Attached Garage Fire Hazards

by Nick Gromicko and Kenton Shepard

So, why do many garages pose a fire hazard?

Above all, it is Important to know what attached garage fire hazards are.

  • In reality, where are you most likely to do any welding. Or, any work on your car? Moreover, these activities require working with all sorts of flammable materials.
  • Water heaters and boilers are usually stored in garages. They can create sparks that may ignite fumes or fluids. Car batteries can also spark under certain conditions.
  • Oil and gasoline can drip from cars. These fluids may collect unnoticed. Eventually igniting. If given the proper conditions.
  • Gasoline, motor oil and paint are flammable liquids. Most commonly stored in garages. Some other examples are brake fluid, varnish, paint thinner and lighter fluid. 

The following tips can help prevent garage fires and their spread:

  • Make sure your attic access in the garage has a hatch. Because, fires can spread easily into an attic with an opening.
  • Walls and ceiling should be fire rated. It will be difficult for untrained homeowners to tell if their walls are Type X fire rated gypsum. We can examine the walls and ceilings. Too, make sure they are adequate fire barriers.
  • The floor should be clear of clutter. Because, loose papers, matches, oily rags, and other potentially flammable items are extremely dangerous. Especially, if they are strewn about the garage floor.
  • Use light bulbs with the proper wattage. More importantly, do not overload electrical outlets.
  • Tape down all cords and wires so they are not twisted or accidentally yanked.

If there is a door that connects the garage to the living area, consider the following:

  • Do not install a pet door in the door! Flames can easily spread into the living area through a pet door. Especially, if it’s made of plastic.
  • Does the door have a window? A home inspector can inspect the window to tell if it’s fire-rated.
  • The door should be self closing. Especially, while carrying groceries into the house from the car. You never know when a fire will happen. It would be unfortunate to accidentally leave the door open while a fire is starting in the garage.
  • Check the joints and open spaces around the door. Make sure they are tightly sealed. Any openings at all can allow dangerous fumes into the living area. Such as, carbon monoxide or gasoline vapor. We can recommend ways to seal the door. So that, fumes cannot enter the living area.

Items placed on the floor, you should check for the following:

  • Clearly label and store your flammable liquids. In, self closing containers and only in small amounts. Keep them away from heaters and other sources of heat or flame. Such as, appliances and pilot lights.
  • Never store propane tanks indoors. If they catch fire, they can explode. Store propane tanks outdoors.

In summary, there are plenty of things that you can do to prevent garage fires from spreading to the rest of the house. More importantly, to keep them from starting in the first place. It is recommended that you have your garage examined by an inspector at Top Notch Inspection Services, Inc.

What Every Home Owner In Hampton Roads Should Know

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