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Storing things for future use is admirable, but it leads to problems when it comes to actual storage. Space is usually the first thing considered, but proper storage procedures should be the priority.
Your belongings can be adversely affected, prematurely aged, and even attacked by a wide range of enemies. The main culprits in attics and garages include:
- Extreme and fluctuating temperatures
- Excess humidity and moisture
- Insects and rodents
Where and how you store these things can determine how long (and if) they will last. Here are 27 things you should not store in the attic or garage and some tips on how you should be keeping them – if at all.
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It is rarely advisable to store perishables in your garage or attic. This includes food and water for both yourself and your pets. Insects and rodents aren’t the only problems here. High heat, freezing temperatures, and excess moisture can cause foods to spoil and damage the containers.
Most alcohols handle fluctuating temperatures well. Wine, however, can be adversely affected by heat. The taste changes quickly, and you may end up with some expensive bottles of vinegar.
Home-canned goods are best when stored at around 50-70 degrees Fahrenheit. It is impossible to maintain that range in a garage or attic. High humidity also promotes rust on lids and rings which can, in turn, spoil the food inside.
If you must keep your pet food in the garage, put it in a tightly sealed metal container. Rodents can chew through plastic, so a metal trash can with a lid will work. It is best to store your perishables in temperature-controlled spaces such as pantries, basements, or root cellars.
Potentially Hazardous Materials
Almost anything can be considered hazardous. The items below may not start dangerous, but they could pose a problem when outside factors come together.
Batteries, Candles, and Lamp Oil
High heat is the most significant danger for these highly combustible components of any prepper’s stockpile. The issue is how to store them properly. Candles do well when frozen, but the same isn’t true for batteries or kerosene (lamp oil). They should be kept in a cool, dry, climate-controlled space.
Gas Cans or Propane Tanks
In an enclosed space, the tiniest spark could ignite the fumes these cans or tanks produce. While they are generally safe, leaks or spills do occur. When high temperatures are added to the mix or a match is lit, an accident truly is ready to happen.
Guns and Ammunition
Attics and garages are not the places to safely store your guns and ammo. The extreme temperature fluctuations and high humidity promote rust – exactly what you don’t want. The ideal place to store these invaluable tools is a temperature-controlled gun safe. Lacking that, safely keep them with dehumidifiers out of the heat, dust, and sunlight.
Store medications in an attic or garage and you run the risk of them becoming completely unusable or even dangerous. Heat, humidity, sunlight, and time break the meds down, altering their effectiveness.
A better plan is to store them in airtight containers in areas with no direct light or humidity. Linen closets are a great place to stash them away safely.
Dirty rags are already a fire hazard. Add oil, gas, or paint, and you’ve created a highly combustible, fume-filled fire-starter. Dust and high heat in most attics and garages will just add to the possibility of spontaneous combustion. Place rags in a shaded metal container or barrel outside, away from any other materials.
Paints, Thinners, and Chemicals
Most paint and chemical labels show the temperature range the product can withstand. Some paints or chemicals can be altered or ruined if they freeze, while others become explosive if subjected to high heat.
In climates with extreme temperatures one way another (or both), store the cans away from the house. Keep the can bottoms off of cement floors to discourage rust.
Moisture damages soft goods and materials in the form of mold and mildew. It not only smells horrible, but mold will eat through the fabric, just like rodents and insects. You are better off storing these items in plastic bags inside your home. Adding desiccants, mothballs, or cedar blocks to each bag can also help.
Bedding and Clothing
You ask for problems if you store sleeping bags, pillows, and bedding in the garage with your camping gear. Clothing and furnishings made of fur, leather, and other natural materials do not hold up well against humidity and heat.
Books, Papers, and Photographs
Even when stored in sealed containers, a single drop of moisture could ruin your precious memories. Using silica packs or desiccants in the container can help. Digital backups and storing these fragile things in dust-, light-, and moisture-free areas are essential. Also, avoid heat and sunlight as pages or photographs will fade, curl, and warp.
Carpets and Rugs
Rugs and carpets attract pests and trap excess moisture, which turns into mold and mildew. Insects and rodents enjoy burrowing, eating, and making a nest in rolled-up rugs.
Documents and Memorabilia
Unfortunately, our important documents and memorabilia attract insects and rodents. These pests can quickly destroy a lifetime’s worth of memories. Their eating and nesting habits, along with the dreaded moisture and humidity, are quite destructive.
Records, Tapes, and DVDs
Heat is the biggest enemy when it comes to vinyl records or tapes. Even CDs and DVDs are susceptible to extreme temperatures and will warp. Avoid the attic and garage and keep them in the house if you want to preserve them.
No matter what you are storing and where, here are a few reminders:
- Use sealable glass, plastic, or metal containers. Cardboard boxes rot and are insect and rodent magnets.
- If you must keep things in the garage, place moisture-sensitive items on shelves high enough to withstand flooding.
- Keep your things out of direct sunlight. Over time the sun fades, rots, or ruins most materials.
- Very few things hold up well to temperature and moisture extremes often found in attics and garages.
- Check stored belongings regularly to catch problems early. An inventory can help keep track of everything.
- Keep in mind that it is rare for homeowner’s insurance to cover belongings lost to environmental issues.
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Jackson Wells says
The storage of anything in cardboard boxes is a bad thing. I did some work in a cardboard and paper bag manufacturing plant. Roaches LOVE the glue used to make them. If you’re bringing cardboard into your house it’s a likely thing you’re bringing in roaches, their eggs are in the glue.
As for anything you may worry about moisture, my answer is a vacuum sealer. The process also compacts items for smaller space required.
Storing water in the garage isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Or cans of soft drinks.
Dry goods can be OK in a garage if they are in air tight containers.