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no basement, hot garage

Posted by mfbenson (My Page) on
Sun, Jul 2, 06 at 23:53

Hello - I have had an ongoing problem with storing paint and chemicals and things in my garage that are not supposed to be exposed to heat. My southern-exposure garage regularly gets up to about 130 degrees in the Texas sun (well, in summer anyway), and my house has no basement, so I don't have a good place to keep chemicals inside either.

I have toyed with the idea of just keeping all that stuff in a bedroom closet, but I'm not sure it would be safe. Probably a fire hazard, and maybe bad fumes from it too.

I'm also thought about installing an attic fan for my garage to try to keep it cooler.

Does anyone else have ideas?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: no basement, hot garage

Hi mfbenson. Just move to Alaska. You'll never have a hot garage again! It sounds like some venting is in order for that garage.

It really depends on what those chemicals are as to the safety inside. Latex paint should be fine if it is sealed in the can. I have numerous cans in my entry closet as I slowly paint my way thoughout the house.

I'm trying to think what we have in the garage. Only a small amount of gas with the oil mixed for the weed eater. We use it by the end of the summer and get fresh stuff the next year. Some oil for the car. Otherwise, we have really gotten in the habit of buying the very smallest amount possible of things like paint thinner to make disposal easier. Can you go ahead and get rid of items and purchase them as needed?

We often have flammable items in the house and don't think much about it. Fingernail polish remover with acetone is very flammable. Items like that. Maybe if there is just one or two items, a high self in a closet would be ok. I don't think there is as much fire danger if they are stored away from items with flames such as hot water heaters where people frequently store these things.

Your hazardous waste disposable place may be able to give you better local information.

Gloria


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RE: no basement, hot garage

"Can you go ahead and get rid of items and purchase them as needed?"

I'm inadvertantly having to do that anyway - anything I keep out in the garage for more than a couple months (at most) gets ruined by the heat anyhow. It's getting expensive!

If it wouldn't clash with the house I'd paint the garage door white... its a dark brown, and that thing gets scalding hot to the touch.

I would imagine people in Alaska have a variation on this same problem - anything they keep in the garage would freeze and be ruined. However, I also imagine basements are more common up there.


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RE: no basement, hot garage

Not really. Here in Anchorage, our garages are all heated and there aren't many basements. More of the half basements which are finished living space. We have terrible soil, so slabs and crawl spaces are the norm on newer houses.

I'm always amazed how many people use their nice heated garages for the mountains of junk, while getting in cold cars which they let sit and idle for 30 min. We have some pretty bad air pollution in the winter and cars warming in the drive make it worse.

Gloria


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RE: no basement, hot garage

Hi,
I think a venting system in your garage is in order. That should help a great deal. Also, I'd visit the local hardware store and ask them about any ideas.


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RE: no basement, hot garage

Can you install a small cabinet in your laundry room to keep these things? Anything in a tightly closed container should not have fumes or catch fire.

Vents and attic fans will only drop the temperature to what it is outside the garage, which will not make storage any safer (and your electric bill will increase with the attic fan--you'll have to run it all day).

How do your neighbors handle the problem?

Julie


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RE: no basement, hot garage

"How do your neighbors handle the problem?"

They park their cars in the driveway, eliminating a major heat source. Most of them have attic fans or the turbine-spinning things on their roof too, but not specifically for keeping the garage cool although it seems to help.

I'm one of these wierd types that keeps his cars in the garage, and I'm also about the only person in the neighborhood who has not had their car broken into. Go figure.

I've found a garage fan I want to get but I'm not sure its up to code to have vents in the garage - could be a source of oxygen for a garage fire, and although I don't know what the building code is I'm concerned it wouldn't pass muster.


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RE: no basement, hot garage

130 degrees?? I know ours doesn't get that hot here in Houston. Any chance of getting a shade tree to help out the garage temp?

We do keep chemicals in the garage even though I'm sure it gets over 100degrees at times. It's just a shelf or two, so we don't worry about it. We just make sure it's not near the (gas) hot water heater. Never had a problem.

(Not sure what keeping a car in the garage has to do with the flammable chemical issue - are you saying there's not really space? The car itself shouldn't be an issue otherwise. How about a storage shed?)


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RE: no basement, hot garage

Do you have a crawl space under your house? Maybe you could the stuff under there in a rubber bin.


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RE: no basement, hot garage

You might want to put in a small shed for things like this. I love our shed. I keep all my garden chemicals on a shelf,so they're off the floor and easy to reach.


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RE: no basement, hot garage

They park their cars in the driveway, eliminating a major heat source.

how is a parked car creating heat in a garage? You should NEVER turn a car on inside an enclosed space; somebody will die of carbon monoxide poisoning.

