Green Your Garage for Better Indoor Air

Your garage is a big space! In fact, most 3-car garages are as big as or bigger than the average 1950’s home.That big space is filled with air – air that can be very hot or very cold depending on the season. More importantly, your garage air isn’t clean air.   Think about what you store in your garage – pesticides, fuel, oil – their harmful fumes have shown up in indoor air quality tests. Add the fumes from your car and lawnmower and the dust from everything you store in your garage. If your garage is attached to your home, all may find a way inside. The EPA says bad indoor air quality can cause immediate negative affects like headaches, fatigue and respiratory trouble and might even impact your health long term by increasing the risk of heart disease, breathing problem and, even, cancer. It’s time to make your garage – and its air – greener. Here’s how!

Green-Garage-Indoor Air

  • Caulk and seal! Carefully examine the common wall between your garage and your home. Air can move through even a tiny space so if you find a crack – no matter who itty-bitty it is – seal it with caulk. Pay special attention to corners as they are the most likely place to find a crack. If drywall is coming between you and the wall and it is screwed in, you might even want to consider removing it for your inspection.
  • Don’t forget the door. You’ve done your wall inspection and caulked any suspicious area. Move on to the next offender – the door. A garage door should be fireproof, insulated and have weather-striping around the frame. A door skirt at the bottom of the door will help create and even tighter seal. Remember, when you leave the door open, it may be a convenience but it is allowing lot of air to transfer into the house. Teach everyone in the home including the children to shut the door behind them when they enter the garage.
  • Where is the furnace? Many homes have their furnace installed in the garage – not a great choice. When you furnace comes on it uses the air from the garage and is going to circulate it.   That air may contain the off-gassing from everything from the oil under the car to the stored pesticides and chemicals. Your best solution is to move the furnace but that’s an expensive proposition. A less expensive option is to get a high-quality air filter for the furnace. It will help – and it will help improve indoor air quality even when your furnace is located inside your home.
  • Add ventilation. Newer homes may have an exhaust fan that comes on automatically. If you’re not that lucky, you want to install a exhaust fan to pull out the fumes and circulate the air. Are you handy? It can be a DIY project or you may want to hire a professional to get the job done for you.
  • Insulate! In the winter your garage is cold and in the summer your garage is hot unless you’ve added garage heating and cooling. Even, then you’re not going to keep your garage at the same comfy level as your home. Remember that shared wall? If you have an attached garage some of that heat and cold is going to transfer to the inside of your home. If your builder didn’t insulate, it’s another job where you’ll have to choose whether to go in on your own or hire a contractor – either way it’s worth the time and money. You want to pay special attention to the shared wall, but don’t stop there – insulated all the walls and the ceiling. Add Energy Star windows if you have a window in the garage.
  • Clean it out. Paint doesn’t belong in a garage – and other hazardous and flammable chemicals shouldn’t be stored there either. The shed is a much better place for them. Remove as many hazardous chemicals as possible. While you’re at it, make the world a little greener by recycling or donating anything that has been languishing in your garage just taking up space.
  • Change the light bulbs. This one is an easy fix. If you haven’t done it already, replace incandescent light bulbs with LEDs or CFLs. If there’s an area of your garage you use regularly such as a workbench, think about giving it its own lighting – maybe a track lighting system – so you can light up just that one area.
  • The big offender. It could well be your garage door! If you don’t have an insulated garage door, it’s time to either replace or insulate. If you decide to replace, buy a garage door made out of recycled materials whenever possible and be sure to buy a door that comes insulated. Insulation can, again, be a DIY job or you can hire a professional. While you’re insulating that big piece of aluminum, steel or some other material, don’t forget to weather strip if needed.

Follow these steps and you’ll create better indoor air quality and make the planet a little cleaner. While you’re thinking about your greening up your garage, think about safety, too. Every garage door must have yearly maintenance done by a Garage Door Repair Phoenix Company to make sure that the springs and cables that are under high tension are safe and that the auto reverse is working. Your garage works hard to keep your things safe – it’s your job to make sure that its door is safe and operating properly.

Erin Emanuel