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Water On Garage Floor In Winter

Water on garage floor

Water on a garage floor in winter is solved with a squeegee. I LOVE this one and have had one for years. It's sold on Amazon. CLICK THE PHOTO to have one delivered to your home. If you do buy it, I get a small commission from Amazon.

Water on a garage floor in winter can be a hazard. I'm sharing this email exchange as I feel it provides a valuable teaching moment for all of us.

Civility is dynamic. Go back one hundred or even two hundred years ago and courtesy, respect, and good manners were ingrained in just about everyone. Let me know in the comments below how you feel about the state of civility today. I'm very curious.

Water On Garage Floor In Winter - Yeah, It Can Happen

Gary emailed me with his garage-floor dilemma. I always reprint things exactly as I receive them. Any errors that follow are Gary's:

My wife is driving me crazy. You know how newer cars these days drip water from their tail pipes right? Well in winter that becomes a huge problem. Tail pipe drip freezes on the garage floor and becomes a hazard for a fall. So my wife puts down paper towels on the puddles then we have ice rinks with imbedded paper towels.

Which leads to another issue. We had our garage floor done  last year with epoxy and looks great. The installer sealed the gap between the floor and driveway indicating water going in that crack could rise either concrete structure.

Prior to the new floor I would squeegee water from garage into that crack . We never had an issue. Now if I squeegee the water from garage it goes in the driveway creating icy conditions there as well. My wife wants me to remedy this and I thought you may have the answer. Thanks Gary from Roselle

My Initial Reaction Within Seconds

It's important to realize the instant I read Gary's email several thoughts popped into my head.

"My goodness, how long do they let the car idle in the garage? Once you start a car you'd back out within ten seconds. There's no way a puddle could develop in that short time."

"Did he actually start the car and watch the condensate from the tailpipe collect on the floor or did he assume it was happening?"

What's more, I couldn't get my head around why someone would use paper towels and just leave the soggy water-filled things on the floor. Wouldn't the person concerned with the water bend over, wipe up the water and throw away the paper towels? What did the person think would happen with the saturated paper towels?

Obviously, there was some data Gary had left out. I thought he overlooked the real source of the water. I had to find out what I was missing.

I have water on my garage floor all the time in the winter. It's caused by small amounts of snow and slush that melt once you pull the car into the garage. You may not see it on the sides of the car, but it's under the body and in the wheel wells.

Water also puddles under my car when you pull it into the garage if it's raining outdoors. Even a small amount of light rain on the roads allows quite a bit of water to collect in the tires and under the car body.

Is it possible Gary didn't connect these dots? No way, surely he'd think of that, right?

Water on Garage Floor

Water on a garage floor can turn to ice. It happens in my garage all the time. But this amount of water is generated by snow and slush on the underside of the car that melts once I pull into the garage, not from seconds of exhaust condensate dripping from a tailpipe. See why I wondered about what was really going on with Gary and his wife? I know all about water on a garage floor. BTW, I didn't build the house I currently live in. If I had, this photo would have never been taken. Why? Because there'd be a floor drain under each car in the garage and the floor would be sloped in the garage like a shallow funnel. ALL water dripping from the car would drain to the floor drain(s). This is how garages of old were built. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

My First Reply to Gary

Trying to get a handle on the moment I sent the following reply to Gary. Realize I get many questions a day and I try to be pithy in the interest of saving time.

"Rhetorical questions: What am I missing? Why would anyone allow their car to idle in the garage? Enormous carbon monoxide poisoning possibility.
Solution: Start car. Within 10 seconds put it in reverse and back out of the garage.
Problem solved."

Gary's Retort

Gary didn't like my reply. I think that's quite evident as he sent the following back to me within minutes:

As soon as you start your car water comes from exhaust.  On flip side when you pull in garage water is dripping from the pipes neither my wife or I EVER let the car run in the garage. I’m not sure where you are coming from. Unless you are driving old model cars and are not familiar with newer cars  tail pipes. 

My Helpful Followup Suggestion

I knew Gary had first mentioned that he had used a squeegee in the past.