I guess if the car is hot when it goes into the garage, it's adding heat while it's cooling down--but that would equalize eventually. If you thought the cool-down period was a source of heat, you could park outside the garage for a little while, then drive it in later.

Also--my DD learned in 4th grade that a fire needs 3 things:
-fuel
-oxygen
-ignition

You need a spark--or in the case of oxidizing oil (the "oily rags start a fire" issue), a chemical reaction, to start a fire.

Flammable fumes in and of themselves can't start a fire. Something has to ignite them.

I'm not sure that the heat of the garage itself is enough to create ignition--130 degrees isn't THAT hot. I guess I'd say, look at what you want to store, and call the manufacturer and ask if you can store it at 130 degrees. If you can't, don't store it. Either use it all up, or toss the leftovers when you're done.

Oily rags don't burst into flame because they get hot from the surrounding temperatures; they burst into flame because the oil is exposed to air and evaporating--and that chemical reaction raises the temperature and the fuel (the rags) burns. A tightly closed container won't release any fumes to react w/ a spark or to have a chemical reaction--it's only the actual heat of the surrounding room that you have to worry about.

Of course, heat can mess up the effectiveness of a household chemical, so there is that to consider.

And you should definitely call the local building inspector's office--I don't think you need to worry about venting the garage. In fact, I think it would be preferred to vent the garage, to eliminate possible carbon monoxide buildup if someone *did* turn the car on inside it. And to provide ventilation for working WITH those household chemicals.


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RE: no basement, hot garage

"how is a parked car creating heat in a garage? You should NEVER turn a car on inside an enclosed space; somebody will die of carbon monoxide poisoning.

I guess if the car is hot when it goes into the garage, it's adding heat while it's cooling down--but that would equalize eventually. If you thought the cool-down period was a source of heat, you could park outside the garage for a little while, then drive it in later."

The cooling down period is what I'm refering too. Plus, even just parking a car out side, the interior of the car acts like a greenhouse and gets up to about 140 in direct sun. That heat will slowly equalize too, but it seems to take about 12 hours. We can come home from work at 6pm and park the cars in the garage, and its still unbearably hot in the garage at midnight. It will even still be warmer than the outdoor temperature at 7am the next morning, but not hugely so.

Shade trees and garden sheds seem to be the most workable solution so far. Right now I have neither.


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RE: no basement, hot garage

is your garage hot BEFORE you put the car in it?

Does leaving the door open make any difference to the heat build-up?

Ventilation sounds like the smartest idea if only because it will make your garage (and therefore the car when you get into it) bearable.

I'd think a garden shed would get similarly hot, even without a car. A garden shed under a shade tree sounds smartest.


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RE: no basement, hot garage

"is your garage hot BEFORE you put the car in it?"

Its about 10 or 15 degrees warmer than the outdoor air temperature, then with hot cars in them it gets about 25 or 30 warmer than the air temperature.
"Does leaving the door open make any difference to the heat build-up?"

It makes a world of difference, but the local police have advised everyone to keep their garage doors shut. There have even been cases where a homeowner was mowing their lawn on the other side of the house from the open garage and people had their garages robbed. I set my garage door to stay open one inch which makes a one-inch gap at the bottom and another at the top but and while its an improvement over it being fully shut its still hot enough to ruin much of what I try to store in the garage.

"Ventilation sounds like the smartest idea if only because it will make your garage (and therefore the car when you get into it) bearable."

I agree but I'm having a tough time figuring out how to ventilate it and still comply with fire codes.

"I'd think a garden shed would get similarly hot, even without a car. A garden shed under a shade tree sounds smartest."

Both my shade trees in the backyard died of a combination disease and the texas drought. (watering ban!) I will plant new trees this fall but I can't afford fully-grown ones. (and that's another reason the garage is hot, one of them used to help with the morning sun and the other helped with the afternoon sun).

I'm not trying to be problematic, but this has been a pretty tough nut to crack. I think maybe on top of everything else, another cause of my problem is minimal insulation in the garage walls and attic.

Maybe my real problem is just the weather and the crime here. I need to move.


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RE: no basement, hot garage

I agree but I'm having a tough time figuring out how to ventilate it and still comply with fire codes.

I'm guessing the answer is yes, but--have you actually asked the city's building inspector about whether you can ventilate the garage? I honestly don't think fire codes are a problems. HOUSES, where people SLEEP, have attic ventilation to prevent moisture & heat build-up.


