For many people in the UP, their garage is their haven. Whether it serves as a place to protect your car from ice and snow, a woodworking shop, a place to tinker on your project car, or even as a place to hang out and enjoy a few beverages with friends – your garage needs to be safe.
When I meet with a client for a building inspection, I often find out that they’ve overlooked garage safety, and that’s a big mistake. When you’re buying a home, making sure your garage is in a safe condition is vital, especially if it’s attached to the house.
In this blog, I will address:
- Why garage safety is important
- What I look for in your garage during a building inspection
- And how to learn more about garage safety so you can avoid accidents
Why is Garage Safety Important?
If you’re buying a home in the UP, a building inspection with a certified home inspector will reveal whether your garage is safe or not and whether costly repairs will be needed before it can be brought up to standard.
So, why is garage safety important?
- A garage keeps your tools, yard equipment, and, most importantly, your car safe from hazardous weather. Think snowstorms, falling ice, windstorms, and hail.
- Your garage is the go-to storage solution. You probably have tons of stuff in your garage that you only need occasionally. If you’re like me, you don’t want junk cluttering up your living space. When kept organized, your garage can be a safe storage place for things like artificial Christmas trees, holiday decorations, Yooper-Scoopers, and snowblowers.
- A garage can be a social hub. I know folks who brew beer in their garages, deck them out with flat-screen TVs for the Packers game, and others use it for a studio/art space. If you’re hanging out in your garage, it needs to be as safe as your home.
- It adds value to a property. Most people looking in the UP real estate market won’t even consider a home without a garage – it’s a HUGE selling point, so making sure your garage is in great shape will ensure the buyers roll in once it’s time to sell.
What I Look for in Your Garage During a Building Inspection
When conducting a building inspection, I always ensure the garage is in good working order and safe.
Here’s what I look at in your garage during a building inspection:
• Attic access
• Combustion appliances
• Electrical system
• Exterior grading
• Fire doors
• Garage floor, foundation, and structure
• Garage door and openings
• Roof system, gutters, and downspouts
• HVAC systems
If you have any questions about what’s included in a home inspection or want to know if your garage is safe, give me a call at (906) 360-3879.
The 4 Biggest Garage Safety Hazards
Because garages are outdoors it’s easy to forget about them, but they can still pose big safety risks. Here are the top four biggest garage safety mistakes I find during building inspections in the UP:
- Subpar wiring. Did you know that the United States Fire Administration identified electrical malfunctions as the primary cause of garage fires in their 2009-2011 safety report? Garage fires are especially dangerous because they often burn longer than house fires before being detected. When performing a building inspection in older homes like those in Marquette County, I often find ungrounded or incorrectly grounded wires and the wrong size wires for a 16 amp garage panel (which is way underrated). Garage fires also spread quickly. Why? Because garages are typically filled with flammable materials and clutter. This brings me to my next point…
- Clutter. Get rid of anything in your garage that you don’t need. Not only will it clear up space to park your vehicle, but it will also cut down on fire and tripping hazards.
- Improper ventilation. If you and your pals like to hang out in the garage, you probably have a space heater in there. Many space heaters can fill a garage with deadly fumes without proper ventilation, so installing an air exchange for your heating system is crucial. The air flow from a leaky garage door is not enough.
- Garage door problems. The sensor for your garage door opener should be 6- 8 inches off the ground. If not, your child or pet could slip under the door and get hurt. Anything higher is outside the standard. I also suggest investing in a garage door that has an auto-reverse function. With this feature, if the garage door comes down and hits something, the pressure causes it to reverse automatically. I always like to say, “auto-reverse is for your truck, not your child”, it’ll save your vehicle from being damaged, your car from getting smashed, and the motor on your garage door from burning out.
Learn More About Garage Safety Today
As I mentioned above, the primary concern when it comes to garage safety is a fire hazard. I wrote an entire blog on this subject – so if you’d like to learn more, please read it here: Minimizing Fire Risk in Attached Garages. In the meantime, take a walk around your garage. If anything seems fishy, don’t hesitate to schedule a building inspection today.