Keep This Gear Out of the Garage
When space in your home is at a premium and you need a place to stow sports equipment or rarely used household hold items, what’s the first place that comes to mind? The garage, of course! Not so quick. Many precious possessions can be damaged when stored in the garage, while others could actually pose a risk to your home or family. Click through to find out what items you should never keep in your garage.
On cold winter nights, those roaring winter fires need fuel—and it’s tempting to stack your firewood in the garage for quick retrieval. Resist the impulse: Along with that cord of wood, come pests that can infiltrate your garage and eventually migrate into your home. Best bet? Stack your firewood on an elevated rack away from your home and cover it with a tarp to keep it dry.
Running out of room in your kitchen cabinets or pantry? Don’t risk storing that extra canned food in the garage. The natural conditions of a garage make it an unsuitable location for storing food. The USDA recommends storing canned foods in a cool dry location, and most garages fail on both counts. Damp garages could cause tin cans to rust, while a hot garage that exceeds more than 85 degrees will increase the risk of spoiled canned food. If you're fresh out of space for your non-perishables, this might be a good time to reorganize your kitchen shelves.
This is a big no-no. Always store the extra propane tank, whether for your camp stove or grill, outdoors. Propane tanks are not designed for storage in closed areas. If the valve leaks, propane gas can seep into the garage, creating both an asphyxiation risk and a fire hazard. Once propane fills the garage, a mere spark or a pilot light can ignite the gas and send your house up in smoke.
A Spare Refrigerator
If you’re into conserving energy—and who isn’t?—don’t keep a spare fridge in your garage. Refrigerators function most effectively at temperatures between 65 and 78 degrees. In summer, a non-climate controlled garage can reach temperatures in excess of 100 degrees, forcing the fridge to work overtime to keep cool—and running up your utility bills in the process. The fridge does no better in the winter, as even its insulated doors cannot keep perishable foods from freezing.
If you want to save that antique furniture for your niece, make arrangements to give it to her now rather than storing it in the garage. Temperature and humidity fluctuations wreak havoc on wood, causing its grain to alternately swell and contract. This can result in damage in the form of veneer delamination and warped wood. Just a few short months in a garage can render some wood items completely unusable.
If you don’t want that old gaming console, printer, or PC, but it still has some life left in it, consider giving it to the neighbor kid or donate it rather than storing it in the garage. The high humidity levels found in a typical garage spell ruin for electronics, which run the risk of damage to their internal printed circuit boards. Even if the humidity doesn't zap your old electronics, they might fall prey to tiny insects, which can wiggle inside and damage components. Keep those gadgets inside or get rid of them ASAP.
Bedding and Clothing
Heat, humidity, and insects are natural enemies of fabric. This triple threat, all too common in garages, puts clothing and bedding at risk of mold, mildew and other damage. Whether it’s a box of baby clothing, last summer’s apparel, or your wedding dress, if you want to protect it, don’t put it in the garage. This also goes for a spare mattress. Even if it’s tightly wrapped, tiny insects and car fumes can infiltrate.
The best way to ensure that your treasured photographs will be safe is to store them in a cool, dry, and dark place, such as under your bed or at the back of an interior closet. Putting them in the garage is an invitation to ruin, and can leave you with a mess of faded and stuck-together photos. Protect your cherished memories—don’t store them in the garage.
Nothing attracts mice and chewing insects like termites and silverfish, more than paper products. Whether it’s your important tax documents, comic book collection, or the set of encyclopedias you inherited from your aunt, if you want to keep them—keep them out of the garage. Even if they escape paper-munching pests, excessive garage temperatures can cause books or documents to curl and crack.
When stored improperly (in an unheated garage, for instance), paint can separate or gel. Even unopened cans are at risk of spoiling in extreme temperatures. If the weather’s temperate, and you’re in the process of painting the house, it’s okay to stick a half-full paint can in the garage overnight. If you don’t plan to paint again for a few months, however, tap the lid tightly in place and stash it in a basement or utility closet until you need it.
While you can store gasoline in the garage, if you don’t do it properly, you’re putting yourself and your home at risk. Many community fire codes restrict gasoline storage to less than 25 gallons. Use only containers approved for gasoline storage and place the gas can on a piece of plywood, not directly on the concrete floor. Make sure it’s out of direct sunlight and out of the reach of children.
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