Carbon Monoxide and Parking Garage Exhaust Fans: How Do They Work?

For people who live in the Midwest, where temperatures regularly dip below freezing, a parking garage can be a welcome respite from the frigid air outside—but it’s possible you’ve never thought about the air circulation in a parking garage.

Most parking garages need an exhaust fan to remove the carbon monoxide that accumulates from the vehicles’ exhaust within the structure. A parking garage exhaust fan is a necessity on the floors of the parking structure that aren’t open to the outside, but crafting a parking garage exhaust fan that filters out carbon monoxide isn’t exactly a simple task.

This article will cover how parking garage exhaust fans work.

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas that can be poisonous and potentially fatal to humans if enough of it is breathed in. Most vehicles release this from their exhaust systems, as carbon monoxide is a byproduct of fuel that doesn’t burn completely.

Catalytic converters are installed on most newer cars and are designed to lower the amount of carbon monoxide released into the air, but they don’t eliminate it completely.

Aside from the carbon monoxide risk, are there any other reasons ventilation is important in parking garages?

Yes. Cars burn fuel, and fuel has the potential to catch fire. In the event of a fire, there needs to be proper air circulation so that people can escape to safety. Most people that die in fires die due to smoke inhalation, not because of the flames themselves.

What are the two most used systems for parking garage exhaust fans to remove carbon monoxide?

Most parking garage exhaust fan systems fall into two categories: a constant-speed exhaust fan or a variable-speed exhaust fan that uses carbon monoxide sensors. A constant-speed exhaust fan, as the name suggests, is an exhaust fan that runs either constantly or while the parking garage is occupied. It’s often paired with ductwork.

A variable-speed exhaust fan works in concert with carbon monoxide detectors to change its working speed based on how much carbon monoxide is present within the space. These often eschew ductwork for larger ceiling-mounted jet fans.

Which system is better, a constant-speed exhaust fan or a variable-speed exhaust fan with carbon monoxide detectors?

Each system has its sets of pros and cons. The constant-speed exhaust fan doesn’t use carbon monoxide sensors, so they don’t have to be calibrated. It also runs constantly, which might be energy inefficient, but you won’t have to worry about it shutting on and off intermittently.

The variable-speed exhaust fan is becoming ever more popular due to a few factors. It’s more energy efficient and only runs when it has to. It also removes the need for ductwork which can take up space in the parking garage. Variable-speed exhaust fans have the benefit of being able to run at lower speeds when little or no carbon monoxide is present as well. The only downside to these is a higher up-front cost.

Call to discuss your parking garage exhaust fan today

Whichever system you elect to use for your parking garage exhaust fan carbon monoxide removal, call us at Air Climate Control, Inc. We’re commercial and industrial ventilation experts, and we’re available for service 24/7, so call us today.

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