Safety First: Garage Cleanup Tips

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The cooler weather is finally here, and now you need projects! How about you clean that garage? As always, safety first. Here are some dos, don’ts, whats and wheres to ponder.

If you’ve spent at least one summer in the Roast Garden (I trademarked that, so don’t get any ideas) there are a bunch of items you might not want to store in the garage. They could melt, dry out, warp, and most importantly, start a fire. No judgment here, I’m just letting you know what to expect and what you might want to avoid.

No matter what kind of paint you have, it will turn to a solid, or at least a coagulated mess, if you store it in an unconditioned space. Latex paint isn’t particularly flammable, but oil-based and spray paint certainly are, as are paint thinners and lacquers. Charcoal fluid, pesticides and many adhesives could also be problematic. 

If you really need to keep this stuff in your garage, get a metal cabinet. I’d also suggest locking doors to keep the kids out of the spray paint. Ever seen a 3-year-old with a can of spray paint, in a master closet?

Most auto care products are flammable on some level. While I’ve never seen motor oil spontaneously combust, it can provide great fuel to an already roaring fire. Dispose of old oil properly and quickly. What are you going to do with it anyway? 

Gasoline? I would never keep it in my garage unless it’s inside my gas tank.

While most water heaters these days have an enclosed flame, keep anything remotely flammable at least 5 feet away. 

You might also have noticed a couple of register grills on the exterior wall of your garage. They are called “combustion vents” and are there to ensure there’s enough combustion air for your water heater to do what it does. They also provide a bit of ventilation to minimize the accumulation of combustible gases that might form when all those gas cans, paint thinners and such get the sauna treatment on a typical summer day. Don’t block the vents! 

Notice I didn’t recommend tossing the old Soloflex that hasn’t flexed since you could, the garbage bags full of used Furby Babies, or that decrepit mower that “just needs a new plug.” No judgment… and no need to ruin a lovely autumn day.


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Chris Prickett
Former contractor, former home inspector and funny guy, Chris Prickett is owner and designated broker of Prickett Realty. A New Jersey native, Prickett has been a top-producing REALTOR® in North Phoenix over the past decade. He has been a columnist since 2005. Over the Prickett Fence is published weekly by In&Out Publications.
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Chris Prickett

Former contractor, former home inspector and funny guy, Chris Prickett is owner and designated broker of Prickett Realty. A New Jersey native, Prickett has been a top-producing REALTOR® in North Phoenix over the past decade. He has been a columnist since 2005. Over the Prickett Fence is published weekly by In&Out Publications.

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