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How to Keep Mold Monsters (and Other Gross Things) Out of Your Storage Unit

June 2, 2018 | Business Storage

If you’re planning to move, there’s a good chance you’ll rely on self storage during your transition. Besides moving, people utilize off-site storage space during other types of life transitions as well as for seasonal storage. Most household items need climate-controlled storage units to protect them from ice-cold temperatures, rainy and wet conditions, and damage caused by mold, heat, and humidity.

Why is that? It comes down to a science, and unless you’re a chemical engineer or a medical professional, you may not have heard of this word before:

*Hygroscopic – (Of a substance) tending to absorb moisture from the air.

For humidity to destroy something you own, it must be hygroscopic. Think, mattress, fabric, upholstered furniture … you get the idea. Additionally, hygroscopic things are the ideal place for mold monsters to grow. So in a nutshell, most of the things your own are hygroscopic. Read on …

Most household items are made from hygroscopic materials

Hygroscopic is a big word for a common household problem in humid climates. Simply put, hygroscopic is defined as materials that tend to absorb moisture from the air. Household items such as mattresses, upholstered furniture, clothing, wood furniture, linens, drapery, and more, fall into this category.

More importantly, moving boxes are especially susceptible to moisture. Most people don’t realize when moving to a new home or apartment in the rain that putting damp moving boxes in a storage unit can wreak havoc. In a matter of weeks or months, mold can easily take over everything you own.

Non-hygroscopic materials such as steel and plastics are less likely to suck in water from the atmosphere and as a result, are less likely to be damaged by humidity. At least in the short term. Even sturdy, seemingly not destructible items such as cars, tools, plastic bins, and children’s toys will rust and get moldy eventually if they’re exposed to high humidity for long periods of time.

How high humidity levels create mold that damages household goods

Most things in our households are made from materials that are susceptible to both high and low humidity levels. Keep in mind, the higher the percentage of relative humidity (RH) the faster mold grows. For example, if the city where you live has 75% RH, then the mold is expected to grow in 36 to 43 days depending on the temperature.

At 85% RH, mold is grown as quickly as 7 to 9 days! It is likely that mold will continue to grow even once the moisture drops somewhat. Dry and arid climates lack moisture in the air presenting another set of problems. As we know, too little humidity is hard on our skin and hair. It can take a toll on our personal belongings as well.

Especially for household items made from wood. Additionally, delicate items such as photos, artwork, and even wood, will warp, crack, and become brittle when not appropriately stored during dry, hot seasonal weather.

1. Prepare Wood Furniture

Wood furniture absorbs and desorbs and desorbs water as the humidity climbs and falls. This process is damaging because it causes wood furniture to swell and shrink. This results in furniture joints becoming loose or even pulling apart.

While blanket wrapping furniture before moving it into a storage unit protects it, renting a climate-controlled storage unit is the safest option to prevent mold damage.

2. Clean Musical Instruments Before Storing

Musical instruments made from wood like guitars and other stringed instruments are susceptible to humidity levels. Low humidity levels can cause musical instruments to fall out of tune. Other natural wood instruments such as oboes, flutes, clarinets, drums, and pianos can be damaged when the wood contracts resulting in cracks, failed joints or warping.

Financial investments in musical instruments vary widely so be sure to consult with your local Metro Self Storage Property Manager to make sure you choose the best storage option for your situation.

3. Choose Boxes for Books Wisely

Everyone knows paper and water don’t mix well. Too much humidity will cause books to mold and destroy their bindings. Arid conditions with low humidity will cause the pages of books to become more brittle and fragile. This leads to creases in the paper, fading ink, and possibly warped covers on books.

Books are less valuable for many families today who rely on digital devices to consume the written word. Even toddler and young children’s books are on digital devices now. Maybe this makes books more valuable.

Either way, if you’re putting a library’s worth of books into storage, be sure they’re packed properly and stored in a unit with the right features for your city’s weather patterns.

4. Remember Wine Storage is a Specialty

According to Dr. Vinny at Wine Spectator Magazine, the ideal humidity for wine storage is “is around 70 percent. The perfect storage temperature for wine is about 55 degrees, but humidity is affected by heat and cold, so keep both numbers in mind. Because if you tinker with the temperature, you have to tinker with the humidity.

When weather causes increased humidity levels conditions, wine corks expand. When wine corks dry out, they’ll contract and crack allowing air to come into contact with the wine and potentially ruin the bottle.

Professional wine storage facilities often charge a premium for temperature storage. However, the cost of proper storage far outweighs ruining a beautiful bottle of wine.

5. Wrap and Package Artwork Carefully

Maintaining the proper humidity levels in a storage unit is essential for preserving artwork. High moisture levels can cause mold and mildew to form on artwork such as paintings. Low moisture levels tend to dry out paint making it brittle and prone to cracking, which is particularly harmful to oil paintings on canvas.

6. Use Acid-Free Paper for Photo Albums and Scrapbooks

High humidity can cause all types of problems for your scrapbooks and photo collections. These include paper degradation and photo
sticking, (also called blocking), that happens relatively quickly at high humidities.

When this occurs, the surface of your photos will soften and become tacky. It then acts like glue adhering to any smooth surface it comes in contact with. Be aware that this happens in frames if the photo was mounted directly in contact with the glass.

7. Dry Appliances and Electronics Thoroughly

From computers, stereo, and video equipment to washing machines and refrigerators, high-dollar appliances are damaged by both low and high humidity levels. Static electricity is created in low humidity conditions damage internal components of computers, televisions and other electronics.

High humidity causes damage by condensation. Moisture can corrode wiring and contacts inside your appliances, which may cause short-circuiting once they are out of a storage unit and reconnected in your home.

The easiest way to control humidity in your storage unit is to rent a climate-controlled storage unit. Metro Self Storage offers climate-controlled storage facilities (many newly built!) in eight of the 10 cities below.

The 10 most humid states in America | Where to Find the Most Reliable Storage in Your City

According to AccuWeather, Texas is home to five of the most humid cities in America: Corpus Christi, Houston, Brownsville, Victoria, and Port Arthur.

10 New Orleans The Big Easy averages a daytime high of 91.8 degrees Fahrenheit in July, making for sweat-inducing conditions.

9 Houston High humidity combined with average July temperatures of nearly 84 degrees Fahrenheit puts Houston on the list.

8 Tampa With an average July temperature of 82.8 degrees Fahrenheit, Tampa, residents are in a prime location for sweat-inducing humidity.

7 Atlanta The average daytime July temperatures soar to 89 F in Atlanta.

6 Philadelphia The City of Brotherly love made 2017’s list with an average July day temperature of 87 F.

5 Boston Boston, where average July daytime highs hit nearly 82 F, made the top five this year.

 4 Miami In Miami, average temperatures in July hit close to the 84-degree mark and Florida’s geographic location fuels high humidity levels.

3 Chicago The Windy City heats up with daytime highs near 84 F on average throughout July.

2 Washington, D.C. A dense population and average July temperatures near 80 degrees gave Washington, D.C.; its ranking on the list.

Number one! New York With average daytime temperatures hovering around 84F in July, who wants to be on a New York City subway during the summer?

When you need climate control storage for your household belongings turn to Metro Self Storage reliable, clean, and affordable solution.

*Merriam-Webster Dictionary