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RE: no basement, hot garage

Well, code here requires 5/8 inch sheetrock (normal sheetrock is 1/2" or even less) on the ceiling of the garage to keep a garage fire from freely communicating with the attic. Cutting a hole in my ceiling for the fan means there would be a rapid spread of the fire into the attic. I haven't specifically asked a building inspector about it but my guess is that the fan is going to need some sort of baffle on it that would automatically close in the event of a fire. Even then, I don't know if they would consider that to be "good enough".

Plus, if that fan is running when a fire starts, it might feed oxygen to it which would be a double whammy.

Attic fans in houses don't have the same restriction because fires are more common in garages.

Its the same logic as why the door between the garage and the house has to be fire rated, but the door to your bedroom or bathroom or whatnot doesn't.


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RE: no basement, hot garage

this garage is attached to your house? There's a room directly over the garage? For some reason, I'd thought it was free-standing.

Ask a building inspector, don't just guess. That's what they're there for.

And if you do have a room over the garage, you can't cut a hole iin the ceiling anyway, bcs you don't want to vent to that ROOM, you want to vent w/the outside.

I suppose if there's space above your garage but it's attached, maybe the fire-resistant layer is required. But I'd ask.

Maybe you can vent out the back wall or something. Ask someone who knows the code in your town.


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RE: also..

you might also be surprised what a simple vent high on the wall of the garage could do. The hot air will rise, and the movement will pull air into the grage under teh door, and that air will be cooler. So you might be able to keep the garage more like the outside air.


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RE: no basement, hot garage

Yes, its an attached garage. Above it is the attic which is mutual for the garage and the house.

A lot of attached garages are open to the rafters, but in those cases the garage "attic space" is supposed to be closed off from the house attic. In fact that is frequently a requirement in new construction, but my house was built in 1978, so I've got just one big attic for the garage and the house combined.

The vent idea will probably be the first thing I try. I think that even if I wind up putting in a fan, it will need a vent anyway to let air in. And if the vent is up high like you suggest it might have a convective effect when the fan is turned off, which is good because I'm not looking forward to having to run a fan all the time.

I appreciate the input, it helps me consider all the angles.


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RE: no basement, hot garage

I'm in NE Texas and my garage is attached right out the kitchen door. I keep a box fan going to keep the air circulating.


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RE: no basement, hot garage

I'm a big fan of the attic fan. (Pun intended.)
Doesn't seem to take that much electricity, and the house feels much better now that the attic is cooler.
If your house doesn't have one, then you might consider that. It probably won't cure your garage totally, but every little bit helps. Also, you could probably install something similar that services the garage bay itself--I'm thinking about the open column of a sky-light, but instead of a skylight, the fan at the top. This would maintain the isolation of the garage from the attic. I think another option should be to install a partition wall in the attic, seperating the garage attic from the house attic. Then you could open up the garage ceiling to your heart's content, and add vents.

BTW, it amazes me when houses (especially modern ones) are designed with inadequate ventilation.


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RE: no basement, hot garage

When we remodeled our kitchen in 1987, I kept a jar of the wood stain. I stored it in my garage (in New York state). Hot in summer, below freezing in winter. This summer we added a couple new kitchen cabinets cabinets. The jar of stain was completely dried out. I had to buy new. No big deal. I think it was like $3.79. When the job was finished, I pitched the leftover.


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RE: no basement, hot garage

Gloria, I'm intrigued by your heated garages! Do you keep it as warm as the house, or just above freezing, or what? I live in Texas now where there is absolutely no need to heat a garage. :)


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RE: no basement, hot garage

Susan, they are totally heated or the footings would have to go more than 8 feet deep to keep them from heaving during the winter. Considering that we have attached garages in most homes, we don't want them hopping up and down. I'm sure there some old (like 1945 age) unattached structures which don't have heat. Most garages have what's called a Hot Dawg type of heater. Natural gas fed. We have our furnace and hot water system out there, so our garage is usally over 80 degrees and our heater only comes on when we have the doors open for any amount of time. When we had a third car garage added on to one house, we were able to keep that one set at 55-60 during the winter. Since we were rarely in there, the furnace didn't really come on all that much.

I'm trying to think if the garages were heated when I lived in the Mid-West. I really can't remember because my parents never parked in them. Too full of junk.

Gloria


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RE: no basement, hot garage

I live in the midwest and have never heard of a heated garage... the monthly cost would be prohibitive.


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RE: no basement, hot garage

I've lived most of my life in Ohio and Colorado, until moving to Texas. My father had a heater of some sort in the garage that he used if he was working on something there, but not on all the time.

"we don't want them hopping up and down."

Yeah, I hate when that happens. :) What an image!


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