Why Parking Garages Need Proper Ventilation

Why Parking Garages Need Proper Ventilation

Posted by William Kimmell on 3rd Feb 2023

Parking garages are essential to modern urban life. They allow hundreds, even thousands, of people to park their vehicles on the same plot of land. Without them, many people wouldn’t have access to homes and businesses in densely populated areas. However, parking garages are not without dangers. Learn why parking garages need proper ventilation.

Parking Garage Dangers

Two main factors make parking garages dangerous: fumes from vehicle exhaust and poor ventilation. In combination, these factors can make regular use of parking garages hazardous.

Vehicle Exhaust

If you’re like most people, you probably enjoy sitting around a cozy fire. However, most people don’t realize that burning things can produce toxic fumes. It doesn’t matter if it’s your fireplace, cigarette, or car; combustion releases many gases and particles that are bad for humans and animals. This is one reason you should never run your car in the garage. Those gases can seep into your home and poison you.

Poor Ventilation

Keeping your respiratory system healthy isn’t just about avoiding toxic fumes. You also need abundant sources of clean air with plenty of oxygen. Parking garages can easily turn into concrete boxes with little access to fresh air, especially if they’re below ground. That means the percentage of oxygen is much lower than is healthy for most people.

Which Gases Build Up in Parking Garages?

There are many gases that build up in parking garages, but some are more dangerous than others. Below are the worst offenders when it comes to chemical poisoning from parking garages.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a dangerous and toxic gas that’s hard for people to detect. That’s because it has no color, taste, or smell on its own. However, CO often appears with other gases that smell, making it easier to detect. For example, if you smell car exhaust in a parking garage, you can be certain you’re also breathing in CO.

Depending on the concentration, carbon monoxide can cause many different kinds of problems when inhaled. These include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Chest pain
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Suffocation
  • Death

Nitrogen Dioxide

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is another dangerous gas emitted through combustion. It’s part of a family of gases called nitrogen oxides, which form during the combustion of fuels such as oil, gas, and diesel. It’s a significant problem in highly populated areas like cities where air quality can be difficult to control. The adverse health effects of breathing in NO2 include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Respiratory inflammation
  • Coughing and wheezing
  • Reduced lung function
  • Worsened asthma
  • Lower birth weights
  • Cardiovascular harm
  • Worsened lung cancer symptoms

How To Keep Parking Garages Safe

Now that you understand why parking garages need proper ventilation, let’s talk about how to keep people safe. Thankfully, there are several ways to do this.

Build Windows

If possible, businesses should consider building above-ground parking garages so they can add windows. These are not glass-paned windows, but openings in the side of the building that allow fresh air to circulate. These open-air garages have a much lower chance of toxic gas buildup and are less expensive to ventilate.

Install Ventilation Systems

If your parking garage is below ground or doesn’t have an open-air structure, you’ll need to install a ventilation system. This system includes exterior fans that blow clean air into the garage and interior fans that siphon out the old air. You should note that these systems can be expensive to operate, so include that in your estimates when building a new parking garage. Additionally, some people may not like the loud noise of the fans, which can cause complaints.

Use Gas Monitors

Gas monitors are another essential tool for keeping parking garages safe. Installing detectors around your garage lets you know instantly when gas levels reach unacceptable levels. Additionally, newer ventilation systems can hook up to your gas monitors, activating automatically when gas concentration reaches a certain level.

Educate Patrons About Idling

Another tactic is to post signs to educate the people who park in your garage about the dangers of idling. Idling is when someone is running their car, but not using it to travel. People often idle their vehicles to let them warm up during the winter. But some people also run their cars while talking on the phone or doing other things. They may not realize they’re contributing to a dangerous problem by running their engine unnecessarily.

Monitor Idling Directly

You can always up your security level if you have a significant problem with people idling in your garage. Hire security personnel who can monitor the garage for idling. If you believe it’s necessary, you can even fine people for idling in your garage longer than a few minutes. This strategy may not make your garage more popular, but it will reduce toxic gas levels.

How To Install Gas Monitors

Installing gas monitors is the most reliable method for knowing exactly how bad the CO and NO2 levels are in your parking garage. Your first step should be to acquire high-quality parking garage detection equipment, like the gas detectors at TG Technical Services. We carry single and multi-gas monitors for NO2, CO, and oxygen, so you know exactly what’s happening in your garage.

Code Compliance

The next step should be to find out if there are any local or state municipal building codes governing parking garages. Make sure to follow these guidelines to the letter. And even if there are no regulations in your area, best practice is still to prevent toxic gas buildup, since it’s incredibly harmful to your patrons.

Detection Radius

For installing gas detectors, check with your supplier to see what radius of detection they have. This will help you determine how to spread the sensors throughout your parking garage so they cover the entire area. As much as possible, place the detectors on interior support columns instead of exterior walls since that’s where the gas will concentrate.

If you have questions about parking garage ventilation and gas detection, don’t hesitate to contact TG Technical Services. We’re experts in keeping people safe, and we’d love to help you find the best solution for your business.

Why Parking Garages Need Proper Ventilation