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How to ventilate a garage

Fail-proof tips for airing out a garage in cold and warm months
By
Published on November 24, 2023
Written by
Marie Cookson
Based in Manchester, Marie is one of the writers at HouseFresh and our resident dust expert. She works together with our in-house researchers and our Managing Editor to produce in-depth articles offering practical advice on how to tackle indoor air quality issues.
TL;DR

The simplest solutions often work wonders when it comes to ventilating a garage, and this means opening doors (and windows if your garage has them).

But if you’re concerned about security, there are plenty of other options to try, too. Using fans and running a dehumidifier will help to improve airflow and reduce moisture levels, creating a healthier and more comfortable environment.

If your garage isn’t ventilated properly, tell-tale signs include mold and dampness, bad odors, and a generally stuffy and unpleasant atmosphere. Yet poor airflow isn’t just a nuisance as it can damage your belongings and paintwork.

Furthermore, a lack of ventilation can seriously impact your health. High humidity and mold, for example, can lead to breathing problems and headaches.

The good news is that there are lots of ways you can air out your garage. Keep reading for our tips and tricks.

7 tips for ventilating your garage

1. Utilize doors

Opening a door is one of the simplest and quickest ways to increase ventilation and air out your garage. You can leave them wide open or slightly ajar, depending on how much ventilation is required.

Tip

Keep in mind that leaving doors open can be a security risk, so be sure to take care when going for this option.

2. Open a window

Although not all garages have windows (see below), they’re another effective way to get rid of stuffiness and increase healthier airflow. 

Like doors, open windows can be a security risk. Plus, if you live in a hotter climate, opening windows may intensify heat and humidity levels. It’s best to choose another tip if you’re concerned about either of these drawbacks.

Tip

If your garage doesn’t have any windows, I suggest you read this guide on how to ventilate a windowless room.

3. Run a dehumidifier

Humidity is one of the key symptoms of poor ventilation, so using a dehumidifier will definitely help to improve air quality. Dehumidifiers work by removing excess moisture from the space and keeping it at an optimum level. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), this should ideally be between 30-50%.

Tip
  • Look for a dehumidifier that has an automatic on/off function, as this will help to keep humidity levels in your garage just right.
  • If you’re unsure about which unit would work for you, I suggest you start your research reading about the rugged Moiswell 145 Pint dehumidifier, which is perfect for basements and garages.

4. Use a pedestal fan

Any type of fan can be useful for increasing ventilation, but pedestal or stand fans are particularly effective for garages because they’re able to move air over a large area. Garage floor fans are also sturdy enough to hold up against tough environmental conditions.

Tip

Placing the fan in front of an open window or door means that it can suck in fresh air while pushing contaminated air out through the window.

5. Switch on your air conditioning unit

Air conditioning is a great way to cool down a space yet they can also reduce moisture, similar to dehumidifiers. Activating your AC unit will help to alleviate stuffiness and improve overall ventilation.

6. Fit some garage door vents

These types of vents are installed directly into your garage door and can help boost airflow. They’re fairly simple to install if you want to do it yourself, as they don’t require any drilling through walls or other big changes to your garage.

Tip

Garage door vents work most effectively in smaller garages as they’re not really powerful enough to ventilate a huge space.

7. Install an exhaust fan

Fitting an exhaust fan in your garage will improve air quality and circulation because they can regulate temperatures while also letting toxic fumes, such as carbon monoxide, escape. According to the EPA, an exhaust fan can also help prevent garage contaminants from getting into your home.

Tip

Installing the fan high up on a wall or the ceiling means that it will be kept away from any entryways into your home.

How to keep your garage ventilated throughout the year

☀️ Summer garage ventilation tips

  1. Open the door when it’s cooler – Warm air holds more moisture than cold air, so open the door briefly in the mornings and evenings when it’s cooler.
  2. Park your car in the driveway – When driving in hot sunlight, the heated engine and car body can take several hours to cool down. Park the car in a shady spot before driving it into your garage.
  3. Use fans – According to the CDC, fans can help to move virus particles outside. Place one fan at an opened window or door to push hot air outside, then place another facing where you’ll stand.
  4. Paint your garage a lighter color – Dark colors like black or brown absorb more heat and feel stuffier. Yellow or white shades aid ventilation and make it feel more pleasant.

❄️ Winter garage ventilation tips

  1. Clear your vehicle of snow – Water evaporates more slowly in cold air. Clear the snow from your car as much as you can before parking it in the garage.
  2. Dry it thoroughly – The moist, humid air coming from your warm vehicle can penetrate tiny cracks in the garage, so it’s important to dry your vehicle thoroughly.
  3. Use cross-ventilation – This enables warm air to be held inside while humid air can escape. Your garage should ideally have two openings that are opposite each other, such as a window and a door, or air vents in the back wall and door.

How to ventilate a windowless garage

1. Open the door

Again, this is still the simplest way to air out a garage, including those without windows. If you have a second door to walk through, opening this will help create a through draught.

2. Declutter

Large, bulky items affect ventilation as they can retain the heat and impede air circulation. Sort through and store them along walls or on shelves to keep them out of the way.

3. Use an air purifier

Any room without windows can benefit from an air purifier to help both circulate air but also capture harmful airborne particles and unwanted smells with the help of a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter and an activated carbon filter.

Tip

If you are not sure where to start your search for a suitable air purifier for your garage, I recommend going through our list of the best air purifiers we tested this year.

4. Add a ceiling fan

Although this isn’t one of the simplest solutions, a ceiling fan will certainly help to ventilate your garage. Be sure to choose a model that has different speed levels, as this means you can control the air circulation.

5. Install a roof vent

Another slightly more complex yet effective solution is to install a vent in the garage roof. If you can, place the vent in the highest place on the roof – as heat rises, this will let hot air out.

  • Mold, mildew, and damp. Mold thrives in humid atmospheres with little ventilation. It appears as black, white, or gray patches on ceilings or walls, and there’s often a musty smell, like dirty socks. Inhaling the spores can cause health issues such as headaches, nasal congestion, and breathing problems.
  • Bad odors. On top of damp smells, there are many other nasty odors that indicate you need to up your ventilation game. Items such as dirty tools and bikes, alongside vehicle exhaust fumes, can all make for an unpleasant aroma when there is too much moisture and too little air circulation.
  • Condensation. When warm air mixes with the coolness of your garage floor, condensation occurs. Good ventilation, however, helps to keep the air near the garage floor moving, reducing condensation.
  • Pests. Like basements, insects and other pests can settle in your garage as they’re drawn to warm, moist environments. You might be able to spot various small creatures, including cockroaches, ants, rodents, and termites.
  • Damaged walls and paintwork.

Final thoughts

A poorly ventilated garage is a common problem, yet there are lots of things you can do to combat the issue. If possible, utilize natural airflow by opening doors and windows. And while installing an exhaust fan or roof vent can be effective, there are easier options available. 

For example, running a dehumidifier and an air purifier will both reduce moisture and enhance air quality, keeping your garage fresh and breathable. 

 

SOURCES

About the author

Marie Cookson

Based in Manchester, Marie is one of the writers at HouseFresh and our resident dust expert. She works together with our in-house researchers and our Managing Editor to produce in-depth articles offering practical advice on how to tackle indoor air quality issues.