You may have a portable generator in your garage for emergencies if the electric goes out. The drawback is that they can emit toxic carbon monoxide fumes and possibly start a fire. This makes them unsafe to operate in an enclosed space.
So, the question is, How to safely run a generator in a garage? There are ways you can do this without endangering your health and possibly causing a fire or explosion. The best way is to make sure that your garage is well ventilated and use carbon monoxide detectors.
What are the Dangers of Running a Generator in a Garage?
There are several deadly reasons for not running a generator in a garage.
1. Carbon monoxide poisoning
A budget generator of $300 can produce the amount of carbon monoxide of a hundred cars. As long as the generator is running, it will produce these toxic fumes. Just imagine how much carbon monoxide is emitted over eight hours.
Even in the garage, it is easy for the fumes to seep into your home. No matter how well-sealed the wall between the garage and your home is, the fumes will find their way inside over time. You will never know if it does because it is colorless and odorless. If a person is exposed to 50% carbon monoxide in their body for some time, they can die.
Generators are one of the noisiest electricity producers so having it in your garage can make it unpleasant to sleep or live there. Even if you have insulated walls and doors, they will not eliminate the buzzing noise a generator makes.
They produce a lot of heat and to cool it down, they rely on air. Your garage is an enclosed space so this can cause issues. This could cause it to overheat and increases the risk of a fire starting in the garage. The excess heat could also damage your generator.
4. Inflammable, toxic fumes
In addition to worrying about carbon monoxide poisoning, you also need to worry about the fumes from the gasoline that powers the generators. Although you can smell these fumes, it does not make them any less dangerous.
This is because of their flammable properties. The gasoline fumes can also get into the house and if they are ignited, it can cause a fire or the house to explode.
How To Safely Run A Generator In A Garage?
Although it is never safe, there are ways how you can safely run a generator in a garage.
1. Maximize your garage ventilation
You do not want to risk fumes finding their way into your home, so you need to maximize the ventilation in your garage. For maximum airflow, open the doors and windows.
Put it near the garage door as it is the spot that is most ventilated. Using a high-velocity fan to blow the gas outside can help.
2. Make a generator exhaust extension
If there is no choice but to put the generator into the garage, you need to make sure that the fumes from the carbon monoxide are exhausted outside. This is done to reduce the amount of fumes that are trapped in the garage. Even if you have a ventilated garage, the walls and roof can allow some of the fumes to be trapped there.
Extending the exhaust can help reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure that the exhaust hose of the generator is connected to a long flexible exhaust tube that goes outside of the garage.You can also use a PVC pipe.
Be sure that the exhaust tube is sealed correctly so there are no leaks. The tube should also extend at least 15 feet from your house.
3. Use the right extension cords
If they are not used properly, they could cause someone to trip over them, they could short circuit, or overheat. Check the owner’s manual for the generator to make sure you are getting the right one. If they must be on the floor, tape them down.
Try not to join two of them together. The extension cord you use should be heavy-duty grade and in good condition.
4. Install CO detectors
Install in every room in the house, including the garage. These are similar to smoke detectors, but they sense carbon monoxide instead of smoke. When it is in high concentration, it will sound a loud alarm.
You should install them even if you have good ventilation in the garage.
5. Do not store gasoline in the garage
Gasoline is highly flammable so it should never be stored in a closed space. The gasoline fumes can quickly accumulate.
Remember, the generator runs hot so there is an even higher risk of the fumes igniting and the fuel exploding. Store the gasoline in a well-ventilated spot away from the house.
6. Never refill the generator when it is running
Gasoline can ignite and start a fire even from a tiny spark. Refilling while the generator is running could cause that spark because the engine is hot.
If there is a spark, there is a risk of a massive explosion. Before you fill your generator, turn it off and give it time to cool down first.
7. Make your garage a no-go zone when it is running
When your generator is running, you should try to avoid being around it for any length of time. With carbon monoxide being odorless and colorless, it would be very easy for you to get carbon monoxide poisoning.
Never let children in the garage when the generator is running. In addition to possible poisoning, since it runs hot, they could get burned. You should also make sure no pets are in the garage when it is running either.
If you want to have an extra power source for emergencies, there are safer alternatives than using a gas powered or electric generator.
If you decide to look for a safer alternative, check out using a solar-powered generator. Using this type of generator will help reduce you and your family’s risk of having carbon monoxide poisoning. They are more expensive but a lot safer.
You can also make a special enclosure away from the house for the generator. You just need to make sure that it is protected from the weather.
Although it is not recommended to run a generator in a garage, there are ways how to safely run a generator in your garage. This article will tell you how you can do this to ensure the health of your family and help prevent fires and explosions.