How to Identify Where Heat Loss is Happening In Your Garage
Garages are a bit of a jack of all trades – they are often used as an area to keep cars, tools, and storage. They can also be converted into recreational rooms and stylized in a plethora of unique ways. What it isn’t often thought of as a weakness in your HVAC system.
There are numerous problems that garages can encounter that may be making you spend more money then what you need to. By identifying a few key areas and taking the time to fix any problems, you can potentially save hundreds every year.
Heating and Insulation Facts
To get the full idea of how important it’s to insulate your garage against the elements, let’s take a step back and look at your home as a whole. According to the US Department of Energy, the average family is expected to spend at least $2200 in energy bills every year.
Half of this cost is directly related to heating and cooling. Heating bills, in general, can be a considerable nuisance as heat is less dense than the cooler air outside, and can escape to the outside in a poorly insulated house. This will force the HVAC system to work harder in keeping your home warm, thus raising the energy cost considerably.
Some of the leading culprits are typically the weak points in your home – such as windows, doors, or poor insulation in the attic. An older, less energy efficient HVAC system can also be an issue. Garages can also be a large part of heat loss and are often overlooked by most homeowners.
Keep in mind that while it should be checked over for problems, no insulation is perfect – all insulation does is slow the transfer of heat. When it comes to rolls and chunks of insulation typically found in walls and attics, these are usually rated on an R-value scale. The higher the R rating, the better it slows down the heat loss.
Also, remember that most garages are not usually connected to an air conditioning system, so they’re often going to be closer to outdoor temperature regardless. When it comes to fixing the insulation in your garage, it can be as inexpensive as a simple weatherstrip or a larger project like a complete garage door replacement. There are other things that you can identify in your garage related to heat loss
How Is the Insulation Holding Up?
Poor insulation in the walls is one of the leading causes of heat loss in a garage. There are obvious identifiers like holes, cracks, and gashes that expose directly to the outside. While these, of course, should be fixed as soon as possible, heat loss is usually much more subtle than this. If, for example, one of the walls is cooler to the touch than the other side, then this means that this side isn’t retaining heat as well.
This can mean that the insulation is getting either old or not put in, to begin with. If you have no drywall you can spend the time fixing up any cracks with either caulking or expandable foam. Foam can be used for larger gaps in the construction, while caulking is good at sealing up smaller crevices.
If you decide to play thick rolls of insulation material and drywall, make sure you have the paper side facing the exterior, as this helps it work more efficiently. It’s recommended to use at least an R13 material – but higher end stuff will work even better.
Another weak spot in the garage is up above – in garages, without ceilings, it’s only the small insulation coming from the roof that keeps the heat in. Even if you have a proper ceiling it’s best to try to get a look in the attic area to see how well it holds up.
Replacing that Garage Door and Windows
Just like the rest of your home, the weakest spots and the areas plenty of heat loss is expected is around the windows and doors itself. Some garage doors, especially older ones, don’t insulate well against heat loss. Newer garage doors, on the other hand, have kept this in mind and provide additional layers of protection against the elements.
For instance, some of the newer models put an insulated core between two thick sheets of steel. This insulation core can vary too – as thin as a sheet of paper or up to 2″ thick and made of polyurethane. Other materials, such as topcoats or primers can be added to the exterior of the garage door to give it protection year round, letting it retain its insulation even under the more unforgiving weather conditions.
There are specialized products such as Thermacore that focus on this type of ultra-insulated construction. Just like normal wall insulation, insulated garage doors are rated on an R-value scale. If you have any windows in your garage, you may want to keep these areas in mind too as they can lose a lot of heat.
Crank windows, for instance, are absolutely horrendous at holding in warm air, but even a more modern single pane window isn’t necessarily the best either. If you are looking to replace your windows try to get something that is approved energy efficient by the US Department of Energy.
Double pane windows work similar to the insulated garage doors – they have two pieces of thick glass surrounding a piece of insulation gas sandwiched between them. For more extreme winter environments there are also triple pane windows available.
Fix that Old Weatherstripping
It won’t matter how thick your walls, garage door, and windows are, bad weatherstripping can undermine all of that. This material seals the perimeter of garage doors and windows, and can often break down over time. Things like garden chemicals, gasoline, and rock salt can prematurely erode it further.
You should check your weatherstripping at least once a year, especially before the winter. If the seal is broken or frazzled in any way you should seriously consider replacing it. When it comes to garage door weatherstripping make sure to get all the proper measurements before purchase, as garage doors come in many different sizes.
Think about also investing into a tube of caulking and a rubber threshold. While the rubber seal along the metal track can also break down, so make sure to check that too. When replacing the garage door weatherstripping you first need to remove the original, so go ahead and lift it up to the six-foot mark.
This allows you to tear off the old seal without having to bend over or stretch upwards too much. Use a flat head screwdriver or a scraper to rip off the old seal, and then clean the bottom of the door. From here, cut the new seal to the appropriate length and cut it with a razor knife.
When applying the threshold, have the hump placed directly underneath the garage door, and then gently put the door down. Using a pencil or a chalk line, mark the areas where it’s supposed to go. Open the door back up and glue the threshold back into place.
A badly insulated garage can increase power bills dramatically as their heat loss can make your HVAC system work much harder than it needs too. When inspecting your garage, be mindful of weak points in its construction – windows and doors are the obvious culprits.
Other than this, try to use your sense of touch to identify any cooler than expected walls to see if you have any insulation problems indicative to the walls themselves. Make sure to also check any faulty weatherstripping as this can be a simple and cheap fix that will save you bunch of money in the long run.
Energy Efficient Garages Made To Last
Garage heat loss can be wasteful on your utility bills and energy efficiency. Danley’s Garage World has built over 100,000 Chicagoland garages since 1959 so it’s easy to find what you’re looking for and get the best value in energy efficiency. We can build custom garage styles and sizes that fit your needs. Speak to a product specialist and get a free quote today!