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Building Science

Don’t Let Your Garage Make You Sick

There’s bad stuff in the air in your garage — here’s how to keep it out of the house

Contaminants in the garage often find their way into the home.
Image Credit: Rubbermaid Products

The odds are high that the indoor air quality is worse in a home with an attached garage than in a home without one. Just take a look at the photo here to see some of the potential sources of pollutants that can get into your home’s air. How many do you see?

Even without zooming in, I can spot five potential significant sources. The car is the biggest, of course. Every time it drives in or out, exhaust, including carbon monoxide, from the tailpipe enters the garage. On the left you can see a lawn mower and next to it a gasoline container. In the back is a gas water heater (in this case a direct vent type, which is a safer model than the standard natural draft type). To the left of the water heater are shelves full of various things, which may well include pesticides, fertilizers, and other stuff that fills the garage air with things you don’t want to breathe.

Isolating the garage

So the typical garage has a lot of bad stuff in it. You may not notice the smell in your own garage because you grow used to it after a while, but I often notice a toxic odor in garages. What can you do to keep that stuff out of the air in your home? The first step, of course, is to isolate the garage from the house as well as possible. Here are the first steps to keeping the garage air out of the house:

Ventilating the garage

There’s another thing you can do to keep that garage out of the house, too. Ventilate! With an exhaust fan in the garage, you can do two things to improve your indoor air quality. First, when the fan runs, it removes pollutants…

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