You might be surprised to learn that your attached garage in your Columbia, Maryland, home could cause issues with your HVAC system. If you only use your garage to park your car, you probably don’t think much about it, and it’s probably not a concern. If you use your garage like storage, then anything toxic could affect the air quality in your home. When your system is stored in your garage, it could cause air quality and carbon monoxide concerns. Finally, heating and cooling your attached garage needs to be done correctly to avoid further issues. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Insulation, HVAC, and Your Attached Garage
When you live somewhere that gets especially hot or cold, an attached garage is a game-changer in the summer or winter. Even those few steps to the house might seem like a lifetime when there’s ice on the ground or it’s sweltering outside.
While most people just use their garage for storage or to park their cars, others want to make more use of the space. It’s gotten trendy to insulate your garage and put in a heating or cooling system so that it’s more comfortable if you or your husband works out there, or even if your children like to play in the garage.
People are starting to want to use that space as a man cave or a workshop, which means they want the garage to be a comfortable temperature. To regulate the temperature, insulation and heating or air is necessary. Some people just use a fan or portable heater, others add ductwork to their garage, or add a ductless system as the heating or cooling option.
Because your garage is designed differently from the rest of your home, you have to be thoughtful when heating or cooling your garage. You can’t just make your garage an extension of your home and use it as a living space without potentially sacrificing your air quality and risk a huge spike in your utility bills.
2. Attached Garages and Air Quality
Since you probably don’t spend much time in your garage with the door closed, it’s unlikely you worry about the air quality. What you might not realize is that, with an HVAC system in or part of the garage, the air from your garage is getting into your home through that system.
If you’ve decided to heat or cool your garage with a traditional system such as central air, the air in your garage is circulated with the rest of the air in your home. Even if you don’t heat or cool your garage, but you keep your HVAC system in the garage, then you’re dealing with similar issues. That means anything you store in your garage like paint thinner, chemicals, and gas for the lawn mower might get circulated with the air inside your home.
When your HVAC system is located in the garage, you need to make sure that the garage is insulated and the ductwork is sealed correctly to make sure that the air from the garage can’t leak into your home. It might even be worth moving your unit outside instead of worrying about carbon monoxide and poor IAQ from the location of your unit.
It’s not even a good idea to have an HVAC system that heats and cools your garage that is attached to the rest of your house. Considering any air quality concerns, it’s difficult to have central air or heat in your garage without compromising their air in the rest of your home.
3. Carbon Monoxide in the Home
Hopefully, you know and have taught your kids never to leave a car running with the garage door closed. Unfortunately, that’s not the only way to see dangerous levels of carbon monoxide from the garage into your home. There are typically higher levels of carbon monoxide in the garage, but it’s not a primary concern, because you don’t spend much time in there with the door closed. It becomes a problem, however, when it starts seeping into your home.
Make sure the walls between the garage and your home are properly insulated. Consider having your contractor conduct an energy audit to see if any major leaks are coming in from your garage and have those sealed as well. If you don’t already have a carbon monoxide detector in your home, get one as soon as possible. If you have an HVAC system running between your garage and your home, also put one in your garage to get alerted early if you might have an issue.
4. Improving Your HVAC Concerns
Although some of the risks are scary, you don’t have to call a construction company and have your attached garage bulldozed tomorrow. Fortunately, any issues and concerns from an attached garage are easy to combat and fix if you’re educated on them. If you already have a system installed in your garage, try to remove toxic items from your garage or make sure they are properly sealed. Perhaps you might want to consider a storage shed as well to keep your lawn mower, gasoline, paint, and any thinners.
Don’t close the garage door immediately after parking the car. Let those fumes escape the garage before trapping them in. Similarly, don’t start the car with the garage door closed. If you need to warm up the car, pull it out of the garage before starting it and letting it sit.
5. Adding HVAC to Your Garage
If you want to put heat or air in your garage because you work in it or spend a lot of time out there, you have options. First, you should understand that your garage wasn’t originally intended to be a place where you spend significant time. That means you can’t just install an HVAC system and call it a day. The garage door is not insulated to hold heat and air efficiently, so central air isn’t a good option. Besides air quality concerns, so much air will leak out through the garage door your utility bills will spike in a big way.
For example, with central air, you have one temperature setting for your home. If you want your home to be 75 degrees in the summer, the system will work to push air through the entire house and garage to support that temperature. With a hot, less insulated garage, air will keep getting pushed to the garage, but it will be almost impossible to maintain the cooling in the house and garage without wasting a lot of energy.
6. A Ductless System May Be the Ideal HVAC Option
A ductless mini-split is your best option if you want to heat or cool your garage. This type of HVAC system is installed directly into your garage without ductwork, so it doesn’t affect the heating and cooling of the rest of your home. You can turn it off and on when you are in the garage without changing the temperature in the house. Since it’s just heating and cooling the garage, you don’t have to force it to work extra hard or worry as much about the air that escapes.
A ductless mini-split is easy to install and doesn’t take any major construction. You turn it off and on when you want to use it, and it’s an efficient system. It doesn’t take a long time to heat or cool the space like central air especially since you’re only heating or cooling the garage and not a whole house or condo.
If you’re considering heating or cooling your garage or a bonus room or attic, we are the people to call. Contact Griffith Energy Services at 888-474-3391 to speak to an experienced professional to find the right option for your needs.
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