Should I Insulate and/or Weatherstrip My Garage Doors?
by Arthur Clyne
When there are so many repairs, renovations and other chores to do around the house, many homeowners wonder about the value of insulating their garage. Is it really worth it to put the time and money into a part of your home that is mainly used to house your car and store seasonal equipment? Here, we weigh the pros and cons concerning garage insulation, to help you decide if this is a worthwhile investment for your home.
Reasons to Insulate a Garage
An attached garage shares either a common wall or the ceiling with the main part of the house. This means that both heat and cool air are both seeping through the wall or floor to the garage on the other side. With this setup you lose a great deal of energy resulting in higher heating and electricity bills. Especially given the size of most garages, much more energy is being lost into the garage than you realize. For many homeowners, the idea of lowering heating and cooling bills is persuasion enough to invest in some basic insulation.
Mold needs three things to grow; a food source, warmth, and moisture. The act of opening and closing the garage doors allows the temperatures from outside to infiltrate the garage. When the garage cools, the moisture in the air condenses causing mold to form. Mold can be a health hazard and cause damage to walls and equipment if left untreated. The key is to seal any air leaks coming from outside. Also consider placing a humidifier to eliminate any excess moisture.
If you have a detached garage you do not have to worry about the energy drain, but you do need to consider that the garage will have no source of heat and will be subject to extreme temperatures, depending on where you live. If you store things of value, you may wish to avoid this, or at least minimize the impact with some insulation.
Thwart Unwanted Critters
Garages make for common habitats for small animals that seek shelter. They can easily find their way around basic garage doors and cracks in any walls or foundations. With the garage being attached to the rest of the house, an infestation in the garage can easily spread to the rest of the home. Simple insulation, such as weather - stripping can help keep them at bay.
People also use garages as their main home repair workshop. Insulation can help reduce noise outside the garage... which can be much more enjoyable for those outside your home!
Reasons Not to Insulate a Garage
Insulating does take money and time. Homeowners must balance how much money they would save in heating and cooling bills versus how much it takes to insulate the area. Quality insulation will add up quickly, and many people do not like to have exposed insulation, which means more work must be done to cover it up.
Some homeowners may prefer interim solutions such as moisture resistant paint rather than a complete overhaul of the garage. It is up to you to balance how much you want to invest in the garage and home against market value, resources, and plans when making your decision.
Find the Right Time to Insulate
If you do decide to insulate your garage, many recommend doing so when you are replacing the garage door. With a metal door, installing some insulation panels can make a world of difference. If it is possible, a wood door is a natural insulator. Weatherstripping can also do wonders for keeping out water, moisture, and critters. Insulating a garage can help with heating and cooling bills as well as the overall health of the house. Whatever decision is made, homeowners should take all the aspects of the job into consideration to choose the best fit for their individual situation.
Note from NH about buying a new garage door:
If your garage door is, shall I say, long in the tooth... consider getting an insulated door instead of a wood door! You'll keep your garage cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, and if you have an attached garage this heat control will be reflected in a cooler (or warmer) home!! Here's an interesting graphic from the Clopay Garage Doors. They offer two types of insulation in their garage doors, polyurethane and polystyrene. The difference in insulation value is stunning. Choose wisely, grasshopper!
About the author: Arthur Clyne works with the garage technicians over at Garaga.