds.
    killivolt likes this.
  3. djsfantasi

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 11, 2010
    You may run into more difficulty if the interior walls are plastered.
  4. Metalmann

    Active Member

    Dec 8, 2012
    I have done what you have while remodeling, but I've heard of other guys try that, and busted their hands because they hit a stud.:D
    shortbus likes this.
  5. THE_RB

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 11, 2008
    That's why you kick it, and with a test kick first to check for studs. ;)
  6. JohnInTX


    Jun 26, 2012
    A valid observation that we should teach our kids. I did. On walks we would tour new construction for fun and on occasion would point out just what you observed, just kick your way out. May not work for a brick outside wall but our house has some crap-board exterior that would serve the purpose. Thanks for the refresh.

    Its why the 1911 is kept loaded.
    PackratKing likes this.
  7. killivolt

    Active Member

    Jan 10, 2010

    I have a 50 yr old home outside is brick and then cinder block, inside walls are lath and plaster. I was upset about someone who died and punched the wall as I was walking down the hall to get out of the room.

    To my surprise I went into the wall? I didn't hurt myself until I pulled my hand back out. The wood collapsed on my hand as I pulled it back out, cutting me as I pulled back.

    I'm not tuff or big just under 200lbs and 5'9" Medium bones.

    If you have a window, plus it's a bedroom, maybe it would be better to break the window. But, if it's 2 floors up, you better hope there is a fire escape?

    However I could go through my bedroom wall into the kitchen, which is where the fire started and die with the inrush of new oxygen for the flames?

    Better to have a window, and an escape plan.

    Edit: Sort of fun to break sheetrock. Until you try 3/4 inch, thats been doubled as a fire wall:p
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2013
  8. panic mode

    Senior Member

    Oct 10, 2011
    LOL, strong headed...

    one of my coworkers used to own a gas station in the rural area. before he learned to just keep smokes out of sight, there was a break in, then another....

    so he kept on fixing it, adding more braces to the structure of the wall, putting bars on the windows, adding electronic security, etc. - along with hiding smokes, posting signs and then completely giving up on selling smokes. it still did not help... burglar was just as determined to get what he wanted, no matter what.

    when we talked about it, he showed photos of damage, then some guy that went through window bars, glass, made a hole in a inner wall and attempted to get through. it was the same wall that was repaired few times - with some truss-like structure under the sheetrock, all held by long deck screws. forgot to mention also two policemen in the photo, trying to free the idiot from his misery...

    by then his finances were in the drain, so the gas station closed and he had to look for a job...
  9. #12


    Nov 30, 2010
    I am reminded of a method that air conditioning guys use. If you stay in the attic too long and can't make it to the exit, you can bust out the ceiling and fall to safety.

    I have not had to bust out a ceiling, but I did stay too long once and had to be pulled out. The heat makes your mind confused. If you fail to act on that warning quickly enough, your muscles will go weak and you can't crawl out. At that point, the only exit is, "down". That's why I call working in an attic, in Florida, in the summer, "semi-fatal".

    It's a very risky balancing act to work in 125 F to 140 F temperatures. Your time limit depends on several things like, whether you have previously had a heat stroke, your body mass index (fat to lean ratio), age, distance from the access port to the machine, natural convection being convenient or stagnant, whether you can turn the interior fan on to force an air flow in the attic, whether the sun is still radiating heat through the roof, whether you were nicely cool before you climbed the ladder, etc. You start with 20 minutes as your estimate and adjust for conditions present, then pay attention to your body's warnings. Have a safety man on the job!
    PackratKing and killivolt like this.
  10. killivolt

    Active Member

    Jan 10, 2010
    No comment, until you've been in it. Eggs anyone?:rolleyes:
    PackratKing and #12 like this.
  11. Brownout

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2012
    I don't understand why ppl don't put a fan near the attic opening to draw in fresh, cool air.
  12. #12


    Nov 30, 2010
    Almost all attics are so large that most of the area can not be affected by a single, 20 inch box fan. If you want to get more specific, we can talk about it some more.
  13. loosewire

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 25, 2008
    Good information ,know your wall a head of time. Go to another room to get out.

    You can promote Go -Wall 2x4s and become a billionaire......every body else

    is doing it. Since you don' patents ,this post is my trade mark for my share.

    Go-Wall from Loosewire..
  14. #12


    Nov 30, 2010
    Great idea Loosie. Now you can go to Home Depot and collect your royalties on each two by four they have in stock.:D
  15. atferrari

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 6, 2004
    Traditionally, cargo holds in bulk carrier vessels are ventilated, mechanically or naturally.

    Natural ventilation is usually based on pipes as in the picture that can be swung arround. One with the opening facing to the wind and the other, at the other "end" to the opposite direction. It all depends of your course and the direction of the wind at the moment.

    To avoid the hassle of changing their orientation, if you have a fan, then your options (like it could be in an attic) are: you blow air in or you exhaust. Openings always in opposite "ends" make sure that air pass through.

    In vessels carrying garlic (which requires good and steady ventilating flux of air), you had to stow the boxes in such a way to form "channels" for the air.

    The trick was to "design" the channels (empty space between stacks) not exactly running from/to the openings but somewhat askew to force the air to go through all the stow.

    As I use to say: "más paciencia que ciencia".

    Steady ventilation is the secret, I guess.

    In big warehouses I see often those ventilators that run continuously not driven by any fan. (?)
  16. #12


    Nov 30, 2010
    One of the problems with attics is that they are designed for laminar flow caused by convection, and involving all of the low edges of the perimeter and a ridge vent. Any forced air flow quickly escapes through the size of the vents that work well with no fan.

    For instance, my house is 1000 square feet. It has 16 square feet of openings at the ridge and 16 square feet of openings at the lowest edges. If you pushed 1000 cubic feet per minute (about 1/3 horsepower) into one end of the attic, it would take over a minute to travel the 40 foot length of the house, but it wouldn't travel that far. It would escape through the vents.
  17. Brownout

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2012
    Some of it would escape, but it would mix with the hot, stagnant air from the attic and take some of that with it. Even if it only lowered the temp a couple degrees, it would be worth it. I do this in my boat all the time. I have no A/C and so I use a fan to blow through the cabin. It makes a tremendous difference in the summer. Not as much area in the boat as an attic, but airflow is similar.