As a space where your automotive and handyman tools are kept, you want your garage to stay tidy at all times. But since the space doesn’t usually have windows and adequate air access, the air quality in it could be making you sick or encouraging mold growth.
Mold develops due to moisture, which occurs when condensation levels are high in a space. In a garage, condensation can be a major problem during the winter, and sometimes in the early spring and summer. If neglected, the excess moisture can impact the temperature throughout your home, and create an uncomfortable living environment.
Your garage is definitely more than just a parking and storage space. Take note of these factors that affect its air quality:
The fumes could come from your cars, motorcycles, mowers, paints, lubricants, and other toxic substances. When those things emit fumes, the air in your garage can carry them inside your home through the cracks below doors and other gaps. Breathing them in can have dangerous effects on your health.
To prevent toxic fumes into your home, avoid running your automobiles or motorcycles inside the garage longer than necessary. Observe the same habit with your mowers and other power tools. If possible, avoid placing your heaters or furnaces inside the garage as well.
Annually inspect the door leading to the house to ensure that it’s always tightly closed and has sufficient weather stripping. Cover all ducts, wiring, and other openings that carry the fumes into your home. Use spray foam or caulk to seal gaps.
Try to prevent your kids and/or pets from coming in and out of your garage. They’re the ones most vulnerable to the health effects of fumes. If your garage door makes the space too accessible for them, consider equipping it with a more secure residential garage door opener. This will effectively keep the little ones outside.
2. Mold-prone Materials
Wet cellulose materials, such as cardboard, paper, ceiling tiles, and wood, are notorious breeding grounds for molds. During times when condensation is high in your garage, watch those materials with vigilance. The drywall, paints, dust, insulation materials, fabric, and upholstery support mold growth as well.
Though molds aren’t always dangerous, they can trigger symptoms in people with sensitive respiratory systems. Not to mention molds are essentially a bad type of fungus, and therefore shouldn’t be anywhere in your body.
Controlling humidity, promptly fixing leaks, thorough cleaning, and proper ventilation prevent mold growth. Purchase a dehumidifier for your garage so that you can maintain a healthy level of humidity, which plays between 30% to 50%. Install an exhaust fan as well, and keep the mold-supportive stuff inside at a minimum.
When mold has already grown and spread, get rid of the affected materials and clean the space thoroughly. The only solution to mold-infested items is replacement, hence it’s crucial to prevent it in the first place.
During freezing weather, condensation builds up in your garage, particularly on the walls, floors, and other solid surfaces. It’s like a glass containing ice-cold water, with the outside of the glass “sweating”. Control this build-up by maintaining warmth in your garage during winters. But avoid using a propane heater, because it also creates water vapor. Settle for an electric heater instead.
Vapor barriers effectively mitigate the effects of snow as well. If your garage has ceiling vapor barriers, those actually create more harm than good, because it traps water vapor inside your garage. Switch them out for wall vapor barriers instead. Those things prevent condensation from seeping through the drywall and insulation.
However, not every home needs a vapor barrier. Whether your garage needs one depends on your area’s climate, the design and build of your home, and the walls. Consult your flow chart first to determine if you need a vapor barrier.
4. Any Stuff That Requires Water
Houseplants, laundry, trash bins, and other stuff that require water are also possible causes of condensation. Remove them from your garage before they start producing the effects of moisture. Anything with water in it should be placed in open, exposed areas.
During rainy and snowy weather, condensation in your garage will be inevitable, so consider installing a turbine roof vent if necessary. It will draw out damp air and water vapor from the space. But any type of roof vent will work. You can also apply coating on the floors, preferably one that contains sand or non-slip granules, to prevent injuries when you need to work in your garage on a particularly humid or wet day.
Judging by the facts and tips above, it seems like a garage is pretty high-maintenance. But it really isn’t, provided that you employ the necessary measures to keep pollution at bay. At the end of the day, the most important task is to keep the space clean, because that alone already eliminates most pollutants.