Since water evaporates pretty fast if you spread it out and he was forcing it outdoors where he noticed it was creating a fall hazard, I invested more time to help him get in good standing with his wife.

Rubber Blade Squeegee

I've had two of these squeegees. The rubber blade is perfect for spreading out water on a garage floor so it rapidly evaporates. CLICK THE IMAGE NOW to have one delivered to your home.

Here's what I sent:


Get this squeegee that I LOVE LOVE LOVE.

Push water to slab UNDER car body. It evaporates while you're away or asleep.
Problem solved....

Now Gary's Really Mad

Not too long after sending the above helpful suggestion, Gary sent me this:

remove my email from this list immediately

I Had To Remind Him

As you might imagine, I was now really confused. Gary wasn't on a list. Heck, did he forget he had just emailed me? He started the exchange.

I replied:

You are not on a list. "You" reached out to me for help.

Now I Understand Road Rage

My last response to Gary sent him over the edge. Here's his blistering flame response. I've copied it exactly as he sent it with all the typos, grammar and punctuation errors:

Remove my name from your website notifications . I reached out to you with a legitimate question and you responded in a demeaning disrespectful manner. Is that how you deal with the public? You don’t seem to know anything like you claim to know. I won’t let this incident go unreported. Trust me , you reacted unprofessional to the wrong guy

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

I feel sorry for Gary. While I'm no licensed psychological professional, I think it's safe to say he's dealing with both insecurity and anger issues. Add to that he's not the least bit appreciative of the help I tried to offer.

I was honestly concerned that carbon monoxide could be an issue. You can no longer assume people are aware of common dangers. The more emails I get each week, the more I see common sense as being quite uncommon.

Just think about it. How long would you need to allow a car to idle in one spot that you'd have so much condensate dripping from the exhaust pipe that it would create a puddle big enough to be an issue?

Gary, tape a video buddy! Show us how long it takes to make a 6-inch-diameter puddle!


26 Responses to Water On Garage Floor In Winter

  1. Your questions & thinking was right on, Tim. I've had some drips from a cat converter while idling but only when its running, ie checking trans fluid etc. Obviously Gary missed the point.

  2. Not a cheap solution (certainly not at least not as cheap as a squeegee) - design the garage floor to drain to one location and install a drain that goes to lower grade outside the building. By the way, I think eating areas should be built this way as well. When your little one is learning to feed him/herself, you just hose down the floor and the mess is gone.

  3. Tim, I've been a long time subscriber and I've read many, many of your answers to problems and they're right on... every time. You've saved me thousands of dollars and time.
    It's sad that some people can't even take the help given and be civil? Sad !!!

  4. "Tim, I've been a long time subscriber and I've read many, many of your answers to problems and they're right on... every time. You've saved me thousands of dollars and time."
    I finally bought a floor squeegee this winter. It has made a great difference. My floor has a slight slope towards the entrance. But I get puddles of rain off the car and puddles of melted snow and slush. I push the water out onto the driveway and off to the side of the driveway in the winter.
    The sand under the driveway is disappearing and I replace it between the garage floor and driveway. No joint material was installed by the contractor.

    Should I include some dry cement with the sand each time?

    Hope BC ( The great white North)

  5. Some people just don't understand that they haven't provided enough information to rule out all the causes. Although my driveway slopes away from the garage, sometimes water wicks under the corner of the door and into the garage -- especially when there is snow against it. Often water gets into the wheel well of the car and I'll discover a puddle on the floor 24 hours later (and don't remember that I went out the day before and ran through a puddle).

    And I've never seen water pour out of a tailpipe right after you start it. What kind of vehicle do they have? Gas or diesel? There is more going on here that Gary isn't sharing. (Also wondering who he is going to "report" you to.)

  6. I don't know--I cringe a little at your responses, and I definitely cringe at how you are publicly shaming this guy on your massive platform (and now you will probably publicly shame me). Even if someone is "wrong" or "stupid", aren't there ways to gently coax more information from them without being quite so abrupt (Stop idling the car in the garage--problem solved)? I know you are just trying to be helpful, and you DO have a lot of knowledge--I appreciate your sharing your wealth of experience with us. Thank you.

