During the holidays, a lot of time is spent in the garage, especially if it’s been converted, like in a lot of American family homes, into a game space with a ping pong table, a couch hangout for video game use, or even the more traditional idea of a garage, where dads work on their trucks and bikes and kids build models at the work table. If people are over and no one can go outside — it’s the garage to the rescue, for both kids and adults!
Pretty soon you’ll be able to open up that garage door and welcome in the springtime warmth. Until then, you’ll want to tinker around even when you’re hunkered down for the long winter months ahead. Don’t get stir-crazy; learn garage heating and insulation tips to keep the garage available to family, friends, and guests year-round. You’ll save money and energy too!
Garage Heating Tips
While insulation and weatherstripping can go a long way, adding some form of garage heating will be necessary if you want to spend any significant amount of time in the garage this winter. If you use your garage sparingly, you can probably do without a heater.
But, if you need your garage for extended periods of time or store temperature-sensitive items, such as artwork, wood, wine, and musical instruments, speak with an HVAC expert about your heating options.
Common garage heating solutions include:
- Ductless Mini-Split Heat Pumps
- Gas-Fired Forced Air Heater
- Electric Radiant Heat
- Portable Electric Space Heaters (only if you rarely spend time in the garage)
Always speak with a professional before deciding on a heating solution for your garage. There are many WRONG ways to heat your garage.
Common garage heating mistakes include:
Extending ductwork into garage – This is not a good idea because smells, fumes (e.g. carbon monoxide), and hot/cold air will flow through the ducts and into your home.
Propane and kerosene heaters – While inexpensive, portable propane and kerosene heaters are a bad choice because they require ventilation to operate safely. A lot of stinking exhaust and water vapor is also produced. If you want to avoid a constant cold draft, excess, humidity, and bothersome smells, avoid them.
Wood stove – Wood stoves can be dangerous and require proper ventilation. If you do use a wood stove this winter, make sure you schedule professional maintenance before using.
Portable electric space heaters – Electric space heaters can be good as a temporary solution, but they are not very effective and can overload your electrical circuits. It is also a very expensive heating method compared with other heating types. If you use a portable space heater, make sure you follow proper space heater safety, such as maintaining a minimum 3-foot clearance from anything that could burn.
Garage Insulation Tips — Garage Door, Ceiling & Floors
One of the best ways to increase the heat in your garage is to retain it in the first place. A lot of air can escape around windows, garage doors, and where utilities enter.
Here are some tips to start warming your garage through insulation:
Garage Door Caulking and Weatherstripping
Replacing the weatherstripping around your garage door is an inexpensive and effective solution. In fact, you can usually pick up a DIY kit at your local home store. You can either go with a Styrofoam or Reflective insulation kit.
We also recommend installing a weather seal where the garage door meets the ground to keep out cold air, rain, snow, dirt, and insects from below. Click here to learn how to seal the area where the garage door hits the ground.
Learn more tips for installing weatherstripping around doors and windows.
In terms of insulating your ceiling and walls, go with 4-inch thick insulation in the walls and 6-inch thick in the ceiling. This will offer a lot of added comfort. Cut foam board to size and place them in between the frames of your garage door for a huge insulation improvement.
Learn how to insulate your garage door here.
For your flooring, a simple solution is getting some commercial carpet cut to fit your space. You may want to just keep it down for the winter months and return to your concrete floors in the warmer months.
Seal Your Outlets
You may be surprised to know how much air leaks through electrical outlets. Luckily, there is a simple solution. Purchase inexpensive outlet foam gaskets at your local home improvement store and install them behind your outlet plates. Do the same for the rest of the home.
Insulate Water Heater
In addition to wrapping an insulation blanket around your water heater, learn more ways for reducing your water heating bills.
Insulate Water Pipes
Eliminate the risk of frozen pipes, reduce condensation, and save money on water heating costs by purchasing and installing foam pipe insulation. Do the same for any other exposed pipes around your home.
Additional Garage Winterization and Safety Tips:
- Drain, clean, and prep all of your gas-powered tools before storing them for winter.
- Organize your space and remove or safely store any hazardous materials.
- Keep all dangerous objects out of reach of children.
To prevent fires and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning:
- Never leave your vehicle or any other gas-powered machinery running in your garage.
- If you have a backup generator, make sure it is at least 15 feet away from your garage and any other doors or windows.
- Although it may be tempting, never barbecue or cook in the garage.
- Remember, all fuel-burning processes produce carbon monoxide. Teach your family about the dangers of CO poisoning.
- Install a UL-listed smoke and CO detectors in your garage and test them every 30 days. Follow manufacturer instructions. For the best protection, get interconnected detectors so when one sounds, they all sound.
- Never store hot embers from your fireplace in the garage. Instead, transfer them to a metal ash container and place it outside of the home, at least 15 feet away from anything that could burn.
- Keep anything that could burn at least 3 feet away from your heating and cooking equipment.
- Learn more CO and fire safety tips for winter.
Don’t forget to schedule annual professional heating maintenance before the temperatures dip.
If you have any questions, Ask a Champion.
For all of your home service needs this winter and all year round, count on Service Champions, proudly serving the Northern California for over 40 years.