If you’re looking for backup power during a blackout, a generator can be a great solution. However, it’s essential to know how to safely run a generator in a garage to avoid potential carbon monoxide poisoning and other hazards.
The reason a large number of homeowners are purchasing a portable inverter generator instead of a whole-house generator is that they are cheap and more convenient.
But, many of us don’t know that it is prohibited to run a gasoline-fueled machine in a confined space.
Apart from carbon monoxide, a colorless and odorless gas can be deadly if inhaled in high concentrations. There are risks of electric shock, overheating, and noise pollution is included as well.
In this article, we’ll explore how to safely run a generator in a garage and prevent exposure to this toxic gas.
As an expert in the generator niche, I understand the importance of using a generator safely.
By following specific guidelines, you can use your generator in your garage without putting your health and safety at risk.
These guidelines include using a carbon monoxide detector, providing proper ventilation, and keeping the generator away from flammable materials. With these precautions in place, you can confidently use your generator as a reliable backup power source during a blackout.
Dangers of Running a Generator in a Garage
Using a generator in a garage can be dangerous for several reasons. Here are some of the potential hazards of running a generator in a garage:
- Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
- Fire Hazard Caused by Overheating
- Electric Shock
- Noise Pollution
1. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:
The primary danger of using a generator in a garage is the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Generators produce carbon monoxide, a colorless and odorless gas that can be deadly if inhaled in high concentrations.
When you run a generator in an enclosed space like a garage, the gas can quickly build up and pose a serious health risk.
In 2017, Hurricane Irma hit Florida, causing widespread power outages. Many people turned to generators to provide backup power. Unfortunately, some people were not aware of the dangers of running a generator in an enclosed space.
In one incident, a family in Daytona Beach was using a generator in their garage to power their home during the outage.
The garage door was partially open, but the generator was too close to the house. Carbon monoxide from the generator seeped into the home, causing several family members to feel sick.
When paramedics arrived, they found the family members suffering from symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, including headaches and nausea.
The family was rushed to the hospital, and fortunately, they survived the ordeal.
This incident highlights the importance of using a generator safely and following all safety guidelines to avoid exposure to carbon monoxide.
It’s critical to use a carbon monoxide detector and provide proper ventilation when using a generator in a garage or any enclosed space.
2. Fire Hazard Caused by Overheating:
Generator overheating can also cause a fire hazard if they’re not used properly and it is one of the biggest causes.
When a generator runs, it generates a lot of heat, which can ignite nearby flammable materials like paper, fabric, or gasoline.
If you store flammable materials in your garage, they should be kept well away from the generator.
In 2020, a family in California was using a generator in their garage during a power outage caused by a wildfire.
The generator was too close to flammable materials, and it caused a fire that quickly spread throughout the garage and into the home.
The family managed to escape the home, but the house was destroyed. This incident shows the importance of keeping generators well away from flammable materials to avoid a fire hazard.
3. Electric Shock:
Generators produce electricity, and if they’re not used correctly, they can pose an electric shock hazard.
It’s essential to follow all safety precautions and instructions like properly grounding the generator and not messing with cords if you don’t know anything about power and machines when using a generator to avoid this risk.
In 2019, a man in New Jersey was using a generator in his garage during a power outage caused by a storm.
The man was standing in a puddle of water while operating the generator, and he suffered an electric shock that caused him to collapse.
Emergency responders rushed the man to the hospital, but he ultimately passed away from his injuries.
This tragic incident highlights the importance of following all safety precautions when using a generator, including avoiding wet conditions and using a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to prevent electric shock.
4. Noise Pollution:
I absolutely hate the noise that is why I have built a soundproof box for my generator. Using a generator in a garage can also create noise pollution, which can be a nuisance to neighbors and may violate local noise ordinances.
Generators can produce a loud and continuous humming sound that can be heard from a distance.
In some cases, the noise can be so loud that it can cause hearing damage if you’re exposed to it for an extended period.
It’s important to consider the noise level of your generator and use it only during reasonable hours to minimize the disturbance to your neighbors.
How to Safely Run a Generator In a Garage Using 6 Methods?
If you must use a generator in a garage, there are several safety precautions you can take to minimize the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, fire hazards, and other potential hazards. Here are some steps to safely run a generator in a garage:
1. Keep the Garage Door Open:
Generators should never be used in enclosed spaces because they produce carbon monoxide, which can be lethal in high concentrations.
If you must use a generator in a garage, keep the garage door open to allow fresh air to circulate and prevent carbon monoxide buildup.
2. Use a Carbon Monoxide Detector (CO sensor):
To ensure that you’re aware of any dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, use a carbon monoxide detector which is also called a CO sensor in the garage.
Place it close to the generator and make sure it’s working correctly. This gas is extremely dangerous. It can prove to be fatal without even the slightest hint.
