Many new homes have an attached garage. These became popular due to the convenience, but are there hazards that might be making you sick?An attached garage is an indoor air quality nightmare. Code requires that you make them air tight to the rest of the house, but any energy auditor will tell you this is almost never done (notice the pressure treated plate at the bottom of this picture). This not only creates health issues, but is simply unsafe. If there is ever a fire in your garage, the intent is that you will have 1 hour to get out of the house before the fire spreads. If there is as little as a pin hole, this time is shortened. With most garages I have seen there are more holes in them than swiss cheese.
The indoor air quality issues created are a little more ‘hidden‘. Just think of how pleasant it would be to open the hood of your car after the engine is hot and take a deep breath. That is the air you are breathing if you have an attached garage that is not air tight to the home. Since most of us install a door from our garage to our house – your garage is not air tight. OK so your door is weatherstripped and fairly tight. What about the bottom plate of the wall? What about the corners of drywall (the hard place to get the mud just right during installation)? What about the penetrations for the lights that are installed in the ceiling? I have even seen HVAC systems installed in the garage with no mastic on the joints – you are actually ducting in garage air into your house.
Even a slight wind on the garage door side of the house will cause your garage to go to positive pressure and your house to use it for make up air. Even if your car engine is not the source of the pollution, what about all the paint, pesticides, gas, oil, and other chemicals you have stored in the garage? Why do you want your family to breathe all these chemicals, just so you don’t have to walk out in the cold in the morning to warm up the car?
There are so many little things in a home that need to be understood, if you have not already done so, get a licensed professional to help you create your healthy home. There are simple steps that you can take even in an existing home to protect your indoor air quality.