Most homes these days come with an attached garage. It’s become somewhat of an expectation that there should be an enclosed space for at least one vehicle for many homebuyers. But while it’s high on the list of considerations when we are buying a home – we don’t give the garage much thought after moving in. And we certainly aren’t thinking about the air quality inside of it. But should we be?
You may have one or more air purifiers in your home – but have you considered putting one in your garage? Chances are the answer is no. But if you’re worried about the air quality in your home, it’s worth giving more thought to the air quality in your garage.
It’s Where We Store Our Vehicles
The primary purpose for the garage is obviously to store vehicles – and it’s nice on a rainy day not to have to unload the groceries outside. But our cars let off carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases like methane. They aren’t good for the environment, and they certainly aren’t good for you to breathe in for an extended period. It doesn’t take long for those dangerous gases to build up and seep inside. If your habit is to start the car before you open the garage door or keep it running after you’ve shut it, then you’re allowing enough time to let carbon monoxide build up and enter your home and your and your family’s lungs.
It’s Where We Store Chemicals
Along with the car or truck, the garage is the place we store chemicals for our vehicle maintenance. You’ll also generally find the lawn care equipment and the gas to run them. With all the potential sources for airborne chemicals – you can understand why your garage may be the space with the most subpar air quality in your home. It can become an even more significant concern in the summer months. Higher and hotter temperatures help certain chemicals vaporize faster than usual, creating more inferior air quality.
It’s Usually the Main Access Point to Your Home
The only thing that separates your indoor living space and your attached garage is a single door. Think about how many times a day that door gets opened. We generally use the garage entry point as the primary way to go in and out of our house. We leave it open as we bring in shopping bags or get left open when children go out.
But it doesn’t matter how long it stays open for the poor air quality from the garage to make its way inside. Sometimes, the way garage construction can contribute to the number of pollutants that enter your home. Homebuilders will often save you and yourself money during construction by not finishing out the walls or ceilings of the garage. Not having drywall up or leaving unfinished joints can increase the number of irritants that seep inside your home.
It’s Your Exercise Space
Lots of people use their garage as a personal gym. Maybe your treadmill or weights are situated between the car and your lawn care equipment. When we exercise, we breathe heavier, and our lungs need more oxygen to perform how we need them. If the air quality in your garage is poor, that means the air you’re taking in while you’re exercising isn’t any good either.
It’s Where the Place for Hobbies and Play
Often, we use the garage as a play area. We pull out the car, and while we work in the garage or out in the yard, our kids use the space to play. After all, concrete garage floors are a great place to use sidewalk chalk. It’s also commonplace for people to enjoy their hobbies – especially if your particular hobby requires a lot of space to perform—you can do things like woodworking and painting in the garage. Dust from the wood and fumes from the paint can also help to contribute to poor air quality in your garage. And playing and taking part in your favorite hobby can also mean you’re spending more time in the garage than you realize and, in effect, breathing in more potentially poor-quality air.
It’s Where We Grill
If you don’t have a deck or covered patio, storing the grill inside the garage seems like a logical idea to protect it from the elements. And if the weather is cold and you still want burgers, having the grill in the garage seems like the perfect solution. Using your grill inside can be tricky; you have to worry about making sure it’s away from flammable materials, so it doesn’t cause a fire. But charcoal and gas grills also produce carbon monoxide. And if you use the grill inside your garage with the door closed, it allows the gas to build up. Breathing in carbon monoxide is dangerous, but too much of it can kill you.
Most state and local construction codes require the builder to install a fire/smoke-rated wall between the garage and your house, which helps cut down on the carbon monoxide that enters your home. But it doesn’t stop it completely. An older home built before the codes were put in place won’t have that type of wall at all.
It’s Where We Smoke
Most people these days who smoke don’t do so inside their homes. They may go outside or, if the temperature is too cold, may use the garage as the place to light up. It seems like a courteous thing to your family to use the garage, but you may not realize what it does for the air quality in your garage and home. Smoking produces benzene which is a chemical with a sweet odor that causes a heavy vapor. According to the CDC breathing in too much of it can cause your cells not to work correctly. Benzene can keep your bone marrow from producing enough red blood cells for your body or damage your immune system causing you to lose white blood cells.
So, what can we do to improve the air quality in our garages? There are some simple things like leaving the main bay door open and letting the garage air out when you can. You can store gas and other chemicals in a detached shed. And regularly cleaning and decluttering the garage is helpful. But one of the best and most long-term solutions may be to invest in an air purifier for your garage.
Air purifiers pull air in, trap particles and irritants in the filter and send purified and cleaner air back out. The best air purifiers are ones that use a true HEPA filter. HEPA filters are known to trap more than 99 percent of all airborne particles. But if you’re installing one in your garage, you’ll want to look for one that also has carbon filtration, which catches fumes and odors. If you’re looking for an air purifier for the garage and don’t know where to start, we’ve researched for you – click here to see our best recommendations for an air purifier for your garage.