A custom garage is usually defined by the interior, but the mechanical parts are just as important and this includes garage exhaust fans. Although many people have seen the acronym “HVAC” not too many realize what it stands for. “HVAC” is short for “Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning”. Almost everyone understands the necessity for heating and cooling. But most people give no thought to the “V” in “HVAC”: the ventilation. Houses need to breathe, and so do garages. Garage exhaust fans can work wonders to control a garage’s temperature and remove harmful fumes from the space and make it a great place to work.
Air exchange in a home is important. Fresh air needs to come in and stale air sent out. Building codes require, for example, venting in a new home’s attic spaces for that reason. But usually garage ventilation gets overlooked. Although no one runs his or her vehicle with the garage door closed, the simple act of pulling in and out of the open garage does allow exhaust fumes to linger. Another rare toxin is radon gas (an inert, colorless and odorless, naturally occurring carcinogen). Radon seeps into homes from the soil – a test kit can determine if a particular space has radon in it, and proper ventilation can disperse the noxious gas handily enough. The simplest, and least costly, way to curtail breathing excess carbon monoxide and other chemical fumes (from stored paints, lawn fertilizers, etc.) is to install one or more garage fans.
These fans can assume any form from passive, to electrical, to solar garage exhaust fans. The passive version is similar to what one sees atop the typical home. It relies on the thermal property of hot air rising – as the warmer air passes over the fan’s vanes, the small turbine turns creating an updraft that pulls cooler air in the space. Electrical fans can be mounted through the garage’s wall, similar to the typical venting fan used in many bathrooms or in older homes above the cook stove. Shutter garage fans that mount in the wall or into an existing window can also be found. There are also solar garage exhaust fans; the solar cell power unit with its small turbine sits atop a flexible venting tube. These can be mounted through the garage roofing or side-mounted on the garage wall.
Garage exhaust fans installation does require some carpentry skill. If merely replacing an existing fan with a new unit this is not a difficult job. However, if planning to install a fan where none existed before it is wise to consult with a professional installer or carpenter. Electrical work often requires permits depending upon the municipality in which the home is located. A new install means cutting holes in either the garage’s wall or its ceiling. If not entirely comfortable doing the job, the homeowner should consider paying someone more qualified to do the work. This can be a licensed electrician or a certified HVAC technician. Check local regulations.
These units are rated based upon the cubic feet of air that can be moved by the fan each minute (cubic feet per minute, or cfm). The first step is to know how big the garage space is before shopping. This is simple mathematics: length times width times height. Thus a garage of 20’x15’x10’ would equal 3000 cubic feet of space. That number is what needs to be reported to the retailer selling the unit. That way, the appropriate volume of air exchange can be gained.
Garage fans are not terribly expensive; some models can be purchased for less than $100. Better, more durable units will cost upward of $300, however. Other considerations at the time of purchase might be filters or automatic thermostatic shut off switches. These work like any regular thermostat – when the interior temperature rises above or drops below a preset temperature the fan either turns on or off automatically as needed. These save energy and also extend the life of the fan as it runs only when necessary, saving undue wear and tear. Fan units can be bought that are extremely energy efficient or are virtually silent when operating.
As with any home improvement project a budget needs to be in mind before purchasing any garage exhaust fans. It is not necessary to buy the absolutely most heavy-duty and costly unit, however; knowing the volume of the garage in cubic feet in advance will ensure the homeowner buys only what is necessary for effective and healthful air exchange. Of course, attached garages will be more limited to the type of garage ventilation fan installed versus a freestanding structure, which is capable of receiving almost any variety. Infrastructure may not grab the spotlight, but the right shelving, lighting, and ventilation is just as important as custom flooring and other more flashy upgrades.