It might seem as though garage ventilation should be one of the key aspects of any garage’s design. After all, these small spaces are often housing idling automobiles, jerry cans of fuel and chemicals like paint and other solvents — nothing you want to be sharing a sealed room with for too long. Still, not everyone is sure whether they simply need to run a few ducts and call it a day, or if a more complete solution involving a fan or two is the best way to go.
How Big Is Your Garage?
The size of the space you are working with will go a long way toward deciding how much garage ventilation you need. Larger garages will require more aggressive ventilation options, whereas with a small unit, you might be able to get away with placing a fan in a single window and letting it draw out the stale air and fumes.
Of course, that’s assuming your garage space even has windows. If it’s located underneath your home, there’s a strong chance it doesn’t — and if it’s partially underground, you’ll be facing other ventilation challenges that could require much more serious upgrades.
If your garage is underground — fully or partially — your choices are somewhat restrictive. Your best bet is to install a powered fan that draws air from the garage into a duct that then exhausts through your home’s roof vents. This means sourcing power for the fan, as well as connecting its ducting to your home’s existing ventilation, which could definitely turn into more than a do-it-yourself type of job.
If you have an above-ground garage, and the garage is detached with a flat roof, your easiest fix is to install a turbine vent on the roof and let the rotation draw out the air. Turbine fans are popular because they don’t require any electrical power to spin — the wind will take care of that for you — but you might want to hire a roofer to ensure a completely weatherproof seal.
A simpler, although not as effective course of action, is to install vents in the door — one set high, one set low — that will passively ventilate by drawing different temperature air currents through each vent. Keep in mind that vents are not the best option if you live in a cold climate and want to keep your garage insulated during the winter, or if you want to make sure the entire space is properly ventilated.
Garage ventilation doesn’t have to be an intimidating topic, there are multiple avenues you can explore once you grasp the basics and understand the particulars of your garage design.
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Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time. I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.