    • Sara,

      No shaming intended. This is a teaching moment for those willing to learn.

      The first thing to remember is time. Let's do some math. If I get 50 questions a day and you invest ten minutes in each one going back and forth with the sender (that's the average time - I know having done it for 25 years), there's no time left in the day to do work that generates revenue. You'd spend over eight hours and get nowhere.

      This is why my responses are pithy. They're also intended to nudge the sender into doing more work on their part to get to the answer.

      What's more, my second response gave him the answer. I know as it's what I've done here for the past ten years. I squeegee the water under the car to get it to evaporate.

      TNX for your kind words about my knowledge level. As for Gary being publicly shamed, we'll let the Court of Public Opinion make a ruling. I'd check back here in a couple of days to see how many side with Gary thinking I was too harsh with him.

      I do appreciate you sharing your feelings. If I've discovered one thing all these years doing Ask the Builder it's this: It's impossible to satisfy everyone.

      In this case, I think Gary should have been more polite - the world needs LOTS more of this - and if he didn't like my solution, just ignore me and go somewhere else.

      But to belittle me and threaten me, are you serious? Is that behavior you condone? I doubt it.

  7. Reminds me of the saying "No good deed goes unpunished". You were right on Tim - a voice of sanity. Gary must have been wrong and the water came from melting snow.
    I have a squeegee and use it periodically. Right at the end of a "snow melt", I take it and clean off my driveway. Gets rid of the remaining slush!

  8. Tim, I love the concept of having a drain in the garage floor and the floor with a slight slope to the drain. Unfortunately many jurisdictions will not allow this in real life due to the possibility of idiots dumping their used oil and or leaking from vehicles or gas overfills draining into the drain and possibly into the sewer system if it is hooked up. That is the rules here where I live in Washington state.

    • This is why I butt heads with code officials who create such insidious regulations. Let's look at this one:

      What percentage of people today change their own oil at home such that they'd have a gallon or more to dispose of? Answer: Much less than ever before.

      When oil leaks from a vehicle in a garage with no drain, where does it go? Answer: it could end up outdoors if homeowner hoses down garage - or oil-soaked paper towels end up in a landfill.

      Garage floor drains should just drain to dry wells out in the yard. Any minor spills will be handled by organisms in the soil just like they are now.

      Imagine all the oil that ends up each day at the sides of roads that apparently causes no harm to flora or fauna in your city or town out there in WA.

      I want to rip out my hair sometimes when I see code restrictions like this that are not thought out.

  9. I'm sure having everyone pat you on the back - and tell you that you were right to post your conversation with Gary - is gratifying. I think your publishing it was totally immature and unfair, in part since Gary has no way to do the same for his side of the conversation. I read and benefit from your newsletter, and I am grateful for that, but in this case I think you reached a new low.

    • Mary,

      I appreciate your comment and am sorry you feel the way you do. There are two things I'd like to point out.

      1. Gary was given plenty of time in the above exchange to be polite, civil and appreciative. He wasn't. What's more, he can come here and comment just like you did and further the conversation. He has the exact same platform as I do. I would never ever delete anything he would say.

      2. I disagree about my publishing his outburst as being immature on my part. As I said at the top, I felt it was a teaching opportunity. Each day I'm getting more discourteous email replies from people. It wasn't like that twenty-five years ago when I started Ask the Builder.

      It's my hypothesis that the ever-increasing amounts of stress people are experiencing caused by "information overload" is making people less polite. People with platforms like mine need to use them to share the current state of humanity.

      As I mentioned to Sara above, let's allow the Court of Public Opinion to rule and see how the masses feel.

      You call it "patting on the back". I liken it more to a poll of the current state of civility. If we could go into the future, there may be a time when the greater percentage of people feel I was at fault more than Gary. In other words, more would feel like you do. But we're not there yet and hopefully, we'll never be.

