Dry Storage

John O'Hagan
Protect your possessions with these simple tips.

Living by the shore can take a toll on items stored outside, but the coastal climate can prove just as punishing to possessions you keep inside. Follow this advice for safe, dry indoor storage to prevent problems and avoid costly repairs.

Think it through
If you're renovating or building, locate storage rooms and closets away from extreme heat and moisture. When adding shelves, rods, or organization units to existing closets, use ventilated steel or ventilated hardwood to maximize air circulation.

If necessary, add insulation to closet walls to help control moisture. Where insects or animals pose a threat, consider a cedar or cedar-lined closet. Retrofitting existing spaces is easy with precut planks or panels, available at most home improvement stores. Or visit cedarsafeclosets.com or cedar-closet-linings.com.

Keep it dry
If your home is prone to excessive humidity, consider adding moisture-absorbing products to storage areas. Three widely available non-toxic and eco-friendly options are DampRid, DryOut, and Damp Check.

Air it out
Keeping storage spaces well-ventilated is key to preventing moisture buildup. Crack open closet doors or replace solid doors with louvered panels to permit air exchange. Hang clothes loosely so air can circulate around them. To remove moisture and airborne pollutants, install a closet fan that vents moisture outside. Broan-Nutone, Panasonic, and GE offer a variety of fans that are both quiet and energy-efficient.

Make it work
The combination of heat and humidity on the coast creates an environment that's attractive to insects and mold spores. You can't eliminate all moisture from your home, but these tips will help keep it in check.

• Seal air leaks.
• Keep kitchen, closet, and bath fans unobstructed.
• Make sure air-conditioner drain lines flow properly and drip pans are clean.
• Have a professional check heating and cooling systems to make sure they're the right size for your home.
• Track the humidity level inside with an inexpensive hygrometer. Percentages above or below 50 may indicate the air is too moist or too dry.

How to Speak Fluent Contractor
Humidity is the amount of water vapor suspended in the air. Most experts agree that humidity levels above 50 percent foster mold, rot, and pest problems. Condensation refers to the drops of water that form from water vapor. Like the ring left on a table by a cold glass of water, excess condensation in a home can damage walls, ceilings, and possessions.

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