Until relatively recently, almost all garages were detached garages. This was leftover from the era when the garages used to be “carriage houses.” When cars began replacing horses, it took a handful of decades before everyone realized that cars didn’t have the same needs as a horse, and therefore didn’t need extra room for hay, tack and manure disposal. At that point, garages were moved closer and closer to the home, until they began attaching themselves to the house itself.
Is a Detached or Attached Garage Safer? Or Better?
If you are deciding between an attached or detached garage based purely on safety and/or energy efficiency reasons, a detached garage would be the way to go. This is because, unless they’re designed with energy efficiency in mind, attached garages can be a significant source of indoor air pollution in the home and they almost always have a negative effect on energy efficiency.
Attached Garages Contribute to Poor Indoor Air Quality
After researching the effects of attached garages on indoor air quality, National Institute of Standards and Technology found, “substantial evidence that transport of contaminants from garages has the potential to negatively impact residential IAQ in either an acute (e.g., carbon monoxide from automobiles) or chronic manner (e.g., storage of chemical products).”
In other words, the carbon monoxide from cars and the off-gassing of the chemical products stored in your garage (paints, solvents, extra gasoline for the lawn equipment, etc.) are seeping into American homes and creating toxic air pollution. The EPA has found that air quality in the average American home is actually worse than the air outdoors – and that includes homes located in cities known to have poor air quality.
Improve ventilation in your attached garage
You can improve ventilation in your attached garage by:
- Never warm your car up inside the garage. Even with the garage door open and a well-sealed interior door, pollutants can get into your home. If you want to warm up your car, back it out of the garage completely and warm it on the driveway.
- Store toxic, chemical products elsewhere. Keep your garage for the storage of camping gear, non-mechanical toys and seasonal items. Anything that releases toxic fumes and requires a well-ventilated area should be stored in a shed or barn that is detached from your home.
- Install a ventilation system. Did you know your car continues to release toxic fumes even after the ignition is turned off? As long as the engine is warm, your car is off-gassing. Installing an isolated ventilation system that pulls fresh air into the garage, and lets interior air recirculate, is a good solution for those who prefer to have an attached garage. Have the system installed by a licensed HVAC technician, and observe a regular maintenance schedule to keep the system working efficiently.
Attached Garages Can Diminish Whole-Home Energy Efficiency
Unless you’ve converted your garage into a livable space, rather than a house for your car and mechanical equipment, odds are its finished much differently than the rest of your home. The walls and ceilings aren’t as insulated and the garage door itself may be poorly insulated and sealed.
However, attached garages share a sizable wall with the portion of the home they’re attached to – often a kitchen or living room. This means that portion of the home is directly influenced by the interior temperature of the garage – which can be very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter. Similarly, if the door from the garage to the house isn’t sealed properly, your home will pull in warm air during the summer and will lose warm air to the garage during the colder months. As a result, the attached garage winds up being a drain on your homes forced air system.
To combat this problem, consider upgrading the insulation in walls and the ceiling to equal that of the exterior walls in your home. Spray foam insulation is a quick and easy solution for this. We also recommend upgrading the garage door and windows so their insulation reflects the level of efficiency you’re looking for. Sealing the door and windows is also important. However, remember that a well-sealed garage requires adequate ventilation to maintain healthy indoor air quality.
In terms of safety and energy efficiency, detached garages are considered the best choice. However, you can design a safe and healthy garage door if you pay attention to a few simple details. Contact R&S to design and install the best garage door for your attached or detached garage.