Maintaining your belongings in good and useable condition requires proper storage of each belonging according to its needs. Proper storage can play a pivotal role in keeping your home free from harm.
Your garage can be a useful space to store many items you do not need to be in your home. These include your car and automotive supplies, garden and yard tools, outdoor entertainment equipment, toys and objects you infrequently use.
Other items, however, are not so great to store in your garage for a variety of reasons. For example, conditions in the garage can pose a risk to certain items. Other belongings can pose a danger to your home or to you and other household members. Among these are items that cannot tolerate changes in weather or extremes in temperature, as well as fragile belongings or items that could attract pests.
While storing any food items in the garage can be risky, canned food is especially sensitive. Food is canned to maintain its freshness, but if you store those cans at temperatures outside the 50- to 70-degree range, that freshness is lost. Furthermore, metal cans and the metal lids on glass jars can rust from the humidity in garages.
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This rust is more than a nuisance and an eyesore. It can produce a chemical reaction in the food contained in the jar and render it hazardous to consume. However, food of any sort is unwise to store in the garage if for no other reason than because it can easily attract pests.
While cars and most auto supplies are fine to keep in the garage, car batteries are the one exception. Car batteries laying on concrete can become drained and ruined. The reason this happens is because concrete is porous and can collect moisture. This moisture, in turn, transfers to objects sitting on the concrete, like a car battery. If you must store a spare car battery in your garage, buy a newer battery, as they are built sturdier and are less sensitive to moisture, and do not place it on the ground. Instead, lay it on a piece of cardboard or wood.
The only reason to store an old computer or other electronic in the garage is if you no longer plan to use the item and do not care if it is ruined. If you have any desire of using the old electronic item again or selling it to someone who does, the garage is among the worst places you could store it. Changes in temperature and humidity do not only affect textiles. They also affect electronic circuitry, wiring and casings. A computer or other electronic item stored in the garage can easily rust and short out.
Firewood can easily attract pests like termites into your garage. First, the pests infest your firewood, nesting and feeding on it, destroying your firewood and making it no good to use. Then, they breed and migrate to other items in your garage and even into the frame, foundation and fixtures of the garage itself. The proper place to store firewood is a minimum of 20 feet from the house. In addition, only carry as much firewood into your home as you need to use over a short period. Otherwise, you risk infesting your home with termites as well.
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Fabrics do not tolerate changes in humidity and temperature well. Exposed to these swings, they can quickly become mildewed and moldy. This includes sleeping bags as well as more common fabric items like linens, curtains and clothing. Fabrics are also appealing for rodents to chew. Keep all fabric items inside the home.
If fabrics in general are bad to store in the garage, oil-soaked rags are even worse. Oily rags can combust spontaneously in spaces where internal heat is produced but not permitted to escape, such as garages. Even without a spark to ignite it, you can unwittingly start a devastating house fire in your home simply by leaving oily rags sitting in your garage or basement at the wrong time.
As for propane tanks, on their own merit, they are generally safe and secure. If the propane inside a tank, however, happens to leak into an enclosed area like a garage, any minor spark could ignite it, even just starting up your car.
Paint formulas can be drastically altered by extremes in heat or cold. This can lead to abnormalities in color, consistency and adherence. Read the label on each individual can of paint to find out its recommended storage temperature. It is possible that keeping paint in the garage will not damage it, but the label will tell you for sure.
Storing any food in the garage is an invitation to pests, most of all smelly food like pet food. If you do decide to keep pet food in your garage, at least store it securely inside a metal or plastic container with a lid that seals tightly. Avoid cardboard and paper packaging, including the packaging most bagged pet food comes in, as rodents can chew through it easily.
Cold, heat and humidity can rapidly destroy printed photographs. If you lack digital copies of your printed photos, do not expose your precious memories to such environmental risks. Instead, store them in plastic sleeves or sandwich bags or between acid-free paper sheets in a metal box. Then, take these containers, whichever you use, and store them in a closet, cabinet or under a bed. The same risks and recommendations apply for any printed artwork or collectible items.
For the same reasons you would not store fabrics or photos in the garage, you would not store wine there either. The taste of wine is extremely sensitive to even slight changes in humidity and temperature. Beyond just changing the flavor of wine, by storing it in the garage, you can even make the wine go bad and spoil.
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