In 2018, a family in Florida was using a generator in their garage after Hurricane Michael knocked out power to their home.
The garage door was closed to keep out the rain, and the generator was positioned near the door to allow the power cord to reach the home.
The family didn’t realize that the generator was producing dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, and they didn’t have a carbon monoxide detector in the garage.
Unfortunately, this led to tragedy: the next morning, the family was found unconscious in their home. Two of the family members passed away from carbon monoxide poisoning, and the others were hospitalized.
This incident highlights the importance of using a carbon monoxide detector when running a generator in a garage or any enclosed space.
A carbon monoxide detector would have alerted the family to the dangerous levels of carbon monoxide and allowed them to evacuate the area before it was too late.
Remember, carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can be lethal in high concentrations, so it’s crucial to take steps to detect and prevent its buildup.
3. Position the Generator Correctly:
Make sure the generator is positioned in a well-ventilated area away from any doors or windows that lead to living spaces.
The generator should also be at least 20 feet away from your home to prevent the risk of fire hazards.
4. Exhaust Extension:
Generators emit exhaust fumes that contain carbon monoxide and other toxic gases.
To prevent these fumes from accumulating in your garage, you can use an exhaust extension to divert the fumes away from the garage. The exhaust extension is a flexible pipe that attaches to the generator’s exhaust outlet and extends outside the garage.
When using an exhaust extension, make sure that it’s made of heat-resistant material and is positioned correctly. Don’t use cheap plastic or aluminum. Attach the exhaust tube with muffler clamps. You can find them in auto shops.
The extension should be long enough to direct the fumes at least 10 feet away from any windows, doors, or vents leading into your home.
You should also avoid placing the exhaust extension near flammable materials, such as gasoline or propane tanks, to prevent the risk of fire.
Using an exhaust extension can help to improve the ventilation in your garage and reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
However, it’s important to note that an exhaust extension should never be used as a substitute for proper ventilation.
You should still keep your garage door open, use a carbon monoxide detector, and position your generator correctly to prevent carbon monoxide buildup.
5. Use the Correct Extension Cord:
If you’re using an extension cord, make sure it’s the correct type and rating for your generator. Using an inappropriate extension cord can cause overheating and increase the risk of fire.
6. Turn Off the Generator Before Refueling:
Always turn off the generator and allow it to cool before refueling. Spilled fuel can ignite and cause a fire hazard.
Can I Run a Generator In a Detached Garage?
It is safe to run a generator in a detached garage, as long as you take the necessary safety precautions.
A detached garage is a separate structure, which means there is less risk of carbon monoxide and other fumes entering your home.
However, it’s still important to keep in mind that generators emit carbon monoxide and other toxic gases, which can be harmful if not properly ventilated.
To safely run a generator in a detached garage, you should follow these safety guidelines:
- Keep the garage door opener to ensure adequate ventilation.
- Position the generator at least 20 feet away from any doors, windows, or vents leading into your home.
- Use a carbon monoxide detector to monitor the levels of carbon monoxide in the garage.
- Make sure the generator is properly grounded to prevent electrical shock.
- Use high-quality, heavy-duty extension cords that are rated for outdoor use and can handle the load of your generator.
What are Some Safe Places to Run a Generator?
When running a generator, it’s essential to choose a safe location to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning and other hazards. Here are some safe places to run a generator:
- Outdoors: The safest place to run a generator is outside, in a well-ventilated area that is at least 20 feet away from any doors, windows, or vents leading into your home. This location will allow for proper ventilation of the generator’s exhaust fumes.
- On a stable, dry surface: Make sure the generator is placed on a stable, dry surface to prevent tipping and reduce the risk of electrical shock.
- Under a canopy: If you need to run your generator in wet or rainy conditions, you can place it under a canopy or other shelter that provides adequate ventilation.
- In a shed or other enclosed structure: If you need to run your generator in an enclosed structure, make sure it’s a well-ventilated area, such as a shed with the doors and windows open.
It’s important to note that running a generator in an enclosed structure, even a well-ventilated one, increases the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and should be avoided if possible.
Generators can be a valuable source of backup power during an outage or emergency, but they also pose significant safety risks if not used properly.
Running a generator in a garage can be extremely dangerous due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and fire hazards.
Additionally, generators should not be used in enclosed spaces, such as basements, crawl spaces, or sheds, without proper ventilation.
To safely run a generator, it’s essential to choose a safe location that is at least 20 feet away from any doors, windows, or vents leading into your home.
The safest location is outdoors, in a well-ventilated area. It’s important to use a carbon monoxide detector when running a generator and follow all safety guidelines provided by the manufacture
Kashif has been a valuable asset to the electric generator industry for over 5 years. Now, As a skilled energy engineer, he’s been on the front lines of diagnosing problems, fixing broken parts, and performing routine maintenance tasks to keep generators running smoothly.