      To be honest, I'm shocked that you feel I'm the bad guy in this situation. It's really unbelievable that you had no disparaging words about Gary's behavior.

  10. Lots of good ideas involving slope when one pours the floor. I ask my better 3/4 to park outside when she comes home. Then I go out and lightly boot the fender and bumper areas to knock the sandy ice from the vehicle and use a plastic shovel on the wheel wells. Still can never get it all. When the garage is empty I use a flat steel shovel to skim up any chunks of sand-ice.

  11. Hi Tim,

    I'm a long time avid reader of your newsletter and always enjoy your off-the-cuff attitude. Really spot on with your comment about courtesy.

    The "squeegee" referenced is far more useful than you suspect; it's a great hair grabber for rugs and floors! Keeps those bath mats from collecting toe-strangling strands and prevents your vacuum spindle from getting wrapped. Anyone with hair longer than their earlobes can appreciate this item.

  12. Wow! That is the first documented "garage rage" I have seen. I agree that Gary massively overreacted to your responses. I hope he is not as physically and verbally violent as his messages were.

    Your solution to sweep the water under the vehicle to evaporate works if your garage is kept from freezing inside. Many are not.

  13. Tim, I simply think your first reply was a little sarcastic, and a little provocative. The worse part of this entire conversation, however, is that you chose to publish all of it. That isn't a "helping tool - it's begging for affirmation from your subscribers. ["As I mentioned to Sara above, let's allow the Court of Public Opinion to rule and see how the masses feel."] Why didn't you just reply without airing the whole conversation?? That would have been a "helping tool." I'm done...

    • Mary,

      I did reply to Gary - twice. I provided him with the exact answer to solve his problem.

      The only reason I created this entire page is that I'm trying to point out to many that perhaps some in this world need to be more polite and they need to teach others to be more polite.

      If I had just kept the conversation in my email software, then you and many others wouldn't realize the civility index was continuing to drop.

      As for your perception that my first reply was sarcastic, I did my best to explain in the column above that I discovered years ago that I can't get involved in back and forth discussions with visitors.

      That's why I used the word "rhetorical". What's more, I tried to be polite in bringing up the CO hazard. Remember, Gary was absolutely convinced condensate was his issue. I wasn't so sure based on my garage-water experience.

      I gave him precious time of mine that I can't get back. I solved his problem.

      I continue to be shocked that you condone his behavior, but as I pointed out above in another of my replies, it's impossible to satisfy everyone. So very sorry you're in that group.

      By the way, food gets done. I believe you meant to say you were finished. 😉 I'm sure that's going to go over like a lead balloon.

  14. Actually people should count their blessings when you respond with a freebie! Your advice is sage whether free or a phone consult.

    I noticed the two responders who flash mobbed (OK I exaggerate) you are of the opposite sex. Interesting emotional responses to the original question that should be anything but emotional. Not knocking women or emotions both are what makes humanity interesting.

    This is what can happen when people don't look at the overall big picture and focus on the (dare I say) piddly stuff instead.

    Gary should consider putting on his big boy pants. Maybe we don't all agree, but we can agree to disagree with out taking the flame thrower out of the closet can't we?

    I think your advice and the fact it was free (this time) should command some respect. Don't you?

  15. I have read your column in the Columbus Dispatch (Ohio) for quite a while and have consulted you on a grout problem. I have, and will continue to, depend on your experience and expertise regrding problems I run into. I can appreciate what's going on in your head from the initial contct from Gary, but a short, time preserving, helpful initial response would not have inluded the rhetorical questions, simply your solution, with a suggestion to sign up for a short consultation to completely discuss the problem. Old age should be a reason to apprecite soft peddling responses to strangers asking for help, which does not mean wasting time in a wordy response. My first response from you rgarding a problem was short and to the point, and a bit disappointing only in the fact it was not wordy and carry on for a few sentences.

  16. I will never understand people who ask for advice, but don't know how to take it. Especially coming from a professional who has been in the business long enough to know what he's talking about. My hat's off to you, Tim, for persevering in the face of so much adversity.

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